News Corp. Sues Saddam’s Lawyer Over News of the World Site

Giovanni Di Stefano, the Italian lawyer for Saddam Hussein and former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, was sued by News Corp.’s U.K. unit for using a Web address with the name of its defunct News of the World tabloid.

News of the World Online Ltd. and Di Stefano were sued on March 23 in London over claims they violated News Corp.’s U.K. trademark for the 168-year-old tabloid closed in July by Chairman Rupert Murdoch in response to a phone-hacking scandal.

Di Stefano was charged by U.K. prosecutors a year ago with money laundering, stealing a BMW, lying about his legal qualifications and obtaining money transfers and property by deception. His fraud trial is scheduled to begin in January 2013, according to the U.K.’s Crown Prosecution Service.

Di Stefano, who frequently traveled to Iraq during cases that resulted in Hussein being hanged in 2006, also represented former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz and former Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan. He earlier represented U.K. physician Harold Shipman, known as “Doctor Death” because he murdered at least 215 of his patients over 23 years.

The lawyer didn’t respond to e-mails seeking comment on the lawsuit and phone numbers listed on his law firm’s website weren’t answered.

In the fraud case, Di Stefano was detained on a European Arrest Warrant from Spain in relation to events between 2004 and 2009, prosecutors said at the time. The CPS in London wasn’t able to comment on whether Di Stefano was free on bail.

Public Outrage

Murdoch shuttered the News of the World to help contain public outrage after it was revealed the tabloid hacked into the voice mails of a murdered schoolgirl. London police have arrested more than 30 people in three probes of the company and identified more than 800 likely victims of the practice.

The disputed News of the World website isn’t currently working. The site for the defunct paper, which is slightly different from Di Stefano’s Web address, is maintained by News Corp. (NWSA) and says, “Thank you and goodbye.” The tabloid was Britain’s best-selling Sunday paper.

Daisy Dunlop, a spokeswoman for News Corp.’s U.K. unit, News International, confirmed the lawsuit had been filed and declined to comment further.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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