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Richard Clive Desmond (born 8 December 1951) is an English publisher. He is the current owner of Express Newspapers and founder in 1974 of Northern and Shell, which publishes various celebrity magazines: OK!, New! and Star (in the UK). He also owns a television production company Portland TV which broadcasts Fantasy Channel and Red Hot TV and others.

In 2009 he was ranked the 44th equal richest man in Britain according to the Sunday Times Rich List, with his net worth £950 million.

Personal life

Desmond grew up in north Londonmarker and left school at 14, due to poor academic performance. His first job was for Thomson Newspapers, working in classified advertisements. He moved to another company, and by 21 owned two record shops. He acquired an interest in publishing. Since then Desmond has built the privately-owned group into Britain's leading independent publishing business, with annual revenues close to £500m and more than 2,000 people employed in its offices in London, Broughton, Glasgow, Dublin, New York, and Los Angeles, plus the offices of 50% joint venture partnerships in Sydney and Hamburg.

He is a philanthropist and in 2006 was appointed head of Norwood, helping children in need. Desmond currently lives in North Londonmarker. He has been married for more than 25 years and has one son, Robert.

Publishing career

Desmond founded Northern and Shell in 1974 and launched a magazine called International Musician and Recording World. In 1983, Northern and Shell obtained the license to publish Penthouse in the United Kingdom which led to its publishing a range of adult titles which were later sold in 2004. It was the first company to move to the revamped Docklandsmarker and the Princess Royal opened the offices. When the company moved to the Northern & Shell Tower Prince Philip did the honours.

In November 2000 Northern & Shell acquired Express Newspapers from United News & Media for £125m, enlarging the group to include the Daily and Sunday Express titles, the Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday (which Desmond started), and the Irish Star (owned jointly with the Irish Independent group). The Daily and Sunday Express each sell around 700,000 copies per issue.. The Daily Star is currently the only national paper to put on sales year on year with and 18% increase [September 2008 - September 2009] and circulation figures of around 850,000.

Northern & Shell also publishes a wide range of magazines including the celebrity weekly, OK!, started as a monthly in 1993, which is the largest weekly magazine in the world with over 23 separate editions from the US to Australia to Azerbaijan with a readership in excess of 31 million.

After buying Express Newspapers, Desmond became embroiled in a feud with Viscount Rothermere, publisher of the Daily Mail, the rival of the Daily Express, largely derived from stories relating to Rothermere's private life.

In April 2004, the Daily Express reverted to supporting the Conservatives, after a period backing Labour. On the same day Desmond accused The Daily Telegraph, then considering accepting a takeover by the Germanmarker Axel Springer group, of giving in to Nazis. Desmond reportedly harangued The Daily Telegraph's chief executive and associates in faux German at a business meeting and imitated Adolf Hitler.

In 2005, The Guardian reported that Desmond became unwittingly caught up in a pornographic telephone and internet scam which lead to him receiving death threats from the New York Gambino mafia family, according to documents released during a court case.. Desmond has always denied this.

In 2008, Northern & Shell reported a turnover of £483.9m.

Charitable work

Desmond is an active supporter of children’s charities, and he became president of the Norwood Charity in 2006.In 2003 Desmond and Roger Daltrey formed the RD Crusaders, a super group featuring Desmond on drums, in order to raise money for charitable causes. Since its inception the group has raised around £14million via a series of fundraising concerts for charities including Marie Curie, The Teenage Cancer Trust, Norwood Child Care and the Evelina Children’s Hospital. As well as Daltrey and Desmond, the lineup has also included Robert Plant, Lulu, Steve Harley, guitarists Russ Ballard (of Argent) and Rick Wills (of Foreigner and Bad Company), keyboardist Steve Smith and organist Zoot Money.

Desmond also helped build the Richard Desmond Children’s Eye Centre part of Moorfields Eye Hospital, which is the world’s largest specialist paediatric eye clinic, treating more than 25,000 children a year. The building was opened in 2007 by HM The Queen, who also recently visited one of the homes of Norwood with him.

Libel case

Litigation began at the High Court on 6 July 2009 over claims in journalist Tom Bower's biography Conrad and Lady Black: Dancing on the Edge that Desmond had made a "humiliating climbdown" over an Express story at the end of 2002 which was on the state of Black's finances, which it was alleged Desmond had ordered to be written. This claim of a weakening of Desmond's "super-tough" reputation as a businessman was viewed as defamation by Desmond. Bower denied libel on the grounds of the story being "substantially true". The following day, the presiding judge The Hon. Mr Justice Eady, discharged the jury as "fundamental" evidence and legal submissions had emerged.

See also


  2. (December 2008)
  5. James Robinson "Tom Bower book damaged Richard Desmond's 'super-tough' reputation, court hears", The Guardian, 7 July 2009
  6. Alex Spence "Jury discharged in Richard Desmond libel case", The Times, 7 July 2009

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