www.mccannfiles.com

Home
Latest News
Madeleine McCann
Madeleine McCann (2)
Madeleine McCann - Age Progression
Madeleine or Maddie?
Maddie Christmas Appeal Video 2007
Maddie Christmas Appeal Video 2008
Kate McCann
Kate's Interviews
Kate's Diary
Gerry McCann
03 May 2007
Apartment 5A
The 'Abductor' & The 'Eggman'
The Smiths' Sighting
Jeremy Wilkins
Maps/Aerial Shots
04 May 2007
The First Reactions
The First Searches, 03/04 May 2007
05 May 2007 - Media Reports/Videos
06 May 2007 - Media Reports/Videos
Lori Campbell/Ross Hall Articles to Sept 2007
Lagos Marina - The 'Sighting' & The 'Vision'
Nannies/Childcare & Najoua Chekaya
Charlotte Pennington
Pat Perkins / The e-mail Campaigns
Philomena McCann
The McCanns' PDL Media Statements
Control Risks Group
Gerry's 1st Trip Home / The 'Last Photograph'
The McCanns' First Interviews 25 May 2007
McCanns' European Campaign - Rome
McCanns' European Campaign - Madrid
McCanns' European Campaign - Berlin
McCanns' European Campaign - Amsterdam
McCanns' European Campaign - Morocco
'De Telegraaf' Letter
Gerry's 2nd Trip Home
Gerry's 3rd Trip Home / Kate's 1st Trip Home
Gerry's USA Trip
The Huelva Trip
The Tongeren 'Sighting'
Telecinco Interview / Gerry in Edinburgh
The Antena 3 Interview
The McCanns' TV Appeals/Interviews
The Rothley Meeting, 17 November 2007
BBC Panorama: 'The Mystery of Madeleine McCann'
Channel 4 Dispatches: 'Searching for Madeleine'
Bridget O'Donnell / David James Smith
The McCanns' Movie
Vanity Fair Interview
Gail Cooper's 'Creepy Man' - Media Reports
Gail Cooper's 'Creepy Man' - PJ Files
LSE Event 30/01/2008
António Castela Sighting
Express Group Apology
The Brussels Trip
El Mundo Article
The Sun One Year Anniversary Review
ITV1 'Madeleine, One Year On' documentary
One Year: Interviews (01 May 2008)
One Year: Interviews (02 May 2008)
One Year: Anniversary Articles (Media)
One Year: Anniversary (Family/Friends)
One Year: Anniversary (Church Services)
The Strasbourg Trip
Case To Be Archived?
Madeleine: Ward of Court, LP Information
21 July 2008 - Arguido Status Lifted
The PJ's Final Report & The Archiving Dispatch
Sky News Crime Scene Picture Galleries
Case Files Released: UK Reports (1)
Case Files Released: UK Reports (2)
Case Files Released: UK Reports (3)
Case Files Released: Portuguese Reports (1)
Case Files Released: Portuguese Reports (2)
Case Files Released: The Sightings (1)
Case Files Released: The Sightings (2)
Case Files Released: Press Comments
Correio da Manhã Exclusive Reports (July)
Correio da Manhã Reports (August)
Eddie and Keela
The Eddie and Keela Searches/Videos
The Eddie and Keela Extended Videos
PJ Files: Table of Contents (Part 1)
PJ Files: Table of Contents (Part 2)
PJ Files: The McCanns' Statements
PJ Files: The Tapas Group's Statements
PJ Files: Pamela Fenn Statement
PJ Files: Graham MacKenzie Statement
PJ Files: The Paraiso CCTV Pictures
PJ Files: Timeline for 03/04 May 2007
PJ Files: GNR Officer Statements
PJ Files: Apt 5A Photographs
PJ Files: Mark Harrison Reports
PJ Files: The FSS/Lowe Report
PJ Files: The Cancelled Reconstruction
PJ Files: Portuguese Police Reports
PJ Files: Creche Records/Catriona Baker
PJ Files: Creche / Diagram of Events
The PJ's Final Report - Summary (Part 2)
Carta Rogatoria - 04, Statements 1
Carta Rogatoria - 05, Statements 2
Gonçalo Amaral
Gonçalo Amaral (2)
'A Verdade Da Mentira', 'The Truth Of The Lie' (1) - Book Summary
'A Verdade Da Mentira', 'The Truth Of The Lie' (2) - Book Launch
