Thursday, July 24, 2008

I'm the SSG/SPCK Blog (well, some of it)

Haven't got time to post them all, but a clutch of entries from the SPCK/SSG blog just in case they've had the same bit of paper as Dave Walker.

(By the way, there is a current legal action against SSG from several former SPCK bookshop employees, the notice of it is here. If you want to keep up to date with who's blogging, see Richard Peat's link on the post below (warning - long scroll!!), or Matt Wardman. (

Here goes. Sorry about the formatting, but here are the last three posts, with comments. They're colour coded so you can tell them apart: ..............

Employment Tribunals Notice Posted
July 12, 2008 ·

Direction of the President: In the matter of complaints of unfair dismissal, and redundancy payment, notice period
By Order of His Hon. Judge Meeran, President, details of a number of pending employment tribunals have been posted on the Employment Tribunals website. The notice,
in MS Word format, is dated 20 June 2008 although I (Phil Groom writing) only stumbled across it myself this week; not sure when it was actually posted.
Google have helpfully translated it into
HTML format so you don’t need Word to read it, or there’s a pdf version here: take your pick.
Interestingly the document lists the respondents as
St Stephen the Great Limited Co
St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust
ENC Management Company
which perhaps suggests that if setting up the ENC Management Company was some sort of attempt by the Brewers to duck out of their employer’s responsibilities under their earlier SSG guises, then it’s an attempt that has failed. H H Judge Meeran, it seems, is not that easily outwitted, even by clever Texan lawyers…
The notice orders specifically that:
The claims in the attached schedule, and any additional claims in England & Wales identified as raising the same or similar issues, be subject to an Order for combined proceedings under Rule 10 of Schedule 1 to the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2004.
And it is further Ordered that these claims be transferred to the Bury St Edmunds office of the London East region, for the Regional Employment Judge to give directions for the consideration and expeditious disposal of the claims.
A copy of this Direction be sent to ACAS and to all known interested parties, and be published on the Tribunals Service website at
So here it is, as directed, available to all interested parties. Here’s wishing the claimants every success!
Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)
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Categories: Announcements · Info Tagged: , ,

13 responses so far ↓

justflyingkites //
July 13, 2008 at 7:28 am
Some good news to wake up to on a Sunday morning. Any odds on how long the Brewers will last at Chichester and Durham?

Phelim McIntyre //
July 13, 2008 at 1:06 pm
justflyingkites - they willlast as long as the authorities let them. Hopefully not long though.

Annie //
July 13, 2008 at 8:04 pm
We are all thinking of you…………….and a big “Thank you” to USDAW!

justflyingkites //
July 13, 2008 at 9:27 pm
Annie, the union makes us strong.

Justice //
July 13, 2008 at 11:13 pm
justflyingkites, im sure the pressure is on the Brewers now and there days could be short, at Durham.The shop looks like a jumble sale gone terribly wrong .

asingleblog //
July 17, 2008 at 6:10 pm
Just thought I’d let readers of this page know that a Mass was said at Our Lady of Walsingham for all current and ex-workers. Prayers will also be offered for the next two weeks. A very kind deed by the person who made it possible.

Annie //
July 18, 2008 at 10:00 pm
Lets not forget the few ……the very few,who still remain and need our support and prayers.We are thinking of you.

asingleblog //
July 19, 2008 at 8:23 am
Thank you Annie, thank you USDAW and thank you to the person who offered prayers at Walsingham.

Phelim McIntyre //
July 19, 2008 at 11:15 am
Just to warn people that Dave is away at Lambeth, and Phil is on holiday. Any fresh news please email to me at

Gentle Wisdom » Dave Walker capitulates on ex-SPCK bookshops // July 22, 2008 at 2:53 pm
[...] at least as I write. I wonder how long it will last. Probably at least until Phil returns from his holiday, as if he has been sent a similar letter to Dave’s he will not receive it until he returns. [...]

Lambeth Conference Cartoonist in Residence threatened with Legal Action over blog The Wardman Wire // July 22, 2008 at 5:56 pm
[...] SPCK ex-employees Blog reports on the continuing Industrial Tribunals. [...]

