It seems that legal issues over books have intensified since I slagged off Anheuser Busch in Three Sheets to the Wind to the point where I included the unproven allegations about one Busch family member escaping a manslaughter charge because the evidence that would have proven it mysteriously disappeared.
Those were the days!
Now, it seems that lawyers are reading non-fiction books with the sole purpose of finding something they can create a libel case out of, then contacting the injured person or institution, making them aware of what's said and trying to persuade them to launch a libel action - largely because Britain has the harshest libel law in the world. My publishers have been hit with five writs in as many weeks, for stuff they thought was safe. Makes a change from chasing ambulances I suppose.
Anyway, one of several contentious issues arises early in the book, when I'm trying to convey the atmosphere in Burton on Trent today and harking back to its former glories. In the middle of this bit comes the following passage:
Behind the storm fencing and DANGER KEEP OUT signs outside the derelict Riverside shopping centre and the abandoned Club Extreme, the Salt’s Brewery well still runs beneath the litter-strewn concourse, workers’ portaloo and graffiti informing us in emotive and disapproving terms that Fat Lori of Derby is liberal with her sexual favours, complete with her mobile phone number.
It turns out that there has been a case where someone has referred to graffiti like this, then when the book is out the person on the graffiti has suffered harassment and sued. Would Fat Lori share the same fate?
The building in question was derelict at the time. I figured if it had been pulled down by now, the number would have vanished and no-one could harass poor Fat Lori. So I phoned my mate Rudgie (who you'll get to know well in the book) and he confirmed the building is still there. However, he left his very busy desk at Coors to go and see if the graffiti still adorned it.
It seems the building has been fenced off and you can't get near it. And someone has nailed what looks like a door to the wall which obscures most of the message, so all you can read is:
It looks like me, Pan Macmillan and Fat Lori are all safe. But in the book Lori has become Jodie, just to be sure.