Racing libel case: QCs for both plaintiffs and defendants make their summing up speeches.
`Thompson has been trapped by his own deceit. He is a name-dropper' QC for Ramsdens and Kieren Fallon
Wednesday 25 February 1998
"The starting point," Milmo said, "is that the scale of improbability of Derek Thompson's tale being true is quite monumental. What Kieren Fallon was doing, according to Mr Thompson, was confessing to a very serious breach of the rules by himself and by his employers, perhaps even amounting to criminal conduct. It could certainly ruin his career. Derek Thompson is not a friend or even an acquaintance, and he knew he was connected with the media. Surely he was the last person you would want to know if you had done something like that."
Milmo argued that Thompson "has been trapped by his own deceit". He said that this was "entirely in keeping with the character of the man. He is a name-dropper who likes people to think he is friendly with everyone. You can imagine him telling people the next day that his good friend Kieren Fallon had told him that he'd stopped Top Cees. He no doubt thought it the end of the matter, leaving his reputation as a man who knows everything slightly enhanced."
The libel action, however, presented Thompson with "an unwelcome choice. He either had to put his hands up and say to his colleagues, `sorry, what I told you was untrue', or stick to his story whatever the consequences. He at least would be okay." The presenter, Milmo said, was "someone who practises deception, albeit of a minor kind, day by day".
Milmo said that the jury had not heard "from a single punter or ordinary racegoer", but rather "a succession of journalists and Channel 4 Racing team members, all assisting each other". The article, he said, was "an illustration of the power and arrogance of the press and related media. They decide the agenda, who is guilty and not guilty of misconduct, and we must accept it from them." The Ramsdens, Milmo said, had been "crucified by the media and The Sporting Life," and it was one of the jury's tasks "to see that this kind of abuse of power is not permitted."
Of the plaintiffs, he said: "You must ask yourselves if Lynda Ramsden came across as a conspirator in a murky and devious world of pulling horses." Jack Ramsden, he said, had been "an open and candid witness", who "did not shirk for a moment" from full disclosure of his gambling activities. Fallon, meanwhile, had made no attempt to "duck the issue" of his poor disciplinary record. "He is now the champion jockey, contracted to one of the country's most famous trainers, Henry Cecil. Do you think he would have reached those heights by pulling horses?"
It is a question which the jury will be asked to answer today.
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