Monthly Archives: January 2009

100,000 Pageviews… and Still Counting!

Phil Groom writes:

100,022 pageviews... and counting!

100,022 pageviews... and counting!

On Thursday 29th January 2009, one of you splendid people out there had the awesome privilege of experiencing our 100,000th pageview. Was it you? Did you capture that magic moment? I captured our 100,022nd as per the screenshot, right (though I was not actually the 100,022nd pageviewer: WordPress doesn’t count my visits).

This blog was launched on 26th June 2008, just over seven months ago: that’s 100,000 pageviews in 218 days, an average of almost 459 pageviews per day… just shy of one pageview every 3 minutes.

So, for the statisticians and the incurably  curious, I take this opportunity to present some more facts and figures:

All Time Top 10 Posts & Pages
(View Count as at 9pm, 30/01/2009)

 Durham  2,726 
 Steve Jeynes, RIP  2,258 
 About  1,170 
 “SSG tribunal claims mount”  1,065 
 Joy Jeynes: Please continue to pray for God’s work in Worcester  1,003 
 Rescuing Britain’s Christian Heritage: Durham Cathedral Bookshop   991 
 A Letter to Mark Brewer  989 
 Mark Brewer says, “Remove this page. Immediately.”  984 
 Philip Brewer says, “Immediately post this…”  899 
 SPCK/SSG: My Story, by Phil Groom  872 

 

The Upsy-Downsy Chart for the last few days

Pageviews 16.01.2009 - 30.01.2009

Pageviews 16.01.2009 - 30.01.2009

Busiest Ever…

Where Next? All Time Top 5 Destinations on Leaving This Site
(Click Count as at 9pm, 30/01/2009)

 iPetitions.com: Durham Cathedral Bookshop  1,113 
 Asingleblog  511 
 iPetitions.com: Durham Cathedral Bookshop: Signatures p.1   341 
 Matt Wills China Blogger  181 
 iPetitions.com: Chichester Christian Bookshop  180 

 

There are lots more stats available, of course: feel free to ask if you’d like more details on any particular page or post. Scroll down the sidebar for live updated lists of the current top posts and pages, pageviews and departure destinations.

Now, changing the subject entirely: let’s plan ahead for February. Who’d like to design a couple of Valentine’s Day Cards for J Mark and Philip ‘Dubya’ Brewer? Let’s show them some true blogger love and appreciation.

Shopping in Chester

Phil Groom writes:

Chester Till Receipt and Bag, January 2009

Chester Till Receipt and Bag, January 2009

Merely an oversight, I’m sure…

I understand that Trading Standards have given the shop until 5th Feb to set the record straight and provide a notice identifying the current owners along with their contact details.

I’ll say no more: don’t want to go down in history as a nit picker 😉

Thank you to our intrepid photographer: you know who you are.

SSG at Companies House: “Status: Active – Proposal to Strike off”

Phil Groom writes:

SSG’s status at Companies House has been flagged as “Active – Proposal to Strike off”:

Status Active - Proposal to Strike off (Screenshot taken 23.01.2009)

Status Active - Proposal to Strike off (Screenshot taken 23.01.2009)

If allowed to go through this means that the company will cease to exist, and whilst in many ways that would qualify as the Event of the Decade, what it means in practice is that anyone with outstanding legal claims against the company will be unable to pursue them unless they are prepared to pay to have the company restored.

If that’s you, whether as an unpaid employee, unpaid supplier or in any other capacity, I suggest that you contact Companies House sharpish to advise them of your concerns. I’ve already emailed them an outline of the current situation and Matt Wardman has a concise list of points available that should make the Registrar sit up and take notice.  Please ask if you’d like a copy of either of these, either via the comments section on this page or privately.

St Osmond’s Hall, the company’s registered address, may be contacted here: 

More info about what’s involved and what it means for a company to be struck off the register of companies may be found in the Companies House FAQs and About Us sections:

My thanks to those who helped with tracking down this information: you know who you are. 

Download this post as a PDF

Download this post as a PDF

Supporting Gaza

Phil Groom writes:

Hope you’ll forgive me going off-topic today: I’m kinda angry with the BBC and their so-called “impartiality” in refusing to broadcast the DEC Appeal for Gaza. Puts our gripes about them dropping us from the Sunday Programme into perspective, though, I think. I’ve gone on about it more here: Supporting Gaza. Please do. Support Gaza, I mean; and yes, of course Hamas launching missiles in Israel was wrong, but that doesn’t make Israel’s brutal retaliation right.

