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Karma - Where It All Went Wrong

Kindle edition

By Steve Anderson

Interesting stuff” – Dave Pegg, veteran bass guitarist with folk-rock stalwarts Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull. “Having read a chapter or two of ‘Karma’, I’m now really looking forward to seeing the finished item."

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The hidden, unbelievable story behind “Karma – Where it all went wrong”:  the ban-the-book saga with more twists and turns than an alpine pass.

Or what happened when the brown stuff struck the extractor…


You couldn’t make it up.

Steve Anderson’s intriguing tale of karmic consequences stretching from Albania to Auckland – with Donald Trump’s USA and Kim Jong-un’s North Korea thrown in for good measure - was always set to divide opinion.

But the impact of the Yorkshire writer’s first full-length, 120,000-word novel has been dwarfed by an extraordinary dispute embracing lawyers, the police, threats of High Court action, a £250,000 settlement offer and the stress-related illness of his wife, whose employers became embroiled in an ever-more-bitter row to have the book’s release delayed until they had cleared it for publication.

Anderson, a former daily newspaper journalist (Hull Daily Mail, 1974 to 1999) and Citizens' Advice Bureau social policy co-ordinator and adviser ever willing to highlight the one in four people suffering from poor mental health, insisted from the outset that his paperback libelled no one, pointing out that he was the only person to have read it in full and that all the relevant excerpts he released beforehand proved this beyond doubt.

But East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s legal department ignored his reassurances – even when he volunteered to stake the value of his home to allow an independent panel to rule on his “guilt” or “innocence” – and called in a law firm in Leeds to act on its behalf.

The so-called “dispute-management” specialists then shoved a not-signed-for letter through Anderson’s postbox, allowing him just three working hours to submit a substantive response or face possible litigation, including an injunction and order for costs and/or damages.

It claimed, without any proof, to have sent him earlier correspondence citing fears that “Karma – Where it all went wrong” may contain statements defamatory to its “client”, ERYC. Anderson replied that local authorities are not even allowed to sue for libel, but may act on behalf of employees claiming to have been affected.

His repeated requests to have the identities of any such individuals disclosed – all work at Holme-on-Spalding Moor Primary School – have been ignored. The chairman of governors, meanwhile, has expressed the “shock” experienced by those supposedly libelled in the novel, professing his surprise that the writer was apparently unaware of the “hurt” that his words would cause.

Chris Lemming called on him to provide an advance copy so “Karma” could be read, and modified accordingly, if any of the complainants sought changes.

A leading councillor added to Anderson’s astonishment by claiming in a multi-copied e-mail that “the background, as we understand it from the school, is that he has written a book which names members of staff in fictitious, possibly raunchy situations…an unfortunate distraction for this school”.

The writer, in turn, whose wife had worked at the premises for almost 30 years until being signed off with stress and anxiety, is now planning to counter-sue for defamation levelled at him, claiming that his professionalism as a journalist and author for five decades has been tarnished by untrue, totally-without-foundation statements made by unnamed individuals. He is also planning to lodge a Freedom of Information request with ERYC to ascertain how much its actions have cost council taxpayers.

An official complaint against the council’s solicitors – whom Anderson claims breached all recognised pre-litigation steps aimed at resolving defamation allegations in an “amicable” manner before resorting to law – is also on the cards. He reckons to have spent more than 150 hours writing and researching e-mails and letters, sometimes until 5am, defending the accusations of libel…time he could have put to better use promoting his novel, which has already been praised by folk-rock legend Dave Pegg (Jethro Tull and Fairport Convention), who had a sneak preview of the first three chapters.

“Interesting stuff, indeed,” was Peggy’s verdict. “I’m now really looking forward to reading the entire book.”

Anderson is also seeking answers from the police. He wants to know why an “officious” community support officer called at his home unannounced to warn both him and his wife to stay away from school premises in future.

“I’ve never heard of a previous instance where authors of fiction have had to seek permission from their fictitious characters before going to print – that’s precisely what this local authority, certain school employees and the chairman of governors have been arguing,” he says.

“I’d call it censorship, if not quite amounting to a case of ‘the book they tried to ban’. By all means condemn my novel…but do me the courtesy of reading it first before calling in the lawyers. And please reflect on the title of my work before the ‘K’ word takes its revenge on you.

“This malicious action has caused untold emotional damage to my wife and me. I can only surmise that some individuals’ extremely negative thoughts, words and deeds will, in time, be ripening in a very unpleasant manner.

“Karma, for them, could prove to have a nasty sting in its tail.”

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