Monday, June 21, 2010
Michael Jackson libel case: Why Jane Preston was never going to lose
The Jacksons Are Coming promo/Studio Lambert
While I still linger here in Google Hell, my congrats to film director Jane Preston. She, Studio Lambert and C4 have just seen off a frivolous libel action over her 2008 Michael Jackson TV doc, The Jacksons Are Coming. MJ's penniless former bodyguard Matthew Fiddes dropped his lawsuit, claiming the film was 'fabricated', after racking up costs of £3m, £1.7m of which C4 must pay nonetheless. For why, read here.
I had no doubt of Jane's integrity because of my past dealings with her. She is both courageous and principled.
Of the former virtue: in the early '90s she took on Mirror Group when the People's then editor, the ghastly bully Bridget Rowe (now Ukip Nigel Farage's press sec), fired her for being pregnant. Naturally the socialist organ denied any such thing, but on the court steps, Mirror Group settled the case and gave Jane a lot of lolly. I had played my tiny part in this, writing a long exposé of Rowe's illegal management style for Private Eye, but Jane herself never once thought of backing down. She is a lionheart.
Of the latter virtue: while at the People (pre-Rowe), Jane was commissioned to interview her friend Boy George by the paper's magazine supplement. He wouldn't have spoken to anyone else from the paper. Unfortunately, the then editor, the late Richard Stott, had an abiding loathing of the popstar. He held George responsible for the death of a friend's grownup child through drugs.
When Stott read Jane's sympathetic but newsy piece, he went ballistic and ordered his writer-lapdog Mary Riddell (who churns for the Telegraph now) to re-do it to ensure readers were reminded that George was the chemicals anti-Christ. Somehow Jane got wind of this and at final proof stage undid some of Riddell's damage so that the final piece was broadly as she wrote it. This earned Jane her first firing from the paper and my abiding admiration.
In my experience people very rarely alter over time. Chin-chin, Jane!