Former book publisher Judith Regan filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., charging that a senior executive there urged her to lie to federal investigators about her affair with Bernard Kerik.
The suit alleges that the executive sought to protect the presidential hopes of Rudy Giuliani, who had appointed Kerik as New York City police commissioner and then in 2004 recommended him for the post of homeland security secretary.
“A senior executive in the News Corporation organization told Regan that he believed she had information about Kerik that, if disclosed, would harm Giuliani’s presidential campaign,” the lawsuit asserts.
“This executive advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik.”
The complaint also maintains that another executive advised her “not to produce clearly relevant documents in connection with the government’s investigation of Kerik.”
The lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan seeks $100 million in damages. It does not identify either of the two executives, or say whether Regan was actually interviewed by federal agents as part of the probe into Kerik’s fitness for the homeland security job.
Regan began an affair with Kerik, who is married, in the spring of 2001, when her HarperCollins imprint, ReganBooks, prepared to publish his memoir, “The Lost Son,” according to the New York Times.
In late 2004, after the affair had ended, revelations surfaced that Kerik and Regan had carried on the affair at an apartment in Lower Manhattan that had been donated as a haven for rescue and recovery workers at nearby ground zero.
Shortly before that disclosure, Kerik had withdrawn his nomination for the federal post, admitting that he had hired an illegal alien as a nanny. Last week Kerik was indicted on federal tax fraud and other charges.
Regan was fired by HarperCollins last December, following a barrage of negative publicity aimed at her plan to publish a book, “If I Did It,” that was to be a hypothetical confession by O.J. Simpson to the murders of his wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman.
At the time, News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch called the Simpson book “ill considered,” the Times reported.
The suit alleges that company executives had launched a campaign to discredit Regan even before she was terminated by releasing “false” and “defamatory” statements to the press.
One of Regan’s attorneys, Brian C. Kerr, said: “We are fully confident that the evidence will show that Judith Regan was the victim of a vicious smear campaign engineered by News Corporation and Harper Collins.” Both entities are named in the suit.
The complaint states: “This smear campaign was necessary to advance News Corp.’s political agenda, which has long centered on protecting Rudy Giuliani’s presidential ambitions…
“Thus, because of the damaging information that defendants believed Regan possessed, defendants knew they would be protecting Giuliani if they could pre-emptively discredit her.”
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