Legal action against my blog

[UPDATE – some kind soul has also archived the post on the facebook page “You Don’t Have To Pay Parking Tickets – Spread The Word!” Thank you to them…]

For those unaware (i.e. those who don’t follow me on Twitter or Facebook), my host (that would be One&One) received a “take down” notice the other day. It relates to this post on the blog, was issued by M Law solicitors and is on behalf of [company I can’t mention].

As of midday Monday 25th October, that post has to be removed or my blog will be taken down wholesale.

So, I’ve taken the precaution of backing everything up. And posting the entire text of the post here and here. The former is MoneySavingExpert.com, a well known consumer action group with an actual legal team who would happily tell M Law to go check their rulebook as there’s no grounds for removing the post. The latter is the lovely Shelli’s blog and is hosted in the US where they still seem to have laws that protect freedom of expression.

Do note that the original postings from which my blog post was put together are still available (at the moment) on PePiPoo.com – although I gather they’ve also received a take-down notice. For a large portion of their site. PePiPoo are a consumer action website featuring complaints relating to vehicles, parking and so on. As such there is a lot of potential defamation up there… if you regard “criticism” as “defamation”.

I should be grateful that One&One didn’t just hoik my blog out from under me, as I have heard has happened to other people with other hosts. However, after repeated requests they have so far failed to furnish me with the exact text of the demands from M Law – to whit, what precisely is allegedly “defamatory” about the post. I think I am legally entitled to this information. I’m not an allegedly dodgy parking company (as alleged by pretty much every website you’ll find by Googling their name, including BBC’s Watchdog) with the money to spend on lawyers so I can’t be 100% sure.

One&One, however, are taking the easy route and assuming guilt without giving me a chance to prove innocence. At least, that’s the way I see it. I don’t wish to appear defamatory, and part of me can see it from their point of view. It’s easier to get me to do something than to fight my battle for me, regardless of whether said battle is right or wrong.

In the meantime, the blog post – which, on Tuesday had been read maybe 30-40 times since it was posted, has now gone past the 400 views mark. That is not including viewings of the post on PePiPoo, MSE (another 130) or Shelli’s blog. That makes a more than ten-fold increase in readers simply due to their actions to try to stop people reading it.

[company I can’t mention] – if you wanted to avoid bad publicity then you went very much the wrong way about it!

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Don’t pay “Parking Charges”

The post originally located here has been removed due to a threat of legal action from lawyers acting on behalf of the “people” mentioned in it. More details, in a moment, but in the meantime I heartily recommend you visit one of the four mirrors listed below to view the document as it was published. These sites either have their own legal teams or their hosts (unlike mine) deemed the take-down order to be complete nonsense and ignored it:

OK, the whys and wherefores.

The issue I had was with [company name removed so I don’t risk allegedly defaming them]. Their lawyers are M Law. I am hosted on a One&One server.

According to M Law I defamed [company name removed so I don’t risk allegedly defaming them] in the post. They complained to One&One who, due to the fact that “as an ISP Provider, we have legal obligations in accordance with the Godfrey v Demon Internet Limited 1999 case law to ensure that all the defamatory posts have been removed, or litigation will be pursued against us not yourself.”

Do note that the major point here is “defamatory posts”. The post was not defamatory. At most it was allegedly defamatory. No judge had looked at the case, someone had simply complained that I had not put [company name removed so I don’t risk allegedly defaming them] in a good light.

I will not make further comment about [company name removed so I don’t risk allegedly defaming them]. I will not make any statement about them. What I will say is that whatever I do say would be in the public interest as they are a company who many members of the public deal with regularly. The public is allowed to complain about poor service, or quality of goods. If they didn’t then every single reviewing website or publication would be impossible to publish. BBC‘s Watchdog and Which? magazine could not function.

This is what I believe would be the result had the alleged defamation claim been taken to court. Instead, both organisations seem to have jumped the gun and proclaimed me guilty without a trial.

However, it seems that One&One don’t grasp this and neither do M Law.

Further, I don’t want to lose my entire blog which was the threat laid against me if I didn’t remove the post by midday on 25th October 2010.

All of the above is stated fact, at least as far as I have been able to ascertain from the limited information supplied to me by both the solicitors involved and my web host, despite several requests for more detailed information.

I have not defamed anyone with any of the above text. I leave it to the reader to make their own judgement, research as they require and – for instance – do a Google for the relevant companies. I’m sure the evidence will be enough for you to make your own judgements.

It has been suggested by more than one quarter that, in fact, by making a claim that I was (without due process) guilty of defamation, I myself have been libelled. This is something I am investigating. After all, if a newspaper reports someone as a thief, for instance, before the case has gone to trial and a verdict found then the alleged offender can sue.

Incidentally, prior to the takedown order my blog post had been read approximately 40 times.

As of the post being replaced with this explanation, it had 427 hits. Plus the MSE mirror was over 280. And Shelli’s blog hits had trebled.

Several statements spring to mind, but the two choicest are:

OWN GOAL

and

SHOOTING YOURSELF IN THE FOOT.

So that’s why I can’t mention Parking Eye on here any more.

Whoops.

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