Sunday, 19 February 2012

Modern Greed or a Tale That Needs Telling?

So news has 'leaked' that Amanda Knox has been given a  $4 million book deal with HarperCollins for her version of events surrounding the murder of Meredith Kercher and the ensuing court case against Knox and her then boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. It seems an odd time to "cash-in", considering that the Italian courts are appealing against the release of Knox and Sollecito, and as America has an extradition treaty with Italy, this could get very embarrassing for the publisher should she be sent back for a retrial. Or maybe that would just increase sales...

I've noticed the reaction to the news has been a bit different depending what side of the big pond the commentator is on. My impression is that Knox has a lot of support in her home country (understandably) and that there is a general opinion there that she was stitched up. In Britain the attitude seems to be that she's probably guilty, or at least involved in some way, and has got away with it. Again, this isn't surprising as the real victim of the whole thing, Meredith Kercher, was British and she seems to have been largely forgotten in the disgusting and sexist "foxy Knoxy" nonsense.

Personally I'm not sure about her guilt - I think there are things she hasn't revealed, which may have hindered the investigation. But from the few stories and reports I've seen it's a certainty that the Italian police handled the whole investigation terribly, making any conviction difficult. My personal impression is that Knox and Sollecito are hiding something, that may or may not be directly related to the murder, and that by doing so they've destroyed whatever chance there was for real justice. But regardless, this is a young woman who still faces a potential retrial and has not been found innocent (she was only acquitted, which isn't quite the same thing). That, combined with the amount of money she'll make out of this, seems totally wrong. It comes across as too soon to be making this into a money making venture. There may be an interest in what happened, but surely it's the place of a court to tell us that and not a book dictated by the accused?

Another big uncomfortable feature of this is the fact a non-writer is getting such a huge sum of money, considering the amount of professional writers who will never make that kind of cash from one book (or ten). But the one question that keeps coming back to me is what she will do with that money. Or rather what should she do. The Kercher family have gone through a hell far worse than the one Knox has. Should she offer to give part of the proceeds to them, or to a charity of their choice? Or is that insulting, or maybe too easily misunderstood as a sign of guilt? I think that if it were me, making that sum of money in such terrible circumstances, I would have a hard time keeping all of it...

What do you think word seekers? Is it too soon, does the Kercher family deserve anything out of this, or should Amanda Knox make the most of this opportunity to fulfil her writing dreams and pay back those huge legal fees in the process? Feel free to share below the fold.


  1. "the Italian courts are appealing against the release of Knox"

    The third level is only procedural. It is in theory possible for the court to send it back for the appeal to be retried but highly, highly unlikely.

    The Hellmann appeal court was very clear and based on judicial principles. You can read the translation here:

    The DNA experts report here:

    "In Britain the attitude seems to be that she's probably guilty" "impression is that Knox and Sollecito are hiding something"

    I find this a very lazy and uninformed way of looking at things. There is enough information out there to see the truth. It is similar to ridiculous comments like 'she looks evil'.

    "Meredith Kercher, was British and she seems to have been largely forgotten in the disgusting and sexist "foxy Knoxy" nonsense."

    It is also a fact that the UK TABLOIDS and even regualar papers played a huge role in demonizing this innocent woman. Modern day media witch hunt. Now the UK is disgusted by the name media sensation, the name 'Foxy Knoxy' that the Daily Mail first used to make her into an evil, sex killer caricature? Rather ironic.

    "I think there are things she hasn't revealed, which may have hindered the investigation."

    This is pure speculation that has nothing to do with facts.

    "The Kercher family have gone through a hell far worse than the one Knox has. Should she offer to give part of the proceeds to them."

    The Kerchers have trusted in the prosecution the whole way. Especially their ambulance chasing lawyer Franceso Maresca, who was recommened by prosecutor Giuliano Mignini himself. I do not believe they will see the truth until they get new advisors.

    Amanda Knox owes them nothing and indeed if money was given to them it would be used against her. She needs the money to pay the huge legal debt her family has gone in debt with and part of that has been in defense of the Kerchers and their lawyer who have acted as another arm of the prosecution. It is a tragic situation.

    I've read the comment that Amanda Knox is "cash-in" on her crime and "crime pays". She is innocent so that is not true. She has an incredible story to tell and I'm glad she is free to tell it.

    Best site for case facts:

  2. Pay taxes and her legal fees I'll doubt she'll have much left over.

  3. I'm an Italian citizen and after having read a fair share of documents concerning the case (both grade rulings, appeal documents from both sides and various books, I hold the firm conviction that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are completely innocent and totally uninvolved in the murder of Meredith Kercher.
    I also think that they spent four years in jail because someone was more in love with his theory of the crime than with truth and evidence.
    Out of this it's my firm opinion that Amanda Knox deserves everything she can get and I'll certainly buy her book (and also Sollecito's one).
    A little footnote: you write that she has "only" been acquitted, which is not the same as found innocent.
    Well, legally they are the one and same thing: innocence has not to be proved and above all it's often impossible to prove, that's why in the whole western world (at least) it's guilt that must be proven.
    Misconception like that one are unfortunately going to haunt Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito for years, so I think that they can consider all the money they are able to obtain as a refund.

