By Harry Keaney
An attempt is being made by a secured creditor to sell the assets of the embattled Colorado-based publishing company Roberts Rinehart to other publishers, the Irish Echo has learned.
Roberts Rinehart is at present fighting a $100 million libel suit arising from its publishing of Sean McPhilemy’s controversial book, "The Committee: Political Assassination in Northern Ireland."
The book alleges that senior members of the RUC, Unionist businessmen, members of the Protestant clergy, the security forces and the British secret service operated a secret terrorist committee that colluded with loyalist assassins to murder members of the Catholic nationalist community.
Following the book’s publication, Roberts Rinehart, which was founded in 1983, and McPhilemy, were slapped with the $100 million libel by Portadown, Co. Armagh, businessmen David and Albert Prentice. The case is, at present, winding its way through the court system in Washington, D.C.
Since the libel case was filed, the future for Roberts Rinehart has seemed unclear. But in a letter to Rep. Peter King last month, Frederick R. Rinehart, of the company, said that "as a direct result" of the libel suit filed by the Prentice brothers in June of 1998, "our investors have allowed the company to wither on the vine."
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Rinehart added that the company was now "down to a staff of two."
"The company is for all intents and purposes in the control of a secured lender who is now attempting to sell the assets to appropriate publishers," Rinehart added
The letter does not make clear when, or indeed if, the sales of the assets will take place.
Roberts Rinehart has published many Irish authors, and an array of books on Irish history and culture. Among its publications was "Terrible Beauty," a novel by Congressman King.
"The intention is to find a good home for the entire Irish list so that books like "Terrible Beauty" will continue to have a life elsewhere," Rinehart concluded in his letter to King.
Rinehart was not available for interview as the Echo went to press.