Sunday, 9 September 2018

Four Days Before Christmas, 2017 - Part 8

On 7 August, following me emailing the Plaintiff a few days previously, I received an email response from his lawyer. I was astonished by its content.

The lawyer advised that professional investigators were continuing inquiries to establish the identity of the author of the defamatory material, and that I would be advised if the person was identified. 
  • I would be very interested to know who the mystery person is, who, for a reason known only to them, used my name. However, I very much doubt that I would ever be notified, even if the Plaintiff does discover this person’s identity.
The lawyer claimed that the grossly offensive nature of the defamatory material required the Plaintiff to take immediate action (given that the sender foreshadowed further dissemination), and that the most appropriate legal option available to the Plaintiff was the immediate commencement of proceedings to bring the matter before the court at the earliest opportunity. 
  • I fail to see how this course of action could have possibly been “the most appropriate legal option available”. The Plaintiff had absolutely no EVIDENCE that I was the author of the material. None whatsoever. Since when has having no evidence been an appropriate basis to pursue someone through the courts?

The lawyer also said that despite the fact I resided in the United Kingdom at the time that the offending material was posted, it was very possible that I had arranged for someone to post the material on my behalf. The letter read, “For the moment, my client accepts that you were not the author as you have sworn in an affidavit to be the case. My client, however, strongly believes that you would have some indication as to who would have assumed your identity to send the material. If you have such information, or later ascertain it, you should immediately provide it so that my client may take proceedings against that person.”
  • So, despite me also affirming in the affidavit that I had "no knowledge" of the alleged defamatory material, the Plaintiff believes the opposite.  In my email to the Plaintiff, I  meticulously explained to him that I am in no way associated, because:

a) I don’t have such poor use of written English
b) I would not speak out about something without being able to verify it

As if I would have just glibly allowed someone to go ahead with such actions, using my name!

The penultimate paragraph read:

In summary, you must appreciate the irreparable harm caused to my client's personal and business reputation by the wide dissemination of the offending material in your name. The costs to you of obtaining legal advice is a small price to pay in comparison to the substantial legal costs incurred by my client and the distress and embarrassment caused to him and his family.”
  • I was astounded to read this; I find it totally unbelievable! “A small price to pay”?! A small price to pay, for what, exactly? I should not have had to pay any price; not a single penny, let alone what is derisively referred to as a “small price”. The price I paid was absolutely not a small price at all. I have tried to think of an analogy to insert here to demonstrate the absurdity of such reasoning. However, to think down those channels is (in my opinion) so illogical that I have failed to come up with an analogy that comes anywhere close to the (again, in my opinion) farcical and insulting thought process that has been put forward. 
  • I dread to think what would have happened had I been in a position where I could not afford to pay for legal assistance. Where would I be now? In prison?
  • The fact that I am totally innocent and should never have been served with court papers, is apparently of no consequence to the Plaintiff. If the Plaintiff hadn’t (unwisely, in my view) taken legal action in the first place, he wouldn’t have incurred “substantial legal costs”.  

The final paragraph of the lawyer’s letter stated, “I must put you on notice that any defamatory material about my client which you may be foolish enough to post on a blog will leave him with no alternative but to commence proceedings against you.”
  • As I have said at the beginning, this is a personal account of what happened to me and I believe I have the freedom to tell others about it.

What is conspicuous by its absence in the letter from the lawyer, is the fact that he has not answered my question about whether the Sun news reporter was issued with proceedings. Why has he not confirmed nor denied this? From his silence on the subject, and given that the Sun reporter was not named as a Co Defendant in the Proceeding, I can only assume I am correct in thinking that I alone was targeted. Again, this in itself demonstrates that the Plaintiff’s actions were not in keeping with the Exclusive Brethren pledge to the Charity Commission (as outlined in Part 7). In my opinion, the Exclusive Brethren foster a culture of falsehood, hatred and malice towards those of us that exercise our right to leave the organisation, and I believe that I alone was targeted because I am an ex-member of the brethren.

