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Judith Regan has finally filed that long-promised lawsuit against Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. And the complaint certainly doesn’t disappoint. (Here’s the THR story. Here’s the complaint.) Last December, News Corp. fired Regan from its Harper Collins publishing division after controversy erupted over her plans to publish O.J. Simpson’s memoir “If I Did It” and after Regan allegedly complained about a “Jewish cabal” against her. Many anticipated a lawsuit against the Murdoch conglomerate to immediately follow, especially when she hired A-list litigator Bert Fields.
But when Regan’s lawyers finally got around yesterday to delivering the complaint alleging defamation and termination without cause to the New York Supreme Court, a few things stood out: The once-planned $20 million suit had become a $100 million suit. Brian Kerr of New York-based firm Dreier LLP had replaced Regan’s all-star team of Fields in Hollywood and Larry Shire in New York. And most sensationally, just in time for election season, Regan’s complaint included a new charge that a News Corp. senior executive “advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, [government] investigators” about a relationship with former Rudy Giuliani friend and business partner, Bernard Kerik.
Presidential candidate Giuliani’s name-check in this tawdry affair has mostly captured the headlines. But no one should ignore the fact that Regan’s explosive charge has implications beyond her civil case. Lying to federal investigators is a crime, and if a News Corp. senior executive encouraged her to lie, that could be conspiracy to obstruct justice. As UCLA professor and blogger Mark Kleiman puts it:
Now why, you may ask, should anyone believe anything Judith Regan says? I’m glad you asked that question. Her lawyers must surely have known, and told her, that she was making charges of criminal activity, and that if she testifies to those incidents in her civil case she will probably have a chance to testify again, in front of a grand jury. And that if her grand jury testimony doesn’t match her civil-trial testimony she could well be joining her ex-lover behind bars.
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