JK Rowling: tabloid journalists tried to get to me via note in my daughter's bag

Harry Potter author testifies how newspapers targeted her children and forced her family out of their Edinburgh home

The Harry Potter author JK Rowling yesterday described how sustained newspaper scrutiny of her private life had made her vulnerable to "unbalanced individuals" by repeatedly publishing information which identified her home.

Ms Rowling told the Leveson Inquiry into press standards that she had taken action against publications about 50 times over alleged breaches of privacy and misreporting as part of a 12-year running battle with newspapers which she said had included being driven out the first house she owned because of the constant presence of photographers.

In rare and candid testimony about the unwanted effects of the global fame generated by the success of the Harry Potter novels, which have reputedly made her a dollar billionaire, the author repeatedly highlighted the photographing of her children and attempts to write about them as evidence of the intrusions of the press.

On one occasion she found a note from a journalist inside her then five-year-old daughter's school bag and in another incident she claimed a reporter from the Scottish edition of The Sun had contacted her daughter's headmaster with a false claim she had upset her classmates by revealing that Harry Potter died in the final book in the series. In fact, she said, her daughter had expressly asked not to be told the plot of the novel.

The 46-year-old writer said she was particularly concerned about the publication of stories which, when put together, led to the location of her homes in Edinburgh and elsewhere in Britain becoming identifiable. She added that she was "literally driven out" of the home in the Scottish capital she bought with the proceeds of the first Harry Potter book, published in 1997, after photographs appeared clearly identifying the house number and street name.

She said: "I have, on occasion, been the target of unbalanced individuals. The police have been involved because of incidents or even threats. I think it's reasonable of me to wish the press would refrain from making my whereabouts so easily identifiable." Describing her testimony as a plea for "normal" rather than "special" treatment by the media, she added: "It is not normal for my address to be know to millions of newspaper readers or all over the internet."

The inquiry was told that publication by a celebrity magazine of a photograph of Ms Rowling's eldest daughter in a swimsuit at the age of eight had remained available on the internet for months despite a ruling by the Press Complaints Commission that it should not have been published. The author said: "When an image is disseminated, it can spread around the world like a virus. A child, no matter who their parents are, I think deserves privacy." Ms Rowling said the attentions of photographers had introduced a "general edginess" into her life and an "unnerving feeling that you are being watched".

Describing how she had snapped on one occasion in 2003 after spending a week "besieged" in her home following the birth of her son, she said: "I, rather absurdly, gave chase. How I thought I was going to outrun a 20-something paparazzo while pushing a buggy, I don't know. My daughter was saying, 'calm down, mum, calm down, it doesn't matter'. But it matters hugely to me."

The author said she had been told there was no evidence she had been a victim of phone hacking but listed a catalogue of transgressions, including the searching of her bins, and called for the introduction of a press regulator "with teeth".

Helping the inquiry: Morgan called home

Piers Morgan, the former Daily Mirror editor turned US talk-show host, will be asked to explain to the Leveson Inquiry allegations that phone hacking was widespread.

The media solicitor, Mark Thompson, told the inquiry he felt it went beyond the News of the World and highlighted a 2007 interview Mr Morgan conducted with the supermodel Naomi Campbell.

In it, Mr Morgan said: "It was well known that if you changed your pin code when you were a celebrity who bought a new phone, reporters could access your mobile, tap in standard factory setting and hear your messages." He has insisted the practice never went on in his newsrooms.

James Cusick

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

(Junior) IT Systems Administrator / Infrastructure Analyst

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly ...

Sales Engineer - Cowes - £30K-£40K

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Sales Engineer - Cow...

Web / Digital Analyst - Google Analytics, Omniture

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Sales Perfomance Manager. Marylebone, London

£45-£57k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice