Northern & Shell pounds 10k payout settles Hello! circulation case

Hello! magazine has settled its legal action in which it alleged that Stan Myerson, managing director of Northern & Shell, publishers of rival OK! magazine, issued false sales figures for Hello! to around 400 advertisers.

Hello! magazine has settled its legal action in which it alleged

that Stan Myerson, managing director of Northern & Shell, publishers of

rival OK! magazine, issued false sales figures for Hello! to around 400

advertisers.



Myerson had circulated a letter which included comparisons of OK!’s and

Hello!’s sales figures for May to October 1998 based on information from

wholesalers.



The High Court action for malicious falsehood was terminated when

Northern & Shell agreed to pay pounds 10,000 to Hello!, which it is

donating to the NSPCC’s Full Stop campaign. Northern & Shell also

promised the Court that it will not publish false figures in future and

will only use audited ABC figures in circulation comparisons.



Hello!’s advertising sales and development manager John Humphrey said:

’They were under-estimating our sales by around 40,000 copies a week

even though half the period in question was covered by an ABC

audit.’



Comparing Northern & Shell’s actions with the recent Birmingham Post and

Mail case, Humphrey added: ’It is a more heinous crime for a competitor

to publish false sales figures. We hope the industry will take as strong

a view about this as they do with the Birmingham case.’



The two bitter rivals are now arguing over the amount of the costs, with

Hello! submitting a legal bill of pounds 200,000 compared to Northern

and Shell’s bill of pounds 40,000. The judge made an interim award of

pounds 75,000 pending an independent assessment.



The two have been locked in a circulation war since the Jan-June ABC

figures showed that OK! had climbed to within 80,000 copies of Hello!’s

493,322 average sale. This follows huge spending by OK! on big celebrity

events such as the wedding of David Beckham and Victoria Adams.



OK! is anticipating further growth in its next ABC result and will

shortly add a 64-page weekly TV guide to the magazine.



Northern and Shell is concerned about the way the result has been

reported, based on Hello!’s account of events, and is taking legal

advice.



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