The purpose of this site is for information and a record of Gerry McCann's Blog Archives. As most people will appreciate GM deleted all past blogs from the official website. Hopefully this Archive will be helpful to anyone who is interested in Justice for Madeleine Beth McCann. Many Thanks, Pamalam

Note: This site does not belong to the McCanns. It belongs to Pamalam. If you wish to contact the McCanns directly, please use the contact/email details    

The Madeleine Foundation - 2011*

The continuing activities of The Madeleine Foundation in 2011

A press statement from The Madeleine Foundation, 07 June 2011
A press statement from The Madeleine Foundation The Madeleine Foundation

Tuesday 7 June 2011, 6pm

Madeleine McCann case:

European Commission on Human Rights to investigate Tony Bennett's claim that U.K. libel laws breached his right to free speech under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights

The European Commission on Human Rights is currently investigating a claim by Madeleine Foundation Secretary Tony Bennett (63) that Britain's notoriously draconian libel laws interfered with his human right to free speech, guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Tony Bennett's claim, made on 24 March last year, cited Article 10 of the Convention, which states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers".

In his application to the Commission, Tony refers to the sequence of events which forced him to sign a legal undertaking in the High Court in November 2009 not to distribute certain information on the Madeleine McCann case, and not to make allegations that the McCanns were guilty of, or should be suspected of, causing Madeleine's death, or disposing of her body, or that they were lying about what happened or seeking to cover up what they had done.

At the recent General Election, all three main political parties promised reform of Britain's libel laws, which allow the rich to control what is said about them. Other nations place sensible limits on the ability of the wealthy to stop people discussing their actions; for example, Germany puts a cap of no more than 10,000 euros (£8,900) on the costs that can be claimed by a successful libel claimant.

Tony said: "If Britain had had a similar law, I could have afforded to defend the McCanns' claim that my book on the case and leaflets published by the Madeleine Foundation libelled them. However, my lawyers advised that I could lose my home and all my savings if I defended their claim, as the McCanns' lawyers, Carter Ruck, who charge up to £1,000 an hour for their services, could have claimed all their costs from me in the event that just one sentence in my book was held to be libellous by the High Court".

The application, registered as 'Reference 20455/10: BENNETT v. UK', is being considered by the Commission as to whether the case 'has merit'. If it does, the matter will be passed to the European Court of Human Rights for a ruling.

The government has recently outlined a new 'Libel Reform Bill'. Public consultation on the Bill ends this Friday (10 June). The Bill includes the following proposals:
  • A new 'public interest' defence, which can be used by defendants in defamation cases
  • A new court procedure to cut the sometimes overwhelming costs associated with libel actions by encouraging early resolution of key issues
  • A requirement for claimants to demonstrate substantial harm, or likely substantial harm, to their reputation before they can sue
  • Reducing so-called 'libel tourism' by making it tougher to bring overseas claims which have little connection to the UK in the English courts, and
  • A 'single publication' rule, meaning repeat claims for libel cannot be made every time a publication is accessed on the internet.
It may take some time for the European Commission to make its decision on merits. Recently the ECHR released figures showing that the backlog of cases reached 119,300 at the end of 2009 and the figure has risen since then.


The stated aims of Madeleine Foundation, set up in January 2008, include research into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

Faced with the prospect of a libel writ in the High Court, Tony Bennett agreed on 25 November 2009 to sign a High Court undertaking preventing him from distributing his book on the case: "What really happened to Madeleine McCann? - 60 Reasons which suggest that she was not abducted", and from distributing a 4-page leaflet on the case, known as '10 Reasons'.

On page 311 of her new book on the case, madeleine, Dr Kate McCann falsely described The Madeleine Foundation as "a nasty little organisation...who prey on vulnerable families who have experienced tragedy".

Two Portuguese courts - their Appeal Court in October 2010 and the Supreme Court in March 2011 - both allowed appeals by Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral against a decision of a lower court in Lisbon in February 2010 to ban his book on the case: 'The Truth About A Lie'. It has been back on sale in Portugal for the past 7 months. In his book, he says that the evidence in the case suggests that Madeleine died in her parents' holiday apartment and that the McCanns arranged for her body to be hidden.

