Music critic's book is pulped as Penguin loses defamation case

For years the critic Norman Lebrecht bestrode the classical music world inspiring fear, loathing and respect in those whose careers he could push out of joint with a few acerbic words from his pen or over the airwaves on his Radio 3 programme.

Now, however, Lebrecht faces a fall from grace after losing a defamation battle with the head of Naxos, the largest independent classical record label, Klaus Heymann.

This week Penguin agreed to pulp all copies of Lebrecht's book, which criticised Mr Heymann.

Behind the scenes the victory has been greeted with glee by figures in the classical music world who have yearned for Lebrecht's wings to be clipped.

The book Maestros, Masterpieces and Madness: The Secret Life and Shameful Death of the Classical Record Industry, accused Mr Heymann of paying eastern European musicians a pittance, while using the proceeds to build an estate in New Zealand. It also claimed Mr Heymann fired artists who asked for better terms.

Naxos, which sells classical music CDs for less than £10, has been criticised in the past for poor-quality recordings and the use of cheap musicians. On the other hand, it has been praised for bringing classical music to the masses.

My Heymann said that the five pages on Naxos contained 15-20 errors, four of which were libellous.

In the High Court this week Penguin capitulated. A statement said: "Penguin Books accepts that there is nothing whatsoever behind any suggestion of business malpractice on the part of Mr Heymann." It also apologised and agreed to pay damages.

The agreement, however, does not affect the US publication of the book by Random House. Mr Heymann said yesterday that he will seek its withdrawal there as well.

"The book made me look like a shit, so something had to be done," he said. "When Lebrecht talks to people he doesn't take notes so he confuses and confounds what people say."

Lebrecht – who won the Whitbread first book award in 2002 for his novel The Song of Names – is regarded as a gifted writer but has been known to make errors.

His polemics on the music industry have also made him many enemies, which is why this humiliation has been met with glee. Such is his power as a critic that few are willing to speak publicly against him.

One of the world's leading conductors, however, told the IoS that Mr Lebrecht has, "for years, been getting away with "pompous, preposterous judgment" and "inept research".

Lebrecht said he could not comment on the Naxos case, but added: "The book contains a handful of minor errors, as most books do. They are being corrected."

He also denied not taking notes or confusing his facts.

Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments