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Old 19 June 2013, 09:53 PM
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Icon84 Arkell v. Pressdram 1971

Comment: Was this a real case as described?

Arkell v. Pressdram is an otherwise obscure libel action initiated against the British satirical magazine Private Eye. The substance of the alleged libel was that Arkell was accepting bribes. What made the action famous, and a point of reference years later, was the following exchange of letters:

Solicitor (Goodman Derrick & Co.)

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.

Private Eye

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*ck off.
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Old 19 June 2013, 10:54 PM
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Richard W Richard W is offline
 
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It's certainly a running joke in Private Eye - they still occasionally get legal threats and write them up in a column referring the complainants to the response in Arkell v Pressdram. And it wouldn't make a lot of sense as a joke if something along those lines hadn't happened in the first place.

I'm not sure where you'd look on-line for records of it though. I don't know if it even came to court (if it did, Private Eye won), let alone which court, and civil court records on the internet don't seem to go back that far. Even the criminal court site says it only goes back to 1972, and needs a subscription to search. Lawyers tend to use actual books and printed records, I believe.
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Old 20 June 2013, 03:20 PM
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Seaboe Muffinchucker Seaboe Muffinchucker is offline
 
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Glasses

If I were researching this (and this is what I do), I would actually start by figuring out if Goodman, Derrick & Co is a real firm. Right off the bat, my gut says no because law firms do not generally use "Co", especially not UK firms.

I'd also see whether the case name, or variations of it, turns up in LexisNexis (which has some UK stuff).

Seaboe
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Old 20 June 2013, 03:21 PM
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htonl htonl is offline
 
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My understanding of the story (legend?) is that the case never actually went to court, so there would be no official record of it.

ETA: Goodman Derrick LLP is a real firm.
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Old 20 June 2013, 03:45 PM
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Seaboe Muffinchucker Seaboe Muffinchucker is offline
 
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If there's no official record, then we need to see a copy of the actual letter. Otherwise, it's just a story.

I knew the firm wouldn't use Co. Thanks for tracking them down, htonl.

Seaboe
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Old 20 June 2013, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by htonl View Post
My understanding of the story (legend?) is that the case never actually went to court, so there would be no official record of it.

ETA: Goodman Derrick LLP is a real firm.
Slight hijack...

I'm now stuck reading it as Goodman Durnik!

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Old 20 June 2013, 05:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seaboe Muffinchucker View Post
If there's no official record, then we need to see a copy of the actual letter. Otherwise, it's just a story.

I knew the firm wouldn't use Co. Thanks for tracking them down, htonl.

Seaboe
"& Co" is (or was) in fact a very common usage in the names of solicitors' firms. Solicitors are usually either sole traders or partnerships. The usage is dying out, mainly because it's seen as old fashioned. Most partnerships now seem to style themselves as something like "Goodmans", or "Goodman Derrick".

"LLP" is a Limited Liability Partnership, but it's a business formation that has only existed since (mumble can't remember...). It's a sort of halfway house between a partnerhsip and a Limited Company ("Ltd."), with some obligation to make accounts etc. public, and some corporate protection for partners (for example, if legal action is taken against them).

So Goodman Derrick LLP very likely used to be Goodman Derrick & Co.
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Old 20 June 2013, 05:43 PM
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LLP exists in the US, too.
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Old 20 June 2013, 05:52 PM
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I don't know why I got sidetracked into an explanation of "LLP"!... anyway, what I meant to say was that the LLP business structure has been taken up by a lot of solicitors' firms, who used to operate as traditional partnerships.
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Old 20 June 2013, 06:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
Comment: Was this a real case as described?

Arkell v. Pressdram is an otherwise obscure libel action initiated against the British satirical magazine Private Eye.

This gets a mention in Adam MacQueen's 'Private Eye: The First 50 Years'. Cuttings of the two pieces in the OP are included (with the u not replaced by an asterisk).

They did get a reply back, and though the case did proceed a little further it eventually fell apart and Pressdram recieved costs. Arkell having left Granada around this time.


A later comment from the Eye:

Quote:
Mr Arkell has now, albeit belatedly, complied with the suggestion made to him at an earlier stage of the proceedings.
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