J K Rowling v Associated Newspapers

An article written about the author J K Rowling was published in the Daily Mail on the 28th September 2013. The article’s headline was

  • “How J.K.’s sob story about her past as a single mother has left the churchgoers who cared for her upset and bewildered”.

Miss Rowling’s solicitors, Schillings, claimed in the documents lodged at the High Court that the article damaged her reputation thus causing her embarrassment and distress. The article had said that she had given a false account of being a single mother whilst living in Edinburgh which meant 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”.

The documents lodged in the High Court by Schillings stated that Miss Rowling’s representative was contacted by a Daily Mail journalist before publication but the author was not offered any opportunity to rebut the allegations prior to publication.

The Daily Mail through its publisher Associated Newspapers admitted liability agreeing to publish a correction and pay Miss Rowling’s damages. The Daily Mail disputed the terms of the settlement and Mr Justice Tugendhat in the High Court in April 2014 allowed Miss Rowling the opportunity to make a statement in respect of the case even though Associated Newspapers objected to this.

The apology in the Daily Mail was published as follows:

  • “Our September 28, 2013 article ‘How JK’s sob story about her single mother past surprised and confused the church members who cared for her’ suggested that JK Rowling made a knowingly false and inexcusable claim in an article for the Gingerbread charity that people at her church had stigmatised her and cruelly taunted her for being a single mother.

    In fact Mrs Rowling recounted only one incident where a visitor to the church sitgmatised and taunted her on a particular day. We accept that Ms Rowling’s article did not contain any false claims and apologise for any contrary suggestion and have agreed to pay substantial damages to Ms Rowling, which she is donating to charity, and a contribution to her legal costs.”

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