Background: Richard Desmond is the owner of the Daily Express, and publisher of many of Britain’s finest (?) porn magazines. The Daily Express has just switched political allegiance, and is now backing the Conservative Party under Michael Howard.
Desmond wanted to buy the Daily Telegraph, but the price he was quoted was too high. In the mean time, the German Axel Springer publishing group has put in a bid for the Telegraph.
Desmond recently met with the Daily Telegraph’s CEO Jeremy Deedes for a business meeting, to discuss the Eastferry Printing Works which the Telegraph and Express own jointly. Several other members of the Telegraph and Express boards of directors were at the meeting. Now read on…
The meeting started with the directors of the Express greeting Deedes and the Telegraph finance director with a chorus of “guten morgen” and “sehr gut”. A minute or so into the meeting, Desmond put on a mock German accent and asked the Telegraph bosses if they were looking forward to being run by Nazis.
Deedes replied “That’s not very helpful,” and pointed out that Axel Springer’s published philosophy includes a commitment to the state of Israel.
Desmond: “They’re all Nazis.”
Deedes: “That is thoroughly offensive. Could you please sit down so we can start the meeting?”
Desmond: “Don’t you tell me to sit down, you miserable little piece of shit.”
According to witnesses, Desmond then proceeded to launch into a “stream of foul-mouthed abuse, both personal and general”, lasting for several minutes and ending thusly:
Desmond: “After three years dealing with a bunch of crooks I’m starting to enjoy this. You sat down with that fucking fat crook [Conrad Black] and did nothing.”
Deedes once again expressed displeasure at Desmond’s tone, which got the retort “Do you want to come outside and sort it out, then?”
The Telegraph directors decided to abandon the meeting at this point. As they stood up, Desmond ordered the Express board of directors to sing Deutschland Über Alles, and then began goose-stepping around the conference room like Basil Fawlty, complete with index finger above his lip.
An extraordinary performance, the man should be editor of the Daily Mail. Full story is in The Guardian.
Yes, when it comes to grossly unprofessional behavior, Britain can still show the CEOs of America a thing or two…