Jeffrey A Stern, president and publisher of Los Angeles-based Bonus Books, has criticised Cambridge University Press's decision to destroy all unsold copies of their 2006 book Alms for Jihad by American authors Robert Collins and J Millard Burr, in response to a libel action brought against them in British courts by Saudi billionaire Khalid Salim A Bin Mahfouz.
"I find it utterly appalling that any publisher—let alone one with the history and perceived credibility of Cambridge University Press—would allow themselves to be bullied into making such a decision," Stern said.
"Clearly they must have supported the material before they agreed to a publishing deal with Collins and Burr. It's only now, after being slapped with a suit in the UK by the likes of Bin Mahfouz, that they have suddenly decided to concede to demands to pull the book. What's worse, they have not only agreed to pay damages but they have even gone so far as to issue a formal apology on their website, completely discrediting their authors as having made ‘defamatory allegations’ to which there was 'no truth whatsoever'."
Collins, a professor emeritus of history at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and Burr, a retired employee of the US State Department, who were not personally named in the libel action, have refused to endorse their publisher's settlement.
"What happened to freedom of the press?" Stern said. "We're talking about two very credible American writers here. The very idea that these authors could be silenced in the US by a British court is not only outrageous and fraught with frightening journalistic implications, it's simply un-American."
As part of Stern's statement, Bonus Books also looks at the case of Rachel Ehrenfeld, author of Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It, who was also subject of a libel action, filed in British courts by Bin Mahfouz.