'A Verdade Da Mentira', 'The Truth Of The Lie' (3) - Word Spreads
'A Verdade Da Mentira', TVI Documentary
'A Verdade Da Mentira' - Videos and Transcript
'A Verdade Da Mentira' - English Version
L'Enquête Interdite - 'The Forbidden Investigation' (1)
L'Enquête Interdite - 'The Forbidden Investigation' (2)
L'Enquête Interdite - 'The Forbidden Investigation' (3)
Gonçalo Amaral - The Interviews (July '08)
Gonçalo Amaral - The Interviews (Aug/Sep '08)
Gonçalo Amaral - The Interviews (Oct '08-2010)
Gonçalo Amaral - The Interviews (2011-2012)
The Expresso Interview
The Joana Case
The Joana Case (2)
The Joana Case (3)
The Joana Case (4)
The Joana Case Verdict
Gerry returns to Portugal, 13 Jan 2009
Gerry: Culture, Media and Sport Committee
New Appeal Campaign March/April 2009
Gerry Returns To PDL - Channel 4 Doc (1)
Gerry Returns To PDL - Channel 4 Doc (2)
The Oprah Show / New Maddie Image
The Oprah Show / New Maddie Image (2)
Two Year: Anniversary Articles
C4 Cutting Edge: 'Madeleine Was Here'
'Madeleine Was Here' - The Documentary
'Madeleine Was Here' - 'Scarface' / 3 Witnesses
McCanns: SIC / This Morning Interviews
McCanns Try To 'Gag' Gonçalo Amaral
Gonçalo Amaral - The Civil Court Injunction
McCanns Try To 'Gag' Gonçalo Amaral (2)
'A Mordaça Inglesa' - The English Gag
Tears, Lies and Videotape
McCanns/Polygraph/Lie Detection Information
Case Study: Maddie Crying
Raymond Hewlett - The "New" Suspect
Raymond Hewlett - A "Person Of Interest"
Raymond Hewlett - A Person Of No Interest
Raymond Hewlett - The Story Continues
The 'Victoria Beckham' Lookalike Suspect
The 'Victoria Beckham' Lookalike Suspect - 2
The 'Victoria Beckham' Lookalike Suspect - 3
McCanns Return To Portugal, 23/09/2009
Gerry McCann: IBA Conference, Madrid
'A Minute For Madeleine' Campaign
'A Minute For Madeleine' Interviews
Kevin Halligen & The Fund - 2008/2009
Kevin Halligen & The Fund - 2010-2012
Kevin Halligen & The Fund - 2013
Gonçalo Amaral's Court Hearing (adjourned)
McCanns Return To Praia da Luz
Gonçalo Amaral's Court Hearing (Day One)
Gonçalo Amaral's Court Hearing (Day Two)
Gonçalo Amaral's Court Hearing (Day Three)
Court Appeal Hearing - Live Text
The 1,000 Day Anniversary Events
Gonçalo Amaral's Court Hearing (Final Day)
Gonçalo Amaral's Court Hearing (Final Day) 2
Temporary Injunction - Decision and Reaction
Temporary Injunction - Civil Court Decision
Temporary Injunction - Press Conference
Dossier Of Sightings Released To UK Press
Dossier Of Sightings Released To UK Press 2
Dossier Of Sightings Released To UK Press 3
McCanns Return To Portugal / Fun Run / Aled Jones Interview
Three Years: GMTV & Age-Progression Image
Three Years: McCann Media Interviews
Three Years: Appeal Video & Services
Peace Service, Maddie's 7th Birthday, Gerry's Cycle Event
Charles O'Neill and William Lauchlan - 1
Charles O'Neill and William Lauchlan - 2
Appeals Court Lifts Ban On Amaral's Book
McCanns' Appeal For Donations & Case Review (Media Reports)
McCanns' Appeal For Donations & Case Review (Videos)
McCanns Appeal To The Supreme Court
McCanns Announce Book Deal
WikiLeaks Release
Kate McCann and Claudia Lawrence
Alpha Investigations Group
McCanns: 'Miles for Missing People' 2011
Kate's Book & JK Rowling Denial
Four Year Anniversary
Serialisation Of 'Madeleine' Begins
'Madeleine' Media Opinions
'Madeleine' Media Opinions (2)
Media Interviews - 12 May 2011
Met. Police Review Announced
Met. Police Review / Kate Commons Inquiry
News of the World Hacking Scandal
