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NME and Morrissey settle over racism claims

By | Published on Wednesday 13 June 2012


Oh, well this is upsetting news. NME and Morrissey have announced that they are denying us what would almost certainly have been one of the most entertaining court cases of the year by settling their recent legal dispute.

As previously reported, last year Morrissey finally got round to suing the music weekly over an interview it ran with him back in 2007 in which the singer appeared to say that an “immigration explosion” had damaged Britain’s identity.

Morrissey immediately hit out at the magazine and its then editor Conor McNicholas, arguing they had twisted his words to make him look racist, so that the interview would be more sensational and sell more copies. The NME always denied any such editorial meddling.

In November last year, top libel judge Michael Tugendhat ruled that, despite the four year delay between the interview being published and Moz suing, the case could go ahead to full trial.

NME’s publisher IPC Media had initially asked that the case be dismissed, arguing that it would be unfair to expect McNicholas, the interviewer Tim Jonze and then NME editor Krissi Murison-Hodge (Dep Ed at the time of the interview’s publication) to remember conversations and editorial decisions had and made over four years ago.

The company also pointed out that the fact that Morrissey had enjoyed much success as a recording and performing artist in the intervening years made a mockery of his claim the interview had harmed his reputation.

When those arguments were rejected, IPC said, as people tend to in these situations, that it was looking forward to its day in court. But sadly that day will never come, because an out of court settlement was announced yesterday.

The first sign of a shift in the deadlock that existed between the two sides was the publication of an “it was all a misunderstanding, mate” style apology on the NME website yesterday morning, which read: “In December 2007, we published an article entitled ‘Morrissey: Big mouth strikes again’. Following this, Morrissey began proceedings for libel against us. His complaint is that we accused him of being a racist off the back of an interview which he gave to the magazine. He believes the article was edited in such a way that made him seem reactionary”.

Concluding, the magazine said: “We wish to make clear that we do not believe that he is a racist; we didn’t think we were saying he was and we apologie to Morrissey if he or anyone else misunderstood our piece in that way. We never set out to upset Morrissey and we hope we can both get back to doing what we do best”.

IPC then issued a further statement to Music Week, saying: “NME is pleased that it has buried the hatchet with Morrissey in respect of the libel case he brought against us. Morrissey sued over an article based on interviews with him which he believed accused him of racism”.

It continued: “After an on-going dialogue with Morrissey and his representatives, NME today publishes a clarification in the magazine and online which makes it clear that we do not believe we ever called Morrissey a racist and nor do we believe he is. We have said sorry to Morrissey for any misunderstanding that may have arisen”.

Giving details of the actual settlement, the company said: “The settlement with Morrissey does not involve payment of any damages or legal costs (other than the small sum of costs which the court ordered NME to pay last year when we applied unsuccessfully to have the case struck out on grounds of delay)”.

So, there you go. We didn’t get the trial we were looking forward to and Morrissey didn’t get any cash out of it. It’s hard to see what the point of it all was.