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:
Subject: Demand to Cease and Desist
Date: 21 July 2008 18:04:17 BDT
To: Phil Groom, Clem Jackson
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.
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:
- http://www.christianbookshops.org.uk/news.htm#ssg060208 (Betrayed by the Brewers: Lies, Damned Lies and St Stephen the Great)
- 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.
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:
- We have more pages than ever tagged “Mark Brewer”;
- The Unicorn Tree Books Blog is still going strong;
- Whilst the specific Christian Marketplace report Mark took exception to has gone, there are plenty of others still there;
- My report Betrayed by the Brewers: Lies, Damned Lies and St Stephen the Great is still there — with a follow up;
- 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:
- Pay your former employees
- Pay your suppliers
- 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…