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Arkell v. Pressdram

The satyrical magazine, Private Eye, is published by Pressdram Limited. An unlikely piece of British legal history occurred in the case Arkell v. Pressdram in 1971.

Private Eye had published an artical accusing Mr Arkell of heavy-handed debt enforcement tactics. Mr Arkell's solicitor wrote to Private Eye:
We act for Mr Arkell who is Retail Credit Manager of Granada TV Rental Ltd. His attention has been drawn to an article appearing in the issue of Private Eye dated 9th April 1971 on page 4. The statements made about Mr Arkell are entirely untrue and clearly highly defamatory. We are therefore instructed to require from you immediately your proposals for dealing with the matter. Mr Arkell's first concern is that there should be a full retraction at the earliest possible date in Private Eye and he will also want his costs paid. His attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of your reply.
Private Eye replied:
We acknowledge your letter of 29th April referring to Mr J. Arkell. We note that Mr Arkell's attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of our reply and would therefore be grateful if you would inform us what his attitude to damages would be, were he to learn that the nature of our reply is as follows: fuck off.
Mr Arkell dropped the case. In the years since, the magazine would use this case as a euphemism for an obscene reply: for example, "We refer you to the reply given in the case of Arkell v. Pressdram"; or, perhaps, "His reply was similar to that given to the plaintiff in Arkell v. Pressdram".

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