Pax Vobiscum //
July 22, 2008 at 6:03 pm
Cartoonblog has just been forced to remove all SPCK/SSG posts by Mark Brewer. I say ‘forced’ - Dave has been sent a ‘Cease and Desist’ note from MB threatening libel action. While Dave has done nothing wrong he is not in a position to fight a legal battle against the Brewers. Dave has worked hard for us all and we must say a big ‘thank you’ for all that he has done. However, we mustn’t let this stop us from telling the truth about this situation if we are able. And we must be extra-cautious not to say anything libellous to get anyone else into trouble (such as Phil Groom).

asingleblog //
July 22, 2008 at 7:46 pm
Most creditors will have received this but I’m posting a summary on this site just in case.
Basically there has been a Chapter 7 Trustee’s motion to dismiss SSG’S file for liquidation. Randy W. Williams has based his case for dismissal on these points (again a summary):
- There are a number of inconsistencies in the filing and a number of practical factors that favor dismissal of this case. The inconsistencies are that the Debtor’s legal name is not St Stephens the Great LLC.
-There is no St Stephens the Great LLC or a dba for anyone to operate under that name. The legal name of the entity alleged to be the Debtor in this case is St Stephens the Great, which is the same name as a registered in the United Kingdom. And while there do appear to be two separate St Stephens the Great entities, the information provided to the Trustee is that the taxpayer identification number given for the Debtor is the same number for the registered charity.
- The petition states that the Debtor is not for profit entity under the Internal Revenue Code, but the Debtor has no Internal Revenue Service Employee Identification Number.
It then goes on to argue the case of SSG operating in England and Wales and the practical considerations of creditors attending hearings in America.
Wish I could scan the whole thing but I can’t.
I note that Mark Brewer has turned on Bloggers. asingleblog is anonymous. Post anything you want on it.

A Letter to Mark Brewer
July 9, 2008 · 19 Comments

A few days ago — on the eve of Steve Jeyne’s memorial service — Mark Brewer wrote:
Now that SSG is in liquidation, you and your most of your readers must be elated . . . except whatever will you find to write about and who will you now slander?

Several people have responded. But this response from Pax Vobiscum perhaps sums up most effectively how most of us feel:
Dear Mark Brewer
The 600+ people who filled Worcester Cathedral on Monday for the Thanksgiving Service following the funeral of Steve Jeynes were not elated. They wanted to give thanks for a wonderful life of Christian witness, for a dedicated Christian Bookseller who had brought many to faith and for a husband, father, friend who meant so much to them. They were shocked, saddened, angry, but they were not elated.
The 100+ Christian Booksellers around the country who have had their careers, their ministries thrown in the gutter over the past year are not elated. They are upset, angry, struggling to rebuild their lives.
The myriad suppliers, who have not been paid are not elated. They are downhearted, some made financially unstable, others have lost an integral outlet for their goods.
The Christian communities which relied on their SPCK Bookshop as a resource centre for their mission and spiritual growth are not elated. Some, like Worcester, feel that one of their vital organs has been ripped out and stomped upon.
What has happened to the SPCK/SSG Bookshops over the last 18 months has caused so much needless hurt, so much pain, so much impoverishment of certain areas of the Christian faith in the UK that it is impossible to feel elation over the ‘bankruptcy’ of SSG. Only relief that this whole sorry episode is drawing to a close.
Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)
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Categories: News · Worcester Tagged:

19 responses so far ↓

Jan // July 9, 2008 at 3:28 pm
Thank you Pax –this about sums everything up on behalf of all of us present and past employees just how we all feel. This needed saying and I couldn’t have improved on what you have written

Phelim McIntyre // July 9, 2008 at 3:51 pm
Well said Pax! As someone who has spoken with people around the country who have been so badly treated, both ex-Bookshop staff and suppliers, as well as ex-customers you have caught the way we all feel.
Hopefully some phoenixes will rise from the ashes of what was SPCK Bookshops, and any way those of us who have got back on our feet can help those still recovering we will do so.

justflyingkites // July 9, 2008 at 8:22 pm
Thank you Pax. And to think that the Brewer’s once used to talk about ministry!

annie // July 9, 2008 at 9:31 pm
I totally agree Pax.Mr Brewer, your comment speaks volumes……..Out of interest, in what way do you think you have been “slandered”?

