Milo Yiannopoulos’ lawyers have reportedly asked to step down from his lawsuit against Simon & Schuster following a “breakdown in the relationship”, with the former Breitbart editor announcing he will now represent himself in court.
Attorneys at New York-based law firm Meister Seelig & Fein [MSF], representing the controversial right-wing commentator in the $10m case against S&S US over his cancelled book contract, said the parties had a “fundamental disagreement”, according to Publishers Marketplace.
Yiannopoulos has now said he plans to represent himself so he can “directly see” all the material in his case as he plans to “reveal Simon & Schuster’s perfidy in court.”
A few weeks after S&S US released critical editorial notes on a draft manuscript of Dangerous, MSF asked Judge Barry Ostrager to allow them to step down from the case citing “a breakdown in the relationship between Meister Seelig & Fein and [Yianoppolous], rendering continued and effective representation impossible”.
In a filing to the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Attorney Jeffrey Weingart said that the team could not “effectively” represent Yiannopoulos in the lawsuit worth $10m (£7m).
Weingart said: “Plaintiff has insisted on pursuing actions with which MSF has a fundamental disagreement; Plaintiff’s lack of cooperation in this regard has rendered MSF’s representation of Plaintiff unreasonably difficult to carry out effectively.”
The filing went on to reveal “irreconcilable differences between MSF and Plaintiff that have rendered MSF's continued and effective representation of Plaintiff untenable”.
Weingart said he could not share further details about the dispute, adding “in compliance with MSF’s duty of confidentiality…and in order to avoid any prejudice to [his] position, I am unable to further elaborate on the specific nature of MSF’s disagreement.”
“MSF has attempted to resolve the issues leading to this application with Plaintiff, but has been unsuccessful,” Weingart said.
The former Breitbart editor has now revealed he will represent himself and blamed S&S US’s “discovery tactics”.
“The lawyers at Meister Seelig & Fein were excellent litigators on my behalf,” a statement posted on his Dangerous website said. “The source of the disagreement between me and them arises from Simon & Schuster’s discovery tactics. We asked that all pertinent documents be open to the public record. But Simon & Schuster demanded that virtually all of the documents in this lawsuit remain confidential, and had them classified ‘attorney’s eyes only,’ meaning that I am not even allowed to see what has been said about me and my book in my own lawsuit.”
“In other words, S&S has persuaded the court to withhold from me the documents I need to read in order to properly assess my own case," Yiannopoulos wrote. "Therefore, I will now be representing myself pro se, so I can directly see the material, and I look forward to revealing Simon & Schuster’s perfidy in court.”
In December, S&S US’s documents, submitted to the New York County Clerk's office and available via the New York State Court's website, revealed editorial notes on an early version of the memoir suggesting that the book’s principal editor, Mitchell Ivers, saw it as unfit to publish. However Yiannopoulos’ team reportedly told Page Six that S&S US decided to cancel the book deal before Ivers ever read the draft and the edits were used as a "cover-up" to justify dropping him.
S&S US dropped Dangerous in February, saying the decision had been taken "after careful consideration" in February 2017, a month before before its imprint, Threshold Editions, was originally due to publish it. The move followed a podcast interview in which he made comments appearing to condone paedophilia. The publishing house severed ties with Yiannopoulos despite having already paid an advance of $80,000 (of a total $255,000 advance) in January for signing.
S&S US subsequently claimed that by failing to return its advance or respond with “protest or reservation”, Yiannopoulos accepted the cancellation of his book contract. However the following month he argued his acceptance of the money could "not be deemed to be in 'satisfaction' of any dispute because none then existed" and since then he had not signed any modification of the agreement.
Yiannopoulos went on to self-publish the book on Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing platform on 4th July through his Dangerous Books imprint.