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Morrissey's libel trial against NME can go ahead

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Morrissey performing to a sell-out crowd at Vicar Street, Ireland.

© WENN / Wenn.com

Morrissey's libel action against the NME over a controversial 2007 interview about his attitudes to immigration can be heard before a jury, the high court has said today.

The 52-year-old is attempting to sue NME's former editor Conor McNicholas and the magazine's publisher IPC Media for libel over the interview, claiming that he was deliberately characterised as a racist.

At a hearing earlier in the month, lawyers representing the singer said that he "continues to suffer" reputational damage from the interview, in which he appeared to complain that an "immigration explosion" had led to an erosion of British identity.

However, Catrin Evans, the counsel representing IPC Media, had asked the high court to "strike out" the action due to the length of time it had taken Morrissey to pursue his case, arguing that it was "not a genuine bid for vindication".

She also noted that Morrissey "by his own actions" had since provoked "more topical" accusations of racism, such as in an interview with The Guardian in September 2010 in which he reportedly described Chinese people as a "subspecies".

"The fact that [Morrissey] has spent the three years since March 2008 recording albums, touring, promoting his new work and presumably doing well enough commercially to be able now to contemplate funding this libel claim, shows that his reputation has been unaffected. His fans apparently still love him," Evans told the court last week.

Morrissey's lawyers successfully argued that the lack of co-operation from his former manager, Merck Mercuriadis, was the reason behind the long delay in progressing his claim against the NME.

The musician parted company with the manager in May 2008, but claims that Mercuriadis was required as a crucial witness and also had documents pertaining to the case.

Morrissey was not in court today to hear that his case can proceed to trial, which is unlikely to go ahead until summer 2012.

An NME spokesperson said in a statement: "NME recently sought to strike out Morrissey's claim on grounds of a lengthy delay. After almost four years, we are glad that the matter will now proceed to trial and we will finally get the opportunity to bring this matter to a close."

In 2008, Morrissey won an apology in court from Word magazine after claiming that an article by journalist David Quantick suggested he might be a racist.

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