Brooke Magnanti sued by former lover over Belle de Jour blog
Guardian Unlimited Books / by Caroline Davies / 5 hours ago
Former RAF officer Owen Morris wants damages for defamation and breach of privacy, claiming sex work was fabricated
An ex-lover of Brooke Magnanti, the research scientist who as Belle de Jour wrote a blog about her life as a London sex worker, is to sue her for defamation in a hotly contested legal case.
Owen Morris, 38, is claiming all was not as depicted by Magnanti, 37, in her anonymous blog Diary of a London Call Girl, which led to two books and a TV series starring Billie Piper. He also doubts whether she was a sex worker.
Morris’s claims are contested by Magnanti, who wrote in her blog on Sunday: “I was a sex worker”.
The blog, which ran from 2003, was turned into a top 10 bestselling book, The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl, in 2005, and a sequel, The Further Adventures of a London Call Girl, in 2006. Magnanti outed herself as the author in 2009 in the Sunday Times.
In an article in the Mail on Sunday, Morris, an ex-RAF flight lieutenant, said he was pursuing damages for defamation and breach of privacy against the writer. Morris, the newspaper reports, disputes some of the key details in the books and blames her for subsequently destroying his RAF career and damaging his reputation.
Morris claims he was identified as “The Boy” when Magnanti outed herself in the media and says the blog, which depicted the life of a London sex worker, was first written while Magnanti was a PhD student in Sheffield, and that during the first half of 2004, a period covered in the first book, she had a job and relationship with him rather than being single and unemployed as portrayed. He also claims Magnanti fabricated “clients” and characters in her books by writing about her sex life and relationship with him.
Magnanti, who is now married and living in the Scottish Highlands, denied his claims, writing on her blog: “In court, I will be presenting evidence that I was a sex worker … I will also be presenting my bank records from 2003-04, showing the cash deposits from the money I earned as an escort, and tax records from the same years showing that this income was declared to HMRC and tax paid. I also have the notebook in which I recorded details of appointments, etc.
“Mr Morris says he would ‘never knowingly’ sleep with a prostitute. I will be presenting a diary Mr Morris wrote in 2003-04 that he gave to me in 2005. In it he records several references to his knowledge of my sex work.”
She referred to an “earlier kiss and tell with the Mail” by Morris, and said: “Mr Morris and the Mail on Sunday have made some frankly nonsense claims, and I will be going to town on this … Because I know people do not trust the word of a sex worker, that is why I saved everything”.
Morris told the Mail on Sunday he was preparing to sue for damages and loss of earnings on the basis that she cost him his job, breached his privacy and defamed him, and that the Belle de Jour “myth” had left him unemployable.
“She identified me when she outed herself and then further damaged me by contacting my superiors at the RAF and feeding them hideous lies about me,” he said. The case is due to be contested shortly in the Scottish courts.
Brooke Magnanti (Belle de Jour)