Iain Dale and the subtle art of legal gagging

Posted by Tim Ireland at 29 May 2009

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

This entry was posted on
Friday, May 29th, 2009
at
4:34 pm and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

“Dear Iain Dale, I think Nadine Dorries is a twat. This doesn’t mean I think you’re a twat. But as it happens, I do.” – Anton Vowl

1. According to lawyers acting for Iain Dale, I am not mad/insane and they know that. Hooray. However, at the same time, they fail to recognise that their client has repeatedly authored/published comments that imply/claim otherwise… while they contend that I pursue him for no good reason and/or to an unreasonable extent.

2. Earlier, I sent an email reply to them and hyperlinked to the full document rather than include it. They did not reply to this email or even acknowledge a further mail from me requesting that they do this. They now contend that because I sent a hyperlink to a document instead of the whole document, that I did not actually send them a reply.

3. According to those same lawyers, the reason why Iain Dale has not simply reported me to the police for harassment (or, one assumes, one of the other crimes alleged on his site) is because “we do not wish to waste public funds to deal with you” (accent on the you, which was just one example of this chap’s rather demeaning manner).

4. But one of the main things that I called them about and wanted to clarify (especially when they had not replied to anything for more than a week after issuing a 1-week deadline) was their apparent assertion that any pursuit of Nadine Dorries would be interpreted by Iain Dale as ‘further’ harassment of him; i.e. could I enjoy the privilege of never saying anything about Iain Dale ever again, but still prompt a harassment complaint by being critical of Nadine Dorries? See, they’re either accusing me of actively/unfairly pursuing Nadine Dorries about what Iain Dale published about myself (and/or Tom Watson) – one of many accusations in that letter and section that I deny – and/or they are trying to claim or imply that by pursuing Nadine Dorries I am aiming to get at Iain Dale. It is just one of the things the original letter is annoyingly vague about, but it’s important given that there is so much about Nadine Dorries that is worth reporting right now. Here’s what happened when I tried to get them to be clearer on this position:

[‘This’ refers to the lies about me and others that Iain Dale was publishing on his site at the time (that are still live today) and his refusal at the time to contribute to a formal statement to police about an ongoing crime (my being harassed by being falsely accused of being a paedophile). ‘T’ = Tim (me). ‘L’ = lawyer.]

T: You’re saying that I chased Nadine Dorres to pursue this?

L: I didn’t say that you chased Nadine Dorries…

T: Yes you do, in the letter, that’s exactly what you say in the letter.

L: I did not say you pursued this, not to pursue this.

T: Oh, so why did I pursue Nadine Dorries?

L: About Mr Dale.

T: It’s to get at Mr Dale, is that your position?

L: I don’t know; you’re going to explain, no doubt.

He later clarified that he meant ‘explain in court’… but I was wanting to clarify what action might be perceived by Iain Dale as something that would prompt him to take me to court. If it wasn’t their position that chasing Nadine Dorries equated to harassment of Iain Dale, I would expect them to much clearer about it, and leave no room for uncertainty.

However, I was also politely warned that “it might be better to halt the war rather than continue it,” and I took this to mean that, yes, this is seen by some as a tribal issue of sorts, and I potentially open myself to a charge of harassment if I continue to publish/say/do anything about Nadine Dorries that Iain Dale and his lawyers regard to be ‘unreasonable’ (and, going by the way they both approach comment moderation, I expect this to include just about anything they don’t personally agree with or wish to talk about).

5. Finally, in their original letter alleging my harassment of their client, Iain Dale’s lawyers pass on several vague accusations of libel to make what passes for their case, but they fail to cite a single example. So today I asked for one single example of libel instead of vague, over-reaching claims of repeated libel. Here is the result of that (wasted) effort:

T: So are you actually in the habit of sending out letters accusing someone of libel without specifying what that libel might be?

(pause)

L: Well, what are you talking about?

T: Your client, in this letter, accuses me of libel more than once, but doesn’t actually specify what and where that might be.

L: Well, no doubt that will appear in any proceedings that will ensue.

T: Wha… [laughter].. surely if the idea is to..

L: You know what you’ve done, Mr Ireland

T: …no, I don’t. You see, there’s a large amount of confusion…

L: … you do!

T: Could you inform me what I have done…?

L: Well…

T: … if it’s that clear.

L: So far as I’m concerned, it is plainly obvious; you have accused my client of being, in various guises, a liar… with a number of adjectives which accompany it.

T: Riiiight..?

L: He denies that he’s a liar.

