In a move that would cause its fiercely independent Scottish founders to turn in their graves, Macmillan has caved in to pressure from Tom Cruise and abandoned plans to publish Andrew Morton‘s controversial biography of the Hollywood actor.
“We have decided that we will not now be publishing the book,” confirms a spokesman for the 165-year-old company, of which Harold Macmillan, the former Conservative prime minister, was once chairman.
“Although it was published in America, Cruise had so many complaints that by the time our lawyers had been through it, there was nothing left but red ink,” says my man at Macmillan.
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“We have explored every possible option, but have concluded that once the potentially defamatory sections are taken out, there is not enought left to make a good read.
“Understandably, Andrew is very upset, but apparently he thinks that he may have more luck with another publisher. Good luck to him.”
In Tom Cruise: An Unauthorised Biography, which has been a bestseller in America after it was published by St Martin’s Press in January, Morton makes a series of disputed claims.
These include an allegation that the 45-year-old actor, who has appeared in such blockbusters as Mission: Impossible and Top Gun, has become the de-facto second-in-command of the Church of Scientology and is consulted on every aspect of the group’s planning and policy.
The author – who is best known for his highly contentious 1992 biography of the late Princess of Wales, Diana: Her True Story – claims that Cruise has long tailored his career and even his choice of romantic partners to furthering the organisation’s ends.
In return, the “church”, founded by the science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, has come to rely so heavily on Cruise that he is now considered second in importance to David Miscavige.
The actor refutes each of the claims. Bert Fields, his lawyer and close friend, claimed that Morton had conducted “no real independent research”. He said Cruise had described the book as containing “a bunch of lies”.
Elliot Abelson, general counsel for the Scientologists, said of Morton: “This was a pre-ordained mission to trash Tom Cruise. He didn’t ask to speak to David Miscavige and wrote some horrible things about him which are totally untrue.”
Mr Abelson denied the actor was second in command. “He is a parishioner, a well respected parishioner, but that’s what he is.”