January 31, 2014

The Guardian | PressGazette

J.K. Rowling has sued The Daily Mail for libel over a September 2013 story entitled “How JK Rowling’s sob story about her past as a single mother has left the churchgoers who cared for her upset and bewildered,” according to a story Friday by Roy Greenslade in The Guardian.

According to Greenslade, Rowling’s lawyers “say the article meant that that she had ‘falsely and inexcusably accused her fellow churchgoers of behaving in a bigoted, unchristian manner towards her, of stigmatising her and cruelly taunting her for being a single mother.'”

Rowling in 2012 (Photo by Dan Hallman/Invision/AP)

Rowling believes the Mail story was “premised on a false picture” of her own article published 10 days before on the website for the single parents’ charity, Gingerbread, “I am prouder of my years as a single mother than of any other part of my life”. Rowling is president of Gingerbread.

Greenslade wrote that the Daily Mail journalist who wrote the story did contact Rowling’s rep, but didn’t offer her the chance to comment.

Darren Boyle reported on the story Thursday in PressGazette. In the High Court documents, Rowling’s lawyers question the journalistic standards of the reporter for not seeking comment.

“This was contrary to basic standards of fair and responsible journalism. Had he done so the claimant would have been able to repeat that which was already clear from the content of her Gingerbread article – that she had made no complaint about her treatment at the hands of the members of her church (indeed quite to the contrary). In the teeth of the claimant’s express denial the defendant would not have been able to run a story making the allegations that it did.”

Both Greenslade and Boyle also report that Rowling’s church members were neither upset or bewildered. Daily Mail didn’t respond to requests for comments for either story. The story has been removed from the site.

Related: Why J.K. Rowling would be a good newspaper owner | The New Yorker, USA Today deny J.K. Rowling quote approval

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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