Partnership Media Group t/a GovNet Communications

Nearly three years ago, on 7th September 2009 to be precise, I posted about GovNet Communications and it would appear that GoveNet Communications are a tad upset. The following has today been received as an attachment to an email.

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

Other than making known that I did not receive any letter last July, that needless to say I have not yet been contacted by the Police, that the deadline of 4pm on 1st June will not be met; for obvious reasons I make no further comment.

Readers are not so constrained………………………


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37 Responses

  1. john in cheshire says:

    How are you going to respond, WfW? I don’t suppose you can just ignore this letter? Is it possible to ask them to provide answers to the questions that you originally posed, since if there is nothing to hide the answers would clear up the matter and I’m sure you would be satisfied in your investigations and would be prepared to say so. I just seems to me that this letter is trying to stop you, and perhaps others, from getting answers to perfectly sensible questions about some of our public servants, their family members and organisation that are perhaps in receipt of taxpayers money.

  2. Far be it for me to get technical but the website they highlighted in the first paragraph was hosted by Google not by you.

  3. Peter C says:

    You might find a suitable response here, David: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-2513074/stock-photo-a-senior-businessman-in-shirtsleeves-making-a-rude-v-sign-in-your-face.html

    Still, looking at the comments from people who claim association with this outfit I can’t say I am surprised they are extremely miffed. Those comments also seem to point to factual evidence of inappropriate activity so perhaps further investigation is warranted.

    The law on defamation and the internet is not exactly clear, especially as far as responsibility for comments is concerned, is it your responsibility to ensure nothing libellous or defamatory appears or is it the host or is it anyone’s other than the commentator?

    I wish you luck in whatever direction this moves, but professional and expert, not always the same thing, advice would probably be a good idea, also support from other high profile organisations; MSM, civil rights, internet freedom, etc. plus the blogosphere of course, could be very beneficial.

  4. I note that Bob Worcester is on the Advisory Board. Seems a tad strange that a man with his background and expertise is tied up with this shady bunch of clowns.

    Strange to relate, GovNet doesn’t seem too keen on anyone learning about who funds them, who set them up or indeed anything except how ‘expert’ they are.

    Not so expert as to allow a blog posting to remain on for nearly three years without suddenly getting all uptight and legalistic.

    I reckon it will be a pleasure watching them come to grips with the fact that the bog is not hosted locally!

  5. david says:

    I thank all those who have posted comments, likewise those to come. As stated in my post, I am refraining from commenting further for obvious reasons – ie should it get to court. What I can say is that I shall not engaging professional legal help.

  6. Andy5759 says:

    First of all they came for the Archbishops, next the came for the Witterers…..

    Good luck. I will watch this unfold if you are able to update your readers.

  7. Ian says:

    Funny, I though the offence of criminal defamation was scrapped in 2009. So why is this lawyer saying the police are interested in a civil defamation matter? I think he’s lying and trying to scare you, because he doesn’t have a leg to stand on, criminal or civil.

    All the same best ask Guido for advice. He’s probably been threatened by tinpot lawyers any number of times.

  8. letmethink says:

    there are four or five comments on the original post that have come in during the last month or so.

    Having read these it is probably why they now feel motivated to act after so long.

    I don’t know the legal position of the blog owner with regards comments posted on their blog but I would hazard a guess that that is the crux of the matter . . .

  9. Josh says:

    They request you to
    a) remove all mention of their clients name, and
    b) to publish a full apology to their clients.

    Clearly it is not possible to do both.

    Might be worth asking them to clarify what you precisely they want you to do. If they are asking for a blanket ban on all mention of the complany and individuals involved, there are lots of freedom of speech issues involved. If they are simply asking you to remove facts which are wrong, you could comply, providing they give you a list of which things are demonstrably untrue. Such a list might end up being a list of things they are embarrased about and would help anyone wanting to do further research to know what they should be focussing on.

    Must say, would never have read the original post if they hadn’t threatened you in this way and, effectively, called you a liar (is there a case for defamation in this?)

  10. james Higham says:

    You need to make sure your position and its backup are known. I’m in the middle of a fight with HMG and they don’t wish to acknowledge fact. It has to be forced under their noses and their heads held until they look at it.

  11. james Higham says:

    Whether you respond or not, it would be wise to have a written statement in reserve.

  12. BJ says:

    Well, I’m of no help on defamation or internet law – but I would like to wish you luck if you choose to stand up to them Witterings.

    I have come to hate this class of people who set up these organizations that so drained our economy whilst undermining our democracy.

    It would be nice if the anonymous commenters on your previous posts could come forward and offer some concrete evidence in support.

    You’ve obviously prodded them out of their slumbers – what with Cranmer’s recent run in with the PC crowd I’m beginning to wonder if there is a deliberate policy of shutting up the opinions they disapprove of.

