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18th October
2014

 Updated: The right for the rich and powerful to censor what they don't want to hear...

Author banned from writing about his experience of child abuse lest this hurts delicate ears
english pen logo Stephen Fry, David Hare and Tom Stoppard among leading writers to voice concerns over court ruling that prevents publication of memoir. They write:

The Court of Appeal's injunction last week preventing publication of a memoir poses a significant threat to freedom of expression.

The Court has ruled that the book should not be published on the grounds that it may cause psychological harm to the author's child, who suffers from disabilities, including Asperger's and ADHD.

The book is not targeted at children and will not be published in the country in which the child lives. The memoir deals with the author's past experiences of sexual abuse and explores the redemptive power of artistic expression. It has been praised, even in court, as striking prose and an insightful work.

The author's earlier public discussions of sexual abuse have previously led to the arrest of one of his abusers.  Its publication is therefore clearly in the public interest and may encourage those who have suffered abuse to speak out.

As writers, and members of English PEN, we are gravely concerned about the impact of this judgment on the freedom to read and write in the UK. The public is being denied the opportunity of reading an enlightening memoir, while publishers, authors and journalists may face censorship on similar grounds in the future.

Jeffrey Archer, William Boyd, John Carey, Jim Crace, Jonathan Dimbleby, Cory Doctorow, Michael Frayn, Maureen Freely, President, English PEN, Stephen Fry, Daisy Goodwin, David Hare, Tom Holland, Hari Kunzru, Marina Lewycka, Blake Morrison, Katharine Norbury, Will Self, Tom Stoppard, Colin Thubron, Colm Tóibín

 

16th December
2014

 Update: Ruling on UK Book Censorship...

The Supreme court will rule on whether a memoir should be banned on grounds that reading it may traumatise the author's son
Uk Supreme Court A British performing artist who has been prevented from publishing his memoir as a result of legal action brought by his ex-wife is to ask the supreme court to overturn the ban, arguing that it poses a dangerous threat to free speech.

The artist referred to only as MLA, as a consequence of the extensive secrecy surrounding the case,  is being supported by human rights groups and a leading writers' organisation, which also believe that an injunction imposed by a lower court presents a serious risk to the right to freedom of expression.

The temporary injunction was imposed by the court of appeal last October after lawyers representing the artist's ex-wife argued that his book's descriptions of the sexual abuse that he suffered as a child were so disturbing that their son would suffer catastrophic psychological distress if he were to read it.

This claim is disputed by MLA, who also believes that it is particularly important that the voices of survivors of sexual abuse are not stifled. The book recounts the way in which the artist, who is well known in his field, suffered years of sexual abuse while at school, and found a way though his art of dealing with the trauma of his past.

The writers' association English PEN, Article 19 and Index on Censorship, which defend and promote free speech, will seek to join the supreme court hearing, to argue that the court of appeal's judgment could have a chilling effect on other writers tackling difficult subjects, should it be allowed to stand.

The supreme court agreed that it would hear the case in the new year.