J.K. Rowling Sues Daily Mail for Defamation

J.K. Rowling

"A sidestep could maybe ... well, we'll see."

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."

STORY: J.K. Rowling Developing 'Harry Potter' Prequel Stage Play for U.K. Theater

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

a six-year difference between us, and when I'm 19, he's 13, and that's the age that he really needs his older brother. And I was selfishly trying to pursue the acting thing on the other side of the country. [He was] growing up in the shadow of his older brother — not being his own person in a way — [with] everybody looking at him: 'Oh, that's Mike's little brother.' I guess you just have to accept it."