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For twenty-five years, Private Eye has been a twice-monthly scourge of journalists, politicians and anyone in the public eye. As it admitted in the book brought out to celebrate its coming of age: 'It is hard to describe, impossible to classify. It still looks a little like an amateur broadsheet.' Nothing has changed.
Lord Gnome, alias Mr Wigwam, alias Richard Ingrams, who sat in the editor's chair for twenty-four years and still is its chairman, boasts with pride the achievements of his organ. He claims a 'Publish and Be Damned' policy to expose humbug. Never, he says, has he published something knowing it to be untrue, although he does not always check his facts, relying on instinct.
Malice In Wonderland uncovers the truth about his untruths. Mr Wigwam's poison pen has been responsible for a 'litany of lies', in the words of Robert Maxwell's counsel. Private Eye told its readers Maxwell had become paymaster for the foreign trips of Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock with the aim of buying a peerage.
Wrong - and a jury of six men and six women took just five hours to brand Private Eye as liars, and award Maxwell a total of £55,000 damages for libel. Estimated costs were another £250,000.