The Leh 'Sighting' - India
McCanns Appear At The Leveson Inquiry
McCanns' Evidence To The Leveson Inquiry
Leveson Inquiry: Crone, Myler and Sanderson
Met. Police Review / Spanish Connection
Leveson Inquiry: Pilditch, Flanagan and Fagge
Leveson Inquiry: The Newspaper Editors
Leveson Inquiry: PCC / Sir Christopher Meyer
Leveson Inquiry: Dacre, Edmondson and Clifford
Leveson Inquiry: Misc Witnesses
Gonçalo Amaral v. Marcos Aragão Correia & António Pedro Dores
Met. Police Review / Portuguese Connection
Five Year Anniversary 'Sightings'
Madeleine: The Last Hope? - Panorama
Maddie's Body Found? Stephen Birch - 1
Maddie's Body Found? Stephen Birch - 2
Maddie's Body Found? Stephen Birch - 3
Bianca Jones / Trial of D'Andre Lane
April Jones
The Leveson Report - Publication
The Leveson Report - Further Debate
The Royal Charter - Draft Publication
Madeleine Sightings / Searches / Leads - 2013
Met. Police Review - Jan to May 2013
Kate McCann: London Marathon 2013
Six Year Anniversary - Media Interviews
Six Year Anniversary - Media Reports (1)
Six Year Anniversary - Media Reports (2)
Met. Police Review - June/July 2013
Urs Hans Von Aesch
Met. Police Review - 2013 (continued)
Gerry McCann: London Triathlon 2013
McCanns v. Gonçalo Amaral: Libel Trial
McCanns v. Gonçalo Amaral: Libel Trial - Day One
McCanns v. Gonçalo Amaral: Libel Trial - Day Two
McCanns v. Gonçalo Amaral: Libel Trial - Days Three/Four
McCanns v. Gonçalo Amaral: Libel Trial - Day Five
McCanns v. Gonçalo Amaral: Libel Trial - Day Six
McCanns v. Gonçalo Amaral: Libel Trial - Days Seven to Ten
McCanns v. Gonçalo Amaral: Libel Trial - Closing Arguments
McCanns v. Gonçalo Amaral: Libel Trial - Court Reports
SY Mobile Phone Traffic Announcement
Scotland Yard New E-fit Announcement
Scotland Yard Release E-fit Image
Crimewatch Appeal - UK, Germany, The Netherlands
Crimewatch - The Reaction
Public Ministry Reopens Investigation
Euclides Monteiro - The Dead Suspect
Kate McCann: Missing People Charity Events
Michael Schneider: Searching For Madeleine
CMTV Reconstruction / Studio Debate
'Joint Investigation Team' and Crimewatch Update
Scotland Yard Investigation - Jan 2014
Scotland Yard Investigation - Feb 2014
Scotland Yard Investigation - Mar 2014
Scotland Yard Investigation - Apr 2014
Seven Year Anniversary - Media Reports/Interviews
Scotland Yard Investigation - May 2014
Miles For Missing People / The Big Tweet
Police Searches Announced - Praia da Luz
Police Searches - Praia da Luz - Day One
Police Searches - Praia da Luz - Day Two
Police Searches - Praia da Luz - Day Three
The McCanns and the Conman - Channel 5
Police Searches - Praia da Luz - Days 4/5
Police Searches - Praia da Luz - Days 6/7
Police Searches - Praia da Luz - Day 8
SY Return to Portugal for Interviews
LCN DNA Review
Robert Murat
Robert Murat (2)
Robert Murat (3)
Murat Libel Settlements
The Tapas Seven
David Payne
Rogatory Interviews - Russell O'Brien
Rogatory Interviews - Matthew Oldfield
Rogatory Interviews - Rachael Oldfield
Rogatory Interviews - David Payne
Rogatory Interviews - Fiona Payne
Rogatory Interviews - Jane Tanner
Rogatory Interviews - Dianne Webster
'Tapas Seven' Libel Payout, 16 Oct 2008
Investigating Team
Portuguese Penal Code
Método 3
Libel Lawyers, PR and Security Companies
Freedom Of Information
Brian Kennedy
Clarence Mitchell
Clarence Mitchell - Dubai Presentation
Madeleine 'Sightings'
Alex Woolfall/John Hill
Danie Krügel
Colin Sahlke and Stephen Taylor
Dr Joe Sullivan
