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
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
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
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