Earlier today I received by e mail a letter from Harding Evans, Solicitors, Queen’s Chambers, Newport. The e mail explains that a hard copy of the letter has also been sent to me by recorded delivery. Harding Evans are acting for their client Dr Victoria Winckler, the Director of the Bevan Foundation, who maintains that I have made a series of defamatory comments about her on this blog, that these comments have caused Victoria Winckler ‘financial harm’ and furthermore my blog also constitutes harassment of Victoria as defined by the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
It has not been explained how Victoria has suffered financial harm as a result of my blog; I have been given no evidence of any financial harm which Victoria has incurred either as a result of my comments about her or as a result of the actions of anyone else in response to my blog’s comments. Neither has it been explained how I have harassed Victoria; I have never met Victoria, or communicated with her in any way. Neither has anyone else ever communicated with Victoria on my behalf or at my request.
Harding Evans have sent me quite a long letter in which they have been good enough to repeat the comments which they maintain are defamatory and provide the titles of the blog posts which contain the defamatory comments.
The posts to which Harding Evans refer are ‘The Bloody State We Are In’; ‘He Got On His Bike And Looked For Work’ and ‘Jennifer’s Diary’.
I don’t know how much Victoria is paying Harding Evans but I think that she should probably ask for a refund because even on the first reading of their letter to me, I noticed that they had made some glaring errors. The most glaring one being the statement that I have blogged that Dr D.G.E. Wood was/is an ‘active paedophile’. I have made many allegations about D.G.E. Wood on this blog, but that is not one of them. But then I received an angry message from a friend of Dr Tony Francis months ago who was taking issue with me for stating that Dr Francis was a paedophile. I had not stated that and I still haven’t.
Another Harding Evans comment which is puzzling is their assertion that Dr Winckler ‘is not a Government adviser save that she currently sits on a Ministerial Advisory Group on taxation’. Which sounds rather like a Gov’t adviser to me.
Throughout their analysis of my comments about Victoria, Harding Evans state the various ‘meanings’ of my comments. In virtually all cases the presumed ‘meanings’ were not what I meant and in most cases it is obvious that I did not mean what Harding Evans maintain that I meant. Harding Evans must have worked very hard to draw some of their conclusions regarding the ‘meaning’ of my comments.
Other idiocies are Harding Evans assertion that Victoria is not involved with health and social care. Victoria Winckler has served as a non-executive Director of a NHS Trust in south Wales and Harding Evans state this in their letter. Furthermore, if one takes a brief look at the Bevan Foundation’s website, the phrase ‘Health and Social Care’ can be seen emblazoned on the front page, listed as an interest of the Bevan Foundation, of which Victoria has been the Director since 2002.
In one post I made a comment about the North Wales Abuse Inquiry. Harding Evans tell me that Victoria ‘did not know anything about the North Wales Abuse Inquiry’. Perhaps that is true, in which case one needs to ask why did she not? I would have thought that the Director of a think tank which, among other things, aspires to improve health and social care services should have known everything that there is to know about that Inquiry, being at the time an Inquiry into the biggest child abuse scandal that there had ever been in the UK.
Harding Evans of course object most strongly to my use of the phrase ‘paedophiles’ friend’ in relation to Victoria. They tell me that Victoria does not know any paedophiles and is ‘not friends with any paedophiles’. Harding Evans can’t actually say that with any certainty; what if Victoria does know someone who is a paedophile but she is completely unaware of it? Surely any lawyer worth their fee would have phrased that somewhat differently. I’ll be receiving a letter from Harding Evans next telling me that ‘God does not exist’. Which of course no-one can state as fact because no-one actually knows, not even Richard Dawkins…
I wanna tell you a story. Unlike Victoria, I have to admit that I do know at least one paedophile. As I explained in a comment on this blog recently after someone asked me if it was true that I knew a paedophile and visited him in prison, yes I do and I did. He is a man who was caught in possession of a small number of low category indecent images. He was denounced by ‘The Daily Post’ as a ‘pervert’ and his address was also published by that newspaper, while their online edition showed footage of ‘paedophile hunters’ pursuing another ‘pervert’ who had recently been released from prison down the road through Bangor. He was imprisoned and is now out of prison.
I got to know this man because he lived in a cottage owned by two friends of mine and he helped on their farm. I had no idea at the time that my friends were, in their capacity as members of their Methodist Church, supporting this man who had previously admitted that he had a problem, had begged for help but found that no therapist or counsellor would touch him. He was alone, friendless and terrified. My friends believe that no human being should ever be in that situation, so they befriended him. I got to know him well but I had no idea that he was a paedophile. Until he was arrested after three images were found on his computer.