justflyingkites // July 9, 2008 at 10:10 pm
Me, I didn’t know where to post this. Your comments about UK law and the Brewers are quite devastating. They seem to expose the hierarchy at Chichester and Durham. Can anything be made of the fact that goods were moved from Norwhich to Chichester and from Canterbury to Durham prior to the liquidation of SSGLLC?

me // July 10, 2008 at 12:01 am
I too am frequently sorry that the law is blind and can quite understand your upset.
It is not my intention to ‘expose the hierarchy at Chichester & Durham’ - they may well be in action that we do not know about (as it would seem, according to Phelim, are so many others! Though this argument only holds for so long before it begins to be implausible - an accurate statement of exactly what one is in contention about can generally be given at a certain point in any legal proceeding).Indeed they may not have been formally approached or consulted by the Brewers!It is easy to assume that because we are aware of a situation others must also be - however sometimes because it is assumed people will know they are not told - or everyone assumes someone else will have told them and so problems may occur.I would always recommend writing and or contacting someone in the first instance to ensure they are initially aware of the problem and or concern -even if you think they will have been already informed or should have made measure to know.
This aside in relation to your question as to the movement of goods prior to liquidation I refer you to these previous postings:
Also if you suspect that an act of fraud may have been committed within this country then you can also contact your local police force and ask to speak to their Economic Crime Unit or Fraud Squad about your concerns.
However it needs again to be stated that there may not have been a fraudulent transfer or any other act of fraud as there may be perfectly legal and mitigating circumstances we are not aware of that allow the transfers you make reference to!

Valiant for Truth // July 10, 2008 at 11:40 am
A succinct and accurate report on the SPCK/SSG story appears in the current issue of “Private Eye” (11-24 July), so more people will be in the know.

Phelim McIntyre // July 10, 2008 at 11:46 am
Well done Private Eye!
Me - as to Chichester and Durham, my point is silence does not mean that nothing is happening. I know some of what is going on with ex-employees, and suppliers on the legal front. They are not speaking out because they have been advised not to seapk out as it will affect their standing in court. Durham and Chcihester may be doing the same, but in Chichester’s case I doubt it. When the STL thing fell through many other shops were contacted by their diocese and/or their bishop. Chichester said nothing. Even over the plans of Mark Brewer to turn Chichester shop (which is still a sacred building owned by the diocese) into an Orthodox place of worship, nothing seems to have been done other than an “oh dear - he can’t do that”.

Phelim McIntyre // July 10, 2008 at 12:36 pm
Have just read the Private Eye article (under the books and bookworm column). Nothing new to many of us but hopefully this will bring it to the attention of a wide audience - shame Radio 4’s New Quiz and Have I Got News For You aren’t on.

jim // July 10, 2008 at 12:50 pm
Being legalistic here, alledging fraud by individuals/companies without clear evidence is very probably slanderous/libellous and any action would be taken against the owner of the blog & the commenter.

Phil Groom // July 10, 2008 at 3:55 pm
That’s life, Jim: full of doubtful probabilities. No one is alleging fraud anyway: we’re simply asking the questions and discussing the possibility; and as far as I know freedom of speech has yet to be outlawed here in the UK.

Christina // July 10, 2008 at 7:13 pm
Lots of thanks for keeping this in the public arena. It’s not a time for anyone to be complacent and I find it sad that many more of the church community and hierarchy did not raise their voices before now. At least on these web-sites their is room to comment and question.

asingleblog // July 10, 2008 at 8:05 pm
Just read through a load of SPCK/SSG history. I was reminded through my reading and then listening to Mark Brewer’s radio interview, that the bookshops seemed to have fallen into the laps of Mark, Phil and Sandra. Seems that they were going to run an orthodox outfit in the same way one runs a pizza chain. I watched their Youtube movie and read the comments. One of the earlier ones struck me. It said something like, “let’s use this business…”
I think that the Brewers were never really interested in the bookshops other than that they would help finance buying up redundant churches and forward the aims of orthodoxy as seen by the Brewers.
In their movie the Brewers pointed to the Gateshead Church. They were pretty sure they were going to get it. In fact they have earmarked 52 churhes. Well it seems they can cross the Gateshead church off the list. The Chronicle Echo (free Gateshead paper) says that it is going to be turned into a stained glass window museum.

