14 MARCH 1998, Page 30

Evans on Young

Sir: Mr Toby Young seems to be making a cottage industry out of denigrating me in various publications. I have ignored his cam- paign to date, but the article you published entitled 'Harry in a spin' (29 November 1997) is such an escalation, so untrue and so malicious that I cannot let it go. The inaccu- racies and lies are manifold, errors consis- tently in support of the general drift of the article that I have lied about my career, acted beyond my authority as president of Random House, am generally incompetent, and since my arrival in the United States in 1984 have had to be found 'figurehead' roles by a friend. Young's fabrications: 1. The statement that I bought the mem- oir of Dick Morris after Morris's disgrace in August 1996 and without consultation with Mr S.I. Newhouse, the owner of Random House, is utterly false. Mr Newhouse and his chief executive of Random House, Inc., Mr Alberto Vitale, were jointly involved with me in the purchase of the memoir nearly a year before the disgrace. Nobody signed the contract with a man who had already been publicly disgraced, as Young asserts. Young further falsely asserts that Mr Newhouse 'let it be known that he had not approved'. In addition to approving the purchase, Mr Newhouse indicated in writing — after the scandal — that he was pleased Random House had acquired the rights.

2. Mr Newhouse did not 'signal his dis- pleasure' to me on this or any other occa- sion. On the contrary, he expressed his con- tinuing enthusiasm for and appreciation of the revitalisation of Random House by me and my colleagues at Random House.

3. Young develops his phoney thesis by saying that the supposedly displeased Mr


Newhouse then promoted my colleague Ann Godoff. The person who recruited and successively promoted Ann Godoff from executive editor to editorial director and finally to editor-in-chief was me. The state- ment that Ann's title as editor-in-chief 'had belonged to Harry' is also another of Young's inventions. My title was always president and publisher, which is the senior position responsible for acquisitions, pub- lishing, marketing, financial performance and staff: the editor-in-chief reports to the president and publisher.

4. Ann Godoff was not given 'control over the Random House imprint's budget'.

I gave Ann enlarged roles commensurate with her advancement first to editorial director and then editor-in-chief, but I remained responsible for, and in control of, the Random House budget until the day I resigned. I retained financial approval of every book purchase in the Random House trade group (Random House, Villard, Times and Modem Library) though those above the president's discretionary level of investment continued to require the cus- tomary approval also of Mr Vitale, the CEO: Morris was one such case.

5. 'Privately, he [Newhouse] let Harry know that he had until the end of the year to find another job.' Another poisonous fabrication. This is the exact opposite of the truth. In April 1997, six months before my existing contract was due to expire, I was asked to take on additional duties and as inducement was invited to accept a new two- to three-year contract to run to 1999 with an option to go to 2000. The new con- tract post-dated publication of the Morris book and Mr Newhouse's supposed dis- pleasure.

6. I never lobbied behind the scenes, as Young says, or anywhere else, discreetly or indiscreetly, for chairmanship of the Arts Council in Britain.

7. My wife and I did not cancel dinner with Random House author Robert Harris in England because Mr Peter Mandelson would not be attending. When Young called Mr Harris, he was told the story was untrue but went ahead and wrote it anyway without mention of Mr Harris's repudiation.

8. I and everyone in the New York Labor party made it clear throughout that they could not accept foreign donations. Raising money was only one aspect of the New York group's activities.

9. The suggestion that I courted Michael Eisner of Disney for a job is yet another of Young's flights of fancy. Mr Eisner had cho- sen me and Random House as his publisher for his business memoir. I was personally editing Mr Eisner's book and gave a dinner in New York connected with that purpose.

10. My wife has never discussed my career with Mr Eisner nor hinted at a career for me with Disney. It would be unthinkable. 11. Alas, I was never in a 'figurehead' role at either the Atlantic Monthly Press or US News in the early Eighties, as Young asserts. I had to work!

12. Young also says that Mr Zuckerman offered me a figurehead role in 1984, 'so that he could accompany Tina to America when she came over to edit Vanity Fair'. But we were both already in the United States. And my appointment by Mr Zucker- man had nothing to do with my wife's arrival in the United States.

13. It is yet another outright lie by Toby Young to say that I advised Zuckerman `not to hire David Yelland [of the New York Post] as editor of the Daily News'.

Harold Evans

US News, 450 West 33rd Street, New York, USA