Church at Praia da Luz
Ray Wyre
Esther McVey
Cuddle Cat
The Official Site
Madeleine's Fund
Madeleine's Fund Accounts to 31/03/2008
Madeleine's Fund Accounts to 31/03/2009
Madeleine's Fund Accounts to 31/03/2010
Madeleine's Fund Accounts to 31/03/2011
Madeleine's Fund - Review & Investigation of Accounts
Madeleine's Fund Accounts to 31/03/2012
Madeleine's Fund - Analysis of Accounts to 31/03/2012
Madeleine's Fund Accounts to 31/03/2013
Madeleine's Fund - Analysis of Accounts to 31/03/2013
Pat Brown, Criminal Profiler
Pat Brown - The Portugal Trip
Dr Martin Roberts - 2009
Dr Martin Roberts - 2010
Dr Martin Roberts - 2011
Dr Martin Roberts - 2012
Dr Martin Roberts - 2013
Dr Martin Roberts - 2014
Paulo Sargento
The Blacksmith Bureau - 2010
The Blacksmith Bureau - 2011
The Blacksmith Bureau - 2012 (Jan-Jun)
The Blacksmith Bureau - 2012 (Jul-Dec)
The Blacksmith Bureau - 2013
The Blacksmith Bureau - 2014
The Interrupted Investigation
The Cracked Mirror
A Sauce Said...
Various Transcripts
CNN Transcripts
Articles by Duarte Levy
Reports Pre-Arguido (May 2007)
Reports Pre-Arguido (Jun-Sep 2007)
Reports Post-Arguido (September 2007)
Reports Post-Arguido (Oct-Dec 2007)
Reports Post-Arguido (Jan-Dec 2008)
Sol Reports
People magazine
HELLO! magazine
The Madeleine Foundation - 2009
The Madeleine Foundation - 2010
The Madeleine Foundation - 'Gonçalo Amaral Day'
The Madeleine Foundation - 'Inside Out' Programme
The Madeleine Foundation - 163 Questions and 50 Facts
The Madeleine Foundation - 2011
McCanns v. Bennett - Contempt of Court (1)
McCanns v. Bennett - Contempt of Court (2)
McCanns v. Bennett - Court Report
McCanns v Bennett - Judgment & Sentencing
McCanns v Bennett - Judgment & Sentencing Remarks of Judge
Misc. Media Comments (03 May - 31 Aug 2007)
Misc. Media Comments (01 Sep - 31 Dec 2007)
Misc. Media Comments (01 Jan - 30 Jun 2008)
Misc. Media Comments (01 Jul - 31 Aug 2008)
Misc. Media Comments (01 Sep 2008 - Date)
Madeleine Related 'Art'
CBS 48 Hours: 'Where's Maddie?'
RTE: Mystery Still Surrounds McCann Case
RTP: 'Anatomy of a Mystery'
Sky: 'The Mystery of Madeleine McCann'
MSNBC: 'Missing Madeleine'
Al Jazeera: 'The McCanns v. The Media'
Madeleine McCann: Haunting Evidence
Las Mañanas de Cuatro - Spanish TV Discussion & McCanns Interview
2007: May (1-28)
June (29-58)
July (59-89)
August (90-120)
September (121-150)
October (151-181)
November (182-211)
December (212-242)
2008: January (243-273)
February (274-302)
March (303-333)
April (334 - 363)
May (364-394)
June (395-424)
July (425-455)
August (456-486)
September (487-516)
October (517-547)
November (548-577)
December (578-608)
2009: January (609-639)
February (640-667)
March (668-698)
April (699-728)
May (729-759)
June (760-789)
July (790-820)
August (821-851)
September (852-881)
October (882-912)
November (913-942)
December (943-973)
2010: Jan/Feb (974-1032)
Mar/Apr (1033-1093)
May/Jun (1094-1154)
Jul/Aug (1155-1216)
Sep/Oct (1217-1277)
Nov/Dec (1278-1338)
2011 - Jan/Feb (1339-1397)
Mar/Apr (1398-1458)
May/Jun (1459-1519)
Jul/Aug (1520-1581)
Sep/Dec (1582-1673)
2012 - Jan/Feb (1674-1733)
Mar/Apr (1734-1794)
Gerry's Blogs (Days 1-58) May/Jun 2007
Gerry's Blogs (Days 59-120) Jul/Aug 2007
Gerry's Blogs (Days 121-181) Sep/Oct 2007
Gerry's Blogs (Days 182-242) Nov/Dec 2007
Gerry's Blogs 2008-2009
Official McCann Updates, Mar-Dec 2009
Official McCann Updates, Jan-Dec 2010
Official McCann Facebook 2010-2011
Official McCann Updates, 2011-2014
Contact/Links

