1) Muriel Gray's High Court claim 17 Dec 09 against Geoff Widders
On Sep 25th, 2004 Muriel Gray appeared as the all expenses paid, “Guest of Honour,” at the annual convention of the British Fantasy Society. Ms Gray was interviewed in front of a large audience composed of members of the public and fiction writers. It was a lengthy interview conducted by a writer named Paul Kane. Halfway through the interview Ms Gray was asked about a book she had written named ‘The Ancient’ (published by HarperCollins, 2001).
Regarding her writing of ‘The Ancient’ Ms Gray stated;-
Muriel Gray: Yeah, although unfortunately I started writing the Ancient before The Mummy came out. How irritating is that! Oh, I had a very funny incident with that actually because this guy wrote to HarperCollins and said she's - like one of these kind of Stephen King things - she's stolen my story. And you think, oh no, here we go. And he sent this thing in and it was practically the double, luckilyhe said ‘I wrote it then,’ and of course that was long after, you know, the book had actually been in print. So obviously he was a nutter, but he did write it and believed and then read this book and believed that it. And the lawyer sent this letter back to him and said, it was one of the most insulting things, he said: we can see the similarities but that's simply because of the clichéd nature of the material (big laugh).
[The above is taken from the audio recording of the interview at
[[Several instances of what was spoken are missing from the transcript. For example the above is an accurate rendering of what was spoken apart from the words in bold - they are missing from the transcript.]]
Click play to hear Muriel Gray lying to the audience [55 secs]
On 3 April 2009 I issued a claim against Ms Gray in the Guildford Small Claims Court [view it here]. I did not claim any money, I simply wanted a court of law to rule that my work [named ‘Flight of the Shaman’] was not written long after Ms Gray’s work was in print (as she had claimed). I said that I had “absolute proof of the date of my work as 1998.” (Three years before Ms Gray’s was in print).
If Ms Gray had evidence to prove that my work was written “long after” hers she could simply have provided that evidence, my claim would then have been pointless. Instead Ms Gray employed a firm of solicitors, they wrote to the Court and asked that my claim be struck out on legal grounds. The Court refused and said that the claim should progress.
Ms Gray’s solicitors then submitted an “Application Notice” in which they asked that the claim be struck out. They did not give an explanation that I was mistaken, that Ms Gray was correct in stating;
“long after, you know, the book had actually been in print.”
Nothing was said about the dates, and no evidence was provided to prove Ms Gray was correct. Instead the solicitors sought to have the claim struck out on legal grounds, they referred to “remedy” and “cause of action.”
My claim, issued in the Small Claims Court for a cost of £150, was then passed up to a circuit judge. Ms Gray’s legal team and I appeared before His Honour Judge Reid QC on two occasions; 12 May 09 and 30 June 09. The judge decided that the claim should progress. He also indicated that, “…the defendant was not wholly justified in bringing the strike out application.”
Ms Gray’s solicitor asked for leave to appeal, it was denied.
During the several hours of court hearings not one word was said by Ms Gray’s legal team regarding my claim that Ms Gray was not correct in stating that my work was written long after her book had been in print.
If evidence had been produced to prove Ms Gray was correct my claim would have been pointless, instead legal arguments were used as to why the claim should be struck out.
Although denied leave to appeal Ms Gray’s legal team appealed to the Court of Appeal. This time a barrister joined their team. Neither Ms Gray’s solicitor’s “Skeleton argument” or the barrister’s “Grounds of Appeal” made any reference to the dates of our works. Again, no evidence was provided to indicate that Ms Gray was correct in her assertion. It was all about legal argument for having the claim struck out.
An action that had begun in the Small Claims Court, and could have easily been settled in that court, was passed up to the level of circuit judge, it was then passed up to the Court of Appeal and was listed to be heard on 17 Dec 09, by Mr Justice Roth sitting in the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division. I attended in person, representing Ms Gray were her barrister and two solicitors. Although I had asked for it, Ms Gray’s team still failed to produce a shred of evidence to indicate that her claim, made in public, in front of an audience, was correct. What a simple thing it would have been for Ms Gray to provide such evidence – clearly, as I stated throughout, she did not have any such evidence. It would have been a simple matter to produce it if she had it.
Mr Justice Roth struck out my claim. In the hearing he felt he must inform the court of the rights of "famous people" he told the court, "famous people have rights" and delineated those rights. He stated in his judgment that;-
"The court will not make a declaration that what a public figure – however important he or she may be – says in an interview is incorrect because someone comes to the court and says they dispute its accuracy. If it were otherwise, the court would be flooded with claims."
The matter before him was that Ms Gray had lied about the date of her book, I had complained to HarperCollins, they had employed an external barrister to investigate - and yet Mr Justice Roth seemed to think the matter was about my disputing her claiming that she had a banana in the fridge.
I could not believe that I had no redress in law, that the Court was content to allow Ms Gray to make her statements to a public audience without wishing to determine the truth. That protection was afforded to people because they are "public figures." Mr Justice Roth awarded costs to Ms Gray and her expensive legal team. I have had to borrow the money to pay those costs.
Ms Gray was able to work an audience up into a “big laugh” at the expense of the “nutter.” Her statements were made to a public audience, her statements remain on the internet where they can be heard or read by anybody who visits those websites.
If a court of law had examined this matter I would have been able to publish this repudiation of Ms Gray’s statements and explain that a court of law had examined the matter, and that my work ‘Flight of the Shaman’ was not written "long after" Ms Gray's work ‘The Ancient’ but was actually written three years before it. Not one shred of evidence has ever been presented to determine the truth.
If there is anything that I have stated on this site that is not correct; if Muriel Gray, Harper Collins, Browne Jacobson, or any person(s) mentioned in these pages, contacts me and provides the evidence or counter argument to show that I am not correct, or...
if there is anything that I have stated that anybody believes misrepresents them in any way, if they provide me with their arguments...
then, if necessary, I will consider removing the material, and/or publish a correction, and/or apologise.
If I do not hear anything (nobody has complained to me since I set up this site in March 2010) then I can only assume the accuracy of everything on this site, and that nobody has been misrepresented in any way.