J.K. Rowling Sues Daily Mail for Defamation

A lawsuit over the "Harry Potter" author's supposed "sob story" could test new laws in the United Kingdom.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is suing the Daily Mail for defamation.

She's suing over a story headlined, "How J.K. Rowling's sob story about her past as a single mother has left the churchgoers who cared for her upset and bewildered."

In court documents filed in the U.K., as reported by The Guardian, Rowling says she was presented as accusing "her fellow churchgoers of behaving in a bigoted, unchristian manner toward her, of stigmatizing her and cruelly taunting her for being a single mother."

Rowling says that's false and that the tabloid has made too much of her reference "to a single occasion involving a woman who had visited the church one day whilst she was working there."

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The U.K.'s hospitality to celebrity defamation lawsuits has been legendary because of the absence of an "actual malice" standard for public figures in libel cases. However, English defamation law has just undergone a significant revision, effective at the beginning of this year.

If the case doesn't settle, it could provide an early test of some of the new standards that have yet to be fleshed out by courts there. Among other changes, plaintiffs have to show evidence of financial damages and defendants now have a defense for statements published in the "public interest."

The Daily Mail has already taken down the story from its website.

Email: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner