What happened can be put directly: Jay Beecher, a creep of no known intellectual ability, tried to pull the “Yah boo you’re a Paedo” smear on Byline Media main man Peter Jukes. He later went into some detail, but, sad to say, the claim was not only totally untrue, but was clearly malicious and, given Jukes’ standing, was seriously defamatory.
Piling in on the back of Beecher’s unwise excursion came James Bembridge of Country Squire magazine (hello Dominic Wightman), Jordan James of Politicalite, apologist for the likes of Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, and another opportunist creep, James Melville. All republished Beecher’s defamatory claim.
Still live on Beecher's Twitter feed this morning. Not clever
The pile-on left Jukes with little option but to call in the lawyers. So it was not a surprise when he told “Left with no choice, I’ll be setting up soon a legal crowd funder against former UKIP leadership campaign manager and Tory councillor candidate Jay Beecher, Jordan James (Kendall/News Worldwide), James Bembridge and James Melville”.
Melville’s opportunist streak was confirmed by Mic Wright: “James Melville retweeting absolutely unconscionable libel of [Peter Jukes] is no surprise whatsoever. Melville is one of the most opportunistic dangers on this entire social network. He’s endlessly intoxicated by the retweets and likes he receives from the credulous and corrupted”.
And then came the half-hearted attempts from some of those by now in receipt of an emailed Letter Before Action to row back. The bad news for those attempting the rowing back is that it is too little, too late, something that others who think using Twitter to call “Paedo” on those with whom they disagree is in any way justifiable should bear in mind.
James Bembridge was one of those rowing back. Brian Moore, who used to work in the legal profession, had bad news for him. “If he thinks this is a sufficient apology to stave off a defamation claim, I can tell him - it isn’t. If he had been brave enough to allow anyone to reply he'd have got this advice earlier”. Melville also tried to not totally apologise.
This effort told his followers that he “apologised unreservedly”. Moore gave him higher marks than Bembridge, but not enough for a pass. “This is better but still insufficient. When will these people learn?” As for Beecher, his prognosis was not good. “To [Jay Beecher] - I’ve now been shown your tweet. Up to you, but I'd suggest you get yourself a lawyer who you haven't blocked ASAP”. Lying maliciously on Twitter is not a game.
Indulging in smears such as the one pulled by Beecher can spiral out of control to the point where it is not merely reputational damage that can result. It is the kind of smear that no rational or sensible person should be even contemplating using. It is A Good Thing that Peter Jukes and his lawyers are calling time on this little Wild West Show.
Abuse and smears can come back to bite their authors. You have been warned.
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