And he STILL does not get the point that the average person on the street thinks he's a stalker. He takes great offence to the comments that describe him to a T " You should be aware that Mr Bennett has a history of pursuing obsessive and highly improper campaigns including most recently against Mr and Mrs McCann and individuals associated with them" and he has DEMANDED they apologise for it within 14 days ---or else.
To say he's PEEVED at the attention Sharon Bradford got is the understatement of the century. Awwww diddums, back stabbing stalkers falling out over who is most "popular"
re: Your letters of 2 and 3 June to Automattic Inc.
My attention has been drawn to the contents of two letters you have sent recently by hard copy and e-mail to The Company Secretary, Automattic Inc., 60 29th Street #343 San Francisco, CA94110-4929, USA, and by e-mail to email@example.com and to firstname.lastname@example.org .
The first letter, dated 2 June 2011, was sent on behalf of your client Mr Brian Kennedy of Swettenham Hall, Cheshire. The second letter, dated 3 June 2011, was sent on behalf of your clients Kate and Gerry McCann and Jon Corner.
These two letters were an attempt by yourselves to get Automattic and WordPress to ‘pull’ the blog ‘McCann Exposure’, the owner of whom has passed on the above two letters, by terminating their hosting of the blog. The main issues your letter dealt with were alleged harassment, defamation, and alleged breaches of copyright by the blog owner of McCann Exposure in respect of the owner’s publication of certain photographs, a video, and some articles.
One thing that is noteworthy in both of those letters is that in neither of them do you refer to the decisions of first the Portuguese Appeal Court in October 2010 to lift the ban on Goncalo Amaral’s book on the case ‘The Truth About A Lie’, nor to the subsequent decision of the Portuguese Supreme Court in March this year to confirm that Mr Amaral’s book should remain on sale, despite your clients’ appeal against the earlier Appeal Court ruling. You therefore failed to inform Automattic that the two top Portuguese Courts have held that there is nothing so defamatory in his book as to prevent the Portuguese people reading what he has to say about Madeleine’s disappearance. His book accumulates evidence that Madeleine died in your clients’ apartment and goes on to imply that they must have had a role in hiding her body.
Of particular interest is that in giving his ruling in the Appeal Court in October last year, a copy of which you no doubt have to hand, the Judge very specifically referred to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the article that guarantees the right to free speech. In making his decision, he made it clear that the provisions of Article 10, notwithstanding that part of the Article that says that freedom of speech may on limited occasions be restricted ‘for the protection of the reputation and rights of others’, required him to adjudicate in favour of Mr Amaral’s right to have his hypothesis distributed and the right of the Portuguese people to read his hypothesis.
Moreover, despite your clients’ claims that Mr Amaral’s book is libellous, a claim your clients only initiated in the spring of 2009 after Mr Amaral’s book had already sold over 200,000 copies in Portugal, the final hearing to determine whether his book is libellous or not has not taken place, despite the effluxion of two years. So far as I am aware, no date has yet been set for this final trial of your clients’ application either. That means that the Portuguese courts have yet to determine whether or not the contents of his book are libellous.
At this stage I should point out to you and your clients that on 24 March 2010 I made an application against the U.K. government to the European Commission on Human Rights under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This application cited the notoriously oppressive libel laws in the U.K., which have caused Britain to be known the world over for ‘libel tourism’ - the practice of wealthy and powerful people from other countries using the British libel courts to suppress adverse comment about them. The application was registered in April 2010 by the European Commission as Application No. 20455/10. It claims inter alia that the levels of awards for defamation in the U.K., combined with the fact that there is no limit on the costs that can be claimed against an unsuccessful defendant in a libel action, amount to a breach of a citizen’s right to free speech as guaranteed by the Convention.
