SHONKYGATE: DAY TWO.

Shonkygate rolls into its second day. Several thousand readers picked up on yesterday’s blog, compared to just a few hundred for the blog this whole thing is predicated around. Support has been terrific, and some interesting facts have percolated through.

A few people have questioned Browne-Jacobsons rates here: charging £1,500 + VAT for pursuing a case that is increasingly looking like a bullying, intimidating act of frivolity. Charging £1,500 +VAT and then getting the name of your client incorrect, and writing a letter which reads like a Google translation into English from Serbo-Croatian. Browne Jacobson, this is shonky behaviour, and I hope you give Mr DaviDson a refund for such shonkiness. Of course, he could instruct you to sue yourselves, but I reckon he’d be better off finding a new legal firm.

With my next point, I willing declare I have no legal training (I did work at a Law School once, but I did the photocopying so I don’t think that allows me to the Bar), so forgive me if I’m wrong. Yet I feel your quoted statutes regarding defamation are outdated. May I bring to your attention the current interpretation? Anna Soubry MP will be more than aware of these: she sat on the Committee which looked into the change. As blog correspondent Ellie Turpin noted in the comments of the last post (I declare an interest: she’s my wife)

On 1st January 2014 the new Defamation Act 2013 became law (1); Anna Soubry will be familiar with this legislation as she was on the committee for this bill in 2012-13.

One of the key features of the bill is the new ‘serious harm threshold’ where claimants need to show that the statement has caused, or is likely to cause, serious harm to their reputation. As pointed out in this Press Gazette article (2) “Libel actions against web-only publications are likely to fail if the page did not attract many clicks.” I believe that the blog post the solicitors letter refers too had only had a few hundred unique views. However, I understand from Matt, that this post, detailing the heavy handed, intimidating communication and extortionate claim for money has already received over a thousand views in less than 24 hours.

Perhaps Mr Davidson, Ms Soubry and the partners of Browne Jacobson would like to spend a few minutes googling ‘The Streisand Effect’ before promptly referring themselves to Pressdram vs Arkell (1971).

(1) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25551640
(2) http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/content/six-things-all-journalists-need-know-about-defamation-act-2013-which-now-force)

I’m also interested in an excerpt for Hansard, the record of proceedings in the Commons. This pertains to Browne Jacobson’s assertion that I posited a conflict of interest between Anna Soubry and Neil DaviDson, and their further assertion that DaviDson had no meaningful connection to Persimmon: accusations (that i didn’t actually make) that they were full of piss and vinegar over. Here’s Hansard:

At the outset, I will make what some might call a declaration of interest, although it is not. It is important to put on the record that my partner—that is the appropriate word, although it is one I do not particularly like to use—is a director of Persimmon and sits on its board.

So Mr DaviDson sat on the board. But had no influence. Perhaps Mr DaviDson would like to sue Anna Soubry MP for defamation?

I would also like to use this public forum for some help. I am represented in Parliament by Anna Soubry MP, and my taxes pay her wages. She is thus legally obliged to help me as her constituent, regardless of my own political leanings. I am therefore writing to her to ask for help in what I see as a frivolous, bullying attack on local opinion. As a former barrister, and former member of the NUJ, she is extremely qualified to address such a request. Anna, care to help?

To finish, this whole process has been distracting, emotionally straining and nasty. Browne Jacobson, Neil DaviDson, Anna Soubry. I am willing to settle if you abide to my requests.

1. You retract the assertion that I have committed an act of defamation. You also retract the letter’s defamatory remarks that Beestonia is

‘….facetious…the product of your ill-informed political prejudice’

and instead admit that your attempt at intimidation IS exactly that : ill-informed political prejudice.

2. Apologise to me -and my readers- for the distress caused by this bullying activity. I do not seek legal costs, or damages per se, but a £1,500 (I’ll discount the VAT) donation to a charity of my choice will be fair settlement.

3. Mr DaviDson, Ms Soubry: perhaps consider a new, less shonky, legal firm.

I remain, faithfully,

Matt ‘Shonky McShonky’ Goold, aka Lord Beestonia.

Soubry’s Partner Threatens to Sue: My Response.

A solicitors letter appears. This could be interesting.

