Hollinger poised to sue Desmond over Express article

LONDON - Lord Black, chairman of Daily Telegraph parent Hollinger International, is to sue Express Newspapers over reports in the Sunday Express that claimed the company was facing financial crisis.

The media baron's solicitors, Dechert, have written to Express Newspapers, expressing outrage that no attempt had been made to check the accuracy of the claims in the articles.

Lord Black is seeking substantial damages and an injunction against the paper and is claiming that he and his companies have been grossly libelled.

The article, which is the main cause of contention, appeared in the November 3 edition of the Sunday Express, which claimed Hollinger was facing its "biggest crisis ever" after a credit facility "was cancelled by bankers".

Lord Black said in a statement that rather than withdrawing finances from Hollinger, its bank TD Securities had in fact wanted to remain a member of a syndicate that offered better terms than Hollinger's existing facilities.

He also said that the article contained a number of errors, such as Hollinger being the recipient of loan notes instead of being the issuer. He added that had Express Newspapers contacted him to check the facts, he would have explained the correct position of the company.

This is not the first time Lord Black has clashed with Express Newspapers proprietor Richard Desmond. Last year, Desmond lost a legal battle over the sale of Express's 50% stake in their joint venture West Ferry printing plant.

The battle began in April last year, when the two sides could not agree on a price for the 50% stake Desmond acquired in the lucrative printing operation when he bought the newspapers in November 2000 from United Business Media.

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