Monday, July 20, 2009

Who's Ceased and Desisted Now? The Dave Walker/SPCK Fiasco, 1 Year On

Exactly a year ago on Wednesday, I posted this:

Dave Walker, who has been flying the flag for the beleagured SPCK bookshop chain, has been threatened with libel by the St. Stephen the Great Charitable Trust (SSG), who took over the chain last year. Since then, most (if not all) of the SPCK bookshops have closed, and there have been various questions about management practices. One former bookshop manager, Steve Jeynes, tragically took his own life just a few weeks ago.

Dave has been keeping a close eye on all of this, and providing a forum for people to share news about the chain. He has been told he'll be sued unless all SPCK posts are removed from his website.

If you want to contact Dave to support him, or offer money so that the action can be fought (don't let the bullies win!), then his contact details are here. If you're anywhere near the Lambeth conference, go to Dave's tent and give him your support.

Some of the story is at
Christian Bookshop News. Phil Groom has also kept a blog here dedicated to the SPCK/SSG developments. However, as Phil is on holiday, even if he's been threatened by the Brewers (the family who are SSG), he's too busy getting a tan to do anything about it.

Up to that point, I'd noticed that Dave kept going on about SPCK bookshops on his Cartoon Blog, but hadn't followed it very closely. But us bloggers are a protective lot, and within days of the new SPCK owners coming after one of our own, dozens of people had blogged in support. Phil Groom, who recieved similar threats on the same day, refused to comply, and his SPCK/SSG News Notes and Info has been an invaluable focus for online campaigning. Dave, in the midst of packing for the Lambeth conference, took down his blog posts, but you can find them all here.

One year later, the boot is now on the other foot. Earlier this year the Charity Commissioners investigated the SSG charity, found it wanting, and took it over. The SSG owners, Mark and Phil Brewer, had suddenly transferred the shops out of SSG ownership in June 2008 to a new body, ENC Shop Management, but the Commissioners have refused to be fooled and changed the locks on (we think) all but 2 of these shops.

We are very nearly at the end of this sorry saga, but there are still plenty of debts to be settled, and aggrieved former staff and suppliers who have been unpaid, underpaid, defrauded and otherwise maltreated by the Brewers.

It is now Mark Brewer who has gone silent. Nothing has been heard from him for months, pretty much since he failed to get SSG declared bankrupt in the US and was given a hefty slap on the wrist for wasting court time.

So here is my Cease and Desist. Mark Brewer, you should Cease and Desist hiding. Stand up like a man, face up to the people who have suffered because of you, pay them what you owe, and own up to what you did. If you do not comply, we will not bully you or pursue any legal action against you, because we're not like you. But you will have to stand before the ultimate Judge and account for your words and your deeds, and He may be even tougher on you than the bankruptcy courts of Texas.

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