Monday, October 13, 2008

Dear Mark Brewer

I'm copying below the contents of a letter sent on behalf of a group of bloggers (of which I am part), who are concerned at the treatment of David Walker. It's an issue that raises many questions about free speech, fair comment, and the censorship of blogs, bloggers everywhere ought to be concerned. Here's a quote from the group's facebook page outling things briefly.

On 22nd July cartoonist Dave Walker was issued with a 'cease and desist' notice from SSG, giving him just a few hours to remove all posts about SPCK/SSG from his Cartoon Church blog, or face libel action. Dave complied with the request, though the posts contained nothing libellous.

2 other bloggers were issued with 'Cease and Desist' notices: one on the same day as Dave (Phil Grooms SSG/SPCK blog), another the day after for republishing some of Dave's posts (Sam Norton). Both have disputed the claims in the letters, and have not taken down any blog posts.

So far, the threatened response from SSG has not materialised. In the meantime, the attempt to censor blogging has resulted in even more scrutiny upon SSG, and Mark and Phil Brewer, who run it.


You can read more at The Wardman Wire

Dear Mr. Brewer

We are writing on behalf of 498 supporters of cartoonist and blogger Dave Walker, a group which includes bishops, national journalists in the UK and US, lawyers, clergy, and concerned members of the public.

We would like to ask you please to contact Dave Walker and withdraw the demands made in the 'Cease and Desist' letter which you sent him in July. Your letter, as far as we know, instructed Dave to remove all his posts about the recent history of SPCK bookshops or face action for libel. With the pressures of the impending Lambeth conference, and a very short deadline given by yourself, Dave complied. He commented at the time: “I have therefore removed all of the SPCK/SSG posts on this blog, as, although I believe I have not done anything wrong I do not have the money to face a legal battle. The removal of these posts is in no way an admission of guilt.”

Many of us have read the posts concerned, and are surprised, to say the least, that they could be called libelous. Indeed, the first three posts make no mention at all of yourself, the Society of St. Stephen the Great, or anyone associated with you. The 4th post reports your takeover of the bookshops with the comment “this is splendid news.” Another post is a simple link to your SSG video on YouTube. Other items include verbatim reports of your own statements, and in the simple post on the death of Steve Jeynes, dozens of people used the comments to expressed their grief and condolences to Steve’s family.

Dave is a reasonable man, and if all critics were as fair as he is the world would be a better place. If you were able to reconsider, and point out specific statements and claims you were unhappy with, we are sure Dave would be happy to correct them where appropriate. This is the normal process of debate on the internet, and in real life, and follows the strong tradition of free speech for which our countries stand and are rightly proud.

So this is a polite request from all of us: please contact Dave Walker, advise him that your ‘cease and desist’ communication no longer stands, and let him report freely.

Yours sincerely

8 signatories representing the ‘We Support Dave Walker’ group

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