Private Eye often reports on the misdeeds of powerful and important individuals and, consequently, has received numerous libel writs throughout its history. These include three issued by James Goldsmith (known in the magazine as “(Sir) Jammy Fishpaste”) and several by Robert Maxwell (known as “Captain Bob”), one of which resulted in the award of costs and reported damages of £225,000, and attacks on the magazine by Maxwell through a book, Malice in Wonderland, and a one-off magazine, Not Private Eye. Its defenders point out that it often carries news that the mainstream press will not print for fear of legal reprisals or because the material is of minority interest.
As well as covering a wide range of current affairs, Private Eye is also known for highlighting the errors and hypocritical behaviour of newspapers in the “Street of Shame” column. It reports on parliamentary and national political issues, with regional and local politics covered in equal depth under the “Rotten Boroughs” column. Extensive investigative journalism is published under the “In the Back” section, often tackling cover-ups and unreported scandals. A financial column called “In the City”, written by Michael Gillard under the pseudonym “Slicker”, has generated a wide business readership as a number of significant financial scandals and unethical business practices and personalities have been exposed there.
Some contributors to Private Eye are media figures or specialists in their field who write anonymously, often under humorous pseudonyms, such as “Dr B Ching” who writes the “Signal Failures” column about the railways, in reference to the Beeching cuts. Stories sometimes originate from writers for more mainstream publications who cannot get their stories published by their main employers.
Private Eye is the UK’s number one best-selling news and current affairs magazine, edited by Ian Hislop. It offers a unique blend of humour, social and political observations and investigative journalism. Published fortnightly, the magazine is read by over 700,000 readers and costs just £1.80 an issue.
Website – http://www.private-eye.co.uk