Celebrated US wine critic Robert Parker arrived in Paris last week to hear charges for alleged defamation in a second case brought against him by his former assistant, it has emerged.
Hanna Agostini, who translated several Parker books for the French market and, more recently, wrote the higly critical exposé ‘Parker: Anatomy of a Myth’, brought civil and criminal charges against Parker following comments he published on his website in November 2007.
Coming soon after the publication of Anatomy of a Myth, his comments referred to a separate case that Agostini is being investigated for. He said that she faced a prison sentence, and discussed the potential financial penalties she could receive.
The US critic said on his bulletin board that the author was facing a jail term of five years and a possible fine of €1m (£0.7m, US$1.5m) for fraud and misrepresentation. He added that the charges against her were ‘overwhelming’.
The civil case, heard in March, found that Parker had violated her ‘presumption of innocence’ and awarded his one-time collaborator €2,000 in damages – a decision that the critic has appealed. The appeal is due to be decided next month.
However, a Paris judge on Friday began formally looking into the criminal defamation claims and decanter.com has learned that Parker was in the French capital to hear the charges.
Agostini’s lawyer, Fabrice de la Voye, said that the US critic made no legal challenge to his client’s book but had ‘launched a diatribe on his website about her personally’.
‘Ms Agostini spent many years working with Mr Parker,’ he added. ‘He completely abandoned her when she faced difficulties, and he has now attacked her character and integrity.’
When contacted, Parker’s office would not comment on the case.
Agostini is facing charges in Bordeaux over alleged forgery in a wine-trafficking affair connected to Belgian wine trader Geens.
She was questioned in 2003 in connection with consultancy work she did for Geens between 1999 and 2001. Among other charges, it is alleged she invoiced Geens using the headed notepaper of Parker’s Wine Advocate publication.
Agostini denies the allegations.
Written by Jane Anson