As a footnote to yesterday’s post about Mitch Mitchell suing Omnibus Press I should add that on the third day of the trial the courtroom was far more crowded that on the preceding two days. At first I thought this was because lots more people had gathered to hear the verdict but this wasn’t the case. It was because, at around 12pm, the judge briefly adjourned our case in order to deliver his verdict on an entirely different, separate case, one involving police brutality. Evidently a prisoner had been injured while in custody at Brixton Police Station and had sued the police over his treatment. Those involved with the Mitchell case were asked to step aside, but not leave the court, while another set of lawyers took their place, following which the judge gave a brief resume of the circumstances surrounding this case and delivered his verdict.
“I find for the claimant,” he announced, or words to that effect. Moments before he said this a reporter whom I later assumed would have been working for Today newspaper had entered the room and, not unnaturally, assumed the judge was ‘finding for the claimant’ in the Mitchell v Omnibus Press case. The reporter left immediately afterwards, evidently without realising that he’d misunderstood which proceedings the judge was referring to.
The consequence of this unfortunate little scenario was that the following day’s Today newspaper carried a report of the Mitchell v Omnibus Press trial stating that Mitchell had won the case.
Having bought an armful of newspapers on my way into work the following morning so as to read their reports of the Mitchell case, I was first to spot this error so I immediately contacted our lawyers who probably rubbed their hands with glee. I think they threatened to sue Today newspaper for falsehood unless they coughed up £5k and printed a retraction, which they promptly did. Icing on the cake really.
Talking of Today newspaper, which closed down 1995, reminds me of a curious incident involving Mary McCartney, daughter of Paul, who worked for Omnibus Press as a photo researcher in 1990, and me. On the day she started work Today carried a story about her in their social column and as a result a few paparazzi were hanging around on Frith Street outside our offices. Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on your point of view – Today had illustrated their story with a photograph of the wrong daughter, in fact Heather McCartney, Linda’s daughter by her first marriage to Joseph See. Heather, of course, was blonde like her mother while Mary was dark, like her father.
At lunchtime on her first day Mary decided to head out to buy a sandwich but felt uncomfortable walking past the paps in the street, so – as her boss – I offered to accompany her, pointing out that they were holding a copy of Today newspaper and were probably looking for a blonde girl. In the event that’s exactly what happened. The paps looked at Mary and I, glanced at the newspaper and then ignored us. We thought it was a hoot.
Having Mary as my photo researcher resulted in a few unusual encounters with her dad, but I’ll save all that for another post.