Desmond v Bower: What the Jury Were Not Told

Mr Justice Eady was overturned by the Court of Appeal on two occasions while trying the libel case brought by the newspaper proprietor Richard Desmond against Tom Bower, the author. The written judgment in the first of these appeals is now available, thanks to the efforts of the splendid BAILII website.

Lords Justices Rix and Wilson decided that Bower’s lawyers should be granted a witness summons to call Jafar Omid, the manager of a hedge fund who had sued Desmond for libel. This followed a telephone conversation in which Desmond had demanded the return of £75,000 invested by his son or, he told Omid, “we are going to be enemies… the worst fucking enemy you’ll ever have”.

I hope soon to bring you the second judgment of the Court Appeal allowing a recording of that conversation to be played to the jury. It may well have swung the case in Bower’s favour.

In accordance with standard practice, the jury were not told about these rulings and the press were not allowed to report them until the trial was over.

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