  13. TDK says:

    It is the recently posted anon comments that are the problem. They contain allegations against named people which almost certainly would be considered libellous. If they are genuine, the posters are unlikely to back you up in court. Alternatively they may have been posted by a third party deliberately to create real ammunition.

    Your post is perfectly defensible. The comments not.

    As stated above I don’t know the legal position of the blog owner with regards comments posted on their blog but I would hazard a guess that that is the crux of the matter

  14. AC1 says:

    I’d delete the anonymous comments, or ask google to.

    They contain unsubstantiated allegations by someone who sounds less than sane.

    Not worth it for an Anonymong.

  15. Tom says:

    Hard though it is to take seriously a lawyer who can’t correctly use the verb “to infer”, you probably should get legal advice. There’s no legal aid for this stuff, which gives lots of scope for frightening “little people” into submission.

  16. Thomas Gibbon says:

    You might consider responding in person just to highlight the awfulness of this letter.
    - It does not particularize their complaint and is thus merely oppressive.
    - It claims a police investigation and you should oblige them to identify exactly which police entity is carrying out this investigation and what criminal offense is being investigated.

    There is some precedent re blog comments – google solicitors from hell.

  17. A/C says:

    looks like the usual Council tax and TV tax letters I get on a regular basis, standard scare letter the one point I would make though is what other actions have they taken to contact you to resolve this issue or is it just this scare letter, you know like contacting you directly first and asking you to clarify the post before sending in the boys with the jack boots.

  18. Tarka the Rotter says:

    WfW – some sound points made by fellow posters – one thing I would suggest is that you ‘redact’ your address from the letter above…makes you too vulnerable to tin hat brigaders…

  19. Mr WfW having the the subject of similar things running a football forum, who was campaigning against our previous board – I can only wish you good luck. Here’s some case precedents you may find interesting regarding comments made on the internet and legal responsibility. (I believe Mumsnet suffered a similar one and settled out of court with Ford)

    http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/1999/244.html

    http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2009/1765.html

    http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2010/616.html

    http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2010/1075.html

    http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/justice-for-owls.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith-Smith_v_Williams

  20. Amazing what you find on the web. It would appear they’ve ceased trading.

    GOVNET COMMUNICATIONS LIMITED
    Companies House status: Active

    Company Information
    Registration Date: 19/11/2003
    Registration Number: 04970168
    Type: Private Limited with share capital

    Accounts filed on: 13/05/2011
    For period to: 31/12/2010
    Category: Dormant

    Registered Address

    HOLLINS CHAMBERS,
    64A BRIDGE STREET
    MANCHESTER
    M3 3BA

    Activities

    SIC classification code: 7499
    SIC classification: NON-TRADING OR CEASED TO TRADE

    • Umbongo says:

      As a point of information, in English law a company that is “dormant” and/or “non-trading” only means that technically it has no financial transactions to report. For instance, it is perfectly feasible to have a dormant company functioning purely as an agent for another entity or entities in which case all the transactions of the dormant company are not its transactions but those of its principal(s): hence it could still be dormant although extremey active!

  21. Andy Baxter says:

    The best form of defence is attack mate….

    having reread the article a few times I cannot see any defamation in what you have written, only valid questions to be answered where and how supposed public servants are remunerated on top of their salaries!

    re comments by readers is an interesting one….. I do not believe you are guilty of any defamation however You should always vet all of your information as I’m sure you do to make sure that what you post is accurate and truthful. it only takes one error and they will be on the lookout, and Jeez the question I have is have they been monitoring your site for 3 years!!! before now making contact based on comments made by anonymous individuals? hell someone has an axe to grind but by being anonymous its hard to consider such coments as admissable is it?

    Technically I believe you are not liable for blog comments/forum posts on your site posted by others. There is precedent in employment legislation re reciept of e-mails etc where employees cannot be deemed responsible for what is sent to them. I know of no other blogger having been contacted re comments made so not sure of any precedent there either however I would say that You are responsible and liable for comments posts that you make, but it is very difficult to prosecute or pursue, primarily because of jurisdiction. The Internet is global and there is not one single governing force (although TPTB would love it to be so!) Not only is the location of the blogger/poster a factor but the location of the web host and the legislation that govern their locations are a factor too as well as where and who the poster of comments are also, even more so where anonymity is used!

    I do note you do not have a disclaimer on your comments section or website, might be advisable to add or redact one such as “Comments are usually / are not moderated (delete as applicable). However, I do not accept any legal responsibility for the content of any comments made”

    I’d stand up to them…go on the attack, ask for firm irrrefutable evidence of contact from the July date! (you can use this as evidence of ‘a course of action’ been monitoring your website comments section )send them a special deivery letter that you consider their actions an infringement on free speech and that any further contact from them will be construed as Harrasment under Protection from Harassment Act 1997 which gives you the right to civil statutory tort of harassment. so go for damages…its all about the money after all mate!