In 1987 the European Court of Human Rights upheld a claim made by Tony Bennett on behalf of a parent of a child in care whose rights to a fair trial under Article 6(1) had been breached by the UK. The mother was awarded £12,000 compensation.


Tony Bennett, Secretary, The Madeleine Foundation
01279 635789
Mobile 07835 716537

The Madeleine Foundation's correspondence with Scotland Yard, 11/19 July 2011
The Madeleine Foundation's letter to Scotland Yard (1) The Madeleine Foundation

The Madeleine Foundation

Asking the questions about what really happened to Madeleine McCann

66 Chippingfield
CM17 0DJ
Tel: 01279 635789

Monday 11 July 2011

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood,
Atten. Mr Thomas Bowen
MIT5 (Madeleine McCann Review Team)
Belgravia Police Station
202 Buckingham Palace Road

Dear Detective Inspector Andy Redwood


re: Submission of evidence to the Madeleine McCann Review Team

I write to you regarding the submission of revelant evidence to your team. I am informed both by Sergeant Voges [Collar No. 605CC) at the Metropolitan Police Central Control and by your Thomas Bowen that you have been appointed the Senior Investigating Officer by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner with overall responsibilty for the conduct of the Review into the reported disappearance of British girl Madeleine McCann.

We wish to submit evidence to your Review which suggests that Madeleine's parents, Dr Gerald and Dr Kate McCann, have not told the truth to both the Portuguese Police and to Leicestershire Police about the disappearance of their daughter. This evidence also suggests that the McCanns' friends in Portugal, popularly known as 'The Tapas 7', may also not have told the truth to the police about Madeleine's disappearance. Moreover, the evidence we wish to present to you tends to suggest that Madeleine McCann may have died in her parents' apartment, howsoever that death may have been caused, and that others besides the McCanns and the 'Tapas 7' have conspired to cover up the true circumstances of her death.

We have three classes of evidence that we wish to submit to you. These are as follows:
  1. A comprehensive dossier of circumstantial evidence, including new material not disclosed in the Portuguese Police files and which includes material relating, for example, to various telephone records of some of the parties involved, matters relating to the creche/baby-minding records at the Ocean Club, Praia da Luz, matters relating to other guests at the Ocean Club that week, and analyses of various witness statements which demonstrate, we say with clarity, that the McCanns and their friends did not tell the truth about events in Praia da Luz. This includes, for example, numerous contradictory statements going well beyond mere inconsistences, and changes of story. Some of these issues were of course highlighhted in the police report of Tavares de Almeida dated 10 September 2007, the date the McCanns returned to England after being made arguido and arguida on 7 September 2007. As the Senior Investigating Officer in this case, I expect you will already have read this document some time ago and recorded your response to it in your policy folder.

  2. A similar dossier, which is ready to send to you, detailing various aspects about the McCanns' private investigations. *** The rest of this section has been removed at the request of Brian Kennedy's lawyers, Carter-Ruck ***

  3. Information, of a first-hand nature, received from a female insider within the McCann Team whose information strongly tends to suggest that the entire McCann Team private investigation team was exercised in the creation of a huge smokescreen to cover up what really happened to Madeleine McCann, rather than being a genuine attempt to find Madeleine. We would only wish to disclose this lady's information to you in person to one of your team of detectives.
However, before sending you any of this information, we need to establish if you want to receive it. When Prime Minister David Cameron, in response to a letter from Dr Gerald McCann, announced in the Sun newspaper on 12 May this year - the same date as Dr Kate McCann’s book 'madeleine' was published - that he had procured a thorough Scotland Yard Review into Madeleine's disappearance, he stated that the whole purpsoe of the Review was 'to support the McCann family'. We do not know for example the terms of the review that were agreed between the Prime Minister and Sir Paul Stephenson. If the terms of the review team under your leadership have been determined, please supply us with a copy of them.

