Tag Archives: Dave Walker

A message to all our supporters

David Keen writes

the following was sent to the 475-odd members of the We Support Dave Walker Facebook group earlier this week:

Subject: 1 year on

Dear all,

This Wednesday, 22nd July, was 1 year to the day since Dave Walker and Phil Groom both recieved their ‘Cease and Desist’ legal threats from Mark Brewer. An awful lot has happened during that time, not least of which has been the support of hundreds of you for Dave, former SPCK bookshop staff, and others who have suffered at the hands of the Brewers.

The good news is that plenty has been achieved.
– Firstly, Mark Brewer failed to get his St. Stephen the Great charity declared bankrupt in the US, a court case in which Dave’s posts were cited as evidence.
– In April this year the UK Charity Commissioners took over the running of the St. Stephen the Great charity, after a formal investigation.
– Even though the Brewers had moved all the bookshops into a new organisation (ENC Shop Management) the CC’s are now taking possession of these shops as St. Stephen assets.
– 30 former staff, whose tribunal against SSG was being heard earlier this year, will now have their cases settled by the Charity Commissioners.
– In the meantime Durham Cathedral has (at last) served notice on the Brewers tenancy of the Cathedral shop.

As you may know, though the SPCK posts remain absent from the Cartoon Blog (see them in full at http://opendebatenotlibelthreats.blogspot.com/), Dave has mentioned the saga a couple of times on his Church Times blog. At no point have any of Mark Brewers threats been acted upon. Instead it’s Mr Brewer himself who has gone very quiet.

Thankyou again for your support of Dave, and for those of you who have blogged, commented and emailed in support. We may be at the beginning of the end – both the end of SSG’s dismal foray into UK bookselling, and the end of the bookshop chain themselves. Any further developments will be reported at https://spckssg.wordpress.com/

Your fellow supporter

Advertisements

The Day we lost Dave

Phil Groom writes:

Yesterday I backtracked to J Mark Brewer’s attempts to silence my own blogging: Cease and Desist: One Year On

Today, a simple reminder that this is the day we lost Dave Walker from the ‘Save the SPCK’ campaign last year. Here’s Dave’s final SPCK Bookshops post from his Cartoon Church blog:

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.

LABELS: BLOGGINGSAVE THE SPCK

Then that post disappeared. Then the blogosphere exploded.

As most readers no doubt know, all of Dave’s missing posts have been reinstated (without comments, unfortunately) at opendebatenotlibelthreats.blogspot.com, from where this post has been retrieved.

The rest, as they say, is history…

Is this the ‘Best Use of New Media in a Christian Campaign’?

David Keen writes:

The ‘Bloggies’ – Christian Web and New Media awards – are now open for nominations. I’ve taken the liberty of nominating this blog for ‘Best Use of New Media in a Christian Campaign’.

Phil’s blog is very much the hub of the SPCK campaign, but there’s much more going on. Many of us who are involved have never met face to face, but through blogs, email, Facebook, online petitions, Google Groups, and even Twitter we’ve built a network of supporters from several countries, and in the last 2 weeks there has been a mini-avalanche of remarkable results from the pressure that the campaign has brought to bear:

  • Durham Cathedral have served notice on the Brewers to leave the premises
  • The Charity Commissioners have taken control of the assets of the Society of St. Stephen the Great.
  • Following the CC action, an out of court settlement with unfairly dismissed staff may now be possible
  • and Dave Walker is back to blogging about the SPCK story. Mark Brewers initial ICBM (inter-continental bullying manoevre) seems to have backfired spectacularly in the intervening 10 months. Welcome back Dave.

I have a slight quibble about the Bloggies, in that anyone using new media effectively will, hopefully, be using more than one website to do it. The online SPCK campaign – which effectively began as Dave Walker’s ‘Save the SPCK’ campaign on The Cartoon Blog – has diversified into several ‘new media’ as it has evolved. Any campaign simply using one platform probably shouldn’t get past first base!

If you’d like to nominate the SPCK/SSG campaign too, please do! Here’s what I put in the ‘additional information’ box:

A campaign to scrutinise and hold to account the new owners of SPCK bookshops, which recently resulted in decisive action by both the Charity Commissioners and Durham Cathedral. The campaign provides a discussion space, as well as a focus for scrutiny and lobbying.      

