Cross-post from The Wardman Wire, which is one of several sites hitting problems this morning. Here's why)
Another one has broken cover. Phil Grooms SPCK/SSG blog has made public his full 'Cease and Desist' from Mark Brewer, with a post here noting that, of the 5 websites Phil was asked to take down, 2 of which are nothing to do with him!
Early today Phil posted the rest of Mark Brewer's letter, noting that it was difficult to respond to it given that Brewer himself had banned Phil from contacting him. (What follows is a summary, go to Phil's site for the whole thing. Mark Brewers words are in italics, Phil's in red. )
For the record, Phil denies the following claims:
1. Running a website dedicated to the destruction of Brewers personal reputation (the sites are dedicated to SPCK bookshops).
2. 'Succesfully blocking my efforts to get my and SSG's side of the story out': Phil has invited Mark Brewers input on several occasions, and at no point has he attacked 'my wife, my daught and my religion', as Brewer claims.
3. Holding Mark Brewer up to ridicule, and using 'vile and defamatory words'. No, says Phil: Madpriest and others (see the end of this post) might sail close to the wind on that, but Phil isn't.
4. Interfering with SSG's strategy to salvage SPCK. Phil responds: "My impression was that you’d filed for bankruptcy, Mark, and peremptorily dismissed most of your staff. I have to confess that I didn’t recognise that as a strategy to “salvage what remains of the business”… why didn’t you tell us that’s what you were trying to do? I think most people got the impression you were asset-stripping or something similar."
5. I'll just quote Mark Brewer for this bit:
I therefore am going to say this as clearly as I can: I am a private individual and I value my privacy. I am not a public figure such that you have the right to drag my name and my family’s names through the mire. I do not consent to you contacting me about your alleged enquiries. I do not consent and object to you maintaining websites about me, SSG, SSGCT, ENC Management, my brother, my wife, or my daughter. I do not consent to you posting blogs on the internet. I do not consent to you defaming me to any other party or person by “sharing” your false allegations.
No contact? No websites about SPCK (which is what the SSG demand would entail)? No blogs on the internet? It's hard to avoid the suspicion that Brewer just wants Phil to keep quiet and say nothing.
Finally, for now, please note that I’m not interested in defaming you or in making “false allegations”. I am interested in finding the truth, however, and that forces me to ask why you wanted Dave Walker’s ‘Save the SPCK’ pages taken down? Was there something there that you wanted hidden? Why did you demand that Sam Norton take down those he reposted? Why do you want the pages referred to in my previous posts taken down? The reasons you’ve given don’t really seem bear scrutiny, do they?
And here is what whiffs about the whole business. When a faltering business faces industrial tribunals in the UK, files for bankruptcy several thousand miles away, and and the same time tries to completely silence the two main reporters on its actions... Well, you can work the rest out, can't you?
The SPCK Chronicles
Now that the entire Dave Walker Chronicles of SPCK are available in 1 volume, its possible to examine whether they merit a 'Cease and Desist' order for possible libel. Exigency in Specie has a good summary of the whole thing, and notes:
When you read the posts, Dave spent a good deal of time trying to moderate those reactions in order to thoughtfully report events that he believed should be of concern to a wider audience. As a relatively high profile site he primarily acted as a central resource for collecting together information from the geographically diverse chain. Care in what was written was uppermost, even when emotions grew - you can easily find points where he calls for cool heads, and where he removed comments that he himself deemed were close to the line. Certainly an approach from Mark Brewer asking for specific points to be removed would I’m sure have been met with much less of an explosion of anger in the blogsphere than the cease and desist attempt to close down the whole story has produced
Sam Norton continues to get plenty of support - here are the comments on his own C&D. I had trouble opening his site this morning, along with those of several other commenters on this story, but the link to the comments should work.
Mark B at Way Out West is an early link on the DW story that we missed. And it has a cartoon. The Walsingham Girl is an Orthodox Christian in the UK who is 'appalled' by Dave Walkers treatment.
Meanwhile Kouya Chronicle has blogged in support of the C&D 3, revmusings is also Dave Walker, as is Anne's blog. One Blog One Lord wants Dave to be President, and Philip Bartholemew makes the perceptive comment:
J Mark Brewer, who runs the organisation that owns the bookshops (and who is now seeking bankruptcy proceedings in Houston), believes he and his company should be immune from criticism because both are private: in fact, as Unity points out, Brewer is a subject of public controversy and so in US eyes is a “limited purpose public figure”. This is just one feature of US libel law that we could do with in the UK, where people who choose to involve themselves in public affairs can all too often suppress critical discussion and discourage investigation by waving lawyers around
Tim Abbott has a round up, and on the ground Thoughts and More Thoughts has been to see Chester SPCK, and links to reports from the local paper on the staff sackings. Wonder if any of the media people swarming around Dave Walker at the moment know what's going on?
The 'We Support Dave Walker' Facebook group is up to nearly 350, which hopefully England can surpass today at Edgbaston.
Finally for light relief, Rev. Dr. Christian Troll has no doubt that J. Mark Brewer is a man after his own heart. Don't read this with any food in your mouth, it will end up on your keyboard.
(DK note: some time in the next few days we'll update the list of people blogging on this story at The Wardman Wire - my rough guesswork is that it's now over 100. 64 links are posted, but new ones are appearing all the time.)