The official Home Office announcement of the Review you are currently implementing stated: "The Home Office today announced that the Metropolitan Police Service will be bringing their expertise to the case regarding the search for Madeleine McCann." It did not, for example, say: "The Home Office today announced that the Metropolitan Police Service will be bringing their expertise to the case regarding the mystery of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann". Similarly, a Home Office spokesperson said: "The government's primary concern has always been and remains the safe return of Madeleine".

A news report soon after 12 May stated: "The Prime Minister has been very clear that he wants to do everything we can to support the family".

Yet a police source for Scotland Yard said that in conducting reviews... "What we do is painstakingly look at all the evidence, the paperwork, the CCTV, any suspects who came to light and were investigated. Sometimes it takes fresh eyes to see what was always there".

The term 'suspects who came to light' would of course include: Dr Gerald McCann, Dr Kate McCann and Mr. Robert Murat.

What we need to know, in the clearest possible terms, please, is whether your team is prepared to review in full any evidence, foresnic or circumstantial, that tends to show that Madeleine died in the McCanns' apartment in Praia da Luz, and her body then hidden - as well as examining the evidence that Madeleine may have been abducted, a matter which even the McCanns' own chief spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, conceded publicly on 6 January this year was only 'a hypothesis, an assumption'.

If your team is not prepared to look at the alternative hypothesis i.e. that Madeleine died in the McCanns' apartment and that her body was subsequently hidden, then clearly there is absolutely no point in our sending you anything.

I should explain that the Madeleine Foundation was set up in January 2008 with a number of purposes, including investigating what really happened to Madeleine McCann. That was a full six months before the Senior Investigating Officer in the Madeleine McCann case, Goncalo Amaral, wrote his book, A Verdade da Mentira - 'The Truth About A Lie' - in which he gave persuasive reasons why he and his team made the McCanns suspects and explained why they held to their conviction that Madeleine McCann died in her parents' apartment. Last year we published: 'The Madeleine McCann Case Files: Volume 1', which reproduces evidence from the case which tends to suggest that Madeleine McCann was not abducted.

Finally, we join with many other voices, including those of Metropolitan Police authority members, in querying whether the circumstances in which this Review was set up, and the current concerns about corruption and the undue influence of the Rupert Murdoch empire at the highest levels in the Metropolitan Police, suggest that you are not a suitable police force to carry out this Review. We suggest that any Review should be carried out by a police force less riven with corruption allegations at a senior level and which is not tainted by its close association with the Murdoch empire, a matter we have recently detailed in our letter to the Prime Minister dated 18 May 2011, a copy of which I am pleased to enclose for your attention.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Tony Bennett
The Madeleine Foundation


The Madeleine Foundation's second letter to Scotland Yard The Madeleine Foundation

The Madeleine Foundation

Asking the questions about what really happened to Madeleine McCann

66 Chippingfield
CM17 0DJ
Tel: 01279 635789

Thursday 21 July 2011

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood,
Atten. Mr Thomas Bowen
MIT5 (Madeleine McCann Review Team)
Belgravia Police Station
202 Buckingham Palace Road

Dear Detective Inspector Andy Redwood


re: Submission of evidence to the Madeleine McCann Review Team

As I had not yet received any reply to my letter of 11 July (copy attached for ease of reference), I telephoned yesterday to check that you had at least received it.

I spoke to Sam - Collar No. 220629 - who said he did not know and was unwilling or unable to find out.

As he was unsure whether it had been received or not, I offered to fax the letter to you forthwith. He hesitated about giving ma a Fax No. and then said I should wait two more days to see if it had been received. However, since he also said 'we do not answer correspondence in this team', I thought I had better write to you again.

I doubt if there is an explicit policy to refusee to even acknowledge letters, so I am sending this second Recorded Delivery letter and would ask you please to acknolwedge it without delay as well as giving me a reply to the very particular question I asked, namely as to whether you will accept evidence that suggests that Madeleine died in her parents' holiday apartment and have covered up that fact.

Since I last wrote to you 10 days ago, the absolute importance of the police in general, and the Metropolitan Police in particular, doing things correctly and honestly has been vivildy highlighted on all our news bulletins, and by the Prime Minister himself, and I want to make absolutely sure that your Team is prepared to go wherever the evidence leads, a matter which has caused us a great deal of concern regarding your Team's remit ever since Prime Minister David Cameron said that the purpose of your Review Team was 'to support the family'.