No apology has been offered in the lawyer’s letter. I believe this attitude is callous, insulting and incredibly arrogant, not to mention unchristian. It is also not in keeping with the Exclusive Brethren’s pledge to the Charity Commission.

I am astounded that someone who claims they are a Christian, would: 

a)    pursue an innocent party with no evidence at all, rather than contacting that party and trying to resolve things without involving the courts 
b)    threaten to further pursue the innocent party through the courts if they speak out about the injustice that has taken place
c)    not even apologise for the distress and expense caused to the innocent party

I am bewildered that the author of the alleged defamatory material used the name “Marion Evans”. Maybe they had no idea that I would be targeted by the Plaintiff. Regardless, my name should never have been used, whether or not the intention was to deliberately frame me. That said, if the author reads this blog, and I say this as someone who has personally suffered at the hands of the Exclusive Brethren, I would urge them to contact me privately and in confidence; I would like to know why they decided to use my name in the Contact Us form, and if they need help, for whatever reason, I would try to assist in getting them the help they need.

I am angry and upset that the Plaintiff’s hasty actions have led to my name being dragged through the Australian court system for something I absolutely did not do, and that I have had to suffer, and am still suffering as a result of those actions. I am equally angry and upset that, rather than apologising for his error in pursuing the wrong person, the Plaintiff has attempted to justify his actions, and still appears to believe that this mess is something to do with me; he could not be further from the truth.  

I am now nearly a quarter of the way through my cancer treatment, which will continue until the last part of 2019. As I reach the end of this blog I have become particularly unwell and weak and have had to have a blood transfusion. I do not anticipate feeling anywhere near normal, until, perhaps, Christmas this year, which will be one year after I received the correspondence from the Plaintiff’s lawyer. I can’t help but wonder how 2018 might have been for me had the Plaintiff acted in a reasonable and Christian manner, and asked me about the accusations, rather than putting me through the extreme distress and expense of having to defend myself against court proceedings.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Four Days Before Christmas, 2017 - Part 7

As mentioned previously, the Plaintiff is a member of the Exclusive Brethren. In 2014 this organisation came under the scrutiny of the UK Charity Commission. The Charity Commission had concerns in relation to the effects their doctrines and practices had on those who leave the Exclusive Brethren (as I have done). One area specifically was mentioned, that being the “Threats of legal action against those who speak out against the Brethren”.

The Exclusive Brethren offered mitigation in the “Faith in Practice” document, as follows:

"Compassion is to be shown more generally in the treatment of individuals – No action should be taken in any way to treat vindictively, maliciously or unfairly persons whether within or outside the community, including those who were within the community and who are leaving or have left the community.” (Page 22 Point vi PDT Full decision Jan 14.)

I would have hoped that the Plaintiff might have borne the above pledge in mind; however, given his haste in pursuing me through the court for something I had not done, it seems this was not the case.

I am not guilty of the Plaintiff’s accusations, yet he offered no apology for his aggressive (in my opinion) and unnecessary pursuit of me.

After consideration, I decided I wanted people to know about the injustice I had suffered at the hands of a person who claims to be a Christian; I thought the best way to do this would be to write a factual account of events and publish it on my blog. 

I emailed the Plaintiff, to notify him of my intentions and give him the opportunity to apologise and make amends. Christians would usually seek not to cause harm to others, so I hoped my email would somehow strike a chord with him, that he would realise how his actions had impacted me, and apologise.

I outline below my email to him: 


I’m emailing to tell you how aggrieved I am that you thought it was I who allegedly made an entry on the XXXXX website and also sent defamatory material to your neighbours.

[Sentence removed to protect the identity of the Plaintiff] I know absolutely nothing about you and I have no interest in you. I have no idea if the allegations made are true or false and I have no interest in finding out.

