The bestselling thriller writer Stephen Leather has been accused of secretly cyberbullying fellow authors.
Duns, for his part, has written a lengthy blog in which he claims that a number of websites were set up by Leather about him that are "vindictive and filled with false accusations and misrepresentations (as well as using private photos without permission, including one taken by my daughter)."
Duns says he found proof that Leather was behind the sites after realising the website "fuckjeremyduns.com" mistakenly included a redirect to one of Leather's own websites.
Duns claims the abuse began after the 2012 Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, when Leather said: "I'll go on to several forums, the well-known forums, and post there under my name and under various other names and various other characters."
The fallout was covered by Observer columnist Nick Cohen, who also described how Leather's campaign against another author had led to the author begging to be "left alone".
Duns wrote in his blog that Leather's behaviour "is not just grossly unprofessional but pathetic and really pretty despicable. I can only hope that either his publisher or someone else intervenes to try to persuade him to stop it."
A number of high-profile authors have now commented on Duns' claims.
Leather was approached by BuzzFeed News for comment but has yet to respond. Hachette, his publisher, has reportedly told him not to comment on the matter and has issued a statement: "We propose to do everything we can to put an end to this very unpleasant matter immediately. We wholeheartedly condemn harassment and intimidation of any kind."
However, in today's Times an unnamed source at the publisher is quoted as saying: "It's all got ridiculously out of hand. What we can do about it is pour oil on troubled water. It has just gone on too long. It's one of those things like getting a divorce, where you forget what the original thing was about."
Duns told BuzzFeed News that he found the source's statement "fairly infuriating". "In 2012, Leather publicly boasted about cheating readers by using sockpuppet accounts," he said. "He spent over a year cyberbullying another writer who had dared criticise him, Steve Roach. Since 2012 he has been abusive to me under his own name, and anonymously set up five websites to try to smear me and damage my career."
He added: "All I've done, and all Steve Mosby has done, has been to criticise Leather's unethical actions. I'm not forgetting it, am not to blame for his behaviour. I just want him to delete the websites and stop this."
Hachette did not comment further when approached by BuzzFeed News.
Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Alan White at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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