The whole question of whether your Team can in any way be seen to be acting 'to support the family', when there is already a substantial body of evidence suggesting that Madeleine McCann died in Ocean Club Apartment G5A, where her parents were staying, is very much in issue here.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Tony Bennett
The Madeleine Foundation


Reply from Scotland Yard The Madeleine Foundation

Scotland Yard reply to Madeleine Foundation, 19 July 2011


Mr Tony Bennett
66 Chippingfield
CM17 0DJ

SCDI - Homicide and Serious Crime Command
Rm 3.30 1st Floor
Belgravia Police Station
202-206 Buckingham Palace Road

Your ref
Our ref
19th July 2011

Dear Mr Bennett

Thank you for your letter dated 11th July 2011 and for sight of your correspondence with the Prime Minister dated 18th May 2011.

The investigative review into the circumstances of Madeleine McCann's disappearance will encompass all investigations that have been conducted. This includes material held by private investigative organisations.

lf the Madeleine Foundation holds 'evidence' which you believe will assist this process then please by all means forward it to the above address. Any material submitted will be subject to assessment and review.

Yours sincerely.

Andy Redwood
Detective Chief lnspector

Letters from Carter-Ruck (Re: Edward Smethurst), 04 August 2011
Letters from Carter-Ruck (Re: Edward Smethurst) McCann Exposure

Carter-Ruck letter, 04 August 2011

Carter-Ruck letter, 04 August 2011

Carter-Ruck letter, 04 August 2011

Edward Smethurst issues a libel summons against Tony Bennett, 09 August 2011
Edward Smethurst issues a libel summons against Tony Bennett The Madeleine Foundation

Article filed 16 August 2011

On 9 August 2011, Mr Edward Smethurst, the Co-ordinating Solicitor for Drs Gerald and Kate McCann, issued a libel summons against Madeleine Foundation Secretary Tony Bennett, a fact he found out on returning yesterday from a 10-day holiday. The claim is limited by Mr Smethurst to 'a sum not exceeding £100,000'.

The summons, technically called a Defamation Claim, was accompanied by an ex parte Order also made on 9 August by Master Eyre in the High Court, which requires that "any non-party seeking access to, or copies of any documents before the court or on court records (including statements of case and witness evidence) must make an application for such access on notice to the parties. Documents filed at court in respect of this action are to be placed in a sealed envelope marked: 'Not to be provided to any non-party without the leave of a Judge or the Senior Master of the Queen’s Bench Division and on prior notice to the parties'."

The Claim relates to postings made by Tony Bennett about Mr Smethurst on the 'Complete Mystery of Madeleine McCann' (CMOMM) forum between 9 and 12 May. The case has been assigned to Master McCloud.

Mr Smethurst's concerns about one thread in particular were first brought to Mr Bennett's attention on 4 August. Carter-Ruck, who act for Mr Smethurst, in the second of two letters sent that day, demanded: "Should you now fail to remove the defamatory postings...we will advise our client to issue proceedings for libel against you without further notice to you". The allegedly defamatory postings were removed the following day, the day Mr Bennett began a 10-day holiday.

On his return from holiday yesterday, Mr Bennett discovered that Mr Smethurst had already issued libel proceedings, on Tuesday 9 August, in relation to two other threads on CMOMM which had not previously been brought to his attention by Mr Smethurst. These two threads about Mr Smethurst were removed from CMOMM as soon as Mr Smethursts' libel summons was brought to the attention of CMOMM's administrators.

Proposals to settle the dispute will shortly be put forward by Mr Bennett who has in the meantime agreed not to discuss the subject matter of his postings. We will publish further developments in the case as and when they happen.

Madeleine Foundation Committee, 16 August 2011

The Madeleine Foundation and 3 libel actions, 03 December 2011
The Madeleine Foundation and 3 libel actions The Madeleine Foundation

03 December 2011

Statement by Tony Bennett, Secretary, 7pm, 3 December 2011


Brian Kennedy's concerns that I had libelled him have now been settled on terms acceptable to both parties. No court order or undertaking is involved and I did not pay any of Mr Kennedy's costs.


