Daily Archives: August 2, 2008

“these things” which Mark Brewer says I must stop doing

On Friday I reviewed the pages Mark Brewer wants me to take down and invited him to explain exactly what he found offensive about those pages. As yet, I haven’t seen any response from him; early in the day, I suppose: only 24 hours later. How long did he give Dave and myself to respond when I was on holiday?

But I’ve heard a rumour that his brother and co-owner of the shops, Philip, is here in the UK: if you see him, perhaps you’d be kind enough to pass on the invitation to respond, please? Unfortunately, as you’ll see, Mark gave me very clear instructions not to contact him so I’m can’t do that directly myself. Mark, let me say this as clearly as I possibly can: I would consider it an honour and a privilege to comply with that part of your request. Sorry, demand. But how are we to get this sorted if you prohibit contact?

Here, then, is the opening text of Mark’s first (yes, there are more) C&D message to me, specifying the things I must cease doing. Since I haven’t actually been doing the things he describes, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to stop doing them, but I’ll look at that more closely further on. Emphasis throughout is his own.


 

From:   Brewer@bplaw.com
Subject: Demand to Cease and Desist
Date: 21 July 2008 18:04:17 BDT
To:   Phil Groom, Clem Jackson

Sirs:

I just visited your site dedicated to the destruction of my personal reputation and that of Saint Stephen the Great/Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust.  I am absolutely appalled and devastated by what you have written as well as by what you have encouraged and allowed to be posted on your various sites – especially after your last written communication to me, below which ended “Assuring you of my prayers.” 

You have successfully blocked my efforts to get my and SSG’s side of the story out.  You have done this with your sites and Mr. Walker’s with whom you obviously collaborate.  No matter what I say or do not say, the three of you continue your relentless attacks on me and the charities.  You have now broadened your attacks to include my wife, my daughter and my religion.  You will obviously stop at nothing.  You must, therefore, be stopped.

When I do not respond to your vile and defamatory words, you pretend that you are such an important person that ‘how dare anyone not answer you.’  When I do respond, you hold me up to even greater ridicule and invite others to do the same.  I am dumfounded that any Christian ethos purportedly allows one to do that.

You now are doing your best to interfere with the Charitable Trust’s efforts to salvage what remains of the business of the bookshops, scornfully mocking these efforts at every turn. 

This is not right and you have gone way too far.

Your statements are false and I categorically deny them – both for me, my family and SSG/SSGCT.  Nearly all of them are defamatory per se.

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. 

[Editor’s Note: remainder of this message posted yesterday under the heading Legal Demands. After this he cites our previous correspondence, which is online here.]


 

Let’s go through this paragraph by paragraph:

I just visited your site dedicated to the destruction of my personal reputation and that of Saint Stephen the Great/Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust.  I am absolutely appalled and devastated by what you have written as well as by what you have encouraged and allowed to be posted on your various sites – especially after your last written communication to me, below which ended “Assuring you of my prayers.” 

Mark, I do not run any sites “dedicated to the destruction of [your] personal reputation and that of Saint Stephen the Great/Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust.” I do run a couple of sites dedicated to promoting Christian bookshops, alongside this one to offer support to the ex-SPCK booksellers whose livelihoods have been wrecked by this fiasco, and to provide a space for news, notes and info along with related discussions. Exactly which parts of this are you “absolutely appalled and devastated” by, please? As for me, I am appalled and devastated by what has become of the SPCK bookshops since they fell under your ownership. I will, of course, continue to pray for you.

You have successfully blocked my efforts to get my and SSG’s side of the story out.  You have done this with your sites and Mr. Walker’s with whom you obviously collaborate.  No matter what I say or do not say, the three of you continue your relentless attacks on me and the charities.  You have now broadened your attacks to include my wife, my daughter and my religion.  You will obviously stop at nothing.  You must, therefore, be stopped.

On the contrary, Mark, as our previous correspondence clearly shows, I have invited your input several times, and blog comments have been open at all times (even when they were put on moderation whilst I was on holiday, commenting was not closed). I have not “collaborated” with Dave Walker, as you put it: we run our blogs and sites entirely independently of one another. Nor have I made “relentless attacks on [you] and the charities”. On the contrary, I believe that everything I’ve posted falls under the perfectly legitimate area of factual reporting and fair comment. Some of it has been critical and could, I guess, be misconstrued. But I have certainly not attacked your wife, your daughter or your religion: please clarify exactly what you mean by this allegation.

When I do not respond to your vile and defamatory words, you pretend that you are such an important person that ‘how dare anyone not answer you.’  When I do respond, you hold me up to even greater ridicule and invite others to do the same.  I am dumfounded that any Christian ethos purportedly allows one to do that.

“Vile and defamatory words”? Please identify the exact words you’re referring to, Mark. I’ve never claimed any great importance either, but yes, if I had done so it would be a pretence: I think I know my place.

Nor have I held you up to ridicule or invited others to do so. Please identify where you feel that I have done this and I’ll gladly revisit those pages. But in any case, since when has laughter been a crime? Are you going to respond to Father David Heron’s invitation to send him a ‘Cease and Desist’ message? Will you send one to the Revd Dr Christian Troll? Or MadPriest, perhaps? I confess that I’d love to see their responses, but they don’t need any encouragement from me. Without laughter we are left with despair and there’s been far too much of that already.

On that note, Mark, are you aware that in bludgeoning Dave Walker into removing his ‘Save the SPCK’ pages you have done away with an entire page of tributes to a much loved man, Steve Jeynes? That was a tragedy. This action of yours turns it into an atrocity. If I was “incandescent with rage” before I am now positively apoplectic! 

You now are doing your best to interfere with the Charitable Trust’s efforts to salvage what remains of the business of the bookshops, scornfully mocking these efforts at every turn. 

This is not right and you have gone way too far.

Your statements are false and I categorically deny them – both for me, my family and SSG/SSGCT.  Nearly all of them are defamatory per se.

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.

Oh yes, I did call for a boycott, not that it achieved anything: I think most customers had already given up by then anyway. Way too far, Mark? I don’t think it was anything like far enough, on reflection. I remember your comment at the time: “What a great idea! Boycott! How very Christian of you.” Indeed so. To me, the word “Christian” refers to following Jesus: doing things like driving disreputable merchants out of the temple, for instance… but let’s not go down that road right now, hey? Instead, please tell me which of my statements you regard as false and defamatory so that I can reassess them if necessary.

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. 

You say that you’re a private person, Mark: are you, perhaps, being a tad disingenuous with that claim?

You do not consent to me contacting you? That does make holding a conversation difficult. And please don’t worry, I have no interest in maintaining websites about you, your brother, your wife or daughter. I’d really rather not have to maintain this one: I honestly wish, with all my heart, that a site such as this wasn’t necessary. And I’m very sorry: I didn’t realise that I needed your consent to post blogs on the internet…

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?

I’ve looked at Dave’s pages — they can be downloaded as a pdf from the Wardman Wire — and I can’t see anything defamatory or libellous there.

Back to you now, Mark: I’m looking forward to your response.

Thank you.

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