“In fact,” the complaint said, “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.”
Mr. Redniss, in his affidavit, referred to “a recorded telephone call between Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News (a News Corp. company) and Regan, in which Mr. Ailes discussed with Regan her responses to questions regarding her personal relationship with Bernard Kerik.”
“The ‘Ailes’ matter became a focal point of our work,” Mr. Redniss continued.
The dispute involves a cast of well-known and outsize personalities: it also includes some New Yorkers who have suffered spectacular career meltdowns.
Mr. Kerik, was sent to prison last year after pleading guilty to federal charges including tax fraud and lying to White House officials.
The law firm Ms. Regan hired to draft her complaint against News Corporation was headed by Marc S. Dreier, whose firm was cast into bankruptcy in 2008 when he was charged with a $100 million fraud scheme. The firm’s suit seeking the contingency fee from Ms. Regan is being led by the bankruptcy trustee handling the dissolution of the firm. Mr. Redniss was a co-counsel to the Dreier firm.
Ms. Regan’s own crash was remarkable in itself. While often controversial for her book choices, which ranged from literary novels to sex advice from a pornography star, her imprint at HarperCollins had become one of the more financially successful in the business.
The end came quickly in late 2006. Rupert Murdoch, the News Corporation chairman, was quoted saying it had been “ill advised” for her to pursue “If I Did It,” a hypothetical murder confession by O. J. Simpson. A novel that included imagined drunken escapades by Mickey Mantle drew another round of outrage.
Then News Corporation said Ms. Regan had been fired because she made an anti-Semitic remark to a Jewish HarperCollins lawyer, Mark H. Jackson, in describing the internal campaign to fire her as a “Jewish cabal.”
In her suit in 2007, Ms. Regan said the book controversies had been trumped up and the anti-Semitic remark invented to discredit her, should she ever speak out about Mr. Kerik in ways that would harm Mr. Giuliani’s image. The new court documents expand upon that charge and link it to Mr. Ailes.
Mr. Redniss wrote in an affidavit that Ms. Regan told him that Mr. Ailes sought to brand her as promiscuous and crazy.
“Regan believed that Ailes and News Corp. subsidiary Fox News had an interest in protecting Giuliani’s bid for the U.S. presidency,” he wrote.
Depending on the specifics, the conversation could possibly rise to the level of conspiring to lie to federal officials, a federal crime, but prosecutors rarely pursue such cases, said Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia University law professor and former federal prosecutor.
“In the scheme of things there are other priorities, and these are not necessarily easy cases to make,” Mr. Richman said.
As part of the settlement in January 2008, News Corporation publicly retracted the allegation that Ms. Regan had made an anti-Semitic remark to Mr. Jackson, who has since been promoted to general counsel of Dow Jones & Company, the News Corporation subsidiary that owns The Wall Street Journal.
The court records examined by The New York Times this week — which have subsequently been taken out of the public case file — also reveal another interesting footnote. After Ms. Regan fired her lawyers, a seemingly unlikely figure came forward to help settle the case: Susan Estrich, a law professor and a regular Fox commentator whose book Ms. Regan had published, according Ms. Regan’s affidavit.
William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.