Model sues publisher for spiking 'misery memoir'
Rob Sharp is a freelance journalist specialising in arts and culture. He was on staff at The Independent from July 2007 to December 2011, first as a features writer, and then as the paper’s arts correspondent. He has written for a wide range of newspapers and magazines. For more information visit his website, www.robsharp.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday 06 August 2011
A former model, who hoped to tell all in a "misery memoir" documenting her personal struggle with depression, alcohol addiction and abusive relationships, is locked in a legal battle with her former publisher after it alleged her work contained "libel or privacy issues on almost every other page".
Amanda Smith has sought £1.8m in damages in the High Court from Headline Publishing Group, who refused to print her book, Toxic, due to be released in May 2008. Smith alleges she was not given sufficient warning that her work was legally contentious and accused the publisher of fraud and breach of copyright.
Yesterday, a High Court judge ruled that, while Ms Smith had won her claim that her publisher broke their mutual contract, she had failed to prove other allegations made against them. These included fraud and misrepresentation. The judge ruled that Ms Smith, a mother of five, must pay 65 per cent of the publisher's legal costs because of the amount of time spent in court discussing the issues she had lost on. She is currently considering her options.
Heather Rogers QC, appearing for Headline, said the company was prepared to pay "nothing like" the £1.8m but was willing to settle out of court. "The result would be Ms Smith walking away with the judgment of your lordship, plus money in her pocket," said the lawyer.
Smith entered a two-book agreement in November 2006, for which she was to receive £130,000 in advance payments, £70,000 of which had been paid to her by December 2007.
The publisher originally billed the memoir as a "compelling debut by an exciting new writer; a memoir in the misery genre but made extraordinary by the author's feisty verve, wit and humour". However a barrister who read through it to check for legal problems said it raised issues on "almost every other page" and it was declared unsafe to publish.
Ms Smith said: "I will be seeking information on whether to appeal, but I do feel fully vindicated now light has been shone on Headline's bad behaviour."
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