5 April 2018Copyright

UK politician Rees-Mogg ‘masquerading’ as Beano character

UK politician Jacob Rees-Mogg has been accused of “masquerading” as a copyright-protected comic book character, in a spoof cease-and-desist letter issued earlier this week.

Beano Studios shared its ‘ allegations’ on Twitter yesterday, April 4, by publishing the letter, which was sent to the politician from Mike Sterling, head of Beano Studios Scotland, dated April 3.

Children’s entertainment company Beano is well known for its Dennis the Menace strip in the comic book series The Beano.

Sterling’s letter said that Rees-Mogg, an MP for the Conservative Party in the UK, has been “masquerading” as cartoon character Walter the Softy, Dennis’s next door neighbour and arch-nemesis.

Sterling’s letter asked Rees-Mogg to cease and desist in his “ongoing impersonation” of Walter, who first appeared in The Beano comic in 1953—16 years before Rees-Mogg was born.

The letter references seven instances of Rees-Mogg “distinctly copying” the attributes of Walter: hair parting and style; round reading glasses; spotty ties and vintage clothing; enjoyment of classical music; “bullish” behaviour; frequently reminding people of his father’s successful career; and finally, “snootiness”.

Legal news outlet Legal Cheek noted that the cartoon character “does happen to bear a striking resemblance to the Eton-educated politician”.

Such impersonation is a “clear breach of our copyright”, Beano said, adding that the evidence is “irrefutable”.

Responding to the allegations on Twitter, Rees-Mogg said: “I am flattered to be accused by The Beano’s legal eagles of imitating Walter the Softy whose powerful physical prowess is so much greater than my own.”

According to the BBC Rees-Mogg described the letter as “very jolly stuff”. He reportedly confirmed that he did read The Beano as a child but never thought he would model himself on Walter. In response to the seven specific allegations he claimed that “snootiness is really rather pleasant”, the BBC reported.

Speaking to WIPR, a spokesperson for Beano said it has “a responsibility to protect one of our best-loved characters from imitation” and issued the letter to Rees-Mogg after “eagle-eyed young fans” noted the similarities between Walter and the politician.

However, due to Rees-Mogg’s “admiration for the character” and “humorous response”—which Walter was “flattered by and boastful about”, according to Beano—the comic company said it intends to “let the matter slide” on this occasion.

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