Pretty specific, huh? You’d best check your own site(s) and make sure that you haven’t called Iain Dale a liar, too; there could be repercussions.

“Nobody wishes to gag you,” I was assured. Apparently, I am free to take the risk of publishing what I please… within the limits stipulated by Iain Dale and his lawyers (using harassment law as their main device, in much the same way that many corporations do nowadays).

These limits appear to include not calling Iain Dale a liar when he is lying (which he does often), not criticising Nadine Dorries when she is lying (which she does often), and/or anything else that Iain Dale might intepret as an act of ‘war’ (which could be just about anything, depending on his mood).

That looks, smells and feels like a gag to me… and a bloody funny one that that.

(Psst! Oh, and I’m certainly not allowed to email Iain Dale to check any specifics before I publish anything; keen libel-law-watchers will appreciate the subtle art to this not-at-all-gagging technique, I’m sure.)

Why can’t Iain simply explain how/why he repeatedly and knowingly complicated my harassment case instead of helping me with it as I asked? Why won’t Iain remove claims about me on his website that he knows not to be true? Why can’t Iain specify anything on my site that he regards to be libel? Oh, and what kind of blogger takes matters to these extremes just to avoid having a conversation where they might have to admit to making an error or two?

All these questions and more, folks… for as long as Iain continues to be an [adjective] [expletive] about this.

Incidentally, this recent behaviour of Iain’s has complicated my harassment case more than the call to Mercer he didn’t make; Iain’s ‘parish notice’ post especially has prompted at least one revenge attack that included a repeat of Jenvey’s claims, and there is now a new assault on my character that I have not blogged about until right now; the new attacks merge Iain Dale’s repeated ‘mental’ smears with Glen Jenvey’s ‘paedo’ smears and allege that I have a long history of mental illness and am therefore likely to have staged the whole event and called myself a convicted sex criminal in the process.

Both of these attacks have been reported to the police, as will all future attacks on this kind. I trust that my doing so is not regarded by some as a waste of public funds.








6 Comments

  1. OllyReader says

    In absolute fairness to the lawyer, he has a point re. no. 2: someone can change the content of a hyperlinked webpage at any point, whereas a letter/fax/email cannot be changed by the author at a later date (or at least not so easily). But he sounds like a plank on the rest of it.There is little as pathetic as someone who hires lawyers to hide behind and make empty threats on his behalf.

  2. Sim-O says

    These conversations with the lawyer, they sound like something out of Monty Python.How the hell are you meant to know exactly what the problem is, what that Tory tosser is objecting to, if they don't tell you?How on earth can being critical of Nadine Dorries MPs' ridiculous behaviour be an attack on Dale? Unless you start saying stuff like they're linked romantically (which would also be ridiculous) then one is not connected to the other.Really, I would need to take *massive* amounts of acid to make a connection like that, never mind have the balls to take it to court.If it gets left as it is you'll be blogging about kittens, mate. Even then he'll probably find some way of getting offended by that.

  3. Matt Wardman says

    Idiots.Meanwhile Carter-Ruck are arguing that a hyperlink to "defamatory" material is itself an act of defamation. Bizarre.http://bit.ly/carter-fuckWhich way is it, boys? Are links unreliable or cast-iron?

  4. Manic says

    Olly: They didn't even respond to my request that they acknowledge receipt of my email. Surely if there was a problem, then that was an ideal time to mention it.Sim-O: Very annoyed they didn't clear that up before the weekend, when they had every opportunity to address it in a later reply.Matt: Well, in today's conversation Iain's lawyer claimed that he personally had been observing my website and Twitter account since April. Perhaps I annoyed him by speaking into the little microphone, as it were.All: During the weekend Iain Dale is making most of this noise about, he was well out of control on 'smeargate' and making claims that eventually cost the Mail on Sunday "substantial damages";http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2009/05/iain…At every stage that he claimed he was being 'harassed' by repeated calls/emails from me, he was not only refusing to cooperate with my statement, but also out attacking others, often without a lick of evidence to back it up. Meanwhile, old accusations of my secretly being in the pay of Zanu Labour etc. had started appearing – unmoderated and unchallenged – on his weblog and the weblog of Paul Staines.

  5. D-Notice says

    Sim-OI've always wondered what Dale's views on Lolcats were…

  6. james c says

    1 That will be their basis of 'harassment'.2 This allows them to incur my costs by pretending that you haven't replied.3 Why use the police when they can run up lots of costs?4 Lots of nonsense which will achieve nothing other than incur costs.5 Ditto

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