'Mirror' demands pounds 50,000 over use of Foot column

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(First Edition)

MIRROR Group Newspapers is demanding damages and an apology from UK Press Gazette, the journalists' trade magazine, for alleged breach of copyright in publishing a column by the former Daily Mirror journalist, Paul Foot.

'They (UKPG) have no more right to breach copyright - to steal other people's material - than any other publication and they must pay for the theft,' MGN said in a statement.

Mr Foot resigned last month after the Daily Mirror's editor, David Banks, refused to print his column, which was heavily critical of the newspaper's management. Mr Foot distributed copies of the column outside MGN headquarters and this week's UKPG printed it, virtually in full.

In a statement issued yesterday, UKPG disclosed that MGN was demanding pounds 50,000 and an apology. It said MGN's lawyers had written saying: 'Our clients had sound editorial reasons for not publishing the article and, as proprietors of the copyright in the article, had the right to publish or not as they saw fit.'

Tony Loynes, editor and publisher of UKPG, said he had no intention of paying the pounds 50,000 or making an apology, though he had agreed not to publish the Mr Foot's column again.

Mr Loynes said he had taken legal advice before publishing, which was that publication was legitimate. 'We stand by what we did. We aren't paying.'

In the UKPG statement, Mr Loynes said: 'Several thousand copies of the Paul Foot column were widely circulated in original and fax form. We merely gave wider circulation to ensure that others could read what so many already had, and in particular for journalists and others to whom this is a matter of great public interest.'