In Thursday's post (1 December), I received a costs estimate (as per High Court procedures) of the likely costs incurred by Edward Smethurst if he pursues his libel claim against me, assuming I continue to defend his claim. I would be liable to pay all those costs if I lose (i.e. if the court holds that any one of my statements about him on Jill's forum libelled him).

In their letter, Carter-Ruck say that Smethurst's costs to date are £28,390 and that his future costs, assuming a three-day libel trial, will be £143,086.50, making the total £171,476.50.

This is based, as set out in a 10-page document, on much of the legal work being done by a Senior Partner at Carter-Ruck who charges £562.50 an hour for his time (inclusive of VAT).

Faced with such huge costs, I clearly must think carefully about my options in advance of a Case Management and Costs Management hearing in the High Court next Wednesday.


At 6.20pm the same day (Thursday), a process server employed by Carter-Ruck came up to Chippingfield in a 'Godfather'-style limousine, driven by another person, and handed me a large and heavy cardboard box, measuring 16" x 14" x 12" (40cm x 35cm x 30cm for those who do metric), containing 5 huge ring binders of statements on behalf of the McCanns, and accompanying evidence. These contained over 3,000 pages in total, mostly photocopies of my articles on the Madeleine Foundation website and several dozen postings on Jill Havern's site. The cardboard box was of exceptional quality, while these were no ordinary lever arch files. They were beautifully finished in the attractive Oxford blue livery of Carter-Ruck, complete with their logo and full contact details.

A package from Carter-Ruck

5 ring binders of statements on behalf of the McCanns, and accompanying evidence

A package from Carter-Ruck

There was also a summons to attend the Royal Courts of Justice to be committed to prison for contempt of court (alternative remedies being a suspended prison sentence, a fine, or seizure of assets, or any combination of these). The case has been listed for a hearing before a judge on Wednesday 8 February. The summons alleges a wholesale breach of one of the four undertakings I gave to the High Court on 25 November 2009, namely not to libel the McCanns.

I intend to defend the McCanns' application. Arguably, as I have already been advised by one local lawyer, the undertaking I gave in 2009 was too 'sweeping' and should either be modified or even withdrawn, given that it amounts virtually to an undertaking to say nothing about the case ever again. The lawyer also suggested it was given under oppressive circumstances, a matter I have already raised under Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights with the European Commission on Human Rights, which is currently looking into my claim that the way British laws allows wealthy libel litigants to get their way over defendants who cannot hope to match their financial and legal resources amounts to a breach of human rights. The government has promised to rectify this manifestly unjust situation as a result of a successful campaign by the Libel Reform Campaign.

Included amongst the papers is an 84-paragraph, 27-page affidavit sworn by Senior Partner at Carter-Ruck, Isabel Hudson. I can reproduce parts of that affidavit, but not those parts that include extracts of my disputed articles and postings. We'll therefore display a redacted version of it on our website.

In Paragraph 58 of her affidavit, Ms Hudson states that a letter sent by myself to Carter-Ruck on 8 June 2011 prompted the McCanns to say "enough is enough". The McCanns and Carter-Ruck then began what Ms Hudson says in Paragraph 65 was "a painstaking and time-consuming process" of analysing as many postings of mine as they could find on Jillhavern's forum, to see how many might be construed as libellous. They think that around 50-60 of my 3,700 posts on the forum might breach my undertaking, while the other 3,640-3,650 apparently do not. That explains why, as the forum-owner will confirm, Carter-Ruck have spent literally hundreds of hours on this forum in the past few months, searching for potentially libellous comments, in order to bolster their application to commit me to prison. The forum-owner's logs record the precise time and length of each visit by Carter-Ruck.

There is a reference to all of this in Dr Kate McCann's book: 'madeleine'. She wrote (pp. 289-290):

"Adam Tudor and his colleague Isabel Hudson continue to do a vast amount of work for us, without payment, most of it quietly, behind the scenes".