I wrote several months ago how in the last general election Soubry had received a donation from David Wilson, big cheese at Bell Pottinger, who are a pretty scummy unit, being secretly filmed claiming how they span reputations of oppressive regimes and could get access to Cameron’s inner circle. Nasty folks. They also specialise in dark-art campaigning, something the Tories will find essential in the run up to 2015. As their support base gets ever older (latest figures available suggest an average of 67) their ability to get the message out on the street is lacking. Thus, new tactics are needed. False-flag blogs, seeding google with keywords and running attacks on local criticism.

So it’s no surprise when the letter comes through from solicitors Browne Jacobson. Soubry has just lost a major battle with the Field Farm development in Stapleford, as the Government housing inspector ruled that Broxtowe’s allocation of the land was perfectly in line with policy. A huge blow to Soubry, who had hoped to at the very least earn a reprieve until the election had passed. No such luck.

Other tactics are therefore needed. Time to shut up anyone who might criticise the way she acted, or any links she has to it. I read the letter.

It’s a breathless bluster of bullying balls, asking how dare I attack Anna’s partner, former director at builder’s Persimmon, what with having an MBE etc. But it demands action on three points:

1. You wrongly describe him as an ‘exec’implying that he is engaged full time with a building company. the only position he has held is that of non-exec director.

2. You say that he is an ‘exec at shonky Builders Persimmon’

The Oxford Dictionaries define “shonky” as “dishonest, unreliable or illegal, especially in a decious way”

The clear meaning of the words is that Persimmon is dishonest, unreliable or illegal especially in a devious way and that Mr Davidson as an alleged employee of that company is also ‘dishonest, unreliable or illegal especially in a devious way’.

3. You wrongly suggest that he may have a conflict of interest over the way “councils could have their ability to control development removed if enough local controversy was evoked thus leaving the same areas at the mercy of developers who could march in unimpeded as Persimmon had already done”.

The reference to “conflict of interests” has the clear meaning that Mr Davison (sic) has engaged in some improper conduct exploiting his connection with Ms Soubry, MP which is exploited by him and Persimmon to make an unlawful or improper gain.

Let’s deal with these in order.

1. Calling Davidson an ‘exec’. I’ll concede this one as an honest oversight, he was exactly a non-executive director with Persimmon. I’ll stick a fiver in a charity box and retract that one, and sincerely apologise for getting that mixed up, and change it in the relevant piece.

2.Persimmon are shonky. I’m standing by that one. They are shonky builders, as in the urban dictionary definition :

Of poor or low quality

Or the Collins definition

unreliable, unsound

or, indeed the one they refer to, in the OED,

unreliable

Interestingly, the OED gives the following example for usage

we need to rid the building industry of these shonkies quickly

I stand by calling Persimmon ‘shonky’, in all the above definitions, fully and will not retract that. Let’s check their track record. BBC Watchdog ran a report on them after receiving numerous complaints. You can read the full story here.

In 2005 their shonky building were factors in the death of a four year old boy, after inadequate fittings were applied to a mantlepiece lintel. Full story here.

You can find loads more online, indeed, their Wikipedia page has got a whole section devoted to ‘Criticisms’. My favourite has to be the building of a garage that was too narrow to get a car in. Shonky, shonky, shonky.

3. I at no point explicitly state a conflict of interest, and if the article in question is read in context this is obvious. I did note that Persimmon had benefitted from the policy of removing local authorities power to allocate land if they fail to find appropriate sites. Their interpretation is subjective and based on an exceedingly, errr, shonky, premise. To quote another nasty politician ‘You may think that, I couldn’t possibly comment’.

The letter then goes on to make a series of threats. They demand

1. A full and complete apology which will be published on your website for the same period as the original posting in terms to be approved by our client.
2. An undertaking that you will not at any time in the future make any further false, defamatory or abusive remarks against our client.
3. A contribution to a charity of our client’s choosing by way of damages.
4. Payment our (sic) client’s costs incurred remedying this defamation. Presently, our costs are £1,500 plus VAT.

Again, lets work through these.

1. I will apologise for calling Davison an exec director rather than a non-exec director. I’ll change that, an oversight similar to the one where you get his name wrong in the letter. I stand by all other points in the context it was written.

2. I will write, as always, within the law and will continue to write about Anna Soubry and Neil Davidson if a story sufficiently in the public interest arises. Anything else would be a dereliction of my duty to bring information about our elected representatives and their connections. As Anna Soubry styles herself as a champion of ‘Uncommonly free speech’, as well as a former NUJ member, I am sure she will fully endorse this stance.

