Claim of 'sour grapes' over job offer

 

LAWYERS FOR Sunday Worldcrime editor Paul Williams have claimed before the High Court that “sour grapes” and fear of competition had motivated the newspaper group’s effort to prevent him joining the News of the World.

The Sunday Worldsecured a temporary injunction last Friday restraining Williams from joining the News of the World for a reported annual salary of €250,000.

When the dispute came before Mr Justice Roderick Murphy yesterday, he agreed to put it in for mention tomorrow, with a view to securing a hearing date.

The Sunday World claims Williams is obliged to serve out a three-month notice period under the provisions of the National Union of Journalists’ house agreement.

John Gordon SC, for Williams, said yesterday his client was employed with the Sunday World under a three-year contract which had expired on January 12th last and this case was a “sour grapes” action to frustrate Williams taking up his appointment.

His client believed it was “fear of competition” which motivated the Sunday World, whose application to prevent him taking up the position was “extraordinary”. A comprehensive replying affidavit was being prepared by Williams, Mr Gordon added.

Counsel for the Sunday Worlddisputed these claims. Both sides indicated they were anxious for an early hearing of the matter.

A 2007 agreement between Mr Williams and the Sunday Worldprovided for him to be paid an annual salary of €145,000, to be increased by 2.5 per cent in 2008 and 2009, plus additional payments for promotional works, the court previously heard.

Sunday Worldmanaging director Gerry Lennon said Williams had formally told him on January 14th he did not wish to renew his contract.

Williams had claimed he was working under a fixed-term contract which expired last week, was entitled to move to another publication and had informed the firm in October last of his intention not to renew his contract.