Between Rocco and a place

Here's a curiosity from the Queen's Bench Division, brought to the IPKat by the Lawtel subscription-only service this morning: it's Frederick Gladstone Were v Hodder & Stoughton and Jake Arnott, a statement read out in open court before Mr Justice Eady on Wednesday 15 November. The statement was made following libel proceedings that Were brought against publishers Hodder & Stoughton and author Jake Arnott.

What happened was this. Were performed under the stage name "Tony Rocco" since 1962 when he had had a hit single, Stalemate. Arnott (born 1961) wrote a novel, Johnny Come Home, which featured a character called "Tony Rocco" who was said to be a popular music manager famous for having had a hit single in the 1960s. The fictional Rocco was depicted as a sordid, predatory pederast who lusted after teenage boys. Were claimed that readers of the novel who knew him would have thought the character in the book referred to him.

Arnott and the publisher have both apologised for the distress and embarrassment caused to Were, who is nothing like the fictional Rocco, and confirming that the character of Tony Rocco in the novel was not intended to depict Were or refer to him in any way. They undertook not to repeat the allegations and said they'd try ur to recall all copies distributed so far. They also agreed to change the name of the character for all and any future reprints of the novel and to pay Were a substantial sum by way of damages, together with his legal costs.

Left: could this be the statement read out in court - or the title of Arnott's next book?

The IPKat is quite sympathetic towards both sides. It's horrendous when your name becomes notorious for reasons that are quite beyond your control (just think of the real Harry Potters, Stuart Littles, Gordon Bennetts and so on) - but on an increasingly populous planet the chances of picking a name at random and ending up like Arnott must just keep rising. Merpel bets the substantial sum received in 2007 was a lot more than whatever Rocco got for Stalemate in 1962.

Full text of statement here
Stalemate by Nada Surf here and by Limp Bizkit here
Strange names here
Another Tony Rocco, who didn't sue, here
BETWEEN ROCCO AND A HARD PLACE BETWEEN ROCCO AND A HARD PLACE Reviewed by Jeremy on Thursday, November 23, 2006 Rating: 5

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