Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Letter to the Church Times

I've just sent this to the Church Times, hopefully it's in time for publication on Friday, though I guess there'll be plenty of Lambeth stuff they're trying to squeeze in too:

Dear Church Times,

I notice with great concern that your cartoonist (and Lambeth cartoonist-in-residence), Dave Walker, has had to remove 75 postings from his blog concerning the recent history of SPCK bookshops. Since their handover to new owners, the Society of St. Stephen the Great (SSG), there have been a number of troubling developments at SPCK. 30 former employees are currently pursuing union action against SSG, whilst at the same time it is filing for bankruptcy in Texas, in a court thousands of miles away from most of its creditors. Your report of 25th July notes that the legitimacy of the SSG bankruptcy claim has been seriously questioned.

There seems to be a concerted attempt to silence online comment about the whole business. Another blogger following the SPCK story, Phil Groom, was threatened with libel proceedings if he did not 'cease and desist' his reporting, as was an Essex vicar who republished some of Dave Walkers reporting on his own blog. Yet there seems to be nothing libellous in either Mr. Groom or Mr. Walkers coverage, and the timing - with court proceedings pending in both the UK and US - is highly suspicious. Mr. Grooms correspondence even demanded that he shut down a site dedicated to raising funds for former SPCK employees.

The Church Times has done its readers a great service in reporting on developments at SPCK so far, and I do hope this will continue. Good journalism is about bringing the truth to light, however uncomfortable it is for certain parties.

Yours sincerely
Rev. David Keen.

Update, Sat 9th Aug: Nope, not published. So if you edit a parish magazine, it's all yours.


  1. Thanks Paul. Here's me hoping you work for the Church Times....

  2. Sorry mate but I am just a humble (ever so!) Methdoist minister in Bideford. Mind you I would be very happy to work for the Church times for a suitably extravagant fee.

  3. Good letter
    I'd be surprised if it's published tho' 'cos Brewer would try to close the Church Times

  4. The Cease and Desist letters dried up after 1 failed attempt to silence Sam Norton, even though dozens of other bloggers were reposting Dave Walkers stuff, so I'm not sure he'd dare.

    CT reported on the SPCK saga last week, even after Dave W had been silenced, so I'm hoping they're not fazed by this. It would certainly be fun if he tried!