3. I will make a £5 donation to Oxfam tomorrow for the ‘non-exec’ / ‘exec’ mix up. I hope that this is an adequate amount to a very good cause.

4. I refuse to pay your client’s costs, and I would suggest you offer him a refund for the inability to spell his name, a discourtesy at the least, sheer unprofessionalism at worst. As I am not someone who can afford an indoor heated swimming pool and a huge house as your client can, and last time I checked I had £1.99 in my current account and about £3 in my change jar, I am unable to afford such exorbitant fees you charge and your client can pay.

I would also like to enquire how you found my address? Did Anna Soubry provide this?

I am also curious about other elements of the article you are critical of. In the same humorous (again, subjective) vein I accused Soubry of explicitly lying. Is that ok to state?

I’ll be in touch with Private Eye tomorrow to have a chat about this, and the Nottingham Post are keen to run something on it. Things are getting interesting, keep reading for more as it happens. And if this blog gets forced down, you’ll know why.

Soubz And Whose Army?

Let’s get some self-promotion out the way: my latest column for the Nottingham Post is here, if you fancy clicking ‘Like’ on it, if, y’know, like it, I’d be grateful. There isn’t a ‘dislike’ button so hate mail and boxed turds to the usual address please.

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Also a shout out to the magnificent Beestonian Film Club at Cafe Roya, which somehow is the coolest thing in NG9 right now despite having the least cool-thing on two legs (me) running it. We’re having a special on Mondayt (21st), where we will be showing the best music videos from local bands for an hour, plus the musicians and directors of said videos to bask in your admiration. And bask you shall. We’ll then have a slap-up meal cooked by food hero Roya, then, full-bellied, sit down to watch a film with a music theme that will knck your dancing socks off. There is another extra-special treat to, but I’m keeping schtum so we don’t get too much of a rush on a tickets. If you fancy dropping in, reserve a ticket asap by emailing thebeestonian@gmail.com. It’s just £7.50 per person, food included, doors 7.15pm.

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Congratulations to Anna Soubry for getting a promotion in the latest reshuffle! Let this not sound disingenuous, I am proud our MP has done so well in such a short time. Anna and I have had our differences, but I hope she feels my sincerity when I wish her a hearty thumbs up in support of her elevation. Well done, Anna! army 1

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news-graphics-2007-_652804a Of course, some may decry my jubilation as terror, terror that Soubz might have taken to heart my half-decade worth of writings on how she has lied, misrepresented, and failed as a constituency MP over her tenure! No! That was all light-hearted jest, bloggy banter, representative-ribbing! Anna is great, and her lies over moving to Broxtowe, how local postal workers felt about Royal Mail privatisation and how her party at a county level stood on compensation for those hurt by the tram, were all totally done in the spirit of having a laugh!

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And I too was having a laugh when I wrote about her partner Neil, an exec at shonky builders Persimmon, maybe having a conflict of interest over the way councils could have their ability to control development removed if enough local controversy was evoked, thus leaving the same areas at the mercy of developers who could march in unimpeded…as Persimmon had already done…japes! Nothing but japes!

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It’s been a few years of silly, fanciable writing that I did as I’m probably just one of those socially-awkward bloggers, puny shoulders weighed down with chips, who sit in their single-bed bedrooms and type out this stuff between frenzied sessions of onanism, to fruitlessly impede the progress of the greatest stateswoman Parliament has seen in living memory. raf

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I liked her telly stuff too.

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So let’s move on, ok? And let’s not assume any of the above is influenced at all by the realisation that our beloved MP is now only one step away from controlling the armed forces in the UK. That’s the armed forces that have in their control nuclear weapons, including warheads that would evaporate all matter from here to Mapperley if dropped on Beeston Square. Or the suspicion one phone call might lead to a garrison stationed at Chetwyn Barracks marching down Queens Road and annexing the bit of Attenborough I live in, as part of Gitmo Bay. Nope, I’m not worried about that whatsoever, and I simply cannot wear orange!

