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 Yet I feel your quoted statutes regarding defamation are outdated.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).
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.