  4. Wow, thanks for the comments everyone. I'll deal with you all in separate replies, so here goes;

    @ zooks

    Just want to emphasise that my blog post above is NOT an in depth look at the case or meant to be taken as such. This is just a personal blog so it's simply my initial, personal reaction to the book deal (which I'm very uncomfortable about).

    Unfortunately I don't agree that "There is enough information out there to see the truth" - if there were it wouldn't be the story that keeps on running. There are still questions (as there always is with ANY murder investigation) so it isn't so simple for people to get a 100% answer one way or the other. That said, it isn't helped by the biased reporting, on either side of the Atlantic. Which leads me to...

    "Now the UK is disgusted by the name media sensation, the name 'Foxy Knoxy' that the Daily Mail first used to make her into an evil, sex killer caricature? Rather ironic." That isn't what I say above. It's my personal opinion that it's sexist and disgusting. I don't think the tabloids give a shit one way or the other. They only care about a quick headline and sales.

    At the end of the day everything bloggers, and commentators say about any of this is speculation. You hold the opinion that she's innocent based on the evidence you've seen. Others, who may have seen the same evidence, don't. Personally I don't think they had anything to do with the murder directly, but I *speculate* that they may have been trying to hide something unrelated to the murder case and that was why the statements (if we can believe anything the police say) were inconsistent. It certainly makes a lot more sense than the stupid sex-game theory...

    Thank you for the links and for sharing your opinions. Anyone else reading this, I highly recommend checking out Zooks links and make you're own mind up. Regarding the book deal though, I still think it's wrong; it's only been five years since the brutal murder of Meredith Kercher and with legal proceedings still ongoing (no matter how unsuccessful they may be) it just seems disrespectful to the life that's been lost and to the family who have to live with that. Though I should stress I don't blame Knox for that, but rather the publishers being so ready to make a quick buck off the back of, what I hope we can all agree, is a tragedy.

  5. @Scott

    Thanks for your comment - how much would she pay in taxes in the States? In the UK for that amount it would be about 50% (I think - someone correct me if I'm wrong!) but I'm not sure how different it is in America.

    I suppose it's not so much the amount of money that troubles me, but that money is being made at all out of this terrible event so soon after it happened. Especially by the publisher...

  6. @LCH68

    Thank you, it's good to hear from someone from Italy - the impression they give here in the UK is that most Italians are convinced of their guilt. The papers and news outlets doing their wonderful job as usual...

    With regard to the acquittal/innocent comment - you are quite right. Legally they are the same. I suppose I should have phrased that as "not seen the same in the public eye". A side effect of cynicism (for which I'm as guilty of as the next person) is that when you see the term "acquitted" the natural (cynical) tendency is to think "so not found innocent then" (i.e. that the evidence shows that the person accused didn't so it - even though that's not how the law works. Or should). It will haunt the two accused for the rest of their lives, but I still think it's too soon for book deals...

  7. Probably in the US the tax rate would be say 40% as there are quite a few different ones. Federal, State, Soc Security, etc. . And I would guess her legal fees after the first two trials and the ongoing ones the fees would be close to two million at this point. Plus she will have to pay her agent a fee.

    Lots of people have made tons of money off this case. Look at all the books, movie(s), tv specials, news reports, etc. So I have no problem with Amanda and Raffaele writing books and getting paid for it. I really think this will be an important story to be told. So much has been written about this case but none of it by the principal players. Meredith's father is also writing a book dealing with Meredith's life and probably the trial.

  8. Hi,

    Well, an emotive subject and one I've thought about on and off for a few years. Leaving aside for now, this specific case, there's the point about whether it's 'appropriate' to make money out of a criminal case. Media outlets are of course, keen to make a buck from sensationalist stories, and this case is certainly one that has hit the headlines both sides of the Atlantic, so you can see the attraction.

    But is it right?

    Well, I think it's very hard to judge from outside. Until quite recently in the UK convicted criminals could both keep their ill-gotten gains, *and* be rewarded from sundry merchandising. This was obviously crazy and has now been stopped (directly, although I'm sure there are indirect means used to pass goods to perpetrators); however we have a case here where, in all likelihood, these people will remain innocent of this crime. Yet, I think the first responsibility should be towards the Kerchers - they can hardly be blamed if their legal advice has pushed them to seeing Knox and Sollecito as the guilty parties, and any prolonging/retelling of the events, not aimed at finding those guilty, will only cause them more pain. True, Knox and Sollecito have suffered, but whilst there is still the chance of further trials, it does feel a little tawdry to make money out of another's death, even if you are innocent; even if you've suffered and deserve some recompense.

    I would hope that any book deal that does some out focusses as much on helping find the guilty parties, as it does on giving the view from the 'wronged couple'. Surely the focus should be on helping the Kerchers (even if they do feel aggrieved towards them, then can surely sympathise with their plight?) as they will continue to live their punishment, long after the book, film, TV rights have long been exploited.

    From my reading of the case, even if Knox and Sollecito are innocent, they have appeared at times to be less than helpful, and that is why they have not received as much sympathy as possibly they ought.