Judith Regan, the book publisher who was fired by the News Corporation last year, asserts in a lawsuit filed today that a senior executive at the media conglomerate encouraged her to mislead federal investigators about her relationship with Bernard B. Kerik during his bid to become homeland security secretary in late 2004.
The lawsuit asserts that the News Corporation executive wanted to protect the presidential aspirations of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Kerik’s mentor, who had appointed him New York City police commissioner and had recommended him for the federal post.
Ms. Regan makes the charge at the start of a 70-page filing that seeks $100 million in damages for what she says was a campaign to smear and discredit her by her bosses at HarperCollins and its parent company, the News Corporation, after her project to publish a book with O.J. Simpson was abandoned amid a storm of protest.
In the civil complaint filed in state court in Manhattan, Ms. Regan says the company has long sought to promote Mr. Giuliani’s ambitions. But the lawsuit does not elaborate on that charge, or identify the executive who she alleged pressured her to mislead investigators, nor does it offer details or evidence to back up her claim.
Ms. Regan had an affair with Mr. Kerik, who is married, beginning in the spring of 2001, when her imprint, Regan Books, began work on his memoir, “The Lost Son.” In December 2004, after the relationship had ended and shortly after Mr. Kerik’s homeland security nomination fell apart, newspapers reported that the two had carried on the affair at an apartment near Ground Zero that had been donated as a respite for rescue and recovery workers.
Mr. Kerik, who in 2004 said he withdrew his nomination because of problems with his hiring of a nanny, was indicted last week on federal tax fraud and other charges.
“Defendants were well aware that Regan had a personal relationship with Kerik,” the complaint says. “In fact, 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. This executive advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik.”
Officials of the News Corporation were asked in a telephone call for comment on the lawsuit, but had yet to issue a statement.
Lawyer: She has evidence
One of Ms. Regan’s lawyers, Brian C. Kerr of the firm Dreier L.L.P., said she possesses evidence to support her claim that she was advised to lie to federal investigators who were vetting Mr. Kerik. But Mr. Kerr declined to discuss the nature of the evidence.
“We’re fully confident that the evidence will show that Judith Regan was the victim of a vicious smear campaign engineered by News Corp. and HarperCollins,” Mr. Kerr said.
The News Corporation controls a vast array of media outlets worldwide, including Twentieth Century Fox, the New York Post and the Fox News Channel, where Ms. Regan once hosted a talk show.