Regan sues News Corp.

Publisher cites 'smear campaign'

About a year after her dismissal, former powerhouse publishing exec Judith Regan on Tuesday filed a $100 million defamation lawsuit against her former employer, HarperCollins and News Corp.

Regan claims her firing was part of a "deliberate smear campaign" by the media conglomerate to destroy her credibility and reputation.

Regan also claims that politics was at the heart of her dismissal, and not the alleged tastelessness of her attempt to publish O.J. Simpson's "If I Did It."

The suit, filed in New York, claims that it was Rupert Murdoch's political agenda to advance presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani that got her fired in the first place. In particular, the suit claims, her affair with former New York Police Commissioner and former Guiliani aide Bernard Kerik and her knowledge of Kerik's legal woes led to her sacking.

Regan's suit follows by one week Kerik's indictment by a grand jury for conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and lying to the IRS.

"The claims are preposterous," News Corp. spokesman Howard Rubenstein said.

Court papers said that the groundwork for the alleged smear campaign was laid in 2001, when a senior News Corp. executive allegedly told Regan that she should lie to federal investigators about Kerik and that any information she had could hurt Giuliani.

Another HarperCollins executive told Regan to withhold documents relevant to the government's investigation, the suit claims.

It was only when public outcry over the announcement that ReganBooks would publish Simpson's book that Regan's bosses jumped at the chance to destroy her reputation and career, the suit claims.

Simpson's rights to the book eventually were turned over to Fred Goldman, whose son Ronald was killed in 1994 along with Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, outside her Los Angeles condo.

The book's title was expanded to "If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer" and published in September.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.