I am confident that the European Court will eventually uphold my appeal, not least because in the recent General Election campaign all three major political parties accepted that the points I have made above cried out for reform. As you will be fully aware, the Coalition Government has recently published a Libel Reform Bill, for which the date for public consultation to end is Friday of this week (10 June). The government has already accepted in principle the same arguments I put forward in my application to the European Commission on Human Rights, namely that the ability of wealthy clients like yours to use the libel courts to restrict criticism of them prevents potential defendants like myself from exercising their right of free speech; in my case that means interfering with my right to discuss in public my analysis of various matters connected with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
By the way, I do not mean that your clients are themselves wealthy; however, they do have very wealthy financial backers like Sir Richard Branson, Brian Kennedy and J.K. Rowling and others, and of course they have admitted to using some of the funds of their Find Madeleine Fund to pursue some of their libel actions, though so far as I am aware they have never disclosed precisely how much of those funds they have used for that purpose. Clearly they have the financial muscle to pursue me through the libel courts should they so instruct you.
Within the two letters referred to above, you included the following references to myself (for ease of reference I refer to them by numbered paragraphs):
n the first of those two letters:
You refer to certain photographs published on the McCann Exposure site, and then write:
“The actions of the person responsible for these photographs, who also authored the letter to Leicestershire Constabulary posted near the top of the page on 21 August, Mr Tony Bennett, are already the subject of civil proceedings and are now the subject of a criminal complaint”.
“For the record, Mr Bennett is the person pictured in the photograph outside Cypress House, one of our client’s business properties (The photograph is near the bottom, of the page complained of)”.
“In addition to publishing photographs of Mr Kennedy’s home and business addresses, Mr Bennett has also travelled to the home of Mr Kennedy’s former in-house lawyer, Mr Edward Smethurst, to take photographs and publish a leaflet to his neighbours”.
“Our client and Mr Smethurst consider this to be a clear breach of the criminal laws of harassment, and as such this incident has now been reported to Greater Manchester Police”.
“We are also instructed [by Mr Brian Kennedy] to complain directly to Mr Bennett, the person we understand to be jointly responsible for the website you are hosting, and are in the process of preparing a compliant on behalf of Mr and Mrs McCann and Mr Kennedy”.
“You should be aware that Mr Bennett has a history of pursuing obsessive and highly improper campaigns including most recently against Mr and Mrs McCann and individuals associated with them including Mr Kennedy; the website complained of is simply one of these outlets”.
“It is not the purpose of this letter to set out each and every false allegation which is contained in the [McCann Exposure] website, but needless to say, we will do so if necessary at the appropriate juncture”.
“By way of example only is a letter from Mr Tony Bennett to the British Prime Minister dated 18 May 2011 being published on the following page…”
[you then go on to quote significant passages from my letter of 18 May and give the link to the relevant page on the McCann Exposure website].
In the second of those two letters:
At the foot of page 2 of your second letter, you write:
“Around the time Kate McCann was finishing her book this week, The Madeleine Foundation was taking delivery of 10,000 leaflets entitled: ‘What happened to Madeleine McCann: 50 facts about the case that the British media are not telling you’.”
“It now plans to distribute them to homes and shops across the country. The leaflet is divided into four sections:
The major contradictions in the statements of the McCanns and friends
The highly trained British police dogs who detected the scent of a corpse
Strange things the McCanns have said and done
How the McCanns wasted public money on useless private detectives”.
“This is not the first time that the person we understand to be jointly responsible for the website, Mr Tony Bennett, has engaged in such activities”.
“Mr Bennett has previously published and distributed leaflets making similar allegations about our clients in the village where they live just before Sean and Amelie were about to start school”.
(M) “The incident caused immense hurt and distress to our clients”.
(N) “Since then Mr Bennett has largely confined his campaign of harassment to online attacks on our clients”.
(O) “However, in recent months he has taken to visit the homes of those who have assisted our clients through the Find Madeleine campaign, which was set up to continue the search for Madeleine McCann”.
(P) “Individuals such as Mr Brian Kennedy and Mr Kennedy’s former in-house lawyer, Mr Edward Smethurst, have had their homes photographed, their neighbours leafleted and photographs of their homes, together with addresses, published online”.
(Q) “Mr Bennett’s actions are now the subject of criminal complaint to the Greater Manchester Police”.
(R) “While we appreciate these are not all matters which directly concern wordpress.com in hosting this site, our clients feel they form an important part of the background to this complaint”.
Direct complaint against Mr Bennett (heading in your second letter):
(S) “We are also instructed to complain directly to Mr Bennett, and are in the process of preparing this complaint”.