McCanns v. Bennett - Contempt of Court (1)

Tony Bennett

The McCanns instruct Carter-Ruck to instigate contempt of Court proceedings against Tony Bennett.

They allege that Mr Bennett has breached an undertaking given to the High Court, on 25 November 2009, not to repeat "allegations that the Claimants are guilty of, or are to be suspected of, causing the death of their daughter Madeline McCann; and/or of disposing of her body and/or of lying about what happened and/or of seeking to cover up what they had done."

This page covers events from 2011 to 2012, for 2013 click here  

 
Letter from Carter-Ruck, 12 August 2011

Letter from Carter-Ruck, page 1, 12 August 2011

Letter from Carter-Ruck, page 2, 12 August 2011

Letter from Carter-Ruck, page 3, 12 August 2011

Letter from Carter-Ruck, page 4, 12 August 2011

Letter from Carter-Ruck, page 5, 12 August 2011

 
Tony Bennett's reply to Carter-Ruck, 17/18 August 2011
 
Tony Bennett's 1st letter to Carter-Ruck The Madeleine Foundation

sent at 5pm on 17 August 2011

Dear Ms Hudson,

At 3.35pm this afternoon I took delivery of a package from yourself containing a 5-page letter explaining why your clients consider I have breached the undertaking given to them on 25 November 2009, plus two ring-binders containing a schedule of 54 articles, postings, threads or parts of threads which your clients require to be removed or amended.

The Post Office attempted to deliver the package whilst I was away on holiday. The package was not marked 'Special Delivery' nor 'Recorded Delivery', nor 'Urgent', nor 'First Class', despite being marked 'Most Urgent' on page 1 of your letter.

I have had barely one hour to consider the contents of your letter and enclosures but will say this at this stage:

1. In view of your clients requests, I will embark straightaway, without any admission of liability or concession as to being in contempt of court as you allege, on removing or amending the articles or threads to which your client objects. They will be accompanied by the following message, or similar:

Following receipt of a package by Tony Bennett from Carter-Ruck at 3.35pm on 17 August 2011, this article/post has been removed/amended pending the outcome of further correspondence with Carter-Ruck.

2. On a cursory examination of your client's demands, there is some material that might possibly be argued to come closer to being treated as contempt of court than others. I cannot be expected to comply with every single request they make, and here the Englishman's right of free speech and the Articles in the European Court of Human Rights guaranteeing freedom of speech and expression would have to be weighted very carefully by any Judge trying to decide whether I have been in contempt of the undertaking. I will need some time to consider your clients' demands one by one and in some cases I may not be able to agree to remove the articles.

3. Furthermore, I undertake no later than 1pm tomorrow to send you a more considered and fuller response to your letter, by e-mail. I will add that I shall be away from home from 1pm tomorrow until Sunday and out of e-mail contact during that period. Because of the occasional unreliability of e-mail communications I must ask that any substantive letters from you be sent by hard copy please.

Sincerely,

Tony Bennett



Tony Bennett's 2nd letter to Carter-Ruck The Madeleine Foundation

18 August 2011

Dear Mrs Hudson

I write as promised further to my e-mail sent just after 5pm yesterday.

I have now had a little time to review the contents of your letter and digest the 15 accompanying pages which list the articles, letters, forum postings and other material that your clients wish to be removed from public view.

In practical terms, the following has been agreed.

So far as The Madeleine Foundation is concerned, the Committee has decided forthwith to remove all of the 22 articles, letters, statements and newsletters etc. that your clients have objected to in part or whole.

So far as the forum 'Complete Mystery of Madeleine McCann' is concerned, the forum-owner and her administration team have been notified of the 42 posts of mine (together with certain links) that your clients want removed. I must make it clear that whilst I have what is called 'Moderator status' on that blog and can intervene on the forum just as other Moderators can, I am not part of the administration team and therefore do not have a controlling say over the contents of that form. The forum owner has informed me that she is in the process of removing the posts to which your clients object and is I understand to go even further by removing all the threads where those posts appear.

In practical terms, therefore, the actions your clients requested being taken in your letter dated 12 August either have been or are being taken.

Turning now to the contents of your letter and addressing the question of whether a court is likely to find me in contempt of my undertaking, the following points are relevant.