Here’s the appeal the BBC wouldn’t show:

Breaking the Silence

Two Brewers - but watch out, there may be more...

Two Brewers - but watch out, there may be more...

Phil Groom writes:

Have been rummaging through my backcopies of Christian Marketplace and found the article J Mark Brewer had them take down from their website, from the July 2008 issue, Industry News, p.6. Reproduced below for those who missed it; and if that’s you, good news: if you’re involved in Christian retail, a church leader or responsible for a church bookstall, you need never miss another issue — head on over to the UKCBD Blog to find out how to pick up a FREE subscription: Keeping Up to Date, Getting Up to Speed.

Reading through the article, I can’t see anything that’s even remotely sanctionable let alone libellous. This is straightforward, factual reporting. But I can see plenty of reasons why dear old Marky warky, bless his devious little cotton socks, would have wanted to suppress it. 

Finally, a reminder for anyone pursuing the Brewers/SSG for debts: neither the St Stephen the Great trading company nor the St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust is in fact bankrupt. They have not gone into administration; they have not been legally declared insolvent. The USA bankruptcy filing was thrown out as an attempted fraud on the courts. Don’t let them fob you off with false claims of bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy, closures, sackings…
From bad to worse at SSG

The SSG Bookshops story took a dramatic twist last month when it emerged that the company which owns the shops, St Stephen the Great – Limited Liability Company (SSG – LLC) had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States. Chapter 11 is a form of bankruptcy that allows a business to continue trading and pay creditors over time.

Mark Brewer informed all staff by email on 6th June that on 6th June that “SSG has been terminated as the trading company to operate the bookshops formerly known as SPCK bookshops” and that “SSG-LLC has been placed into reorganisation in U.S. Bankruptcy Court”.

The email also advised staff that, “The bookshops will now be operated by ENC Management Company. Former employees of SSG-LLC are invited to apply for a position with ENC Management Company. If you wish to apply, please reply to this email so indicating.”

The directors of ENC, which was registered at Companies House on 11th March 2008, are listed as Sandra K Brewer, Mark J Brewer and Philip W Brewer and its registered office is listed as the address of the Chester shop.

Staff in the Chester shop received an email on 2nd June from Philip Brewer advising them of the “change in ownership/management to ENC Management Company with effect from 1st June.” The email also advised staff that they could continue “employment at the Chester bookshop … by applying for a position with the new company” (ENC) and that this was “not a transfer of your employment under TUPE.”

USDAW, the shop staffs Trade Union, who have been advising staff over recent months, expressed concerns at the latest developments. Christine Peacock, Senior Legal Assistant at USDAW, told Christian Marketplace, “We are currently investigating what effect, if any, SSG’s filing for bankruptcy will have in the UK.”

Peacock confirmed that there are fifteen claims lodged in preparation for Industrial Tribunals. The first of these (Alison Speddings vs Mark Brewer) which was due to be heard from Monday 9th June at the Sheffield Employment Tribunal, was adjourned because of the ‘bankruptcy’ situation and neither Mark nor Phil Brewer were in attendance.

She also said that USDAW were aware that ENC Management Company is also owned by the Brewer brothers and were “currently taking advice on the validity of these actions. We are concerned that they will have the effect of moving the assets to a place which means that there are no assets available to settle the claims.”

The Charity Commission are also to undertake an investigation into SSG; a spokesman confirmed that they are “currently considering whether this raises any issues for the Charity Commission to take forward.”

At the time of writing it appears that thirteen of the 24 shops originally passed onto SSG are now closed. A number have closed since the bankruptcy announcement, including Chester, Newcastle, Norwich and Worcester. A further three are independently open with doubts about the status on another four.

Currently there are three companies running the remaining bookshops. In addition to ENC there is Durham Shop Management Co. and Chichester Shop Management Co. and the listed directors are the same for all three.

Mark Brewer has again been asked to comment on the current developments but has not responded to any request.

Silence is golden, but my eyes still see…

Phil Groom writes:

Today, 6 months on from Dave Walker’s announcement of his Cease and Desist letter from J Mark Brewer, we mourn Dave’s silence; but whilst that silence may be golden to J Mark Brewer and his cronies, our eyes still see. 

Fun to Shop at the SPCK

It was fun to shop at the SPCK ... until J Mark and Philip W Brewer wrecked it.