(T) “Mr Bennett repeatedly published highly defamatory and completely untrue allegations about Mr and Mrs McCann”.
(U) “Our client brought a libel complaint against him which resulted in Mr Bennett giving undertakings to the Court which were enshrined in an undertaking to the High Court dated 25 November 2009”.
(V) “We enclose a copy of that Order; as you will see, it contains at Clause C an undertaking given by Mr Bennett not to publish any further libels about Mr and Mrs McCann.
(W) “Despite providing these undertakings to the Court, Mr Bennett has further defamed our clients, thus placing himself in contempt of court”.
(X) “Having chosen until now to turn the other cheek, our clients are no longer prepared to stand by, while he continues his vile and wholly misguided campaign to traduce them”.
(Y) “It is clear that a wide range of material published on the website in question (including the letter to the Prime Minister to which we refer above) represents a breach of the undertakings which Mr Bennett previously provided to the Court”.
(Z) “By allowing Mr Bennett to continue to use your service, you are facilitating his unlawful conduct”.
(AA) “While we have no doubt that this action has been entirely inadvertent on the part of wordpress.com, now that you are on notice of this conduct and of the Court orders, we would ask that you exercise your right to terminate his access under Clause 12 of your Terms of Service”.
Response: General Points
First, it is clear that your letter to Automattic is founded on a wholly mistaken belief that I am either the part-owner of, or that I have any say in the running of, the blog ‘McCann Exposure’. I understand that the blog-owner concerned has not only written to WordPress, Automattic and yourselves to make this crystal clear, but has also published those responses on McCann Exposure. Just to re-inforce the points the blog-owner has made, I have no part whatsoever in the ownership of that blog and no say whatsoever in the content.
As you and all your clients must be aware, there is a very significant community, based largely on the internet and international in scope, which continues to discuss the disappearance of Madeleine McCann and which continues to suggest that the Drs McCann have not told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about what has happened to her. The McCann Exposure blog is simply one of dozens of forums and blogs which continue to discuss the case from a point of view of scepticism about your clients’ claims. Each forum-owner and blog owner decides what material they will include on their website and as it happens the owner of McCann Exposure has up to now published some material written by myself or published by The Madeleine Foundation.
Your letter to Automattic about the McCann Exposure blog deals also with an alleged infringement of copyright in respect of 13 photographs, mostly of Madeleine, a newspaper headline, and a video produced by Jon Corner, over which he claims copyright. These appear to be issues you have with the McCann Exposure site alone and not with myself or with The Madeleine Foundation website.
On our website, we do not knowingly breach anyone’s copyright, whether in the form of written material or in respect of photographs, and the authorship of photographs is mostly acknowledged. Our website was first launched on 20 October 2008 and during over 2½ years we have never had one single complaint about any alleged breach of copyright on our site.
Turning now to the allegations in your two letters to Automattic in which you claim that I have further ‘defamed’ your clients following the undertaking I gave to the High Court on 25 November 2009, I consider that since that date I have confined my comments on the disappearance of Madeleine McCann to what I believe to be reasonable analyses of the case and reasonable questions about Madeleine’s disappearance. I have, so far as I am aware, avoided, in line with my Court undertaking, direct accusations that your clients have, or are to be suspected of, causing the death of Madeleine or of disposing of her body, or that they have lied about what happened or have covered up what they have done.
Signing that Court undertaking was not, as you know, a vow of Trappist-like silence over the continuing mystery of what really happened to Madeleine McCann. As you will know very well, your clients’ own chief reputation manager, Clarence Mitchell, openly conceded in a Channel 4 interview in March 2010 that Madeleine’s disappearance remained, and I quote, ‘a complete mystery’. Hence the title of one of the many Madeleine McCann discussion forums, and one to which I contribute regularly: ‘The Complete Mystery of Madeleine McCann’.
Moreover, in an interview on Radio Humberside on 6 January this year, Mr Mitchell again openly conceded that your clients’ claim that Madeleine had been abducted was merely ‘an assumption’. Moreover, for additional emphasis, he not only once but twice added that the claim that Madeleine was abducted was just ‘a hypothesis’.
