Dave Walker: from the sublime to the ridiculous

My friend, the infamous cartoonist Dave Walker, seems to have been up to something on the stage next to his tent. I have one more post on that subject, which may emerge tomorrow. I’m just checking my facts to ensure that he does not sue me. Ordinarily, I might think this is a paranoid fear, but Mark Brewer’s antics make any other thoughts about lawsuits seem rational.

Dave has now removed the content, but earlier today he had indicated receipt of a “cease and desist” order from Mark Brewer, the owner of the former SPCK bookshops here. Matt Wardman summarizes thus:

Dave Walker, the official Lambeth Conference Cartoonist in Residence, has taken 75 posts down on his blog after being threatened with Libel Action by the new owner of SPCK – the oldest chain of Anglican Bookshops. He has been reporting the story of alleged mismanagement for two years.

Already there are a lot Industrial Tribunals from ex-employees, among other things.

You can check the Google cache and read lots of news accounts to get the skinny. Basically, I gather that SPCK sold off their bookshops to someone who’s engaged in business practices that have irritated lots of people — and have caused people to lose their jobs. Dave Walker had been following the story. Mr. Brewer does not seem to enjoy the light of truth shining on his business enterprises.

I don’t know what Dave Walker will do, but I hope he is able to pursue a vigorous legal defense. One should be able to post the truth with impunity, even if that truth reveals someone’s bad behavior. At the same time, I understand Dave’s desire to comply with a legal order. He’s a cartoonist, not a wealthy business owner, so he wouldn’t have resources to fight this. Thinking Anglicans has covered this, and Matt Wardman has all the details and links, so go read his post too.

For posterity’s sake, I am here reposting the notice that Dave had up earlier today. It’s gone too, which suggests that Mr. Brewer couldn’t stand for people to know his bizarre legal strategy. When people are this eager to conceal their actions, it’s never a good thing they’re hiding.

Without further ago, this is what Dave posted.

This morning I was sent a ‘cease and desist’ demand from Mark Brewer relating to the posts I have made about the former SPCK bookshops. The demand says ‘Confidential – not to be redistributed or posted’, so I am not posting the text.

The demand says that if I do not remove all SSG-related material by noon today, July 22, 2008, an injunction will be sought against me and legal action taken for damages for libel.

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.

To say I am not happy about the decision I have been forced to take here is an understatement. I feel as if I have let many people down who have relied on this site over the last year or more.

I am not allowing comments on this post, though I can be contacted as usual. I cannot of course stop you writing about this elsewhere.

I’ll follow this and keep updates here. I’ve been having some fun with Dave here at the Lambeth Conference, but this saga with Mr. Brewer is no laughing matter.

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