Marr's best-seller is taken off the shelves for 'legal reasons'

A BEST-selling book by political commentator Andrew Marr is being recalled almost two years after it was first published "for legal reasons".

A History of Modern Britain has sold 250,000 copies since it was published to coincide with a five-part documentary television series in May 2007.

Now the book's publisher, Pan Macmillan, has issued a notice to booksellers asking for them to return unsold copies.

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A "very well-known figure" is reportedly said to have objected to a phrase in the book.

The remaining copies of the book, which has been published in both hardback and paperback, are likely to be destroyed.

It is expected be reissued with the offending passage removed.

Glasgow-born Marr, 49, a former political editor of The Scotsman who was educated in Scotland before attending Cambridge University, has recently finished a second volume of the book.

He declined to discuss the matter on his own BBC television show yesterday morning.

He told panellists that they could talk about it themselves but that he could not because it was a legal matter.

The book covers the history of Britain from 1945 to the present day and received widespread critical acclaim when it went on sale.

It argues that the second Elizabethan Age has been defeated by a culture of consumerism, celebrity and self-gratification.

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David Stenhouse, reviewing the book in Scotland on Sunday in May 2007, described it as "a stimulating and witty account of the forces that made our age, by a man who somehow manages to be a well-informed insider without sacrificing the perspective of those outside the Westminster village".

The spin-off television series also won Marr a Bafta in the specialist factual programme category.

The publisher's notice issued to wholesalers and booksellers read: "For legal reasons we need to immediately recall all unsold copies of A History of Modern Britain by Andrew Marr.

"I should be grateful if, by return, you would let me know how many unsold copies you have in your possession or control and return them immediately.

"A replacement order will be processed for the returned quantity."

Erin Prizzy, the veteran champion of women's rights, reportedly declined to comment on claims she had complained because Marr's book linked her to a militant group, known as the Angry Brigade, that staged bomb attacks in the 1970s .

No-one was available for comment from Pan Macmillan yesterday.

It is not the first time a high-profile book has been recalled and destroyed.

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Last year, 4,000 copies of a book called On Her Majesty's Service, outlining an account of Ron Evan's life as a protection officer, were destroyed after author Salman Rushdie sued him for libel.