Mumsnet has not checked the knowledge, experience or professional qualifications of anyone posting on Mumsnet Talk and cannot be held responsible for any advice given on the site. If you have any serious legal concerns, we would suggest you consult a lawyer.

someone wants to write a book about my angel sons. i do not want this to happen.

(26 Posts)

I have posted this question on bereavement as I didn't know there was a legal message board www.mumsnet.com/Talk/bereavement/1850117-fuming-need-advice-almost-in-tears

last year, 31st may 2012, I had identical twin boys who were born sleeping.
My Dh's best friend and his girlfriend came to the cremation and we see them off and on. anyway the girlfriend has decided that my angel twins sons are the perfect subject matter for her first book, (she is not a professional but she hopes to be) which she hopes to publish. Is there anything I can do to stop this from happening?? She wants (I believe) to use their first names, and obviously their/my/our story and my dh and I have voiced our opinion loudly that we would not like her to do this.
I have an appointment with the c.a.b Next thursday but I don't know where else to go from here. If you could please give me some advice I would very much appreciate it.
Kate.

WiddleAndPuke Thu 12-Sep-13 20:19:52

I doubt there's a thing you can do about it. How insensitive of them.

AuntyPippaAndUncleHarry Thu 12-Sep-13 20:24:18

OP very sorry for your loss and that you are having to go through this pain and upset with this stupid, insensitive woman. From a legal POV you could potentially seek an injunction to stop her publishing (not writing) but not sure if there are grounds in what you have said. Regarding what others said about confidentiality - medical records are confidential so she can't access them. She does not owe you any duty of confidentiality (assuming she is just a 'friend' and wasn't involved in the care of you/your children) therefore whatever she has heard from you is not protected by any legal duty of confidentiality. My advice would be to speak to her as calmly as you can and try to reason with her. I doubt there is a legal remedy and if you explain how you feel she may back off or find another family to focus on. I wish you well in trying to resolve this awful situation.

BeenFluffy Thu 12-Sep-13 20:25:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AlbertaCampion Thu 12-Sep-13 20:27:49

What a disgusting woman. I wonder if, given that she is a wannabe writer rather than a published one, a strongly worded solicitor's letter should be enough to do the trick?

Ledkr Thu 12-Sep-13 20:46:40

Stupid idiot woman.
If the worst comes to the worst you could go public then nobody would read her stupid book.
What does she know to write about them anyway?

gallicgirl Thu 12-Sep-13 20:51:28

Chances of actually getting published are pretty slim.

MissStrawberry Thu 12-Sep-13 21:06:07

No consolation to the OP though, gallicgirl.

KRaM, you are perhaps using your sons names as a user name so there is a chance she will argue they are out there in the public domain so you can't argue for privacy.

I am sorry for your loss and my best advice is to appeal to her better nature and hope she has one. Could your DH talk to her partner.

WeAreSeven Thu 12-Sep-13 22:03:34

Kate's sons names are not her username, MissStrawberry.

stemstitch Fri 13-Sep-13 00:09:24

I posted on your other thread, but there are (I believe) ways of suing people for invasion of privacy that don't necessitate them being under a duty of confidentiality. Simply the fact that someone has a 'reasonable expectation of privacy' can be enough to trigger protection under the Human Rights Act, Article 8 - right to private life. There aren't any statutes - it's all case law, mainly celebrities suing newspapers. If you google 'Campbell v MGN' and 'Douglas v Hello' that's the sort of thing. You could theoretically get an injunction against her publishing.

I only know this from my law degree, so it's all theory. I am not a solicitor and don't know how this would work in practice. It might well be horribly expensive. You would need a solicitor who actually knows about this stuff to tell you how it would work practically.

If you don't want to go to a solicitor, I would at least tell her that you think she's contemptible and that if she decides to go ahead and publish you WILL be seeking legal advice. Hopefully she will do a bit of googling and come to the conclusion that she could indeed be sued. This might stop her.

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Fri 13-Sep-13 00:19:49

Sorry for the loss of your sons.

I very much doubt she would get anywhere with this in terms of publishing. In the unlikely event that she did, I would contact the publisher and explain the situation to them and say you will be going to the papers about how badly you've been treated. Plus if she's using real names, she can't sell it as a fictional narrative, and I would not imagine a publisher would be interested in a friend of the family writing a memoir - they would want it from a parent if anything. I can see this doesn't take the hurt away but hopefully this woman will work this out for herself and drop the idea. She doesn't sound particularly sensitive or empathetic so not sure what her writing ability would be like...

runawaysimba Fri 13-Sep-13 00:22:55

So sorry for your loss, OP. What has she said when you and DH have told her you don't want to do this?

burberryqueen Fri 13-Sep-13 00:42:57

have you actually asked her not to do this? in words of one syllable?
she sounds incredibly insensitive, almost in the realm of personality disorder.....

WeAreSeven Fri 13-Sep-13 18:34:31

Sorry, also meant to say that even if Kate did have her sons' names in her username, that that would be her prerogative because they are her babies. A number of MNers have incorporated the name of their angel baby into their username as a way of honouring them. IMO, that does not give any other person the right to use either the baby or the name for their own ends.