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Ham-fisted satire aside, the recent reshuffle was both surprising and depressingly predictable. Soubz proclaimed ‘He doesn’t do tokenism!’ to the news crews awaiting responses outside Downing Street, referring to Cameron’s panicked tokenism. I’m sure the elevated female MPs all deserve the jobs they now have: but maybe it’s a shame they didn’t have them in 2010. Giving such positions away in the last few months of a government is only reminiscent of a sentimental football manager sticking on a few new-signing substitutions, to appease the terraces and maybe get a result. As is often expressed by both fans and pundits alike in such situations: to little, too late.

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Though sacking Gove is the football equivalent of Arsene Wenger puckering up in the dying minutes of a turgid 1-0 beating and individually fellating each and every fan in the stadium, Arsenal supporter or otherwise. Cheers, Dave!

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Politics asunder for a sec. I’ve had a few messages about how various works in town, tram and square, are inhibiting access for those less mobile. I am fairly mobile, and still find traversing Beeston hellish. Managable, but hellish. Especially in this bleeding stupid heat. Yet if I had to get by on a mobility scooter, or wheelchair, then stuff might not just be hellish but impossible. Judging by the info I’ve been sent, this is a real issue thus I would like you, if you have had access/mobility issues, to contact me for a piece I’m researching. Email at mattgoold23@hotmail.com with the heading ‘access’.

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Back to politics. The selection of candidates for 2015 is in full swing, and no great surprises on a Borough level. On a Parliamentary level, it’s still Soubry (Cons), Palmer (Lab) Kirwan (Green) Raw Potato (BNP) but still no news on the Lib Dem or UKIP candidates.

Now, it still is, technically early days. Campaigning is meant to be a process that only kicks in a few weeks before a vote. ‘Meant to be’. Both Soubry and Palmer have not been shy to get their presence known more readily recently. That’s not meant to sound cynical or sneery: I’m happy they are getting more involved, early on. Especially as they’ll get accused of ‘only appearing when they want my vote’ when they doorstep in 2015.

Kirwan for the Greens is a personable chap, who was recently interviewed by The Beestonian (not by me, I hasten to add). I wish him very well, and hope he secures his deposit.

Are the Lib Dems struggling to find a candidate? I won’t bore you with the details, but I’ve been sniffing around for a while to no avail. It will be a ‘paper candidature’ (ie: put up for the face save of having a candidate, albeit with no expectation or chance of winning), so hardly the most attractive of positions.

subz

UKIP have promised to put up a ‘big hitter’ for the seat, and a UKIP insider recently told me Broxtowe had ‘Farage foaming’. Make of that what you will, but I assume it means England’s Favourite pint-swilling xenophobe intends to send a big-hitter to our borough, possibly as a fuck-you to Soubz televised arsey/ digitally provocation a few months back:

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It should be noted that UKIP’s support has dropped massively since May. I have long predicted they would peak at the 2014 Euros, and a certain political journalist who works on a national owes me £10 if they get less than 3 seats in 2015 will now surely agree, they are in decline before hitting a core, somewhere round 7%. Still, they will throw resources at their candidate, possibly a showy chancer rather than their usual, Bramcote-residing candidate, Chris Cobb. This will naturally split the Tory vote, but not to the extent it would have if this poll was running concurrent with the European Elections. Yet both the Tories and UKIP have a shitload of cash to throw around their targeted marginals (which is a point I will digress on later this month, after I received some interesting info on the expected funding for Soubz) so will make for an interesting battle. We’ll have the metropolitan media flood up here en-masse, demanding to suss out the macro though the micro, with no patronising cliche left un-uttered.

I’m getting ahead of myself. For the here and now, we’re ruled and represented by our most majestic leader. Anna Soubry MP, and for that we should be grateful. Anyone got a cellar they don’t use?

CARNIVAL!! / Oxjam Music Taster / Issue 28: You (and 999 others) will like it/ Hole Load of Housing / Willow and Iggy, welcome!

Hurrah! It’s nearly Beeston Carnival time. Booo! I won’t be there.

Nope, instead I’ll be off to Trent Bridge to watch England struggle against India, a birthday present from 7 months ago. Will be a real shame to miss the carnival, I was hoping to help out on a joint Beestonia/Oxjam stall, as well as a stint on the Civic Society stall, and some time on the New Deal / Continuum stall with Nick Palmer. Alas, unless England collapse twice in the next five sessions: and that is sadly very possible, I won’t be there. Still, looks like great weather, so have a fantastic time.

