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From the beginning of our correspondence with the Fleming Will Trust we tried to be as conciliatory as possible, stressing the fact that we reproduced the said documents in all innocence, even offering to pay them a licensing fee; we cooperated and answered all their questions. Questions like: ‘how many copies had been published’, ‘how many sold’, ‘how much money had we made’, and most intriguingly of all, the exact location of where the books were stored? What were they planning to do, execute a midnight Bond-style raid on the publisher’s warehouse?

The Fleming Will Trust had been free from the beginning to contact the publisher to discuss its concerns without the need of lawyers or threatened litigation. Perhaps it could be argued that the Trust wanted only to suppress the facts of the Ian Fleming plagiarism case by destroying what was left of the books in this country. Copies of the book in America were safe, due to a more liberal copyright law. In the United States our understanding is that the freedom of information act clearly places documents used in public court cases into the public domain. The American people obviously live in a freer country than we do.

The Battle For Bond Rages On!

And so the threat of legal action hung over our heads for months. It wasn’t a very nice feeling. We believed we had a strong case, unfortunately there was no way we could call the Fleming Will Trust’s bluff and face them down in court, lawyers cost money, a lot of money, money that as a small publisher and freelance writer we simply didn’t have. Tomahawk Press facing the might of the Ian Fleming Will Trust, and their lawyers, was truly David versus Goliath. Peculiarly we felt ourselves in the same position as Jack Whittingham who had to back out of the THUNDERBALL case because he couldn’t afford to lose.

Ivar Bryce leaves the High Court in London THUNDERBALL trial 1963 Ian Fleming leaves the High Court
Ivar Bryce leaves the High Court in London THUNDERBALL trial 1963 Ian Fleming leaves the High Court

The Vanquished: Ivar Bryce and Ian Fleming leave the High Court in London at the conclusion of the THUNDERBALL plagiarism trial. Their expressions tell their own story.

Then we received an extraordinary offer. The Fleming Will Trust promised to cancel legal proceedings against us provided that we hand over to them all remaining stocks of the book. We were dumbstruck. What was the Trust playing at? And what were they going to do with them? Haul them off to some secret storage depot like the one at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark where they would remain unseen for centuries to come, or were they going to have them destroyed, which throws up all manner of fascistic connotations with book burnings and the like.


© Robert Sellers/007 MAGAZINE, 2008. All rights reserved.


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