Satirical organ takes on Tories

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Indy Politics
Staff at Scallywag, the satirical magazine, yesterday went to war against the Conservative Party by serving a writ on its deputy director for research, Dr Julian Lewis.

The magazine says it has been forced to suspend publication after Dr Lewis, furious at two articles detailing alleged planned "dirty tricks" by his department against Tony Blair, the Labour leader, personally contacted distributors and wholesalers to warn them that under libel law, they could be liable for any damages.

No writ from Dr Lewis has yet been received by the magazine, but following his threats by phone and on Conservative Central Office paper, newsagents have withdrawn it and clung on to £16,000 from sales of the last issue - forcing Scallywag, which once falsely accused the Prime Minister of having an affair with a caterer, to shut down.

A writ claiming damages for malicious falsehood - on the ground the "dirty tricks" stories are said to be true - and an injunction preventing him repeating the threats, was served on Dr Lewis. That will be followed today by the serving of an identical writ on the Prime Minister, as leader of the party, at No 10.

The extent of Dr Lewis's campaign against the monthly organ, which was enjoying sales of 20,000, is highlighted by the emergence of a fax from Central Office to a company researcher, asking for ownership details on 14 newsstands and shops selling Scallywag in London.

Dotted around the capital, they had all been visited by Dr Lewis or his assistants.

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