Considering that both of these ladies are Canadians it is surprising that there has not been much media interest over this story in Canada and the US. Let me start by giving some background, Niema Ash was Loreena McKennitts long time friend, traveling companion and confidant. Niema Ash decided to write a memoir of her time with Loreena McKennitt.

Loreena took exception to the entire project and through the use of legal muscle tried to prevent publication. The case wound it’s way through the British legal system and the final ruling was that sections of the book should be removed prior to publication. What is most notable about this ruling is the precedent that it sets. At no time was it argued that Niema had falsified the story, merely that Superstar Lorena did not want it published for fear of tarnishing her image.

This may not sound like ‘big potatoes’, but it certainly is, it brings into question the freedom of the press. Citing Kennitt v Ash any celebrity can go running to a judge to prevent unfavorable articles or books. And with the ink barely dry that is exactly what has started to happen, as this Daily Mail editorial spells out.

The story for Niema though is by no means over. Having exorcised the offending material she was finally able to publish. When I received my review copy a few weeks ago I noticed that on the copyright page it is clearly marked as ‘Second Edition’, the first edition unfortunately ending up in the Recycle Bin of someone’s computer.

According to Niema Ash, Loreena is still very upset with this book and the latest gorilla tactics has been to set the high powered McKennitt lawyers on the printing and distribution company that handles Travels With Loreena McKennitt. Without informing the author they quietly withdrew distribution of the book, fearing a legal battle. Anyone attempting to purchase the book through Amazon will find that their purchase is rejected.

In this David and Goliath story the multimillion dollar superstar Golliath is so far managing to crush the starving author David. Right now Niema’s only avenue of distribution is via her web site, and apparently she only has a limited stock, and no way to print more.

The one ray of hope may happen on Sunday, the Daily Mail apparently is going to publish a story about her plight. I hope to do a more in depth piece as the information becomes available.

Simon Barrett

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