Justice // July 10, 2008 at 9:22 pm
Asingleblog,the reason the Brewer Brothers were never going to get there hands on the St Cuthbert Church , would be the powers that be new of there unchristian behaviour.

me // July 11, 2008 at 2:26 am
Jim,Thank you for your comment but no one has actually alleged fraud - In most instances a point has been made to state quite clearly that no wrong doing may have been done as there are circumstances to which we are not priviliged.Certainly questions have been asked, and information given, but in most cases it has been quite clearly stated that the legal authorities cited - namely the US Judiciary Courts - state that if someone has concerns or suspicions of wrongdoing they should report it.‘If you have information about an individual or company you SUSPECT is not complying with federal bankruptcy laws, report this activity.‘ is passing on public domain information as provided by the courts of the USA and/or the UK.

jim // July 11, 2008 at 12:44 pm
Thanks ‘me’ & phil for clarifying.

asingleblog // July 11, 2008 at 8:18 pm
Justice, I guess you’re right. I’ve heard the Brewers called a number of names. The last one was, “a bunch of crooks”. Please Jim, note the inverted commas. Maybe I should add “allegedly” like that Heslop guy from Private Eye who also does “Have I Got News for You”.

Veritas // July 12, 2008 at 7:04 pm
Phelim I feel sad for the people who are currently working in the Chichester shop. They really do need the support of the Diocesan authorities. Since SSGLLC went into liquidation, none of the suppliers want much to do with SSG in any form. Both Chichester and Durham will struggle to keep the shelves stocked and the Brewers will turn on the staff in those shops and blame them. This is not just a guess - it is the way they work.
Nobody knows the details of lease agreements when it comes to Durham. All I can say is that the Cathedral family are aware of what is happening in the shop. It doesn’t take rocket science. All a Cathedral steward need do is take a walk through the door, look at the shelves and then sympathise with staff. At least at Durham there is some support. I’m not saying that this has always been true for all staff - all we can hope for is that there is some movement behind the scenes.

Phelim McIntyre // July 12, 2008 at 8:26 pm
Veritas - I agree. Chichester has received the stock from Norwich and either Bristol or Bradford. But this will be outdated soon, if it isn’t already, due to ENC/Chichester/Durham being blacklisted by suppliers. As for the people working in Chichester - make that person. Someone is there on their own five days a week, as far as I am aware without lunch cover. Sound familiar? Some one is going in one day a weeek to give them a day off. I think a couple of people are also going in part time a few days a week, but generally it is one man in the shop.

From Bankruptcy to Liquidation?
July 4, 2008 ·

A report in today’s Bookseller, St Stephen the Great liquidates in US, states:
Christian charity and bookseller St Stephen the Great has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the US, a form of liquidation. There will be a meeting for creditors at Houston Bankruptcy Court on 22nd July.
Exactly what this implies about the status of SSG here in the UK remains unclear. The report cites an unnamed Usdaw spokesperson:
Our legal team has been in contact with the Brewers. They are continuing to look into the legality of the bankruptcy and what we can do for our members.
The Brewers themselves, unsurprisingly, have declined to comment…

19 responses so far ↓

Veritas //
July 4, 2008 at 2:48 pm
I note in reading about Chapter 7 (I’m no lawyer) that the debtor can hold onto “exempt” property. Does this mean that the Brewers can hold onto Chichester and Durham and the freehold property that they are not allowed to sell?

Phil Groom // July 4, 2008 at 3:51 pm
This is the question, isn’t it? I’m totally astonished that Durham Cathedral haven’t booted them out by now. Booktrade rapists or what? Why is Durham giving them sanctuary?