Given these accurate statements by him on behalf of your clients, it is clearly open to others to work on alternative assumptions, as indeed did the Portuguese Police on the advice of specialist crime adviser Lee Rainbow and police specialist Mark Harrison, especially of course after a cadaver dog and a bloodhound, trained by Mark Grime (who is recognised in many countries as a top handler of cadaver dogs) alerted in no fewer than ten locations associated with your client, but nowhere else in Praia da Luz. These alerts were in or around your clients’ apartment (four alerts), on the clothes of your clients’ family (three alerts), in the Renault Scenic car hired by your clients (two alerts) and on the pink soft toy, Cuddle Cat.
The legal advice I received following your letters to me of 27 and 28 August 2009 was clear. Direct and false accusations unsupported by facts render themselves liable to be treated as libel. However, by the same token, the rights of all citizens of Council of Europe countries to free speech, as enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (see also below) entitle one to, for example, criticise others and to challenge claims made by others. The advice I received also included very specific advice that asking questions about claims by others did not and could not amount to libel. Thus, for example, we wrote to your client Dr Kate McCann and her publishers on 31 January 2011 with a list of 163 questions which we felt it was reasonable for your client to answer in the book she published on 12 May this year. These 163 questions are questions which thousands of people also have in their minds about the case. Your client addressed only a handful of those questions in her book and even then her answers were not always clear. Thus those questions remain unanswered.
There is an unfortunate history of parents covering up the death of a child (whether the child has died by negligence, neglect, accident or deliberate act) by claiming that their child has been abducted. The current trial in the United States of Casey Anthony for the alleged murder of Caylee Anthony may provide another such example, a trial of course in which the evidence of a cadaver dog, Gerus, is at the heart of the case, and a case in which the judge has allowed the dog handler’s evidence. By contrast, there are scarcely any proven occasions where strangers have abducted very young children from within someone’s home or holiday home.
At this point it is relevant to point out that as soon as it became knowledge that two cadaver dogs had alerted to the scent of a cadaver at ten separate locations connected with your client, your client poured scorn on the reliability of cadaver dogs, on one occasion in a TV interview describing them as, and I quote verbatim, ‘incredibly unreliable’. Indeed, your client Dr Gerald McCann also claimed that cadaver dogs were unreliable based on the judge’s ruling in 2007 in the case of the murder of the wife of Eugene Zapata. The judge had declined to admit the evidence of a dog handler whose dog had alerted to the scent of death in three separate locations associated with Mr Zapata’s property and movements. In early 2008, however, Mr Zapata made a full confession in which he admitted killing his wife and moving her body to two separate locations, the very ones at which the cadaver dog had alerted.
Response: Specific Points in your two letters
I respond now paragraph by paragraph to the 27 points about me that you raised in your two letters to Automattic Inc.:
A and B. I confirm that it is me in the photograph in Wilmslow outside one of Mr Kennedy’s many business interests in Cheshire and confirm that I took photographs of the properties belonging to Mr Kennedy and Mr Smethurst.
C. Meetings of The Madeleine Foundation are held in various parts of the country and it was the occasion of meetings in, respectively, Cheshire and Lancashire, that provided opportunities to view and photograph the homes of Mr Kennedy and Mr Smethurst. As I think the owner of the McCann Exposure blog has made clear in letters to Automattic and to yourselves, both men are well-known, not least for their deep involvement in assisting your clients in various ways. In the case of Mr Kennedy, the location of his home at Swettenham Hall is widely known on the internet, including many pictures of it, most of them taken from far closer than I was able to get and in at least one case from a helicopter. No part of either Mr Kennedy’s or Mr Smethurst’s properties were entered in order to take the photographs. The photographs were no more intrusive, and arguably less so, than those available on Google Earth. Some of the Madeleine McCann Research Group’s recent ’50 FACTS’ leaflets were delivered in north-west Rochdale close to where Mr Smethurst lives. I am not aware of any of these leaflets or any others about the Madeleine McCann case or Mr Kennedy that have been delivered in the immediate vicinity of Mr Kennedy’s home.