My friends maintained contact with him after he was jailed and visited him regularly. They were unable to get over to the prison for one of their planned visits, so they asked me if I would go instead and I said yes. I even had a cup of tea with him and bought him a bar of chocolate from the prisoners’ canteen Harding Evans. After he was released from prison, he was penniless and destitute and had received no therapy in prison. So my friends took him in again. I continued to see him when I visited my friends. In total, I have had two Christmas dinners with him, spent a Boxing Day with him, celebrated a New Year’s Eve with him, had numerous lunches and dinners with him and on one occasion he even mowed my lawn for me and afterwards I made him lunch and then tea. How about that then Victoria?
I haven’t seen this man for some while now because I have left Wales, but I understand that he has rebuilt his life and is in work. Which would not have happened had my friends and their Church not stepped in. He was discharged from Stafford Prison with a one way rail ticket to my friends’ house and I think £30 in cash. He was then denied benefits, although the benefits agency had made a mistake – he was eligible for benefits; it took many months to resolve. Then a community social enterprise which occupied the neighbouring farm sent him a solicitor’s letter stating that the Paedophile Shall Not Pass along their farm track. Which was also the farm track to the cottage on my friends’ farm where he lived. So although he had accommodation he couldn’t use the track to get to it. He had to go in and out of his house across the fields. My friends were not even allowed to drive him down the track in their vehicles. Had he not taken a walking tour across the fields and instead moved out, he would have been recalled to prison, because by then, the address on my friends’ farm was built into his probation conditions. So my friends then became involved in a legal battle for some weeks until he was finally given permission to use his own right of way.
As for my biggest ‘challenge’ regarding socialising with this man, it was that his dad had worked as an Angel at the North Wales Hospital Denbigh for decades and I had been asked by my friends never to discuss what had happened to me in that institution in front of him…
This man had never touched a child in his life Victoria and he absolutely begged for help because he wanted to change his behaviour. There was no help, none at all. I will never feel that I have to send a solicitor’s letter to someone stressing that ooh no I don’t know any paedophiles. I am proud that my friends supported him and gathered together a circle of other people to support him as well. What were we all supposed to do, demand his knackers on a platter?
It is, I would have thought, obvious from this blog that my use of the phrase ‘paedophiles’ friends’ refers to the numerous people who knew about the abuse of children – although not necessarily in detail – and either pretended that they didn’t know, or in the cases of D.G.E. Wood and others, actually facilitated the activities of those involved. I can understand why Victoria Winckler may not have appreciated me using this phrase about her, but my point in those blog posts was that Victoria has been employed in at least one organisation – Mid-Glamorgan County Council – when an active paedophile was also employed by that Council, namely John Owen. Harding Evans sniffily told me that of course Victoria didn’t know about John Owen, his offending was not brought to the attention of the authorities at Mid-Glamorgan County Council. That is not what some other employees of Mid-Glamorgan County Council said when John Owen was charged…
I have not responded in detail to Harding Evans yet, but I will of course be telling them what I have always made very clear on this blog – that if someone believes that I have published something which is untrue, I will be more than happy to amend it. I don’t know why Victoria simply didn’t e mail me herself and ask me to do this. I have never yet written ‘sod off I’ll publish what I want’ to anyone who has contacted me pointing out errors of fact and asked for them to be amended.
What Harding Evans have told me in their letter however is that Victoria wants damages from me and that they are currently ‘assessing quantum’ with her. I have been told that I have by 4 pm 17 Oct 2018 to comply with their demands or they will have ‘no option but to apply to court for immediate injunctive relief, damages and legal costs’, ‘without further notice to you’. Harding Evans have also sent me a splendid little pre-prepared statement for me to sign, in which I confess to having defamed Victoria and agree to pay her any damages that are ‘negotiated’.
Even the North Wales Police never wrote a confession for me and ordered me to sign on the dotted line.
My biggest concern re the letter from Harding Evans is not the numerous inaccuracies or the threats within, it is the means by which they accessed my address. It is not the address where I live or indeed have ever lived; it is the address of a friend’s house which I used as a postal address for some months five years ago or so when I fled north Wales for the first time in the wake of serious threats from the gang. There was I think only one organisation whom I provided with that address to enable them to send me their literature – the Bevan Foundation.
I used to be a member of the Bevan Foundation but I let my subscription lapse because I was just so disappointed at the lack of original thinking coming from that ‘innovative think tank’. When I signed up however, I gave them my friend’s address. So I can only assume that someone at the Bevan Foundation has accessed their database for the personal details of a former member, which they have then given to Harding Evans. I did e mail Harding Evans earlier today to ask how they accessed the address to which they have sent the hard copy of their letter, but I have not yet had a reply. I am not sure where this leaves Harding Evans, Victoria or the Bevan Foundation with regard to data protection legislation.
I am not sure that Victoria Winckler has done herself any favours by instructing Harding Evans to send me that letter.
