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Defamation bill passed - Owlstalk celebrates this 'win' !


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Congratulations from the West Midlands Job well done. Kind of unbelievable that the thought of suing your own customers (because that's what every fan regardless of club) would cross somebodies mind. Let alone be acted upon as a good idea 

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It was indeed a worrying time - I look back now and smile :)

The fact that they were in Holland seems to have been missed somewhere along the line....

Thank you Owlstalk and Mark Lewis!

Anyone could see that your post was nothing more than dark humour. It really does show the character of our former board and how out of touch they were. Edited by Bluesteel
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I started to write a book on the whole sorry affair.

 

Personally, I'm still about £5k down on the whole experience.

 

This bit covers the initial contact from IM Solicitors (name changed to prevent further legal action) - up to where they tried to get me sacked from my job

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3 – March 2006

 

I’d never received a threatening letter from a solicitor before.  Well, I should re-phrase that.  I’d never received a threatening letter from a solicitor before that I’d taken any notice of, as all the previous ones I’d received related to my very messy and acrimonious divorce and I did my best at that time to ignore those as I knew that the majority of what had been written had been done so to appease my increasingly irrational ex-wife!

 

The letter from IM Solicitors scared the hell out of me.  I was being accused of making defamatory postings on the Owlstalk website, postings defamatory of not only the Chief Executive, but also of the Football Club.  I was told that I was expected to make an apology and pay the legal costs incurred so far.  The letter included a long list of my postings that were complained about, and the reason why they were defamatory.  The letter spelt out in no uncertain terms that I was guilty and that there could be no question about it.

 

My immediate reaction was one of panic.  I faxed the letter to a couple of friends, one of whom was Darryl Keys, an intelligent man who was currently the Chairman of supporters group Wednesdayite and no stranger to legal matters via his roles in Sports Finance for a leading investment bank in London.  I class Darryl as a close and valued friend and someone whose opinion I trust.  He called me back and his immediate reaction was to suggest that the letter amounted to little more than bullying by the club who were obviously keen to silence me.  He asked me to leave it with him for a few days.

 

I didn’t.  I was sufficiently panicked, spent hours dwelling over the content of the letter, and e-mailed the solicitor at IM Solicitors to proclaim my innocence but offer to make amends.  I told him I was happy to settle the legal bill as soon as I knew what it was, and how it had been arrived at (I requested a statement), and that I would apologise immediately for any offence caused (but not admit to making defamatory posts).  To my amazement my offer was rejected.

 

Not only was it rejected but I was informed that the costs had risen to beyond £2000.00 (for 2 letters at this stage) and that I wasn’t entitled to see a statement as to how those costs had been achieved.  I wasn’t put off.  I re-iterated my offer, advising IM Solicitors that I still hadn’t consulted with a solicitor, but that as soon as I did I would have to withdraw my offer to make amends as I would be incurring my own legal costs.  This offer too was rejected.  I was going to need a lawyer, and a good one.

 

It was around this time that Darryl called me back.  He had discussed the letter with one of his contacts, Dennis Hobson, who was not only a Wednesday fan, but a wealthy one to boot.  I’d met Dennis a few times and he was without doubt passionate about the club.  He was also absolutely passionate in his dislike of the current regime at Hillsborough and the letter from IM Solicitors had only fuelled this feeling.  He had offered to introduce me to his lawyer in Manchester, a sports specialist called Gareth Williams who also represented some of the biggest names in sport like Ricky Hatton.

 

I sent copies of all correspondence to Gareth and he advised IM Solicitors he was dealing with matters.  I felt some small relief but still worried every time I got a call from Gareth.  For the first 6 months at least it seemed like Wednesday were hell bent on suing me.  For the second 6 months it all went extremely quiet, and I assumed that things had settled down.  There were some mornings I even woke up and it wasn’t the first thing on my mind.

 

In the initial 6 months period I was summoned by my managers Manager to a meeting at our Head Office in Runcorn.  This was unusual, meetings usually took place in the regional Leeds office, and when I asked the PA what the meeting was about I was told that it could not be discussed until the meeting.  I had been pushing for a promotion for some 7 months, and I assumed it was to discuss this.  I was wrong.  I always got on really well with Paul and when I walked through the door he was as friendly as usual.  He then showed me the letter he had received from IM Solicitors.

 

IM Solicitors were doing their best to get me fired.  They had reserved the right to impound my laptop through the courts and were also questioning whether it was appropriate for me to be making defamatory postings from a work PC in works time.  I had never, ever, used my work laptop to check Owlstalk.  Any personal surfing I did was always from my own PC.

 

Paul agreed with me that as I worked flexible hours, and was regularly working til late into the night when necessary, it would be unreasonable to expect me not to do anything personal during works time.  Especially as I was doing so much work in my personal time.

 

My sales figures were good, I was pushing for promotion.  Paul told me not to worry about the letter, told me he would be writing back to acknowledge their letter ‘and f*** them off’, and also claimed that ‘It will never get to court, just looks like bullying to me’.  I only wished I could have shared his confidence.

 

I was furious that IM Solicitors, a highly respected law firm would attempt this tactic.  I even looked into the possibility of counter-suing them.  IM Solicitors had represented me in my divorce and I had entered into a dispute with them over the advice I had been given, only for them to employ a barrister on a huge retainer to bully me into backing down.  I felt more determined than ever that I was going to fight them all the way.

 

This was no longer just about me and Sheffield Wednesday.  It was about me and IM Solicitors.  I was starting to bite off larger things than I could chew alone.

 

After 12 months had passed from the date the posts were made that were complained about I received a letter from George Davies Solicitors.  This advised me that as no action had been taken by Sheffield Wednesday I was not going to be sued.  There followed a final statement of account which I settled personally, despite having received an offer from Dennis Hobson to pay.  It was my mess, and I had dealt with it.  It had cost me a significant sum of money but it was over now and I was relieved.

Edited by Deleted member
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Dark days indeed , and all the snipers and anti wednesdayiters should hang there heads in shame for berating people who had the balls to stand up to these shysters 

 

As far as i am aware Darryl has never received the promised money from Ashley Carson .

 

Also 3 of those on that list negotiated directors box seats as part of their compensation package when MM took over *," -Charmers"- * to the end . 

Are you sure you got the right spelling there

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You know, when I read that I feel ashamed that some of those involved still even attend matches. Scum and egotistical, self interested mealy mouthed two-hats the lot of them.

 

They deserve something horrible to happen to them but you know nothing ever will.

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You know, when I read that I feel ashamed that some of those involved still even attend matches. Scum and egotistical, self interested mealy mouthed two-hats the lot of them.

 

They deserve something horrible to happen to them but you know nothing ever will.

 

 

Trying to get me the sack wasn't the worst thing

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The interesting (I think thats the right word) thing for me was that the legal action against Owlstalk that ended up in the High Court was to get Neil to give the personal details of the posters so that the club and the individuals could issue libel proceedings

 

Given that the legal action was required to overturn the data protection act, I think the reason for requesting the details was fairly important

 

Once granted the club and individuals then used the information, not to issue libel proceedings, but to issue a threat and demand for money.

 

I was just as annoyed over this as the proposed libel action and wrote to judge Earley asking if this was not contempt of court or some other sort of scam.......I never got a reply, no doubt because how dare a member of the public write to a Judge and expect him to be answerable......I learned a lot about the legal system during this period

 

Be interested to hear what people think on this point, especially anyone in the legal profession

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