D. You refer in this sentence to ‘this incident’ rather than ‘these incidents’, so I do not know if you are referring to Mr Kennedy reporting the matters referred to above as ‘criminal harassment’. Nor do I know if you are referring here to the taking and publishing of photographs together with publishing actual addresses or to the alleged leafleting or to a combination of both. Either way, I have had no contact yet from Greater Manchester Police. Last year an individual took a close-up photograph of my home and circulated it on the internet. Essex Police became aware of that incident as a result of other actions by that individual. In no way did they consider that taking a photograph of someone’s home and publishing it on the internet was ‘criminal harassment’ - and of course in advising me of this they also referred to the availability of such photographs on Google Earth.
F. I wholly reject the false statement you have made in this letter and require you within 14 days to apologise for the comment, and withdraw the comment by your further letter to Automattic, failing which complaint will be made to the Solicitors Regulation Authority for your breach of the Solicitors’ Principles of Professional Practice. You refer to my having pursued a number of campaigns, which is correct. I object in strenuous terms to the use of the words ‘obsessive and highly improper’ with respect to any of the campaigns I have been involved with and ask you to withdraw that criticism on the record. I set out below a brief history of some of the main campaigns with which I have been personally involved and from that list you will see that none of them could be described as either ‘obsessive’ or ‘highly improper’:
various campaigns to improve the take-up of welfare benefits by the poor, both before and during my career as Welfare Rights Adviser from 1978 to 1992. In 1986-7 I organised a national campaign for the take-up of Income Support weekly allowances and grants which was the biggest-ever benefits take-up campaign organised in the U.K.
the establishment of two Credit Unions in Harlow, in 1980 and 1985 respectively, to help poorer-off families save and borrow money.
involvement in various campaigns to stop us joining the eurozone, at a time when the major parties and the government wished us to give up the pound. Hardly anyone in this country now thinks we should give up the pound sterling and join the eurozone.
acting as the Secretary of CREC, a campaign to demand a nationwide referendum on the European Constitution in 2003-4 and again to demand a nationwide referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in 2006-7
campaigning (currently) for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, a policy currently supported by over 75% of the British people
running a successful campaign in 2001-2 to stop the government forcing all car owners to display the letters ‘EU’ on their number plates; as a result car owners may now choose to display a national flag e.g. that of the UK, England, Wales or Scotland instead
heading a successful campaign, between 2001 and 2006, against local authorities unlawfully erecting road signs in metric units and against the government planning to spend around £1,000,000,000 on converting all our road and footpath signs to metric, a campaign that succeeded in February 2006 when the then Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling, in a BBC ‘Any Questions’ programme at Milton Keynes, publicly announced that the government was now going to abandon its plans to convert some two million road and footpath signs in Britain to metric
a successful campaign in 2006 to force Essex Police to reinvestigate the death of Stuart Lubbock, which led directly to the re-arrest of Michael Barrymore, Jonathan Kenney and Justin Merritt on suspicion of the murder of Stuart Lubbock. My book on the case published in 2007 demonstrated that the story of Stuart drowning in Michael Barrymore’s swimming pool was an elaborate and cunning hoax and that he never in fact entered Mr Barrymore’s pool that night. As part of that campaign I successfully demanded a top-level investigation into the case by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which in 2008 published a report highly critical of Essex Police.
a current campaign, with which I’ve been involved since 2007, on behalf of the father of Lee Balkwell, who died in suspicious circumstances in 2002. In this campaign, I have identified that the ‘cover story’ in this case that Lee died in a tragic accident in a concrete mixer at 1.00am on the morning of 18 July 2002 is an elaborate and cunning hoax and once again I have secured a top-level IPCC investigation into the case. The IPCC has already (in June 2009) publicly issued a preliminary report slating the original Essex Police investigation as ‘seriously flawed’ and in March last year a special review by West Midlands Police of the case resulted in their making 91 separate recommendations for action in the case which are now being followed up by Kent Police.
Not one of those campaigns, nor the totality of them, can by any stretch of the imagination be fairly described as either ‘obsessive’ or ‘highly improper’.
G. Allegations of defamation on the McCann Exposure website are a matter for the owner of that blog.
H. My letter to Prime Minister David Cameron dated 18 May 2011 sets out various factual matters relating to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann and to subsequent events and I deny that there is anything defamatory within it.