What made you think I was the guilty party? Was it purely because someone included my name? If so, did neither you nor your lawyer think to look further than that before pursuing an innocent party? The alleged attack on you is simply not my style.  I do not hide behind anonymity or mixed/confusing details, and whilst I have written publicly about the Exclusive Brethren in my blog, I have only ever written factually, verifiable with a wealth of evidence. 

If you have ever read my blog, you would know that the quality of the alleged defamatory material and my style of writing couldn’t be further apart. I am insulted, therefore, that you thought I was responsible for this alleged attack on you. 

Several things struck me about this whole fiasco: 

1.   You could have instructed your IT department to investigate and establish the IP address of the computer which made the entry on the XXXXX website. Did it not occur to you to do so? If you were able to establish the IP address, you would have discovered it was not the IP address of my computer.

2.     On the Contact Us form, my name was entered, together with an email address that is not mine and a telephone number that I discovered belongs to XXXXX itself. Did this mixture of unrelated contact details not strike you as being odd?

3.   Did you also issue proceedings against the person whose email address was submitted with my name on the Contact Us form? If not, why not? If you decided to pursue me alone, could it be that that choice was made because the Exclusive Brethren (or Plymouth Brethren Christian Church) has a personal grudge against me? Was bitterness towards me the real motivation behind this case?

4.   I could not possibly have posted material [words removed to protect identity of Plaintiff] at the time it was alleged, because I was in the UK. Did it not occur to you that it was highly unlikely that this was done by a UK resident?

5.    ANYONE with access to a computer and the internet could have carried out this alleged attack on you. ANYONE could have entered my name in the Contact Us form and copied and pasted freely available information into documents. Did this not occur to you? If so, why focus on me, simply because my name had been entered? 

6.    If, instead of entering my name, the person who did this had entered 'Donald Trump’ or 'Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth’, would you still have instructed your lawyer? And if so, would your lawyer have pursued either of these people with no evidence? Or would you both have thought it was ridiculous and realised that absolutely anyone could have done this, even a child? In fact, given the strange, poorly constructed and seemingly naive way in which the alleged material was written, maybe the author was a child.

7.   You or your lawyer could have contacted me before issuing legal proceedings, to ask if I knew anything about this, rather than seemingly having a knee-jerk reaction to seeing my name and deciding I was the offending person. Did it not occur to you to do so?

Despite having no hard evidence that I was the Defendant, you instructed your legal team to pursue me. You protected your name with a pseudonym but dragged my name through the Australian court system. 

The false accusations I was hit with cost me dear, and I don’t only mean financially.  Your actions caused me a huge amount of distress; I know nothing about Australian law and spent hours investigating how to respond. Eventually, I was left with no choice but to pay out a large sum of money to clear my name.

I have now found out that proceedings have been discontinued but I haven’t even had an apology from you. This is not my understanding of how Christians behave.

After careful consideration I have decided I am going to blog these events, because people need to know about the injustice I was subjected to. I will of course have regard for your personal details. 


Marion Evans

........Tomorrow: Email response from the Plaintiff's lawyer / closing comments.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Four Days Before Christmas, 2017 - Part 6

On Sunday, 11 March 2018, it was Mother’s Day, and also Dave’s birthday. Our daughter and son, Jade and Zaine, took Dave and me out for a joint celebratory meal, which was really lovely. The following day, I was alarmed to discover a lump in one of my breasts. I saw my GP immediately, who referred me to a consultant at the local hospital. She advised the lump might be a cyst but said she couldn’t rule out ‘anything nasty’; she referred me for scans and a biopsy. My initial feeling of anxiety began to fade; I mused that in all probability the lump was most likely just a cyst. 

The following week I underwent a mammogram and an ultrasound scan, followed by a biopsy. There was something about the manner of the technician who carried out the mammogram, something that she said, that caused a tiny spark of alarm to creep back into my mind. I kept telling myself that the lump was a cyst, but my gut feeling told me otherwise.

