Twitter Teasing

Pippa Middleton May Sue Writers Who Teased Her Over Obvious Party Tips

So Kate’s sister can’t take a little mockery? Tom Sykes reports on Middleton’s legal bid to shut down the @Pippatips Twitter feed, a sendup of her ridiculous book of party tips.

07.16.13 8:45 AM ET

PippaTip #1: If people are making fun of you, sue!

Disturbing evidence reaches us that Pippa Middleton actually may be as foolish as her book and other writings have sometimes suggested.

In an extraordinarily ill-judged move, Miss Middleton Jr. has launched legal action against the creators of the spoof Twitter account @Pippatips, who also have written a book off the back of their 50,000-follower Twitter hit.

The cover of the spoof book.

Some WAGs are suggesting that Middleton—who initially attempted to laugh off criticism of her book, saying she might produce a sequel called Bottoms Up—may have finally lost her sense of humour, because the @PippaTips book is outselling her own (on those famously reliable Amazon charts, at least). Has she never heard of the Streisand effect?

The move is all the more extraordinary, as Middleton previously attempted to appear unconcerned by the @Pippatips crew.

Writing the weekly diary for The Spectator in December, Middleton said the spoof Twitter account—which offers advice such as “enjoy a glass of water by getting a clean glass and pouring in water from a tap or bottle”—was “all good fun.”

An intriguing element of the new legal letter, however, is that the action is being coordinated by the royal family’s own lawyers, Harbottle and Lewis, who are now also Middleton’s lawyers.

They have written to the book’s publishers, demanding that the book, the work of writers Mat Morrisroe and Suzanne Azzopardi, be pulped and the Twitter account deleted.

The book was published June 12, and it is thought the complaint was received soon after. Noticeably, the @Pippatips account has not tweeted since June 14.

One of the most comon methods to suppress a parody in the U.K. is to accuse the author of “passing off” their own work as the work of the person being mocked. But any “passing off” action would seem doomed to failure, as the Twitter account states it is “clearly a parody,” and the book states on its front cover that it is by “the creators of @pippatips.”

British publications have been sensitive to allegations of passing off ever since Alan Clark, the British politician and diarist, won a landmark case against the Evening Standard for a spoof column, and it is now generally agreed that it is wise to include an obvious notification that the spoof is not the work of the spoofee.

But it is hard to imagine that this action has been taken by Middleton without consulting her sister, and it does hint at the newly litigious nature of the young royals.

Prince William and Kate Middleton have already proved themselves not averse to attempting to set precedents with their pointless pursuit of a still unidentified French photographer for photographing Kate sunbathing naked in full view of a public road in France.

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Undoubtedly Pippa Middleton is annoyed by the book and the Twitter account, but her reaction in issuing legal threats risks making her seem petulant and spoiled.

Indeed, it’s hard to think of a more idiotic move for an extended member of the royal family to pull than to launch a legal action that can in no way cast them in a positive light, just days before the nation is due to go into raptures over the new royal baby.

The journalist and writer Sam Leith, who wrote about the row in the Evening Standard in London on Monday, told The Royalist: “It seems to me that there is no doubt she is being badly advised, because even if she succeeds in shutting this down, she will still look silly and oversensitive. It’s not a good fight to pick, because parody, by and large, is protected.”

Leith, whose mother, Penny Junor, wrote the definitive biography of Prince William, says the action is bound to be a “PR own-goal.”

As one Twitter user said last night: “If the claim for passing off succeeds half the English Twitter accounts will close. Parody is our nature!”

The new @Pippatips book, When One Is Expecting: A Posh Person’s Guide to Pregnancy and Parenting, contains advice such as: “You will probably undergo lots of tests at this point. Don’t worry though, you won’t need to revise.”

if Middleton really considers jokes like this a threat to her brand, she may have greater problems than a fake Twitter account. Anyway, as every celebrity knows, the correct response to a fake Twitter account is to be flattered—you ain’t nobody till you’ve got one.