I have received a number of e mails from Stephen Bentley, the former undercover police officer who was involved in ‘Operation Julie’, who wrote the book ‘Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story’. After leaving the police force Mr Bentley trained as a barrister and then went to live in the Philippines. I drew on Mr Bentley’s own account as published in his book for my post ‘They Planned To Put Acid In All The Reservoirs…’.
Stephen Bentley’s initial e mail asked me to remove ‘defamatory’ content from my blog and stated that he hoped that I would be ‘sensible in your reaction to my request as legal action is in no one’s interests’ and that he intended ‘to check back within 14 days to ensure you have acted upon my request’.
I replied to Stephen with:
‘Hi. Many thanks for your e mail. Of course I will be happy to remove content from my blog which is untrue or defamatory. I am always prepared to do this and I do not do so simply as a consequence of receiving threatening e mails telling me to be ‘sensible’. I will read through the material that you have provided shortly to see whether I have indeed defamed you…best wishes, Sally.’
After reading through the word document which Stephen sent me in which he detailed the parts of my text which he wanted edited I sent him an e mail saying:
‘Hi, Stephen I think it is very obvious from your book that you did indeed behave in the way that I describe. I’ll tell you what I will do. I will make the edits that you request because I have always responded to people who have e mailed me. I will also explain on my post that you have e mailed me threatening me with a libel action and I will therefore recommend that people read your book for themselves and decide for themselves how you conducted yourself. It may well increase the sales of your book but more importantly it will make people aware of the sort of police officer – and now barrister – that was paid by the state to uphold law n order all those years ago…best wishes, Sally.’
I then received this from Stephen: ‘Please do not escalate this issue because I have not threatened you. I am merely exercising my legal rights and pointing out the defamatory statements and requesting an amicable solution without recourse to legal action.’
So I replied with: ‘Stephen please stop sending me passive aggressive nonsense. I will make the edits that you have asked and will recommend your book to everyone. Now please do not e mail me again unless you have something meaningful to add.’
I have edited the blog post as Stephen asked – which I would have been happy to do had I received an e mail without mentioning hopes of me being ‘sensible’ or the possibility of ‘legal action’.
Now I heartily recommend that everyone reads Stephen’s book. People will then have some idea of the sort of behaviour from ‘professional people’ that some of those of us in Wales endured for so many years.
By the way, BBC News Online today contains a little vox pop entitled ‘What it is like to be sectioned’. It features just a few brief lines from a small number of people, usually mentioning how damaging and traumatic it was. One man maintained that it saved his life and he really did benefit – that is of course how the Mental Health Act is supposed to work, but it usually doesn’t. I note that the man who did have a good experience didn’t mention the hospital where he received help. Probably because they’d never cope with the number of needy patients trying to get through the doors if word got around that they were actually any good.
Many people who are sectioned will recall that as they were surrounded by police officers – despite having committed no crime – and paedophiles’ friends, they were ordered to be ‘sensible’, because of course no-one wanted to resort to legal action did they…
You use the language of a true professional Mr Bentley!