On 26 March 2018, Dave and I met with the consultant who told me that the results of my biopsy were back.  “You have breast cancer,” she said.

Despite my gut feeling, to hear someone say this out loud was a shock. A big shock! Other people have cancer. Lots of other people have cancer. I never expected to hear those words spoken to me. The consultant spoke a lot; her words just washed over me. We were introduced to the MacMillan nurse, who performed another mammogram on me and gave me lots of paperwork and booklets. The two-and-a-half hours we spent at the hospital were a blur. I don’t remember very much at all, just the words, “You have breast cancer.”

As we drove home it was starting to get dark; the roads and pavements were busy with traffic and pedestrians; people probably keen to get home from work. It was all so surreal. Outside my head it was just a normal Monday evening; but inside my head was a confused mess of emotions. I felt anxiety and fear, mixed with an overwhelming desire to think positively in order to get through the long months ahead.

Three days later, Dave and I met with a professor at the Royal Marsden Hospital, in Sutton; we discussed my treatment plan, which will last until the latter part of next year. My treatment involves chemotherapy, immunotherapy, lumpectomy surgery, intensive radiotherapy, and finally, three-weekly injections for a year. 

The professor told me there is a recognised trigger between emotional stress and cancer, particularly breast cancer. He went on to ask me if I could think of anything at all that could have caused me stress. 

Dave and I glanced at each other; I could tell that he had the same train of thought running through his head, that was running through my own.

Readers will no doubt recall me writing about how this organisation took my dementia-suffering mother to Australia against her will, away from her UK home and all she knew, away from her grandchildren, her son-in-law, away from ME. They held my mother in Australia against her express wish to return to her home. She lived in a converted garage at the home of my brother and his wife. It was here that my brother would tie her to a bed at night, to prevent her from getting up. Mum died in Australia in 2012. I believe she was taken to sever the secret contact my family and I shared with her. I have a wealth of evidence to verify everything I state.

To discover my mother had disappeared just like that, was an awful and distressing experience. It took 248 days for my brother to get in touch with me, despite the fact that I had tried desperately to contact him, via local (to me) members of the Exclusive Brethren. When he did eventually ring me, even though it was obvious that I wanted immediate news about Mum, my brother started the conversation making trivial small talk. He would not let me talk to Mum, insisting she was not available. He refused to tell me where he lived, saying he lived north of Sydney; that was all. 

I contacted my cousin in New Zealand, where Mum had spent six months, and she advised that she had been told not to pass information to me. I was sick with worry. I thought Mum must be ill, or worse, dead. I decided to ring hospitals in Australia and I picked a town north of Sydney. That town was Gosford. I rang Gosford Hospital and was shocked when I was told that Mum had been admitted two weeks previously. I was transferred to Mum’s bedside phone. My brother, who happened to be visiting at the time, took the phone away from her and told me he would not allow me to talk to her. So, my brother’s words, “not available”, had meant that Mum was actually in hospital. My own brother had hidden from me that my mother was in hospital.

This story goes on and on and on and has never been resolved. I have never even had an apology from the Exclusive Brethren for what they did, nor had thousands of pounds of out of pocket expenses reimbursed, incurred when my family travelled to Australia to find my mother. Yet when I appeared on Australian TV in November 2013, I was contacted by a senior member of the brethren, less than an hour before the programme was due to air in Australia. He tried to bribe me with £40,000 in exchange for me contacting the programme’s producers and asking them to pull the programme. Of course, I refused the money and the programme went ahead. This will all be detailed in my forthcoming book.

The Exclusive Brethren has caused me no-end of stress over the years, and then I was subjected to this fresh stress which started before last Christmas, by a member of the Exclusive Brethren. 

All of this flooded through my mind. I looked at the professor, and I really didn’t know how or where to start to answer the question he’d asked me.