Phelim McIntyre //
July 4, 2008 at 4:48 pm
Concerning the Chichester shop - the Brewers (SSG/ENC) do not pay rent to Chichester Diocese, but may be in breach of the Covenant which allows them use of the building. With the relationship between SSG and ENC (same directors) could this expalin why the other two companies (Chichester Shop Management and Durham Cathedral Shop management) are registered as having been founded in Australia? Is there someway we can let the courts in America know that SSG and ENC are one and the same?

me //
July 4, 2008 at 6:44 pm
suspected US Bankruptcy fraud can be reported here:
You need to provide the following info,You are not required to give your details but they would prefer it for follow up if necessary.
* Name and address of the person or business you are reporting.* The name of the bankruptcy case, case number, and the location of where the case was filed.* Any identifying information you may have regarding the individual or the business.* A brief description of the alleged fraud, including how you became aware of the fraud and when the fraud took place. Please include all supporting documentation.* Identify the type of asset that was concealed and its estimated dollar value, or the amount of any unreported income, undervalued asset, or other omitted asset or claim.* Your name, address, telephone number, and email address. You are not required to identify yourself, though it is often helpful to do so if questions arise.
This info is from:

me // July 4, 2008 at 6:58 pm
‘fraudulent transferA transfer of a debtor’s property made with intent to defraud or for which the debtor receives less than the transferred property’s value. ‘
‘If you have information about an individual or company you suspect is not complying with federal bankruptcy laws, report this activity.‘
‘It is very important that a bankruptcy case be filed and handled correctly. The rules are very technical, and a misstep may affect a debtor’s rights. For example, a debtor whose case is dismissed for failure to file a required document, such as a credit counseling certificate, may lose the right to file another case or lose protections in a later case, including the benefit of the automatic stay. Bankruptcy has long-term financial and legal consequences - hiring a competent attorney is strongly recommended.
Debtors must list all property and debts in their bankruptcy schedules. If a debt is not listed, it is possible the debt will not be discharged. (Lists of the documents [including schedules] that debtors must file are set out on Form B200, one of the Director’s Procedural Forms.) The judge can also deny the discharge of all debts if a debtor does something dishonest in connection with the bankruptcy case, such as destroying or hiding property, falsifying records, or lying. Individual bankruptcy cases are randomly audited to determine the accuracy, truthfulness, and completeness of the information that the debtor is required to provide. Please be aware that bankruptcy fraud is a crime.’
however it needs to be stated that there may not have been a fraudulent transfer or any other act of fraud as there may be perfectly legal and mitigating circumstances we are not aware of that allow the transfers phelim made reference to!

furious //
July 4, 2008 at 11:21 pm
Why is Durham giving them sanctuary?I don’t think it’s as simple as that.

Phil Groom // July 5, 2008 at 6:26 am
Would you like to elaborate on that, please, furious? I know there’s some sort of covenant in place between SPCK and SSG — but surely by now SSG have thoroughly breached the terms of that covenant?

justflyingkites //
July 5, 2008 at 9:54 am
Maybe furious is referring to Durham and its 2010 programme. I’m only guessing. I go into that bookshop every time I am in Durham and I leave sadder every time. I’m sad that the staff are so demoralised and I’m sad that both the gift and bookshop look really empty.
I’m also sad that people in charge of Durham Cathedral have left it to come to this. If Leicester, Norwich and many others have managed to get shot of the Brewers, why has this august place not managed to do the same? My guess is that as long as the Brewers pay their lease they will be allowed to continue. Once again it’s up to suppliers not to supply the Cathedral Shop and up to staff to tell local suppliers exactly what the risks when they deal with the Durham Cathedral Shop. There are so many who could kill off The Durham Cathedral Shop Management Co. but for some reason nobody dares.

Phelim McIntyre //
July 5, 2008 at 12:41 pm
Having spoken to people who work/have worked at the Durham shop there are big issues which makes getting rid of SSG/ENC an uphill struggle. Durham Cathedral is not pro-Brewer it just takes time and energy to get rid of them. There have been opportunities where they could have got rid of the Brewers but it would have cost too much to do so. Notice that other than Durham and Chichester all the others are under ENC. Durham and Chichester have their own companies. Why? Could this be due to the specific legal situations with the landlords? At Chichester they do not have to pay rent, is there a similar clause which protects the Brewers - like a long term fixed contract - at Durham? If so this may also explain the silence from Durham Cathedral.

justflyingkites //
July 5, 2008 at 1:01 pm
Chichester was just looking for a way to use a church building. Durham is different. The shop is in the cloister. Prime property. Do the Brewer’s have to pay rent? Sure they do and then some. The Brewer’s will find the money from one of their many accounts. It’s up to the Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedral to get rid of SSG. Whilst they are about it they might tell the real people who work in the shop where they stand. The old story of “it’s up to them and their employers” no longer washes.

