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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 12082
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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My former partner told me one evening quite casually that both

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My former partner told me one evening quite casually that both she and her own mother deliberately tampered with their respective contraceptive devices to get themselves pregnant. I am writing a book (a roman a clef) and would very much like to include this information to highlight their underlying characters. But I gather that, to avoid the possibility of a libel action against me, I need to be able to prove that (a) my former partner actually said what she said and (b) that the events actually took place. Needless to say, both are impossible to prove!
Is my understanding correct? If yes, is there a way around the problem?
Many thanks, William
Thank you for your question. I am a solicitor in the UK.
If you simply want to write that your partner told you this as opposed to what she told you actually being true, then you would only have to prove that she made the statement. There is still an element of risk if she sues you and you are not believed.
The safest course is to refer to them in the anonymous, eg, a "mother and daughter I know" or "a person I was on a relationship with and her mother".
I hope that this helps.
Please leave a positive response so that I am credited for my time.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your advice. Two remaining doubts - how on earth can I prove that my ex partner made that statement in the first instance? I could of course have made the whole thing up. That said, I do recall specifics, namely that the mother deliberately cut a hole in her contraceptive diaphragm. Would that add weight to it's genuineness? Secondly, whilst the book is all about them, they will have vaguely ficticious names, so could that be classed as anonymising them? It would remain pretty evident who I'd be referring to nonetheless.

regards, William

You can't prove that she made the statement, however, detailed she made it, other than on your own testimony so if it did go to litigation it would be a question of who was believed.
If you change their names and they can still be identified in a manner that would cause damage to their reputation and upset to them then you have a difficulty. However if it is a work of fiction and you are simply drawing of life's experiences you wouldn't have that difficulty.
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