Whitcoulls pulls book on Scott Watson killings from shelves, author plans legal action

Ian Wishart gives a press conference to journalists in Auckland following the release of his book Elementary.
BEVAN READ/FAIRFAX NZ

Ian Wishart gives a press conference to journalists in Auckland following the release of his book Elementary.

Ian Wishart is preparing legal action against a rival author who he believes was responsible for Whitcoulls pulling his book from its shelves.

On Friday the journalist released his new book, Elementary, which re-examines the Olivia Hope and Ben Smart murders.

By mid-afternoon, Whitcoulls staff had been instructed to pull the book from shelves until further notice.

Wishart said fellow author Keith Hunter, who has also extensively researched the pair's disappearance, had called book chains threatening legal action.

READ MORE:
* At a glance: Ian Wishart's Elementary
* Wishart: Watson didn't mean to kill Ben and Olivia, but he should confess
* Explainer: The controversial case of Scott Watson
* Who killed Ben and Olivia?
* Scott Watson failed two drug tests behind bars
* No royal pardon for Scott Watson

That was on the basis of an interview Wishart had given on Friday morning, which Hunter took to suggest the book was critical about his own work on the case.

"On the strength of one radio interview, without having read the book, he decided to threaten all the book chains with being sued if they carried the book," Wishart said.

Doing so was "just scandalous, especially for a journalist not to have looked and checked into what has actually been said in the first place".

Wishart said he was currently preparing legal papers against Hunter.

He said he was also talking with Whitcoulls, and was not aware of any other chains pulling his book from shelves.

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Hunter confirmed that he had called Whitcoulls and warned them he would sue anyone distributing the book if it did contain defamatory material.

Hunter welcomed the legal action.

"I look forward to it. I think we should meet in court, it'd be great."

He said Wishart had indicated in the interview that Hunter had deliberately withheld information on the case.

Hunter said he was currently 103 pages into the book.

"All I've found is...constant defamation of other people, specifically Scott Watson, [key witness] Guy Wallace, and by implication myself.

"So far, I haven't found anything about the crimes the book is supposedly about."

Whitcoulls management have not returned requests for comment.

Wishart's book focuses on witness statements provided to police but not used during the trial of Scott Watson, who was convicted for the killings.

Police have said they would consider new claims in the book that Scott Watson may have had an accomplice.

Wishart told a media conference earlier on Friday he believed the pair's bodies may one day be found and witness statements suggest they weren't dumped at sea.

 - Stuff

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