AuntyPippaAndUncleHarry Fri 13-Sep-13 18:56:12

Stemstitch of course confidentiality/privilege and privacy are different things. Confidentiality usually arises with professionals eg solicitor, doctor, possibly school. This is not absolute and there are circumstances where it can be waived. There is no tort of privacy. The cases you cite involve large media organisations who accessed material they should not have. They were not told/given the information by the 'victim'. Whilst in theory the case law could apply to the facts here IMO any Court deciding the case using the cases you suggest would set a dangerous, unworkable precedent. Surely every author draws on what they have been told/experienced/researched. Where do the courts draw the line? OP ignore the legal theories here - talk to her and try and dissuade her. If you can't get anywhere seek a 1 hour (maybe £300) meeting with a good civil solicitor.

nennypops Sat 14-Sep-13 09:31:15

It seems to me that she could write the story using different names and maybe changing one or two facts. In fact unless you have told her an awful lot, she's probably going to have to deduce some of the background anyway. If there are sufficient points of difference she would be untouchable. I think it may be that all you can do is to talk to her and try to persuade her against this.

oranges Sat 14-Sep-13 09:36:24

I think though that if she is an unpublished writer and this is her first attempt at a book, it is highly unlikely to come to anything. She is being insensitive and crass. If you possibly can, I would say do nothing, try to ignore her, and as a poster upthread mentioned, if she does get an agent or publisher (which REALLY is unlikely) contact them to voice your concerns.

LisaMedicus Sun 15-Sep-13 15:37:25

Sorry, I don't want to say this, but...

You can publish a shopping list as an ebook these days. There are no filters. I self published via Amazon and Smashwords for free and the only requirements I had to fulfill were getting the words in the right format. No editors, no publishers, nothing. Mine have sold about four, but some self published ebooks do sell, and sell very well. Sorry, OP. On the other hand, having the self discipline to actually sit down and write 100k words isn't a common attribute so it may never get very far just because actually typing out a book can be hard work.

Has this person realised how upset you would be? Personally I can think of better subjects than vulturing off someone else's tragedy. Is it an actual account of your real loss or 'inspired by' which is still pretty sick but not quite as intimately wrong.

I don't know about the legals, but I think you have to start with trying to work out why this woman is choosing to be so insensitive. Is there any way to reason with her? I suspect that you are going to struggle if she publishes anyway.

Sending hugs for your loss. What a sick thing for her to suggest.

minglemanglemunchkin Tue 26-Nov-13 07:22:50

I don't know much about the legal situation either but just wanted to raise the fact most fiction books/films state upfront something along the lines that 'this story is fictional. any similarity with any real life story or events is purely coincidental...' Does this not imply there could be legal consequences is this was not the case?

Rooners Tue 26-Nov-13 07:44:56

I am so sorry for your incredible loss.

I don't know anything helpful, but surely she would need to talk to you in order to write anything remotely realistic about it - and you should refuse to speak to her on a permanent basis imo, so she isn't going to have the information required in any case.

But what an absolute cow sad

She clearly has no idea how normal humans behave.

EldritchCleavage Wed 27-Nov-13 14:59:27

There is no tort of privacy. The cases you cite involve large media organisations who accessed material they should not have. They were not told/given the information by the 'victim'. Whilst in theory the case law could apply to the facts here IMO any Court deciding the case using the cases you suggest would set a dangerous, unworkable precedent. Surely every author draws on what they have been told/experienced/researched. Where do the courts draw the line? OP ignore the legal theories here - talk to her and try and dissuade her. If you can't get anywhere seek a 1 hour (maybe £300) meeting with a good civil solicitor.

There is a cause of action for misuse of private information. This does not only apply where large media organisations have accessed information improperly. It is a cause of action of general application, and includes people publishing information they have gleaned as a result of being told by or having a relationship with the complainant: McKennit v Ash is the best example, but by no means the only one.

I think there absolutely would be misuse of private information here, and the right to sue relying on Art 8. Do speak to a lawyer OP, and get advice on how to approach the gf and put her off. What she is doing is awful.

HarryStottle Fri 29-Nov-13 08:50:20

There was a case claimed under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act where the former close friend of a (not generally famous but apparently very famous in her genre) published a book about the singer which disclosed a lot of information about her personal life including the effect upon her of her partner's death. The writer had this information because of her position as a close friend/ confidant of the singer.
The court held that the writer was breaching the singer's write to a private life.
I'm struggling to recall the name of the case. Will google it.

HarryStottle Fri 29-Nov-13 08:57:00

Found it
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/McKennitt_v_Ash

I think your best course of action would be to speak to your "friend" to explain why you would find it objectionable for her to write about your children and appeal to her sense of decency.
If she intends a fictionalised account then there is probably nothing you can do about it from a legal pov.

As she is not a published writer I suspect the chances of her actually getting anything written down, let alone published, are slim.

I am so sorry for your loss.

HarryStottle Fri 29-Nov-13 08:57:52

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/McKennitt_v_Ash

HarryStottle Fri 29-Nov-13 08:58:56
eatyourveg Fri 29-Nov-13 09:33:39

This happened with my family, though not in such a close and painful way as your experience. Earlier this year a woman published a fictional narrative about my grandmother (no name changes) - she didn't tell any of us - I only heard about it because someone tweeted it.

My grandmother's brother is quite renowned and the author wanted to tell the story of what happened to him through the eyes of his younger sister. Its not the first time its been done - there are 3 "story books" out there that I know of, none of which have name changed. Only once were we consulted when a man wrote to us for permission and asking for help as it was a biography.

It seems though that anyone can write anything they want and call it a story and no-one has to consult anyone.

So sorry for your loss and I really hope your friend changes her mind.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now