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May 7, 2014updated 12 May 2014 1:39pm

Daily Mail apologises and pays substantial damages to JK Rowling over ‘sob story’ single mum report

By Dominic Ponsford

The Daily Mail has agreed to pay substantial damages to Harry Potter author JK Rowling over a story which said she gave a misleading “sob story” about being taunted by churchgoers.

The story was published on 27 September 2013 and was the subject of a pre-trial legal judgment last month.

The paper admitted liability on 21 January and agreed to publish a correction and pay damages to Rowling. But since then it has been in dispute with the author the details of the settlement.

Mr Justice Tugendhat said Rowling’s lawyers could make a unilateral statement in open court about the matter despite some objections from the Daily Mail about the detail of that statement.

In a page two apology the Daily Mail said: “Our September 28, 2013 article “How JK’s sob story about her single mother past surprised and confused the church members who cared for her” suggested that JK Rowling made a knowingly false and inexcusable claim in an article for the Gingerbread charity that people at her church had stigmatized her and cruelly taunted her for being a single mother.

“In fact Mrs Rowling recounted only one incident where a visitor to the church sitgmatised and taunted her on a particular day. We accept that Ms Rowling’s article did not contain any false calims and apologise for any contrary suggestion and have agreed to pay substantial damages to Ms Rowling, which she isdonating to charity, and a contribution to her legal costs.”

JK Rowling pictured above. Credit: Daniel Ogren, under creative commons licence.

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A dozen of the UK's leading legal minds will explain what the Defamation Act 2013 means for journalists and the media at a unique conference being organised by Press Gazette in London on 19 June. The cost of defending a libel action at trial can be more than £1m, tickets for Defamation 2014 start from £89+VAT

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