I and J. Your letter-writer appears to be unaware that these two paragraphs are direct quotations from a major Daily Mail article on the case dated 15 April 2011, a copy of which is no doubt available to you. The Daily Mail simply reported facts about the leaflet, including its sub-headings, an article which resulted in many new hits on our website and enquiries about obtaining copies of the leaflet.
K, L and M. As a matter of record, I did not personally deliver any of the ’10 Reasons’ leaflet in the village of Rothley and I should be obliged if you would correct that fact when writing to Automattic.
N. I object to the use of the term ‘online attacks on our clients’. My main activity has been careful research into and analysis of a whole series of aspects of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, as can be seen by the 50-plus articles on The Madeleine Foundation website, most of which have been wholly or partly authored by me. These articles include, by way of example: lies told by Robert Murat when he was first interviewed by the Portuguese Police, the activities of the Portuguese lawyer working on your clients’ behalf, Marcos Aragao Correia, the activities of your clients’ private investigators, Brian Kennedy’s personal involvement in contacting witnesses in the case and generating media events like the orchestration of the media blitz about ‘Monster Man’ or ‘Cooperman’, an analysis of the career of your clients’ friend Ray Wyre, an examination of some of the ridiculous ‘sightings’ of Madeleine reported in The Sun newspaper, a review of some of the many contradictions and changes of story as between the various accounts of events given by your clients and their ‘Tapas 9’ friends’, an analysis of the creation of the media myth that Dave Edgar and Arthur Cowley jointly run a major private investigations company known as ‘Alpha Investigations Group’, and observations on the close nexus in this case between your clients’ chief reputation manager Clarence Mitchell and (a) the most senior members of the former Labour government (b) the most senior members of the current Conservative government and (c) Rupert Murdoch, his relatives, and senior staff of the newspapers he owns such as The Sun and the News of the World. It is unreasonable for you to characterise these researches and analysis as ‘attacks on your clients’.
O, P. Q and R. I have dealt with this above. Given the extraordinary and unprecedented world-wide publicity of Madeleine’s disappearance, generated solely by your clients and their advisers, it is scarcely surprising if an organisation like The Madeleine Foundation does not take a very close interest in scrutinising the activities of your clients’ closest backers.
T. This is denied, especially insofar as my actions since 25 November 2009 are concerned. In this context the words of your client Dr Kate McCann in her recent book ‘madeleine’ are of interest. She writes (p. 312): “He [Tony Bennett] is still going around insinuating that we were involved in Madeleine’s disappearance, only now he is just being slightly more careful about how he says it”. Your client’s comment simply reflects the fact that I have not been making direct accusations but instead have focussed on the entirely legitimate activity in a free speech society of raising questions about the case, circulating facts, and carrying out research and analysis. I may add at this point, as no doubt you and your clients are fully aware, that there are a great many on the internet who routinely make very direct statements about your clients’ alleged guilt regarding Madeleine’s disappearance and who from time to time indulge in personal attacks on your clients’ characters, something we have always avoided on The Madeleine Foundation website.
U and V. Noted.
W. See above under (T). This accusation is denied.
Y. This is denied.
Z. I object in strong terms to your use of the word ‘unlawful’. Please within 14 days write to Automattic Inc. withdrawing the use of the term ‘unlawful’.
I await your response within 14 days informing me that you have written to Automattic withdrawing and apologising for (a) describing my campaigning as ‘obsessive and highly improper’ and (b) describing my conduct since 25 November 2009 as being ‘unlawful’ and also making clear to them that I have never personally delivered any leaflets in the village of Rothley.
Finally, my records show that since November 2009, you have only twice sought to raise any objections by your clients to material on The Madeleine Foundation website or produced by The Madeleine Foundation. On one occasion you objected to an article in which we discussed the alleged unlikelihood of any abductor being able to remove Madeleine from your clients’ apartment [Ocean Club G5A] in your clients’ own time-frame of approximately 9.11pm to 9.14pm on Thursday 3 May 2007 without being seen or heard by anyone (not counting Jane Tanner) and without leaving any forensic trace. On another occasion you objected to our leaflet about Goncalo Amaral. On both occasions we took steps to withdraw the material in line with your clients’ requests.