As I posted recently, Paul Dacre, the legendarily foul mouthed editor of the Daily Mail, who is also editor-in-chief of parent company Associated Newspapers, along with the group’s editor emeritus Peter Wright and head of legal Liz Hartley, had threatened to launch a libel action against crowdfunded media source Byline, over articles concerning the Mail’s use of information mostly obtained through illegal blagging.
The Daily Mail, and its Sunday sister title, had used the services of Steve Whittamore, of Operation Motorman infamy, for some time after he was busted by the Information Commissioner in 2003, and even after he was later convicted. Whittamore contends that the Mail must have known most of what he provided to them had been obtained illegally.
As I later pointed out, this was not just about the Mail: further Byline revelations have concerned illegal blagging on behalf of the Murdoch Sun. Further, it’s not just about blagging: the Sun now has arrayed against it 62 claimants alleging they were phone hacked, that activity that was supposed to have only happened at the late and not at all lamented Screws. There was also, in the background, the spectre of Leveson Part 2.
After Byline’s lawyers had provided a robust response to the Mail’s legal bullying, there was a pause of almost three weeks before their next response, and as I pointed out, this amounted to a climbdown, a chickening out. Now, Byline’s lawyers have responded in turn, and have more or less told Dacre and his bully boys to shove their attitude.
If that f***er from Crewe calls me "legendarily foul mouthed" once more, I'll sue the fat arse off the c***
Here are the relevant paragraphs of that reply.
“Your letter contains no substantive response to the detailed points made in our letter of 17 March 2017. The contention in your second paragraph that a public interest defence is not available if the words complained of bear a different meaning to the one contended for by the claimant is novel and contrary to very well-established authority”.
This means Byline and its lawyers have double checked to make sure they are on solid ground - and the Mail may well not be.
“The Claim Letter was published by our clients along with our response to ensure that it came to the attention of the public that your clients were seeking to silence its critics in a way which has, in the past, been so vigorously attacked by Mr Dacre in particular, and that there was no merit whatsoever in the threatened defamation action because the claims made in the Articles are true in substance and fact”.
The Claim Letter from the Mail’s lawyers was published by Byline to show what a bunch of stinking hypocrites they have running their papers - especially Paul Dacre.
“So far as our clients are concerned; they stand by every word of the Articles. They will not be silenced by groundless threats of legal action by your clients such as that set out in your correspondence, and nor will they be prevented from continuing their investigations into the conduct of both your clients and ANL”.
Freely translated, this means the Mail is getting no change out of this one.
“Your letter of 7 April 2017 sets out in its numbered paragraphs a further set of demands made by your clients. For the reasons already given our client will comply with none of those demands, any more than it was prepared to comply with those set out in the Claim Letter”.
And that means the Vagina Monologue and his fellow bullies can take their demands and shove them somewhere suitably dark.
Hur de Durly Murl an' de turtal chucky!
As I said two days ago, Paul Dacre, Peter Wright and Liz Hartley ought to think themselves lucky they have not been referred to the precedent legal case of Arkell v Pressdram.
Thus another crude and deliberate attempt to constrain freedom of speech has failed. Byline is free to continue publishing the result of its investigations into blagging - and other forms of The Dark Arts, whomsoever they concern.