    Police are not interested in civil matters only diversity and equality matters now so ask for the name of the investigating officer and the constabularly and write to them outlining your claim for freedom from Harrassment…make it a criminal matter for them…

    Above all don’t be cowed stand up to them, they hate dissent and they hae people who shine their torches into dark corners…so keep up the greatwork…

  22. Brontosaurus says:

    Try the old response from Arkell v Pressdram.

    First thing I would do is ask what offence has been reported to the police. There is no criminal offence here, unless they are trying to prove harassment. That will never stick.

  23. Andy Baxter says:

    P.S. interesting judgement that may help with looking for precedent

    http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/markup.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2001/1233.html

  24. dognamedblue says:

    as a side note: if you were to take ever letter sent by thee people & return them with “I DO NOT RECOGNSE YOU” written on the front, there’s not a lot they can do to you, you are not a member of any “law society” so their “laws” do not apply, they apply to “members only”

  25. Andy Baxter says:

    intersting point dognamedblue has that worked for you? seriously curious not being vexatious…

  26. Desperate Den says:

    In such circumstances I would entreaty those in receipt of such communications (tighteners as they’re known in certain branches of the trade) and WofW in this particular case, to start small and finish big – should the need arise.

    It is wise for WofW not to comment publicly but I would suggest that a word or three with those practising in the same field of legality would go a long way to help establish a position from which a response can be constructively made.

    Softly-softly and so on.

    I would certainly have private mail addresses/electronic addresses redacted from any publications available to the general public.

  27. Hopper says:

    I’d echo what many of the above commentators have said (AB in particular). As a disinterested party, the original post and the first few follow-up comments look pretty factual to me – you’re merely reporting on publically available data. The anonymous and semi-nonymous follow-ups would seem to be the primary legal problem, as they are making specific claims about identifiable named individuals (whether true or not).
    You should at the least ack the letter and let them know you didn’t receive the alleged July missive. On the other hand, the letter’s claim in p5 that they have been talking to the police about an issue which they ack in p4 as “civil” has the fragrance of bovine excreta, so seeking their clarification on the criminal issue which they seem to be alleging may be fruitful.
    If this goes any further I’d strongly suggest some form of consultation with an actual legal practitioner. “A man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client” and all that.

  28. Joe Public says:

    I seem to recall that some time ago Holby posted about his attitude to commenters.

    IIRC, it was along the lines of ‘If you censor one, you’re responsible for everything else posted; it you decide to censor none, then you can’t be responsible for a 3rd party’s comments.

  29. Eddie Willers says:

    I think, by way of response to such scaremongering, the best thing is to refer them to the answer given in ‘Arkell v. Pressdram’.

  30. Faustiesblog says:

    Mr W, can you elicit the help of your MP to find out who is behind GovNet? You need to know who you are dealing with.

    If the organisation is so secret that the public cannot be allowed to know what its roots are, then why does it have a very public website? How can the organisation be harmed if nobody knows who’s behind it?

    From their Advisory Board page, the group of ‘advisors’ appear to be intrinsically linked with the ‘establishment’ (Privy Council) and/or have globalist roots (“sustainable development”, international aid, ‘climate change’, war).

    Over the past year, the government has been working furiously behind the scenes trying to find ways to regulate bloggers. (See the select committee hearings in all sectors of government). They’ve explored defamation laws, privacy laws, press regulation, and even lobbying rules.

    http://www.govnet.co.uk/advisory_board

    A defamation bill gets its second reading in parliament on 12th June:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2012-2013/0005/cbill_2012-20130005_en_1.htm

    I’ve not read it yet, but am about to. Note the date of the second reading – and that the complainants wish you to respond before that date. Could be coincidence – or perhaps not. Might it be that once the defamation law is changed, they will not be able to come after you?

    A quick glance through the defamation bill does not fill me with confidence, however. For instance, “trial to be without a jury unless the court orders otherwise”.

    As others have suggested, I hope you’ll get in touch with Guido. Perhaps also Cranmer. The latter’s experience includes a brush with the ASA, but his response was absolutely brilliant and might be of use to you.

    Good luck, anyway.

  31. Joe Public says:

    If someone owns a wall, and a graffitti ‘artist’ sprays an offensive message on it, who is responsible for ‘the message’? I suggest the writer, not the wall-owner.

  32. wonkotsane says:

    I would advise not ignoring it and seeking advice – I’m currently awaiting a date for a hearing to have Robin Tilbrook’s defamation suit against me struck out for parodying the English Democrats’ slogan to read “Not left, not right, just racist” at the end of a blog post about them taking in high ranking BNP activists. It’s very easy to sue for defamation and the odds are stacked against the accused who has to prove their innocence rather than the usual presumption of innocence. Drop me an email if you want details of the solicitor who’s acting for me, he’s brilliant.

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