Having learned from my professor that the particular cancer I have is linked to/triggered by emotional stress, and thinking back over the stress to which I have been subjected by the Exclusive Brethren’s behaviour, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the ongoing stress I have endured is linked to my breast cancer. I can’t help but ask the question, is such behaviour that the Exclusive Brethren display, Christian behaviour?

I would like to comment here, that in 2009, the Exclusive Brethren’s Bible & Gospel Trust started court proceedings against an ex-member. It was just before Christmas. Then on 20thDecember 2017, the day before I learned I was being sued for defamation, I, along with numerous other ex-members, received letters (that were, in my opinion, very aggressive) from Kingsley Napley solicitors, who were instructed by the Exclusive Brethren on a totally separate matter. It is my belief that the timings of such letters, court proceedings, etc, were intentional to make it as difficult and as stressful as possible for those of us on the receiving end.

........Tomorrow: My email to the Plaintiff.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Four Days Before Christmas, 2017 - Part 5

As soon as the Christmas and New Year festivities were behind us, I set about finding a lawyer; I needed to find one fast. Because of the jurisdiction issues, the lawyer I employed really needed to be in Australia. I managed to find a lawyer who agreed to handle the matter for me, but the distance meant there were additional issues with time-differences, currency exchange, etc. The stress just never left me. Not even in my sleep. I had nightmares about stepping off a plane, going straight to court and then being handcuffed and marched to the cells, sobbing and protesting my innocence. I woke in a panic from my nightmares each time and realised I was actually in the middle of a real-life nightmare. I would feel my heart lurch and then hammer in my chest each time reality hit me, and the fear and stress would flood my body afresh. It was relentless.

My lawyer and I discussed me sending an initial letter to the Plaintiff’s lawyer, making it clear that I was not the person the Plaintiff was seeking, to see if this resulted in the Proceeding being discontinued.

I wrote to the Plaintiff’s lawyer on 2 January 2018. I advised that I was first alerted to the Plaintiff’s allegations upon receipt of the lawyer’s letters, and that I knew nothing about, nor was I responsible for, publishing any defamatory material about him. I confirmed that I was not aware of the Plaintiff’s address and had no interest in it, or in the Plaintiff.  I went on to say that the Plaintiff’s allegations were misdirected and that, had the Plaintiff (or the lawyer himself) written to me prior to issuing proceedings and provided me with an opportunity to respond to the Plaintiff’s allegations, the Plaintiff might have reached the same conclusion himself.

I pointed out that the defamatory material, if, in fact, it was actually published, could have been prepared by anyone with access to the internet. That the alleged author appeared to have referred to my name and to material published on the internet by others, including by me, did not determine the alleged authorship of the material. In any case, there was no link between the alleged defamatory material and my blog.

I advised that in my view there were a number of steps that the Plaintiff could have taken in order to ascertain the identity of the party responsible for the alleged conduct, which ought to have taken place prior to issuing a legal proceeding. In particular, I suggested that the Plaintiff could ask the owner of the internet domain to identify the IP address of the computer that was allegedly used to complete the Contact Us form entry.

I concluded the letter, politely suggesting that the Plaintiff refrains from wasting their money pursuing the wrong person, and I requested that the Proceeding be immediately discontinued.

On 10 January 2018, I received an email response from the Plaintiff's solicitor, in response to my letter. The lawyer requested that I provide a sworn Affidavit, deposing to the matters raised in my letter. He attached a draft Affidavit to his email and advised, “This may resolve the matter as far as you are concerned.” He instructed the Affidavit had to be witnessed by a Notary Public, here in the United Kingdom.

At this point, I parted with a large sum of money to my Australian lawyer for his assistance. He liaised with the Plaintiff’s lawyer in terms of agreeing the wording of the Affidavit. Its basic content had to include that whilst I was the named Defendant in the Proceeding, I had no knowledge of, nor had I published or authorised publication of any defamatory material about the Plaintiff.

