The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

Yes. This was really quite horrible because it caused real distress to my oldest child.

The Daily Express published an article saying that I had based an unpleasant character in the Harry Potter books on my ex-husband. This was wholly untrue, and their justification for writing this was that I had said while doing a book reading with a group of children, and I remember the event, it was at the Edinburgh Book Festival and it was very pleasant. I'm often asked do you base characters on real people? It was a really throw-away comment. I said, humorously, that the character of Gilderoy Lockhart was based on someone with whom I had lived briefly.

Now, that's true, but that person probably can't even remember that we were ever flatmates. This is a long time ago. So I felt quite clean about saying that, I'd identified no one, and as I say, the acquaintanceship was so fleeting I didn't feel I was doing anything damaging.

Again, this was in the context of speaking to children about the creation of a book. So I was relaxed and not expecting what came next, which was this article. Not only did they say that I'd based this character on my ex-husband, they were clearly depicting me as the kind of vindictive person who would use a best-selling book to vilify anyone against whom they had a grudge, which is simply nonsense.

So I had to sit down with my eldest daughter, because they're talking about her biological father, and say to her this isn't true, I would never do this. There is no point of resemblance between this man and your father. And while she was very understanding about this, and said, "I know you wouldn't, I know you didn't, I believe you, I believe you", it was a horrible conversation to have to have. And, of course, there's what happens outside the house. There's what happens when other children, many of whom have read Harry Potter, told my daughter that her father was the basis for this unpleasant character, and that can't be recalled. Because children don't tend to read the apologies newspapers put in. So that misinformation caused real emotional hurt, which I'm sure is a matter of indifference to the person who wrote it, but as you can tell, quite a big matter to me.

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