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Judith Regan says Roger Ailes told her to lie

By A. James Memmott

February 26, 2011 at 1:55pm

The settlement in 2008 of former publisher Judith Regan’s $100 million lawsuit against News Corp. and other parties left several unanswered questions.

One of the many shoes that didn’t drop when Regan agreed to a confidential settlement of $10.75 million was the name of the News Corp. senior executive who allegedly told her in 2004 to withhold information about Bernard B. Kerik from investigators.

A former New York City police commissioner, Kerik was undergoing background checks following his nomination as secretary of homeland security.

The New York Times reported this week that papers in another lawsuit indicate that Roger E. Ailes, the chairman of Fox News, a News Corp. subsidiary, was the unnamed executive in a conversation Regan recorded.

Regan had had an affair with Kerik. In her lawsuit, she contended that the executive was concerned that information she had about Kerik would damage the presidential aspirations of former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Ailes was a friend of Giuliani and a political adviser. Kerik was police commissioner under Giuliani and later an associate in the firm Giuliani Partners.

Kerik, who never became Homeland Security chief, reached a plea agreement in November 2009 on several federal charges, including tax fraud. He is now serving a four-year prison sentence.

On Wednesday, a News Corp. spokesman “did not deny that Mr. Ailes was the executive on the recording” of the call to Regan, according to the Times.

However, the spokeswoman said that News Corp. has a letter from Regan “stating that Mr. Ailes did not intend to influence her with respect to a government investigation.” News Corp. did not release the letter.

A lawyer for Regan told the Times that the description of the letter “did not represent Ms. Regan’s complete statement.”

The identification of Ailes surfaced in a lawsuit filed in 2008 on behalf of the lawyers who represented Regan in her lawsuit against News Corp.

Their suit contends that Regan dismissed their firm, Dreier LLP, just as she was about to agree to a settlement, thereby depriving the firm of its 25 percent contingency fee.

Drier LLP filed for bankruptcy in 2008 after its founder Marc S. Dreier was indicted for defrauding investors of at least $400 million. He later pleaded guilty and is serving a 20-year federal prison sentence.

Regan’s fall from power doesn’t rival that of Kerik and Dreier. But her 2006 firing by HarperCollins, a subsidiary of News Corp., ended a successful and controversial run as a publisher and editor.

Regan had her own imprint at HarperCollins, ReganBooks. Through the years, her authors included Wally Lamb, Jackie Collins, Gloria Allred and Arianna Huffington.

In her lawsuit against News Corp., she contended that her employers had engaged in a smear campaign, suggesting, among other things, that she was anti-Semitic.

At the time of the settlement, News Corp. issued a statement saying that Regan was “not anti-Semitic.”

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