I do not know who is funding Victoria’s litigation against me, but Harding Evans tells me that the Bevan Foundation is 66k in debt…
Readers with a sense of irony: The website of the Bevan Foundation tells us that it
‘is Wales’ most influential and innovative think tank. We develop lasting solutions to Wales’ most challenging problems and improve people’s lives. We believe Wales should be a nation of equality, justice and prosperity, a nation where everyone has a decent standard of living, a healthy and fulfilling life, and a voice in the decisions that affect them. Instead, a shocking number of people’s lives are blighted by inequality, injustice and poverty, with little hope of change.
Our vision is to see equality, justice and prosperity for everyone in Wales, to make ours a nation where everyone has a decent standard of living, a healthy and fulfilled life, and a voice in the decisions that affect them.
Our values are high standards, independence and transparency in everything we do, without fear or favour…
Our ambition is to generate 100 new ideas to change Wales and improve people’s lives. We draw on evidence such as statistics and people’s experiences, to inform our solutions, and we persuade governments, public bodies, the third sector, businesses and individuals to take action.’
So the Director of the Bevan Foundation is going to sue me for damages as a result of some comments that I have published on a blog on which I primarily discuss the neglect and abuse of vulnerable people. Comments which her lawyers have misinterpreted and in some cases comments which I did not actually make.
I am not sure why Victoria thinks it is worth her while pursuing me for damages and legal costs, because I have mentioned on the blog that after the gang wrecked my life all over again some four years ago, I was left destitute. I do have a lovely little cottage to live in, but I don’t own it – or indeed any other property – and I only secured it because Brown and other friends clubbed together and helped me. My income is sufficiently low that I doubt that a Court would order me to pay Victoria very much at all, even if I had said the most terrible things about her and completely ruined her financially. Does Victoria not remember the McLibel trial?
Victoria’s Linked In profile tells us that Victoria is a Commissioner with the Living Wage Commission.
I have only ever received one other letter in my life from a solicitor telling me that someone was going to sue me for damages. That was in 1987, when Hempsons, the MDU solicitors, wrote to me and told me that I had ‘harassed’ Dr Tony Francis and he would be suing me for damages. My ‘harassment’ had consisted of letters to Francis and Gwynedd Health Authority regarding my complaints which had not been investigated and these included serious crime on the part of Francis and his colleagues. Documents in my possession demonstrate that at the time, Hempsons knew that Francis was preparing to perjure himself in any court case. All talk of suing me for damages stopped when I engaged a lawyer myself. The communication that I received from Hempsons arrived in the form of a telemessage at about 8 am, when there was no-one at all available to advise me, except of course Brown. It was followed minutes later by a stack of papers delivered by courier, papers which screamed at me all over again that Francis wanted substantial damages from me. Francis and his wife were both in receipt of full time Top Docs salaries. I had no income at all – I had only just finished my MSc and hadn’t yet started my first job – and Brown was living on his PhD studentship. I have been told recently by An Insider that the telemessage and affidavit arrived at 8 am to ensure that I would not be able to access legal advice for several hours, to cause me as much distress as possible.
Well it’s one way of dealing with someone blowing the whistle on serious organised crime.
A few hours after I received the communication from Harding Evans, I received an e mail from a ‘social justice’ organisation of which I used to be a Trustee, WEN Wales (Women’s Equality Network Wales). I liked my fellow Trustees in WEN, but I felt – like a number of other Trustees did – that WEN wasn’t really going anywhere. There was a great deal of celebrating International Wimmin’s Day and letting off balloons and going to events at the Senedd and listening to Welsh Gov’t Ministers and civil servants taking about equality and justice and the problems of low income wimmin, but as with the Bevan Foundation, one was left with the feeling that this was not going to change anything.
Some Trustees at WEN very obviously lived in terror of upsetting the Welsh Gov’t and were frank about this. They were in receipt of funding from the Welsh Gov’t and I was told that if feathers were ruffled, that would be the end. I thought that people were being over-anxious until one day, WEN received a demand from Jane Hutt that a paragraph should be removed from a Report that WEN had compiled because it showed the Welsh Gov’t in a poor light. It wasn’t libellous, it wasn’t even critical; the offending paragraph simply observed that in the wake of the retirement of a number of female Ministers, the Welsh Gov’t was in danger of losing female voices. I was told by a fellow Trustee that Hutt was well-known for leaning on ‘independent’ organisations in this way. The paragraph was removed.
The e mail that I received today from WEN included their latest news updates. Among them was the announcement that Mark Drakeford had endorsed WEN’s Manifesto for gender equality.
This is the Mark Drakeford who has a 31 year old son who just days ago was jailed for eight years for the violent prolonged rape of a young woman; Drakeford junior raped the woman as a ‘punishment’. He was also charged with grooming a 15 year old girl.
Karl Marx: ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.’
I see no signs at all that the Welsh Gov’t, the Bevan Foundation or WEN Wales are going to change anything.
I will soon be responding to Harding Evans in detail. Unless Victoria wishes to contact me herself of course to resolve this matter. It’s not as if I bite, even if I do take the piss.
I will keep readers updated…