Here’s how Dave told what happened, courtesy of Stephen at Cease and Desist:

TUESDAY, 22 JULY 2008
‘Cease and desist’ demand from Mark Brewer
This morning I was sent a ‘cease and desist’ demand from Mark Brewer relating to the posts I have made about the former SPCK bookshops. The demand says ‘Confidential – not to be redistributed or posted’, so I am not posting the text.

The demand says that if I do not remove all SSG-related material by noon today, July 22, 2008, an injunction will be sought against me and legal action taken for damages for libel.

I have therefore removed all of the SPCK/SSG posts on this blog, as, although I believe I have not done anything wrong I do not have the money to face a legal battle. The removal of these posts is in no way an admission of guilt.

To say I am not happy about the decision I have been forced to take here is an understatement. I feel as if I have let many people down who have relied on this site over the last year or more.

I am not allowing comments on this post, though I can be contacted as usual. I cannot of course stop you writing about this elsewhere.

And we did.

(Thanks to the Tremeloes for this post’s title)

Cease and Desist: 6 Months On

Phil Groom writes:

Today, January 21st 2009, marks exactly 6 months to the day from when J Mark Brewer sent out his first Cease and Desist message in an attempt to silence the bloggers before his spurious bankruptcy filing was raked over in the Texas courts.

Fortunately for me but unfortunately for him, I was on holiday at the time, cruising the Thames on a narrowboat: the first I heard of it was when Clem Jackson, my Editor at Christian Marketplace, left a message on my mobile to tell me that the Bruisers, sorry, Brewers (never could spell), were getting uppity and threatening him, Dave Walker and myself with libel action unless we took down certain pages from our respective websites.

With no internet access there was nothing I could do anyway and I wasn’t inclined to cut my holiday short simply to respond to Mark Brewer’s attempts at intimidation — but I’ve told the story up to that point before so rather than retell it here, I thought I’d simply repost his first Cease and Desist letter here, in full, to allow us to compare what he wanted with what we’ve delivered:

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.

 Legal Demand
I hereby demand that you cease and desist from doing any of these things any more.  I specifically demand that you deactivate your webpages, websites and/or blogsites devoted to me, my brother, my family, SSG and/or SSGCT IMMEDIATELY.  These include:

  1. https://spckssg.wordpress.com/tag/mark-brewer/
  2. www.unicorntreebooks.blogspot.com/
  3. http://www.christianmarketplace.org.uk/engine.cfm?i=45&cmid=4091
  4. http://www.christianbookshops.org.uk/news.htm#ssg060208 (Betrayed by the Brewers: Lies, Damned Lies and St Stephen the Great)
  5. http://www.christianbookshops.org.uk/spckdonate.htm (Support SPCK’s Booksellers, and the Phil Groom administered “fund”)

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.

Mark Brewer

You’ll find my original responses to Mark’s allegations and demands in the following series of posts:

It’s interesting looking back: up to this point, I hadn’t been collaborating with anyone. But I am now — not with Dave Walker, sadly, but with dozens of other bloggers; and whilst I was reporting relatively light-heartedly before, I think it’s fair to say that I’ve become relentless since: both the very opposite to what Mark wanted.

As for Mark’s wife and daughter, up to this point I hadn’t even been aware of their involvement; but I am now — and I can find no words adequate to describe my feelings about the kind of man who drags his own wife and daughter into the sort of double-dealings and dishonesty we’ve now witnessed.

Meanwhile, of course:

  1. We have more pages than ever tagged “Mark Brewer”;
  2. The Unicorn Tree Books Blog is still going strong;
  3. Whilst the specific Christian Marketplace report Mark took exception to has gone, there are plenty of others still there;
  4. My report Betrayed by the Brewers: Lies, Damned Lies and St Stephen the Great is still there — with a follow up;
  5. And the Support SPCK’s Booksellers page and fund remain open…

All in all, it strikes me as a fairly spectacular own goal for Mr Brewer. So I’ll say it again: if you’re reading this, Mark, and you’d like me to Cease and Desist, there are three initial steps you need to take:

  1. Pay your former employees
  2. Pay your suppliers
  3. Withdraw your threats of legal action

But now there are some further steps:

4. Give your ill-begotten gains from the sale of the Exeter shop to SPCK;
5. Cease and Desist from your plundering of the former SPCK bookshops;
6. Give (as in freely, without expecting any sort of remuneration) the shops to people who, unlike yourself, can be trusted to run them with honesty and integrity according to a Christian ethos.

Six steps for six months: seems reasonable to me; and then there’s the small matter of making a donation to the Save the SPCK Booksellers fund yourself, Mark, by way of reparation for demanding its removal…