Big update today, as lots going on, and this will probably be out of date already by the time you read it! This is all moving very fast now….. If you are new to this story there is an excellent summary here.
Dave Walker was not alone. Two other bloggers who have gone public with their Cease and Desists from Mark Brewer. Elizaphanian (Sam Norton), and Phil Groom. More on Phil in a minute.
Sam Norton, who posted his yesterday, has had support from all over the place:
Maggi Dawn quotes some advice from a 'legal eagle' friend
"The letter itself is basically a threat to bring legal action, so the only cost involved is paying a lawyer to draft it. It's therefore very easy for a large organisation to impose their will over someone whom they know is unlikely to be able to afford legal representation. It can make little difference how strong their case actually is."
Squiggle Jones, And Jesus Wept and Philips Tree House all log their support, with the latter questioning Mark Brewers assertion that he is merely a private citizen. The Journey Home is both Dave Walker and Sam Norton, and so is his wife. Get your head round that one. Jonathan Evens seems to be trying the same trick. Perhaps this is psychological warfare?
Metacatholic questions several of the Brewer clams, querying whether a unilateral declaration of ‘this is confidential’ holds any water, and noting how little real evidence is given to substantiate the allegations against Sam.
he writes: Indeed, his letters as quoted by Sam, like many of his past statements, seem to bear such a complex and tenuous relationship to reality that it would be difficult to describe them as truthful without placing an inappropriate burden on the semantic resources of the English language. I think I know what he's trying to say....
By far the most substantial response, outside of the dozens of comments on Sams blog, has come from Unity at Ministry of Truth, with virtually a clause-by-clause dissection of the SSG communiqué.
There are all sorts of point in dispute: whether Mark Brewer is just a ‘private citizen’, whether any of the comments are defamatory or just fair comment on a company which faces bankruptcy in one country and an industrial tribunal in another. The fine print debate is on how well Mr Brewer knows his legal stuff, and the moral seems to be: if you’re running out of legs to stand on, don’t use what you’ve got left to kick people.
Come in No. 3
A third order to cease and desist (or face libel charges) has been sent to Phil Groom, who runs the SPCK/SSG blog . Like Dave Walker, Phil has been logging the SPCK story in recent months, including staff layoffs, industrial action against new owners SSG, and some rather fruity exchanges with Mark Brewer himself.
Phil is, like C. Montgomery Burns, incandescent with rage that his own C&D notice demands that he take down a site devoted purely to raising funds for former SPCK staff.
Here’s what he says
Mark Brewer says, “Remove this page. Immediately.”
Which page, you ask? Well five pages, actually, specified in an email he sent on July 21st whilst I was on holiday. I’ll probably tell you about the others later, if somebody else doesn’t beat me to it. But it’s his demand that I remove the fifth one on his list of supposedly offensive pages that really has me riled:
5. http://www.christianbookshops.org.uk/spckdonate.htm (Support SPCK’s Booksellers, and the Phil Groom administered “fund”)
And if I don’t remove it?
If you do not do so; i.e., remove your websites by noon GMT July 22, 2008, I will seek an injunction against you, your colleagues, associates and companies. I also will take legal action against each of you for damages for libel. In that event, I will also subpoena all records relating to the persons whom you have allowed to post defamatory material on your website in order to add them as defendants.
Phil then comments: So it’s not just me he’s gonna get, dear people: it’s you, if you’ve posted “defamatory material” on my website. As well as my “colleagues, associates and companies”. That’s a lot of people he’s threatening. But since, to the best of my knowledge, no one has posted any “defamatory material” on my website — on any of my websites, for that matter — I wouldn’t get too stressed if I were you. And the deadline’s been and gone, of course…
A friend commented on a remarkable coincidence: the date of that deadline is the same day that Randy W Williams issued his motion to dismiss SSG’S file for liquidation.
But I am now so very, very angry. How dare Mr Brewer target the very page that I set up to raise funds to support the people whose livelihoods have been destroyed by this fiasco??
Watch Phils blog today, I'm sure there'll be more.
A couple of other links: the Ship of Fools discussion thread has sprung into life again since Sam's posting.
And finally….. Tall Skinny Kiwi has a thoughtful post on blogs and legal action, and some ground rules for bloggers who don’t want to be firestarters.
It will be interesting to see what appears in todays Church Times, and there’s a prize to anyone who can work out the 4 other sites Phil Groom is supposed to shut down. It will also be interesting to see who gets involved in this post-Lambeth; there are people there following this closely, but who are giving their full attention (quite rightly) to the Lambeth Conference at the moment. Next week, more of them may have a view.