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Revealed: Stephen Fry’s brush with the law over James Rhodes injunction

Last week James Rhodes won a legal battle to publish his memoir Instrumental: A Memoir of Madness, Medication and Music. This judgement came after his ex-wife took out an injunction through a court appeal to prevent the book from being published over concerns that the pianist’s account of the sexual abuse he experienced as a child could harm their son.

With the ban lifted, Rhodes appeared at Hay Festival on Saturday night to launch the book during a talk with his friend Stephen Fry. The pair are such good friends, that as well as Fry helping to conduct Rhodes’ second wedding, he revealed that he also became named in his friend’s legal battle. The incident occurred after Fry tweeted a link to a Guardian story about the case, even though all the details including the names were anonymous as the injunction required.

Rhodes was asked by a lawyer to get Fry to delete the tweet:

‘[Stephen] then wrote direct to the lawyer the most astonishing powerful 800 word email I’ve ever seen, I read it every week. It was just this onslaught of rage and sure enough not a word from them. I mean , me I’m fair game but no-one f—s with Stephen Fry.’

Not that Rhodes and Fry have always been so close. Recounting a chapter in the book which Rhodes can ‘now read without going to prison’, he recalled the first time he met Stephen, at a drinks party organised by David Tang:

‘I ask him what he’s been up to, which is unlike me because I usually just start talking about myself, and he tells me he’s just finished a series on endangered species and has been in New Zealand or Zanzibar or somewhere. I being nervous and attention hungry, just say to him:

“Dude who the f— cares about some web footed f—ing platypus in the a— end of nowhere? Why not focus on helping those closer to home or real human beings who are starving and f—ed, miserable and alone, Jesus give me a f—ing break.

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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