If you have been following this blog the last couple of weeks you’ll have seen that Brit Writers Limited contacted me via their solicitors, threatening legal action for comments (unspecified) which they deemed to be potentially defamatory.
I was one of three writers to be threatened in this way.
They requested that I removed all references to and mentions of Brit Writers from my blog.
I politely declined, having taken legal advice, on the grounds that I do not believe I have made any defamatory statements.
After several days with no news, today the Brit Writers have issued a public statement, the first paragraphs of which follow (my bolds):
“Brit Writers has decided to withdraw its legal action against Writers’ Workshop, Claire King and Jane Smith. We felt compelled into this course of action because of the accusation that the Prime Minister’s letter of support to Brit Writers was fraudulent. Subsequently, this accusation has now been withdrawn for which we are grateful. We would further request that the accusation that Brit Writers is a ‘scam’ organisation also should be withdrawn.
In keeping with the spirit of generosity and good will Brit Writers are more than happy to answer any questions from anyone; however we refuse to indulge in internet mudslinging particularly since we are sensitive to the interests of our partners and writers.”
Since nowhere on my site or elsewhere have I claimed that they forged a letter from the Prime Minister, nor have I called them a scam organisation, I was still no clearer as to why I was threatened with legal action. I contacted Zareen at BWA, asking for some clarification. Also, welcoming their comment that they are willing to answer questions, I asked again for responses to my initial questions.
Zareen responded to me with this:
The matter that was being investigated was in respect of you falsely accusing and promoting Brit Writers as being a scam – i.e. Brit Writers is filed under the ‘scam’ heading of your website: http://www.claire-king.com/
What Zareen was referring to (I do not have a scams section on my website) is that a post was tagged with the tag ‘Scams’.
Why do we tag our blog posts? So that people searching for the content of the post, even if it isn’t explicitly mentioned in the post, can find the post. So, for example, in this instance, anyone searching for “Is Brit Writers a scam?” Would have found my post. And they would have seen in the comments, several comments from myself and others saying that we do not believe it to be a scam.
Whatever. On Zareen’s request, and so as to avoid any confusion, I have removed the tag ‘Scams’ from that post. However I am disappointed that I have not had any kind of apology for the accusations and legal threats levelled against me and the attempts to push me, through fear of litigation, into removing perfectly legitimate blog posts.
Zareen went on to say “We feel your questions have been answered in the statement and within the further response which has been sent to Harry this afternoon.”
I disagree. I found the statement mostly rhetorical and vague, and what I and others were after were some specific answers that showed transparency, competency and credentials.
I replied, inviting Zareen and BWA therefore to either respond to my questions, or decline to respond. I am writing this in the assumption that they will decline to respond. But if they do respond with more specifics I will post them here, of course.
In the meantime, I think Harry Bingham has had the most in depth response to these and other questions, so I shall hand you over to his blog for his summary of what we’ve got.
Finally, I should add that Zareen said:
“Brit Writers and the people who work in this organisation would like to extend an invitation to you and any other interested parties to come and participate in dialogue that involves advice and support for one another so that we may mutually benefit from each other’s experience and thereby add value to the writing community at large. We hope that you will accept the hand of cooperation offered as a fellow colleague and reciprocate in kind.”
I’m going to have to decline that invitation. Just because a dog that has bared its teeth at you is now wagging its tail doesn’t mean you should give it a bone.
And now I’m going to get on with what my blog is actually supposed to be about – writing.