Phelim McIntyre //
July 5, 2008 at 2:20 pm
Justflyingkites - I know that SSG had a contract which has made it legally difficult for Durham to get rid of the Brewers without costing either them or someone else a lot of money. Unless the Brewers are in direct breach of that contract the legal ramifications could be huge. Durham seems to be one shop where the Brewers appear to be keeping, as much as they have to, to the contract. Also, remember silence at the moment does not mean in action. A lot of people want to speak out but due to legal action can not. These are not just individuals but also publishers. I hope that Durham’s silence is because their lawyers are going through things with a fine tooth comb. But unless there are solid legal grounds to chuck SSG/ENC or whatever name they want to call themselves out it can take time.
Chichester is not actually that different, there are tight legal obligations on the occupier that the Brewers are in breach of, and by the end of this month they could be in even further breach of the legal covenant. The building is also in a prime position on the main pedestrain precinct in Chichester, opposite Woolworths. It would cost a huge amount of money to do up but I am sure Starbucks, Costa Coffee, or a wine bar would love to have the building if it was ever sold.

justflyingkites //
July 5, 2008 at 4:45 pm
Take your point Phelim McIntyre

me //
July 5, 2008 at 6:37 pm
I believe you may be innacurate on Durham as when ssg altered the name of their business they had a legal obligation to reapp for their lease as they had functionally altered the terms - this would be exactly the same with any lease in any premises anywhere!The company that held the previous lease was ceasing to trade (it is the same if a sole trader becomes a ltd, or any business changes its name in a buyout etc!) so needs the permission of the landlord to maintain the lease - or actually - to set up a new lease/change of name, failure to do so is legally problematic, so in point of fact Durham had the perfect opportunity (or even may have the perfect opportunity if they have not already been approached by the new companies owners!!) to end the lease without any financial or legal obligations upon themselves in this instance as the new company have in effect ended their pre-existing lease!Basic land law.

justflyingkites //
July 5, 2008 at 8:09 pm
I take that back Phelim, I always felt that there was something fishy about Durham.

Valiant for Truth //
July 6, 2008 at 10:28 am
You would have to check with SPCK, but the lease with Durham Cathedral must have a get out clause as in 2004 the Cathedral wanted SPCK to quit the shop for the running to be taken over by Jarrolds. If the same lease is in place, why can SSG or whatever not be asked to quit?

Phelim McIntyre //
July 6, 2008 at 12:51 pm
What we need to know is who the lease is with at Durham. If it is with St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust then the Brewers may be technically subleasing the shop to SSG Ltd and then the Durham Cathedral Shop Management Company (or to themselves in practice). This may negate the legal issues brought up by “me” earlier.

me //
July 6, 2008 at 5:13 pm
No sorry Phelim,Sub-Leasing is not allowed under any type of lease contract I am aware of without the express permission of the landlord!Also as SSG etc etc is in bankruptcy they cannot assign or sublet a lease to anyone!In fact sub-leasing was one of the problematic legal issues to which I was referring!

Phelim McIntyre //
July 7, 2008 at 3:42 pm
me - but as it is SSG Ltd not the wider SSG that is “officially” bankrupt would the Brewers care? Yes the two SSGs are the same company, but they wont admit that.

me //
July 7, 2008 at 6:11 pm
I suspect that they may not care - but that is not the point.
The point is that legally as the trading company now operating in Durham is the Durham Cathedral Shop Managment Company they must (or Should) have approached Durham for an agreement on the assignment of their lease to the new company - either that or they will be in breach of their lease due to sub-letting without permission.Either way it is in, or was in, Durham Cathedrals Purview to choose not to continue with the existing lease etc.The same would hold true for Chichester one supposes - though if there is no rent paid etc then the situation might well be slightly more complicated, but it would still have necessitated a consultation as it is a new company in each venue that is trading there now and not in any way shape or form ‘SSG anything’ by legal definitions.

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