Ink thrown at author Val McDermid during Sunderland book signing

AWARDING-WINNING novelist Val McDermid has promised to continue her public appearances despite being attacked with ink at a book signing.

Author Val McDermid
Author Val McDermid

AWARDING-WINNING novelist Val McDermid has promised to continue her public appearances despite being attacked with ink at a book signing.

The Scottish crime writer was meeting fans after appearing as a guest speaker at a public lecture at Sunderland University when a woman, believed to be in her 60s and wearing a blonde wig and trilby hat, pulled out a bottle of ink and poured it over the shocked 57-year-old.

Val, who has sold more than 10 million books, was left completely soaked through and had ink in her eyes and mouth.

Today she told of her shock at the dousing.

“The last person in the queue had a very old copy of a non-fiction book I published back in the 1990s, then demanded I sign a Top Of The Pops annual with a picture of Jimmy Savile, which I didn’t want to sign because I thought it wasn’t appropriate,” Val said.

She added: “People ask you to sign all sorts of things at signings, and by that stage of the evening you really don’t want to get into any kind of ruck with people, so, generally speaking, if they insist on something that appears harmless you just do it.”

It was immediately after Val had signed the annual that the woman pulled out the bottle of ink and threw it at her, covering her face and body before fleeing the Murray Library Lecture Theatre.

Val said: “It was very shocking. I was covered in black ink; my clothes were completely ruined, it was all over my face and in my mouth.

“Everybody was completely shocked. I have been doing this for 25 years and I’ve never had anything like this happen. It wouldn’t put me off doing book signings because the overwhelming majority of people who come to my events are readers who are intelligent people.

She added: “If it was an attempt to make some kind point, no point was made.”

Northumbria Police have launched an investigation into the attack, which happened last Thursday, and said inquiries are still ongoing.

Val, who penned the books upon which ITV’s Wire in the Blood was based, has since praised the way the university dealt with the bizarre attack, adding: “They went to a lot of effort to stage the event and absolutely no blame can be attached to them.” A spokesman for Sunderland University said: “We are saddened that this incident took place on university premises.

“We regularly have guest speakers at the university, and have never had any incidents of this type in the past, indeed Val McDermid is a regular visitor to the University of Sunderland.

“We are currently reviewing security videos of the incident with our own security staff and Northumbria Police.”

The lecture series at the university will continue next year with talks due from film producer and former chancellor of Sunderland University Lord David Puttnam, scientist and documentary maker Robert Winston, children’s writer Terry Deary, ITV news anchor Alastair Stewart, former Education Secretary Baroness Estelle Morris and BBC historian Michael Wood.


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