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Authors shouldn't just make things up

While newspaper journalists can make stuff up and fling accusations with glee, book authors must be taken to task when it comes to The Facts, apparently. The Guardian reports that ex-policeman Michael Charman is suing publisher Orion Publishing Group for libel, and he’s using the noble-sounding “Reynolds defense.”

“The Reynolds defence of qualified privilege,” reports the Guardian “allows the media to print allegations that are in the public interest, irrespective of whether their truth can be ascertained, so long as certain important tests are applied.” Charman’s lawyer said that “authors of factual books should have a higher ‘duty of care’ than journalists working for daily newspapers.”

The plot thickens, too. Graeme McLagan’s delightfully-titled Bent Coppers: The Inside Story of Scotland Yard’s Battle Against Police Corruption features Geoffrey Brennan’s “uncorroborated” stories about Charman, says his lawyer, who labels it, charmingly, a “cock and bull story”. And the fact remains that the anti-corruption investigation inspired by Brennan’s claims has “resulted in no prosecutions, charges or disciplinary action against officers.”

In the end, it sounds like the book might, regardless of its veracity, be worth picking up. As the lawyer so graciously — and English-ly — acquiesces, “It’s a good story and we can quite see why a journalist would want to tell it.”

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Check out the Guardian story here