Use of new media includes

– Several blogs, of which the named blog is the key one. With the censorship of Dave Walkers blog, it’s been important to have several blogs reporting the story, so that ‘divide and rule’ through legal threats won’t work.  The reposting on over 70 blogs of material which the new SPCK owners attempted to censor was vital both in building a public profile, and in demonstrating support for those victimised by the new owners.
– Online petitions
– Facebook: there are two related groups on Facebook, which give the campaign an online mailing list of around 600 people, as well as a forum for spreading information.
– Google groups, as a forum for the leaders of the campaign to communicate and share information.
– more recently, Twitter.

Many of those involved in the campaign haven’t met face to face, but new media has enabled us to network, co-ordinate our efforts, and spread information to a wide group of people.

David Keen blogs at St. Aidan to Abbey Manor, and has just joined the team on SPCK/SSG News, Notes and Info.

The atmosphere at CRE/CBC #CBC09 #CRE09

Phelim McIntyre writes:

As some of you may be aware the Christian Resources Exhibition and the Christian Booksellers Convention were under the same roof. I had the joy of bumping into Dave Walker (of Cartoon Church), Clem from Christian Marketplace and many publishers and booksellers. So what was it like from an SPCK/SSG viewpoint? Putting aside that for many the combination of the two events was a failure there was a HUGE sense of relief. I have never been hugged or shaken by the hand by so many people.

The news of the industrial tribunials being sorted, marching orders at Durham and the Charity Commission acting is, as one person put it “the light at the end of a very long tunnel”. Yes there are more battles going on, some of which I can’t mention because silence is the better part of discretion – but I can say that the dam is about to break.

As someone who, with Dave W, Dave K, Matt W, Phil Groom, Singleblog and others (you know who you are) has been at the forefront of speaking with the press (I was one of the naughty people who sent documents to the papers when I was at SPCK), networking ex-staff, blogging and so on I have been asked was it worth it? The answer is yes. Justice must be done. So to all of you who have not been told this but have been campaigning – consider yourselves shaken by the hand and hugged.

Some one did suggest that we organise a firing squad for the Brewers Grimm but changed their mind as a firing squad would be too quick. So someone suggested that as they see us as heretics we treat them as heretics and burn them at the stake. I see some Brewer effegies this coming Novemeber.

The Church Times has reported the news here http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/75134. This is a subscriber only page this week but will probably be readable next week. Christian Marketplace will also have something soon.

Just a final word from someone at CRE/CBC. “Don’t give up until they (the Brewers) are finished”. As I said, more is happening which we hope to be able to blog soon.

One Year On: Bristol, Cardiff and Carlisle

Phil Groom writes:

Today, March 27th 2009, marks exactly one year on from the day Dave Walker posted about the closure of the former SPCK bookshops in Bristol, Cardiff and Carlisle, courtesy of J Mark Brewer. I hear the sound of one hand clapping: J Mark Brewer, we applaud you; but we’ll leave it to your brother Phil to affirm you.

Of those three shops, only Cardiff has been saved, and that no thanks to Mr Brewer.

Dave’s full post reposted below, retrieved from ‘Cease and Desist‘:

THURSDAY, 27 MARCH 2008
Bristol, Cardiff and Carlisle SSG / SPCK shops to close
Several people have posted in the comment thread below about the closure of the Bristol and Cardiff SSG (former SPCK) bookshops.

This from Richard:

SPCK Bristol has closed for good. I walked past the shop this lunch time, went up to the door to read the sign and saw Mr Phil Brewer peering out at me. He waved heartily, I waved heartily and then I moved on. Rapidly. No point in having a conversation. Nothing really to say. Well, not that would be constructive. The shop was being packed up and that’s an end to it all in Bristol.

The keys were left with Wesley Owen over the weekend and when Mr Brewer went to pick them up I gather he mentioned that there was no intention to open up in Bristol again. That may or may not be true.

What a sad end to nearly 200 years of Christian bookselling by SPCK in Bristol.

I am told that the Cardiff shop is to close on Monday. Cardiff was the only SSG shop in Wales.

Update (Thursday 27th 9.30am) : The forthcoming closure of the Carlisle shop on Monday the 31st March has also been confirmed.

Update (Monday 31st) : News and Star: Cathedral bookshop to close
 

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…