Daily Mail wounded as prized stargazer deserts to arch-rival

An unseemly squabble between the Daily Mail and The Express over an astrologer - involving High Court injunctions, breach of contract writs and pounds 1 million inducements - has been concluded to nobody’s satisfaction.

An unseemly squabble between the Daily Mail and The Express over an

astrologer - involving High Court injunctions, breach of contract writs

and pounds 1 million inducements - has been concluded to nobody’s

satisfaction.



The Daily Mail’s astrologer, Jonathan Cainer, had become disenchanted

with his pounds 500,000-a-year cut of the Mail’s telephone horoscope

revenue and was lured to The Express in time for the crucial new year

horoscope season.



Faced with losing readers and millions of pounds in revenue from

telephone horoscopes, the Mail reacted vigorously.



Cainer claimed the paper offered him pounds 1 million and a doubling of

his cut of the Mail’s telephone horoscope revenue to stay. When he

declined the offer, the paper then threatened to sue him for up to

pounds 2 million for breach of contract, despite the fact that Cainer’s

contract had expired in October 1998.



The cash was to cover the Mail’s already committed costs of promoting

his new year horoscope on TV. The paper also applied for a High Court

injunction to prevent Cainer joining The Express before his nine-month

notice period had been served.



After a meeting of barristers, Cainer reluctantly agreed to a compromise

which allows him to join The Express in February. The angry astrologer

is now kicking his heels at home having reported sick. His daily column

carries a footnote ’Jonathan Cainer is unwell.’



The Mail was expected to go ahead with last weekend’s ’Year 2000

personal forecast for every reader’ promotion, having secured the rights

from Cainer for pounds 100,000.



Meanwhile, The Express has had to shelve its TV campaign promoting

Cainer, which was planned to break on 3 January.



A furious Rosie Boycott has accused the Mail of petulance and sheer

vindictiveness.



A prescient Cainer concluded: ’In my professional opinion I foresee a

dramatic rise in The Express’ sales for the year ahead and a rapid

decline in the Mail’s fortunes.’



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