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Tuesday 16 March 2010

Too Much Blarney – 7

I doubt that Dan Taylor and Tim Ireland know each other particularly well. But they have both encountered Donal Blaney, CEO of the Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF). And both have found out that freedom of expression is not always welcomed by the YBF’s head.

Ireland runs bloggerheads.com, and back in early 2008 made a number of observations about the behaviour of Paul Staines, who blogs under the pseudonym of Guido Fawkes. Staines, whose blog is published through a firm registered in Nevis, prides himself on being “a libel lawyer’s worst nightmare”, but is not averse to threatening legal action himself, which he did against Ireland.

And who should Staines turn to in his hour of legal need? Well, Donal Blaney, despite Blaney apparently being a tax specialist, rather than majoring in defamation. Ireland has published his part of the email conversation he enjoyed with Blaney, in which he maintains a robust approach to Blaney apparently trying to force him into revealing his address, and retaining his own lawyer (a not inexpensive move).

Ultimately, as can be seen, Ireland called Blaney’s bluff, and the “action” fizzled out. But if Ireland had retained a lawyer, and even if there had been nothing more than a “Letter Before Action”, he could have been several hundred pounds worse off. And a similar course of events unfolded just over a year later with Dan Taylor.

Blaney accused Taylor of defaming him, suggested he obtained legal representation, and told that Taylor would be receiving a “Letter Before Action”. He also made the slightly sinister comment “You are about to learn a lesson about life the hard way”. Taylor has helpfully related the episode on his blog, leaving nobody in any doubt as to his opinion of the YBF chief. As with Tim Ireland, the “action” petered out.

There’s a word that I reckon describes this kind of behaviour very succinctly, and that word is bullying. And it’s consistent across both these cases. So, faced with anything that looks like bullying, where can someone turn for assistance? Fortunately, as many legal practices have an on-line presence nowadays, help is close at hand.

And in the vanguard of on-line legal practices is Griffin Law of Hawkhurst in Kent. Top subject on their website is “Bullying and Harassment”, so they’re clearly up for dealing with this kind of thing. So who is behind Griffin Law? Well, one click on “About” shows that the Senior Partner is none other than ... Donal Blaney!

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