“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.
“Robert Maxwell (Captain Bob) also sued, for the suggestion he looked like a criminal. He won a significant sum. The editor, Ian Hislop, summarised the case: ‘I’ve just given a fat cheque to a fat Czech’ and later claimed this was the only known example of a joke being told on News At Ten.
Sonia Sutcliffe also sued after allegations that she used her connection to her husband, the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, to make money. She won £600,000 which was later reduced to £60,000 on appeal. However, the initial award caused Hislop to quip outside the court: “If this is justice, I’m a banana.”
Readers raised a considerable sum in the “bananaballs fund”, and Private Eye scored a PR coup by donating the surplus to the families of Sutcliffe’s victims.