Lord Leveson has given an uncompromising thumbs-down to the latest offering from Harry Potter author JK Rowling, branding the new work 'tedious and lacking in that early Hogwarts magic.'
Rowling unveiled her new tale, hotly anticipated by fans, at a public reading at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London. But after two hours of forensic exposition of its contents by Rowling, there was none of the hysteria that greeted her previous books.
'We first began to suspect that Ms Rowling had lost her authorial sparkle when she told us the title,' Leveson said. 'Some hack from the Sun told me that her daughter told him it was going to be called "Harry Potter and the Wand of Limbo" but she just called it "Witness Statement of Joanne Kathleen Rowling". What six-year-old is going to queue outside Waterstone's at midnight just to read that?'
Leveson's criticism extended to plot and characterisation, as well. 'Whereas Rowling's earlier stories were all situated within the wonderful confines of a magical public school, this work is primarily set at her home in Edinburgh and on holiday in the Maldives,' he complained. 'And Harry Potter himself is hardly in it, let alone Albus Dumbledore or Minerva McGonagall. There's just these unbelievable, wooden characters named after the author and her clearly fictitious "family" - and there's not a single illustration of the so-called "children" all the way through.'
Leveson did note one improvement in Rowling's work. 'Lord Voldemort, her previous villain, was a ruthless, amoral, calculating, miserable ruin of a being, thoroughly evil and lacking in any redeeming qualities,' he went on. 'Whereas her new villains, the demonic 'Paparazzi', are even more horrible. I'll enjoy hating them for the next few weeks although, as is the way with these things, I suspect they'll live to fight another day.'