Phil Taylor

Phil Taylor is a Weekend Herald and New Zealand Herald senior staff writer.

Red Cross misses out on quake-book money

Jill Marshall. Photo / NZ Herald
Jill Marshall. Photo / NZ Herald

The Red Cross got no money from the high-profile publisher of a book promoted as a fundraiser for the Christchurch earthquake appeal.

Publisher Jill Marshall claimed that "all profits" and "all proceeds" of the children's book, Curly from Shirley, the Christchurch Dog, would go to the Red Cross appeal for the city and a year ago said it had sold 3000 copies.

Ms Marshall, who writes "girl-spy" series Jane Blonde, set up publishing firm Pear Jam Books on the back of publicity about the charity book and in 2011 was named Next magazine's Woman of the Year (arts and culture).

The Red Cross this week confirmed to the Herald that it had made an extensive search of its database and found no evidence of receiving any money from Pear Jam.

Ms Marshall, listed as the sole director and shareholder of Pear Jam, has returned to England, leaving behind tens of thousands of dollars in debt owed by the company, and many authors who claim their publishing contracts were not fulfilled.

Two have won Disputes Tribunal claims but cannot find Ms Marshall to enforce them.

A distributor has told the author of Curly, Emma Pullar, that it sold about 1900 copies and paid more than $17,000 to Ms Marshall. The distributor gave its services for free, as did some others involved with the book.

Pear Jam paid part of the $5,500 print bill for the book.

Ms Marshall, who moved to New Zealand in 2003, has claimed Pear Jam is in liquidation and has no money to pay debts. The company, however, is listed by the Companies Office as a going concern.

Pullar has complained to police in England and New Zealand but neither is investigating. The Commerce Commission, which polices the Fair Trading Act, has also declined to investigate and has suggested she follow the Disputes Resolution process.

But Pullar, who donated the manuscript, said that would not address her concern, which was that those who bought the book believing proceeds would go to help the earthquake appeal had been let down.

"I don't have a comment for you because I can't put into words how upset I am," she said.

- NZ Herald

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