Beckhams ask judge to stop book revealing private life

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David and Victoria Beckham's attempt to stop publication of a book that supposedly reveals embarrassing details of their private life took a small step forward in the High Court in London yesterday.

David and Victoria Beckham's attempt to stop publication of a book that supposedly reveals embarrassing details of their private life took a small step forward in the High Court in London yesterday.

After four hours of talks in camera, the couple's case against Mark Niblett and Michael O'Mara Books was set at no later than 29 August. The publishers have pledged not to publish anything or even to "receive" any further information, gossip, tittle-tattle or rumour from the chatty Mr Niblett on the subject of his former star employers.

"We won today's round," said Michael O'Mara, chairman of the company that intends to publish the work in October. "They were trying to delay the hearing more or less indefinitely. But we insisted on having it all over by the date of publication at the start of October."

The nation's number one showbiz family are seeking an injunction against Posh and Becks: A marriage, written by Andrew Morton, who blew the whistle on the dismal marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales, because they claim that one of the book's chief sources of information, Mr Niblett, is in breach of a confidentiality agreement he signed when working for the footballer and the Spice Girl.

For a year Mr Niblett was the couple's bodyguard, security chief, minder and confidant, as well as ad hoc babysitter and bathtime supervisor of their son, Brooklyn, now 15 months.

Mr Niblett left the Beckhams in May after a series of arguments. The unauthorised biographywas commissioned in the same month. Michael O'Mara Books is a small, independent publisher that achieved global fame in 1992 when it brought out Diana: Her true story, by Mr Morton.

Complicating the case is the imminent arrival of Mr Beckham's own book, My World, to be published by Hodder Headline in September. It turns the sought-after injunction into a race for publication.

The Beckhams are said to be "devastated" by the idea of their secrets and intimacies being leaked by Mr Niblett. According to "friends", Mrs Beckham was so distressed by rumours about the book she was "physically sick". Mr O'Mara said: "The book is about their whole lives. There's a lot of interesting material - some very strongpublic-interest material - but hardly enough to make you throw up. It makes you wonder just what they think is in it."

The combative Mr O'Mara is not fazed by the Beckhams' legal muscle. "They're trying to intimidate the security man," he said. "They say he signed a confidentiality agreement, but he denies it and they can't produce it. He hasn't the money to fight them. But we're so confident about our case, we're showing the text to the court and inviting the Beckhams to say just where their confidence was breached ... they may not like the book, but they certainly won't be able to stop it."

What makes the former Victoria Adams sick is more likely to be some mortifying revelation from bathroom or boudoir. Publishing gossips are convinced that there must be some jaw-dropping secret.

The author is the master of the Massive Scandal. Apart from reporting the Princess of Wales's suicide attempts, he has also written the behind-the-scenes stories of Monica Lewinsky and Daniel Arap Moi. Now he is privy to something only a security chief could know about. But what? Something to do with Mr Beckham's well-known penchant for wearing his wife's underwear? Something that might explain the state of Mrs Beckham's bulimic frame last year?

Mr Beckham's own book, meanwhile, is unlikely to embarrass anybody. "I don't think it'll be very controversial," said Hodder's sporting books editor, Roddy Bloomfield. "It's Beckham's reflections on his life and career, with lots of pictures. It's always been advertised as a book with a lot of pictures."

How tantalising. Whatever it can be, we will have to wait longer than we thought for the truth about Victoria's Secret...