- 17 December, it is alleged that the defamatory Contact Us form entry was received
- 18 December, it is alleged that the defamatory material was posted
- 19 December, it is alleged that some of the defamatory material was received and read by some of the residents
- 21 December, I received a letter by email from a legal company, advising that steps were being taken to commence legal proceedings against me
- 22 December, I receive a Letter of Claim by email, with a court hearing date set for 16 February 2018
Tuesday, 4 September 2018
Four Days Before Christmas, 2017 - Part 3
I kept thinking about the person who had done this. Why had they used my name? Was someone deliberately trying to frame me? Was there someone 'out there, somewhere' who hated me, hated me enough to frame me, so that I would incur the wrath of the person who was being defamed? But, if someone was trying to frame me, why did they use mixed details; there seemed to be no explanation for those. At one point I even wondered if the Exclusive Brethren had tried to frame me. On the other hand, could this whole thing be a cry for help from someone? Nothing about this made sense to me.
It was alleged that the information on the Contact Us form was sent to the company website inbox at 10:42am on 17 December 2017. In the UK it would have been 11.42pm on 16 December 2017. I was fast asleep in my bed.
The personal details entered in the Contact Us form did not relate to each other in any way. The name “Marion Evans” was entered, but the email address was not mine; it was a Sun newspaper email address. The telephone number which started with 1300 was an Australian freephone or local number.
After a simple Google search, it was apparent that the telephone number that had been entered was the number of the company named in the Proceeding, the company whose Contact Us form had allegedly been used to send defamatory imputations about the Plaintiff to the company email inbox. This was even more bizarre, and I failed to see the logic of concluding that this was my doing, purely on the basis of the name “Marion Evans” being entered.
Apologies for the repetition, but just for clarity, the Contact Us form contained the following:
Phone number of the company named in the Proceeding; the company to which it is alleged that defamatory imputations had been sent, via the Contact Us form.
Had any logic been used in deciding that I should be held accountable? I cannot help but think the answer to that is a resounding “NO”. I just could not understand how the Plaintiff had reached the conclusion that he had.
There were so many discrepancies. I acknowledge that my blog had been mentioned in the alleged defamatory material, and that my name had been used in the alleged Contact Us form entry. But as I have already stated, anyone could have done this. I therefore wondered why there was seemingly a knee-jerk reaction which resulted in court proceedings being issued, rather than either the Plaintiff or his lawyer contacting me to ask if I knew anything about it. For both parties, this would have been the cheapest option and the most civil of actions, rather than going to the expense of instructing a lawyer and submitting court papers. To me, this seemed an unnecessarily aggressive move, albeit in keeping with the litigious nature for which I understand that Exclusive Brethren are known.
It then struck me, that maybe I wasn’t the only person to be served with court papers. Maybe the Sun reporter whose email address had been entered on the Contact Us form was also being pursued. That was an interesting thought; it would make sense if they were also in the frame, as the Plaintiff seemed to be largely led by the Contact Us form information. I looked back at the court papers, but there was no Co-Defendant named in the Proceeding, so I assumed that it was just me being pursued.
From the timeline below, please note the speed in which the decision was made to commence proceedings against me:
The Plaintiff’s actions caused me a huge amount of distress; it was four days before Christmas. I know nothing about Australian Law, and I spent hours researching how to respond. I rang the Australian court, and the clerk advised that I was expected to be present in court, in Australia, on 16 February 2018, to defend myself. I was stunned; that couldn’t be right, surely?!
The Statement of Claim instructed that I had 28 days from 22 December 2017 to file a Defence. This gave me until 19 January 2018, and with the Christmas and New Year shutdown in-between, there was really very little time to get matters moving. I was beyond stressed. I toyed with the idea of dealing with this myself, but I couldn’t possibly prepare a Defence and just up-sticks and fly to Australia in a few days’ time, especially with Christmas upon us. I feared that if I couldn’t attend court, or be represented, the court may enter judgment against me without further notice, and the result might even be a custodial sentence. All of this was like a heavy noose around my neck over Christmas and New Year.
I put it all on hold for a few days and for the sake of my family, I put a smile on my face and decided to just “do Christmas”.