Legal shot fired over Prince Charles book

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The Independent Online
THE SUNDAY TIMES threatened legal action against rival newspaper editors last night after two attempts to scoop publication of a biography of the Prince of Wales. The newspaper is reported to have paid a six-figure sum for exclusive serialisation rights to The Prince of Wales - A Biography, by Jonathan Dimbleby, and plans to publish extracts over the next three weeks. News International announced that it was cutting the price of the paper to 50p to coincide with the first week of the serialisation. John Witherow, the editor, declined to say when the price would revert to normal.

Last night, Antony Whitaker, Times Newspapers' legal manager, wrote to rival newspaper editors putting them 'on notice' that the Sunday Times would launch criminal proceedings and writs for civil damages against anyone trying to obtain copies of the biography before it is published next month. The letter followed two attempts to 'trick' Mr Dimbleby's agent into releasing copies of the book.

A News International source said that a caller, believed to be from a rival newspaper, had phoned Jacqueline Korn at the London offices of David Higham Associates, Mr Dimbleby's agent, asking for a copy of the book: 'David Higham rang us on Thursday to say that somebody had been trying to get a copy of the book. We don't know who it was, but two people rang suggesting they might be linked to people or departments.'

In one case the caller claimed to be from the Sunday Times legal department, the other from a senior Sunday Times executive's office.