Legal Exchange of the Day

If someone threatens me with a libel suit, I have to remember to cite Arkell v. Pressdram.

It involved an English magazine, Private Eye, which had a uncovered that a man named James Arkell had been taking kickbacks to throw debt collection business to some firms.

Arkell’s solicitor demanded a retraction:

9th April 1971

Dear Sir,

We act for Mr Arkell who is Retail Credit Manager of Granada TV Rental Ltd. His attention has been drawn to an article appearing in the issue of Private Eye dated 9th April 1971 on page 4. The statements made about Mr Arkell are entirely untrue and clearly highly defamatory. We are therefore instructed to require from you immediately your proposals for dealing with the matter.

Mr Arkell’s first concern is that there should be a full retraction at the earliest possible date in Private Eye and he will also want his costs paid. His attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of your reply.



Goodman Derrick & Co.

Private Eye, published by Pressdram, Ltd., made this response:

Dear Sirs,

We acknowledge your letter of 29th April referring to Mr. J. Arkell.

We note that Mr Arkell’s attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of our reply and would therefore be grateful if you would inform us what his attitude to damages would be, were he to learn that the nature of our reply is as follows: f%$# off.


Private Eye

(%$# mine)

I’m going to have to remember the legal citation.

Leave a Reply