1. In her book 'madeleine', Dr Kate McCann wrote that I had 'undertaken not to repeat allegations' but that I was 'going around insinuating that we were involved in Madeleine's disappearance'. I have mostly written about the case since November 2009 either on The Madeleine Foundation website or on Jill Havern's forum. I have made over 3,500 posts on that forum but I note that you only regard 42 of them as being in contempt of my undertaking.

2. As I have explained to you in correspondence, my undertaking was never an undertaking not to discuss the case; it was not a vow of silence. You are also aware from our correspondence that I regard some of the very obvious and flat contradictions between the accounts of your clients and their friends as material which deserves to be discussed. To take just one specific example, the clearly contradictory accounts of the occasion that Dr David Payne is said to have visited your clients' apartment at around 6.30pm on 3 May 2007. I find it hard to believe that a High Court Judge would find it 'contempt' to continue to raise questions about that contradiction. Dr Kate McCann's account of this encounter on page 67 of her book does not reconcile the many contradictions Dr McCann and Dr Payne at the time.

3. On examining the material on Jill Havern's forum that you seek to remove, the very first item asks me to remove the post made at 6.00pm on 11 February 2009 on the thread: 'Goncalo Amaral - A Biography'. On examining that post, it is simply a list of the 48 Questions asked by the Portuguese Police on 8 September which your client refused to answer. I note that elsewhere (point 52 in your 14-page schedule of alleged contempts of court), you claim that to circulate the 10-minute video on YouTube of my reading out those 48 questions is actionable contempt worthy of being punished by a High Court Judge. Should this matter proceed to a contempt hearing, I feel sure that a Judge would NOT regard this as contempt of court since that list of questions has been made public by the Portuguese Police. Not only that, it is currently viewable on the BBC's website and that of other national media e.g. the Daily Mail. It is available at hundreds of other places on the internet. Out of consideration for your clients' demands, the YouTube link which you give at Item 52 on page 14 has now been disabled so that it can no longer be viewed. However, unless you are able to specify in precise terms how publication of that list of unanswered questions constitutes libel of your client, and therefore becomes contempt of court in my case, I cannot see why either the 11 February 2010 post you referred to nor the YouTube video should not be restored to public view.

4. Twice in your letter you refer to 'flagrant breaches' of my undertaking. This is not quite how your client puts it. She says in page 312 of her book: "He is still going around insinuating that we were involved in Madeleine's disappearance, only now he is just being slightly more careful about how he says it".

5. The publications your clients required in pages 4 and 5 of your letter to be removed from public view either have been removed or are in the process of being removed.

6. You refer in your letter to letters sent to me by yourselves on 5 February, 15 July and 3 August 2010, the last one of these being over a year ago. These letters were answered in full at the time and obviously should your clients proceed with their application to have me held in contempt then those responses will be produced.

7. I undertook to refrain from suggesting that your clients should be 'suspected of causing the death of Madeleine'. You say again as you and your clients have said many times that there is 'no credible evidence' that Madeleine died in your clients' apartment on that holiday. On that matter, as you know, I honestly and frankly beg to differ. Should this matter proceed to a contempt hearing, the Judge will need to have before him/her a whole range of evidence which does point in that direction. To give examples: Goncalo Amaral's book: 'The Truth About A Lie', the report of Tavares de Almeida dated 10 September 2007 which is in our book: 'The Madeleine McCann Case Files: Volume 1, the opinions of Lee Rainbow and Mark Harrison, the report of Martin Grime; a range of books published in Germany and the U.S. about the evidence, and not least the inferences that may reasonably drawn from a long list of contradictions and changes of story etc. which were conveniently summarised in the Madeleine McCann Research Group's '50 FACTS' leaflet.

8. In relation to the passages from the letter we sent to David Cameron on 18 May 2011 and from which you quote extensively on page 3 of your letter, you make the comment in paragraph 7 on page 4 that "...in a large number of instances -  including the letter to David Cameron from which we quote above - you do not even put your allegations in question form but instead state as a fact that you believe that Madeleine died in the holiday apartment and that her parents conspired to cover up the death". This is simply not true. Kindly look again very carefully at the actual words I have used in the letter to David Cameron:

"A great many people consider that there is more than adequate evidence that Madeleine McCann died in the McCanns' holiday apartment..."

"This is the settled view of the former senior investigator in the case, Goncalo Amaral..."

