By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated February 25, 2003 03:14 PM

Princess Diana’s former lover James Hewitt — long ago dubbed the “Love Rat” by the British press for his having spilled the beans on his purported five-year affair with Diana — has filed a $1.08 million breach of contract suit against FOX News, reports Reuters.

In his legal action, filed Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court, the former British Army commander and Gulf War vet, 44, accuses FOX (owned by media magnate Rupert Murdoch) of firing him as a $159,000-a-year war correspondent because he allegedly leaked the story of his deal to London’s Daily Mirror.

The Mirror headlined its story: “Murdoch Hires the Desert Rat.”

Once the story hit last month, it was picked up internationally. In Hewitt’s legal papers, it states that FOX then wanted to terminate the deal with him because they believed he had leaked the story in violation of a confidentiality clause.

In addition to his romantic exploits, Hewitt’s current financial woes also have been widely reported.

As for the lawsuit, reports Reuters, FOX news division head John Moody told Hewitt’s attorney that his network did not want to employ Hewitt because “they did not believe that he had the requisite integrity and trustworthiness to work for the network,” his lawsuit claimed.

“It’s a completely frivolous lawsuit. Mr. Hewitt and his attorney are trying to extend his 15 minutes of notoriety,” FOX News spokesman Robert Zimmerman tells Reuters.