J.K. Rowling Sues The Daily Mail

House of lies?

As the Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, rose to fame over her hit book and movie series, rumors surrounding her earlier life became a hot topic in multiple news sources. Some of these sources speculated on how Ms. Rowling began writing the series, questioning if she actually wrote the series on napkins in cafes. Other sources, however, speculated about her personal life as they reported on her previous relationships and life as single mother. One such source that publicly discussed her single-parenthood was the British newspaper, Daily Mail, who published an article on September 27, 2013 suggesting that Ms. Rowling “told a false ‘sob story’ about being stigmatised by churchgoers” (BBC, 2014). The Daily Mail’s report was in response to an article that Ms. Rowling posted on Gingerbread charity’s website (www.gingerbread.org.uk) about her realities of being a single parent.

The Daily Mail alleged that within the essay Ms. Rowling submitted to the Gingerbread charity was a false report about how people negatively treated her while she was employed at a local church. In response to the article, Ms. Rowling “sued the newspaper for libel in January over the piece” (BBC, 2014). Furthermore, Ms. Rowling said the Daily Mail was “‘misleading’ and ‘unfair’ in its story and had injured her reputation and caused her great distress and embarrassment” (BBC, 2014). In addition, Ms. Rowling said “she had not accused fellow churchgoers of ‘stigmatizing’ or ‘cruelly taunting her’, but had referred to ‘a single occasion involving a woman who had visited the church one day while she was working there’” (BBC, 2014).

As far as media reports are concerned, this sort of exaggeration is unfortunately common. The false media reports are not only dishonest but they could also bring the author unwarranted, negative repercussions. In response to Ms. Rowling’s lawsuit, the Daily Mail eventually admitted liability and issued an apology that was printed in their newspaper. In their apology, the Daily Mail noted that Ms. Rowling had not made any general claims about her time at the church, and commented, “We accept that Ms. Rowling’s article did not contain any false claims and apologise for any contrary suggestions and have agreed to pay substantial damages to Ms. Rowling” (BBC, 2014). Ms. Rowling is donating the monetary damages to a charity, “and a contribution to her legal costs” (BBC, 2014).