Morrissey and NME in court after four-year row

A battle over the words of one of Britain's most celebrated lyricists was re-ignited in court yesterday. Morrissey's libel case over an article about his attitude to immigration should be thrown out as it was "not a genuine bid for vindication", a judge heard.

The former Smiths frontman, who once sung that he bore more grudges than lonely high court judges, is suing the NME and its former editor, Conor McNicholas, over a November 2007 interview and has claimed they deliberately tried to characterise him as a racist.

Morrissey, 52, was not at London's High Court to hear the magazine's counsel, Catrin Evans, ask for the action to be "struck out" as an abuse of process. She told Mr Justice Tugendhat that Morrissey's explanations for "doing nothing" to progress the claim were "unconvincing". "The court can infer from this that there has been such a delay that is not a genuine bid for vindication," she said.

Ms Evans said that if the case was to get to trial, the magazine was likely to be at risk of serious prejudice in defending it.

Morrissey's counsel, David Sherborne, said the onus to move an action along was not entirely on the claimant. The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow. PA

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