To have spent hundreds of hours on Jill Havern's forum for the past few months 'painstakingly and time-consumingly' searching, and searching, for possible libels, without any payment whatsoever, would indeed be regarded by many people as an act of very great generosity.

I cannot conclude this statement without giving an honourable mention to Mr Mike Gunnill of Kent, a past member of Jill Havern's forum, and, for all I know, a present one, under one of his many personas, aliases, and 'socks'. Mike Gunnill, it may be recalled, was the photojournalist who took the photograph of Debbie Butler (near whom he lives), used by the Sunday Express alongside their front-page headline: 'The McCanns' Stalker' on 16 August 2009. His website at the time was remarkable for including over 100 photos he took at the gruesome 'House of Horror', Haut de la Garenne children's home in Jersey, scene of decades of child abuse and possibly even child murders by depraved paedophiles. Some on this forum may recall how Gunnill e-mailed me in January 2010 under one of his many pseudonyms, 'Michael Sangerte', claiming he lived in 'Berkshire', asking to buy a copy of '60 Reasons' (other names used by Gunnill in previous correspondence with me (before I knew his real identity) were Jason Peters and Peter Tarwin).

I refused. He then wrote me a further begging letter stating that he really wanted an original copy of '60 Reasons' because of his 'historical research', adding that he was 'willing to pay a high price' for a copy. I then offered to obtain a copy belonging to a close relative and asked him to send £5 including postage, which he did. He asked me to send the book to Michael Sangerte - not in Berkshire, but at an address in Kent. Subsequent enquiries showed that this was Mike Gunnill's home near Maidstone, Kent. The very day after the book was sent to him, he bragged on a McCann-believer forum that he had obtained a copy of  '60 Reasons' and had already sent it to Carter-Ruck, who were apparently 'delighted' to receive it. He later openly stated on that same forum that he was being employed 'on a mission'.

This, however, is how this incident is reported in Isabel Hudson's affidavit, paragraph 37:

"We continued to monitor the situation, and in early February 2010 we received evidence (again from a well-wisher) which suggested that the Defendant had sold at least one further copy of the '60 Reasons' booklet (one of the publications specifically complained about in the libel claim form which had been issued for the purpose of obtaining undertakings to the court)...I exhibit a copy of the e-mail thread between this well-wisher and the defendant (which should be read from top to bottom) at page 26 of Exhibit IJH5".


To deal with these two separate court actions will require a great deal of time and attention. For that reason, and for other reasons, I have decided not to contribute any further postings to the publicly-viewable part this forum until at least these two sets of court proceedings are concluded. Depending on the outcome of those two court cases, I will then consider my position in relation to whether or not to rejoin in any public discussions in the future (or even whether the court will allow me to). In the meantime, and subject as always to the consent of the forum-owner, I shall continue to remain a member of the forum and to contribute where I can to those parts of the forum which are not publicly-viewable.

This withdrawal, whether temporary or permanent, comes at a time when Jill Havern's forum has remained the most visited Madeleine McCann discussion forum on the internet for the past four months, and its membership has grown to nearly 1,500 members. Very informative discussions are taking place on the forum, to which many contribute.

As Clarence Mitchell himself said nearly a year ago, even the McCanns admit that Madeleine's abduction is but 'an assumption' or a 'working hypothesis'. Moreover, despite over four years of searching, using private investigators that have cost the McCann Team millions of pounds, the McCann Team are still unable to give us one single usable piece of information about who is supposed to have abducted her, and, if she was abducted, where she was taken. Nor do we really know which of 18 suspects, 'persons of interest' and 'people we wish to eliminate from our enquiries' (two of whom are women) we are supposed to still be looking out for.

In those circumstances I wish all of you on here committed to discussing what happened to Madeleine every success in getting ever closer to the truth.


