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