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A great deal of time has been spent this week answering enquiries from
concerned friends and readers, the subject of course being my refusal to bow down
to requests to censor the news relating to Councillor Fothergill’s lost libel case.
My state of mind about her wish to brand me a criminal for merely reporting facts has been very much up and down for several weeks and as a result the aforementioned friends have been given differing responses dependent on the day of the week it was sent out.
However things have stabilised over the past few days and I am quite looking forward to demolishing the prosecution case. My solicitor appears to relish the idea of trashing Councillor Fothergill’s reputation and has taken on board all sorts of historical information. As I think I said before, that was not my original intention, mine was just to bang some recognition into her head that news can prove uncomfortable but as my daughter (a degree qualified journalist at a major news organisation for many years) said a couple of weeks ago, “that is the nature of news”. Maybe Harvey Weinstein should consider moving house to somewhere near Swanley.
I note that I am not charged with publishing falsehoods, only of harassment by mentioning the subject more than once, but no one reads a blog for more than a couple of minutes, so it had to be broken up into manageable segments with supporting documents where necessary.
A major problem at the personal level is that I wake up around 3 a.m. every morning with my head running a rehearsal of the Court appearance, it usually goes something like this
Where is your evidence of harassment Councillor Fothergill?
You blogged through the early part of 2016 that I was guilty of “conferring an advantage or disadvantage on any person or act to gain financial or other material benefits for herself”.
But isn’t that what Bexley Council says on its website to this very day plus their opinion that you brought Bexley Council into disrepute? Are they harassing you?
What did my blog say about the same case?
I’m not sure.
I will tell you. Bexley-is-Bonkers ended months of painstaking investigation with a blog entitled ‘Maxine Fothergill is innocent, Ok?’ Is that harassment?
Do you not remember that reaching that conclusion took 13 Freedom of Information Requests culminating in a meeting with you in a hotel bar where we reached agreement over glasses of wine and beer? The agreement was over how best to present the earlier reports covering the period when Bexley Council was concealing information and according to you being economical with the truth. You must remember that?
The agreement was that every one of those blogs carried a prefix explaining that you were the innocent party. You did not complain about the proclamation that the charges brought against you by Bexley Council were unjust until you decided that the presentation of your libel case was not going the way you were demanding? Is that right?
No I didn’t make any complaint.
So was the agreed statement and the final conclusion that you were innocent harassment?
Moving on to more recent events. Did you not telephone me on 13th November 2017 to ask that the reference to the High Court listing be removed from my blog even though it only repeated what was freely available on the High Court’s website? And you followed up with an email making similar demands and protesting that the conclusions reached in the High Court were mistaken. You specifically repeated in that email that Hayley Warnes was guilty of a fraud immediately after she had been awarded £40,000 because of an identical claim made earlier.
Was your email to me ill-judged? You must know that I did not publish any documents relating to your libel case until 16th November.
And I emailed you on 19th November to say that the story was exhausted and there would be no more.
Yes but that was not good enough.
In what way was it not good enough?
You were still refusing to remove all your news items completely.
That is true and is confirmed by your email but having published the bare facts retrospective censorship is unacceptable to any news outlet. I suggested to you it was “time to draw a line”. I specifically said I would not be publishing any more about you just three days after starting. Is this true?
You by contrast wanted me to continue by publishing more documents that you believed to be proof that you were the innocent party and Hayley Warnes had indeed defrauded you. Do you agree?
Do you want to see your email again?
Did I immediately break my word by returning to the subject?
No, not straight away.
You then asked your solicitor to fire a warning shot across my bows?
And what did he ask me to do?
I don’t know.
I will tell you. He didn’t ask me to do anything apart from not referring to another website which was carrying the same story.
You told the police that I went on to use derogatory words, that is deliberately offensive language, to describe you. I said it was “silly” to libel an employee, a libel which ultimately cost you a great deal of money. I also said it was “nasty” to subject that employee to arrest and eleven months of misery when there was no evidence that she had done anything wrong. Please show me where my words were any stronger than that?
You also told the police that I had issued threats to reveal personal information about you? Please show me when and where I said that and why you thought anything I said might be threatening.
Hang on a minute.
OK but I will help you. On 13th December 2017 I publicly said that “there would be no more Maxine Fothergill info.” and anything else I might know “would never see the light of day”. Is that a threat?
I doubt that anyone will agree with you Councillor.
Can you find anything else?
And that is the scenario that plays out in my head most nights. I really have no idea why Councillor Fothergill wants to put herself through such an ordeal without evidence to support the police charge. Probably the solicitor will take a far harsher line than what I dream up in the middle of the night.
The renowned lawyer Mark Lewis who knows the case well has Tweeted that Councillor Fothergill should be charged with wasting police time. The time for her to see sense is fast running out. Maybe she could even yet persuade me why I might listen to her again, after all we were almost friends until a couple of months ago.