PDF Download:

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27-page affidavit sworn by Senior Partner at Carter-Ruck, Isabel Hudson (pdf)

click here to download file

Latest on the 3 libel actions - alleged contempt of court x1, and alleged libels x2, 07 December 2011
Latest on the 3 libel actions - alleged contempt of court x1, and alleged libels x2 Jill Havern Forum

Tony Bennett
07 December 2011 at 6:59 am

Libel cases update:


Update - Summary: Edward Smethurst's claim against me has been settled on the following agreed terms:

a) I will pay the sum of £2,500 agreed damages to Mr Smethurst, without any formal admission of liability. Mr Smethurst has said via Carter-Ruck that he will pay this sum into the Find Madeleine Fund

b) I will in addition pay Mr Smethurst's reasonable legal costs to date, to be assessed by the court if not agreed between me and him (see below)

c) Carter-Ruck will draw up an undertaking for me to sign which will cover the contents of anything that I may or may not publish about him in the future; the terms of that undertaking to be agreed between us.

The hearing yesterday (7 December):

Carter-Ruck had four people representing them at yesterday's hearing, which was in Room E117, the chambers of Master Victoria McCloud. They were:

(i) Jacob Dean, barrister
(ii) Isabel Hudson, Senior Partner of Carter-Ruck
(iii) Two female assistants.

Mr Smethurst's claim, issued by the court on 9 August 2011, was originally for £100,000 damages.

This was primarily a costs management hearing in which Carter-Ruck were asking the Master to approve their 'costs budget'. This set out, in a series of complex tables, how they had calculated their costs to date (£28,390) and their likely future costs (£143,086.50), which totalled £171, 476.50.

Discussion about Carter-Ruck's costs bill took up most of the 1¾ hour hearing. The Master queried the very high amount of costs in Carter-Ruck's budget. The end result was that Carter-Ruck's costs budget schedule, most unusually, was rejected by the Master, who ordered Carter-Ruck at their own expense to submit another one. Carter-Ruck were given leave to appeal if they wished.

The hearing opened with Jacob Dean, for Mr Smethurst, being able to make a half-hour opening summary of the case. In this address, he set out that the following legal issues to be settled in the case:

a) whether any or all of the comments I made about Mr Smethurst were justified (strictly true)

b) whether, if not justified, they were 'fair comment'

c) what was the actual meaning of some of the words I used

d) whether I had acted promptly to remove any offending words.

He also claimed that Mr Smethurst had no control on Facebook over who became his friends on his Facebook page. That meant that I would have to have proved to the court that certain named friends of his were there as a matter of his conscious decision. Jacob Dean claimed that anyone could become Mr Smethurst's 'Facebook Friend'.

At the hearing the barrister produced and served on me a new application, running to several hundred more pages, with exhibits, for 'Summary Disposal' of the case. The application contended that I had no arguable case and that the case should be disposed of at a 1-day hearing without the matter ever going to trial. If the case had proceeded, there would have been a 1-day summary trial before a judge. If at that hearing the judge thought that I had an arguable case, the matter would have been set down for a 3-day trial at which all the legal arguments mentioned above would have been considered.

The Master was especially interested in the following aspects of the matter:

a) whether or not I had promptly removed any offending material

b) whether or not Mr Smethurst had followed the Pre-Action Protocol on Defamation, which requires libel claimants to give potential defendants an opportunity to remove any allegedly libellous publications. The Protocol sets out quite clearly that court action should be 'a last resort'

c) whether or not Mr Smethurst should have issued proceedings on 9 August when I had met all the demands of Carter-Ruck’s initial two letters of 4 August

d) whether Mr Smethurst's claim for £100,000 damages was 'proportional': i.e. whether such a large claim was reasonable in respect of comments made on a small internet forum and which were removed on request

e) whether the steps taken in the proceedings to date by Carter-Ruck were proportionate, having regard in particular to my prompt removal of any offending material.

At the conclusion of the case, the Master said that she was "fully seized of all the issues relating to the need for claimants to follow the pre-Action Protocol and as to proportionality".

In terms, this may well mean that a large part of Mr Smethurst's costs claim may be disallowed by the court.

Once a libel claim has been issued, and bearing in mind the gross inequality of resources in this case, tough choices have to be made. My choice was to settle on the most favourable terms that I could agree.

With thanks to Nigel at McCann Files


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