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Great little Oxjam fundraiser tomorrow night at The Commercial Inn: The Phil Langram Band, Oldish Spice, Steve Plowright and many more are throwing a musical summer party with all proceeds going to Oxjam. It’s just £3 on the door, kicking off at 8pm. See you there.

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The New Beestonian is OUT NOW! It’s in most of our usual stockists, and is our best yet. Tamar has the lead story, a look at the proposed quarry just over the Trent from us. It’s a rather more major issue than I first expected: it’s almost like certain interests are trying to play down the impact. There is some urgency with this though, you can make an objection but you have to do it asap: to find out how, read the piece (and, if you are so inclined, the rest of the mag) here.

We also just passed 1,000 ‘Likes’ on Facebook. I will celebrate with a three pack of Crunchies.

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On the subject of environmental issues, looks like Anna Soubry has failed to stop proposed open cast mining in the North of the county, with Eric Pickles telling her where to go when she asked for it to be recalled. One of her central planks of her 2015 campaign will be green-belt issues, and she’ll try and paint herself as the green champ, despite her party dumping any sort of policy that smacks of ‘green crap’. Field Farm development now looks more likely, but lets examine a radical solution. I first mooted it, in jest, around four years ago, as such I was surprised when Gedling considered a similar idea.

Let’s build on golf courses.

Simple, really. Fire up Google Earth and check out the huge swathes of land given up for this minority sport. More land is devoted to golf than housing in Surrey, according to a recent study.

But aren’t golf courses lovely areas for nature to flourish, merely parkland with a few flags and sandpits, expansive heathes with holes? Nope.

Golf courses are fairly sterile places when it comes to species diversity. The greens themselves are manicured, but the rough is little better, with species managed to a careful extent. Nothing truly wild flourishes, and fencing and gating often restricts their usefulness as a wildlife corridor. Golf courses are a pretty sterile environment.

Housing, however, offers a greater opportunity for diversity. Urban /surburban gardens often have much greater volumes of species than deeply rural areas. At a recent meeting between Broxtowe Borough Council and Beeston Continuum, the chair, Cllr. Pat Lally, cast doubt on the idea that beehives would flourish in Beeston: ‘Bees need to eat, I’m afraid, and I doubt they’ll find much round here’/ Professor Poliakoff was quick to dismiss this presumption, pointing out that perversely, due to monocultural agricultural techniques and overuse of pesticides, urban areas are often better for bees than rural areas. We’re a nation of gardeners, and even a jungle of a garden like mine teems with life, a continual summer hum. I cross the golf course near my house at least twice a day. Magpies and wood pigeons are the only visible life there, apart from the strange-trousered Pringle-sweatered creatures that walk hole to hole.

We need radical solutions to tackle a major problem in this country, that of the paucity of housing. We have already created a two-tier economy: one where house-owners see their equity value create more paper-wealth than income from jobs. Those who rent are denied this, with zero equity accrued while wages stagnate and rents increase. It’s a situation that can only end in collapse, and the only solution is more homes. So how about considering it, Anna Soubry? Save Field Farm and lose a golf course? Or is the golfer demographic one you would be terrified to offend? If so, please don’t tell us we’re all in this together, and stop those greenbelt crocodile tears right now.

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Many thanks to all of your lovely messages regarding the loss of Tess and Leila. We were truly touched: and the idea they were ‘only pets’ was well dismissed by your own experiences with furry family members: they really are part of any home’s fabric. Literally, when they moult.

I had total strangers, who had read the blog, stop me in the street to offer condolences. I had to start wearing shades in public after one such encounter led to some rather public tears. I can’t thank you enough for this, and I am so lucky to live in such a kind town.

Last Thursday, I was delivering The Beestonian round town and bumped into The Guitar Spot / Beestonian Music Correspondent Jimmy Wiggins. He mentioned a friend had a pair of kittens she needed to find homes for, but I shook my head. A couple of hours later I’m down the Hop Pole, and see the landlady Karen, who mentions the same two kittens. ‘Sorry, but no’ I replied. I was just leaving when Jimmy appeared again, rather like the shopkeeper in Mr Ben. ‘I can take you to see the kittens right now, if you fancy’.

I went there telling myself ‘Only check them out, just take a look, decide later’

Which is clearly impossible with playful balls of loving fluff. Within an hour I was carrying home our two new friends, siblings Willow and Iggy. They are presently tearing round Beestonian Towers, and say hello.

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