Court hears tape of Desmond threat: 'I'll be the worst enemy you'll ever have'

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The Independent Online

Richard Desmond, owner of The Express, launched into an expletive ridden attack on a business associate who, he claimed, owed his son money, the High Court heard yesterday.

Mr Desmond, who is suing the biographer Tom Bower, was recorded telling Jafar Omid that he was the "worst f****** enemy you'll ever have".

Mr Omid, was managing director of hedge fund Pentagon Capital Management, in which Mr Desmond's son, Robert, had invested £50,000 in March 2003.

Yesterday, the jury heard a recording of a telephone conversation between Mr Desmond and Mr Omid, on 10 July 2008, in which Mr Omid tried to explain why he could not repay the sum.

Mr Desmond is heard to say: "It's 75 grand you know, and I think f*** me, you know, we've done so much, you know, business together, you know. Tens of millions of pounds. And we got you know a little, what's the word, situation over 75 grand. The problem is it's on my mind you see. It doesn't matter if it was 75 grand or 75 million, it's on my mind all the time."

When Mr Omid tries to explain the "reality" of the situation, Mr Desmond says: "I understand every, I think I understand everything, but it's on my f****** mind. And it, 75 grand, write a cheque out, we'll sign it over to you and that's it. That's a wrap up our business."

Mr Omid: "Unfortunately this is not how it works and this is not."

Mr Desmond: "Please, please Jafar don't go on because you're going to aggravate me. So, look, just send me a cheque back, all right, or we, or we're not going to be friends. In fact, we're going to be enemies. OK? And you got till, what's today, Thursday."

Mr Omid: "Listen, listen."

Mr Desmond: "No. That's it mate. Please, because I don't want to lose my temper with you but I'm not."

Mr Omid: "It's not a case of."

Mr Desmond: "You know what a good friend I am Jafar, don't you?"

Mr Omid: "I know, this is the whole point, you've been so supportive in this, you've been."

Mr Desmond: "Let me tell you mate, let me tell you something, let me tell you something Jafar as good a f******, as good as a friend I am, I am the worst f****** enemy you'll ever have. Please get me a cheque round, thank you very much."

The jury heard that Mr Desmond agreed that when his son could not get back his investment – which had grown to £75,000 – in 2008, because of problems with liquidating assets, he was upset and discussed the matter at a meeting of his fellow Northern & Shell directors. But he has denied it was an example of him getting back at someone against whom he had a "grudge". "I did not have a grudge. My son would have liked to get his life savings back."

Mr Desmond is suing Mr Bower over claims in Conrad And Lady Black: Dancing On The Edge that he had abused his position to pursue a personal campaign against Black and was then forced into a humiliating climbdown.

His QC, Ian Winter, has told Mr Justice Eady and a London jury that the allegations were "highly defamatory and wholly false".

Mr Bower denies libel and says that what he wrote was substantially true and was not, in any event, defamatory.