The draft of the Affidavit prepared by the Plaintiff’s lawyer included a clause, which read: “I do not, and have never, believed or accused the plaintiff (either privately or publicly), of any conduct as referred to in the Email or the Letter.”

Of course, I have never accused the Plaintiff (either privately or publicly) of any conduct as referred to in the Email (meaning the Contact Us entry) or the Letter (meaning the posted material). I don’t know why they included a clause like this, because “belief” is subjective. As I understand it, an affidavit must be factual. I have no personal knowledge about the Plaintiff, including anything related to the allegations. I cannot say that I believe either way, as I have no idea. Some may say: “there’s no smoke without fire”, but I cannot comment as I don’t know. What was important, and necessary for the affidavit to include, was that I didn’t do it myself, nor authorise it, nor have any knowledge of it. 

Finally, the Affidavit wording was agreed and the clause about belief was removed from the final document.

I then parted with more money to a lawyer here in the UK, and on 31 January 2018, I affirmed the Affidavit before a Notary Public, as requested.

My Affidavit was submitted via my Australian lawyer, and I then had the stress of waiting to hear what the next move would be. I had gone to the trouble and expense of affirming the Affidavit, as requested by the Plaintiff’s lawyer, but there was absolutely no guarantee that that would be the end of the matter. As I understood it there was no legal obligation for the Plaintiff to cease the Proceeding against me if he chose not to. What if he decided to pursue me anyway?

On 1 February 2018, my lawyer notified me that the Plaintiff proposed to provide me with a release from participating in the Proceeding and for consent orders to be filed, which removed me from the Proceeding in the following form:

1.     Leave for the Plaintiff to amend the Statement of Claim to show the address of the Defendant as “unknown”
2.     The court to note that Marion Evans [from my address] is not the Defendant, Marion Evans
3.     The Proceeding to be deferred until 18 May 2018

So, bizarrely, the Defendant remained named as “Marion Evans”, but my address was removed, and the address of the Defendant was recorded as “unknown”. Thus, apparently leaving the Plaintiff to pursue another person using the name Marion Evans; although he had no idea who this was. Presumably, this would mean that anyone else on the planet named Marion Evans was now in the frame!

I had great difficulty in absorbing this; it just seemed ludicrous! I couldn’t understand why the Plaintiff couldn’t simply admit that he had made an error and pursued the wrong person. I’m sure the case could have been discontinued there and then. Instead, as I understood it, the Plaintiff was apparently considering proceeding with the case against the “correct” Marion Evans, the Marion Evans who had allegedly attacked him with defamatory material, the Marion Evans from an unknown address, not the Marion Evans from my address. I wondered how on earth he was hoping to find this other “Marion Evans”. In essence, it seemed he was proceeding with the case against an UNKOWN DEFENDANT. How on Earth could papers be served on someone unknown? I wondered if anything as bizarre as this had ever taken place in a court of law before. It seemed so unorthodox! If they ever did locate the author of the defamatory material, I am certain their name would not be Marion Evans! 

On 16 February, the date of the hearing, my lawyer emailed me, advising that the Court had adjourned the Proceeding for three months. He advised he had provided my affidavit directly to the Plaintiff's solicitor, who had supplied a Deed of Release for execution. I never signed the Deed of Release.

On 17 May, my lawyer emailed me with an amended Statement of Claim. My lawyer confirmed that I was no longer identified as the Defendant in the proceeding, and the relief that was being sought was not being sought against me. Instead, it was being sought against "a Marion Evans", whose address is "unknown" and the relief they were seeking was being sought against that person of unknown address, and not me, whose address they did know.

In June 2018, still with no idea what the exact position was, or what had transpired at the hearing on 18 May, I emailed the court to try to establish this. The court then responded with a copy of the court order that had been filed, which stated that the proceeding had been discontinued. Seemingly, the Plaintiff had not even deemed it necessary to notify me of this fact.

........Tomorrow: Medical diagnosis that turned my world upside down.