(1) The Orion Publishing Group Limited
(2) Brian Magee
(3) Orion Books Limited
Statement in Open Court
My Lord, in this action I appear for the Claimant Ralph Schoenman, my friend Roy Furness appears for the Defendants, The Orion Publishing Group Limited, Mr. Brian Magee and Orion Books Limited.
The Claimant in this action for a libel is a well-known lecturer and author. He has been active in political life for many years. He was privileged to be a close friend and colleague of Bertrand Russell between 1960 and 1968. Between 1961 and 1965 he had the honorary title of Secretary to Bertrand Russell. He was Executive Director of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation in which capacity he helped to secure the release of political prisoners in many countries and initiated the International Tribunal on US War-Crimes in Indo-China, of which he was Secretary General.
The Claimant initiated the Committee of One Hundred which organised civil disobedience against nuclear weapons and US bases in Great Britain. He was founder and director of the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign and Director of the Who Killed Kennedy Committee.
He has been a leader of the Committee for Artistic and Intellectual Freedom in Iran, Co-Director of the Committee in Defense of the Palestinian and Lebanese Peoples, and Executive Director of the Palestine Campaign, as well as American Workers and Artists for Solidarity. He is a member of the steering committee of the Permanent Committee Against War and Exploitation, and has written a number of works and contributes to a variety of magazines and lectures at universities.
The Second Defendant is the author of an introduction to philosophy called Confessions of a Philosopher. The First Defendant and the Third Defendant are the publishers of the book in hardback and paperback in the United Kingdom. In the book, the Second Defendant claimed that many people had suspected that the Claimant had been planted on Bertrand Russell by the CIA with the mission of discrediting him internationally and that this is what occurred as a direct result of the Claimant's handling of Bertrand Russell. The First Defendant said that if he had to bet, he would opt for this conclusion.
The Claimant has opposed the National Security State and the role of the intelligence agencies within it for the past 45 years. The Defendants accept that this allegation was entirely without foundation, is absolutely untrue and should never have been published, since neither the author nor the publishers ever had any evidence, nor are they aware of any evidence, that supports such a serious allegation. The allegation could not have been more damaging to the Claimant's reputation and standing with colleagues and has caused the Claimant considerable distress.
The Second Defendant also wrote and the First and Third Defendants published what they now accept is an unfounded allegation that the Claimant intercepted the Second Defendant's telephone calls and letters to Bertrand Russell. Although it is correct that the Claimant was a friend and colleague of Bertrand Russell for a ten-year period, this allegation is entirely untrue and deeply wounding to the Claimant. The Claimant has always travelled regularly, and it would have been impossible for him to intercept communications to Bertrand Russell, even if he had been inclined to control Bertrand Russell, which he was not. Bertrand Russell saw every one of his letters whenever the Claimant was with Bertrand Russell and nothing was written without Bertrand Russell's express approval. The Second Defendant accepts that he misinterpreted his own experiences at the time and he and the First and Third Defendants withdraw this allegation unreservedly.
The Second Defendant described the Claimant as "an appallingly sinister figure, like an evil dwarf out of Wagner's Ring, and his motivations were unquestionably calculated and manipulative." This wholly unmerited and malicious description of the Claimant which should never have been published is unreservedly withdrawn.
The Defendants accept their serious error in publishing their libels and recognise the considerable damage they have done to the Claimant. The Defendants are here today by their Solicitor to withdraw all of these allegations and to apologise publicly to the Claimant. The Defendants have recalled for destruction unsold copies of both the hardback and the paperback editions of the book and have given their undertaking not to distribute or otherwise publish or cause to be published any future editions containing the passages objected to by the Claimant. They have also agreed to pay to the Claimant a very substantial sum by way of damages and to pay his legal costs.
My Lord, I wish to associate myself on behalf of the Defendants with all that has been said by Counsel for the Claimant and to repeat the Defendants' regrets and apologies for the fact that these statements were ever published. They undertake to the Court not to repeat any of these alllegations.
My Lord, I ask for leave to withdraw the record.