15 YEARS AGO . . . THE Nation's Best-Known Cockney Newspaperman Lost His Libel Case against the BBC in 1984. MONICA PORTER Recalls the Irrepressible Derek Jameson

Article excerpt

Byline: MONICA PORTER

DEREK JAMESON, former editor of three Fleet Street newspapers, went silent and looked slightly queasy when he learned in the High Court that he had lost his libel action against the BBC and faced a legal bill of some [pounds sterling]75,000.

'There goes nearly all my savings,' said the seasoned newspaperman, 'the fruits of 40 years' hard work.' He had been scribbling idly on a sheet of paper in front of him. Then, he packed his notes into a plastic carrier bag and shuffled to his feet.

The case concerned the satirical Radio 4 programme Week Ending, which had broadcast a humorous sketch about the rough-cut Jameson in 1980. He was offended by this portrayal.

He was lampooned as editor of the Daily Star for wanting 'all the nudes fit to print, and all the news printed to fit'. He was said to have turned the Daily Express into the 'thinking man's bin liner', and as News of the World editor he was the 'archetypal East End boy gone bad'.

After the 12-day hearing, the jury found that the broadcast had been 'defamatory, but fair comment not activated by malice'. …