"Dr Amaral advances the view that [Madeleine] may have died as a result of an accident..."

"Another view of what might have caused Madeleine's death is the possibility that she was over-ssedated by the McCanns"

"...clearly the alerts of two of the world's top sniffer dogs...are significant..."

"...a very large amount of circumstantial evidence suggests that the McCanns and their friends have not told the truth..."

"[Various people] subscribe to the view that the balance of evidence points in the direction of Madeleine having died in the McCanns' holiday apartment...if that hypothesis is correct..."

Nowhere in those three paragraphs do I, as you claim "state as a fact that you beleive that Madeleine died in the holiday apartment and that her parents conspired to cover up the death".

Should contempt proceedings be brought I am minded to defend them and will in addition make an application to vary the terms of the undertaking.

Yours sincerely

Tony Bennett

 
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


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.

EDWARD SMETHURST

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.

MCCANNS

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:

pdf logo

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

click here to download file

 
The McCanns' draft order to commit Tony Bennett to prison on 8 February, 13 December 2011
 

The McCanns' draft order to commit Tony Bennett to prison on 8 February The Madeleine Foundation

The McCanns' draft order to commit Tony Bennett to prison, page 1

The McCanns' draft order to commit Tony Bennett to prison, page 2

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE                            Claim No: HQ09D05196
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION

Before Mr/s Justice             on                  2011

BETWEEN :-

(1) GERRY MCCANN
(2) KATE MCCANN
Claimants

and

TONY BENNETT
Defendants



draft ////
ORDER



AN APPLICATION was made by Counsel for the Claimants and was attended by [counsel / solicitor for] the Defendant

The Judge read the written evidence filed and the Order of Master Leslie dated 25 November 2009 in which the following undertaking was given by the Defendant:
"The Defendant undertakes not to repeat allegations that the Claimants are guilty of, or are to be suspected of, causing the death of their daughter Madeline McCann; and/or of disposing of her body and/or of lying about what happened and/or of seeking to cover up what they had done."
AND THE COURT being satisfied that the Defendant has been guilty of contempt of court in failing to comply with the undetakings given to the court and contained in the order of Master Leslie dated 25 November 2009 by publishing words in breach of the said undertaking on the occasions and dates specified in the Schedule to this Order

IT IS ORDERED

  1. that for his contempt the Defendant stand committed to HM Prison [NAME OF PRISON] for a period of [PERIOD] from the date of [his apprehension/ this order]

    [and

  2. that the warrant of committal remain in the court office at the Royal Courts of Justice and that execution of it be suspended so long as the Defendant [TERMS OF SUSPENSION] until [DATE] after which the sentence and warrant of committal be discharged]

    or

  3. that for his contempt the Defendant pay to Her Majesty the Queen a fine of £     on or before [DATE]

  4. that the costs of the Claimants summarily asssssed in the sum of £     be paid by the Defendant to the Claimants

  5. that the contemnor has permission to apply to the Court to clear his contempt and ask for his release or discharge.


Dated this     day of          2011

 
MCCANNS v BENNETT - The committal to prison trial will take place for 1 or 2 days, sometime in April or later, 22 January 2012
 
MCCANNS v BENNETT - The committal to prison trial will take place for 1 or 2 days, sometime in April or later Jill Havern Forum

Tony Bennett
Sunday 22 January 2012 at 11:20 pm

As a result of a letter from Carter-Ruck dated 13 January and received by me on Friday after I returned from a short holiday, I can now confirm that the 'Committal Hearing' where the McCanns are seeking to have me committed to prison, fined, or have my assets seized (and all three are possible in a serious contempt case) will not now take place on 8 February.

The McCanns asked for the date of 8 February to be used for a Directions/Procedure hearing called a 'Case Management Hearing', to which I agreed as I need a lot more time to prepare my defence.

Mr James Tipp, Deputy Court Manager and Court Co-ordinator, has agreed and in an e-mail to Carter-Ruck also dated 13 January, he wrote:

"The committal hearing on the 8th February 2012 will now be listed for a two hour directions hearing as requested [by Carter-Ruck]".

THE DRAFT ORDER

Carter-Ruck have drafted the Order they would like the Court to grant. It provides as follows:
  • I must file my reply no later than 4pm on 22 February
  • The McCanns to have a chance to reply by 21 March
  • The McCanns' committal-to-prison application be heard after 10 April
  • The trial to be fixed for either 1 or 2 days
  • 'Costs in the case'.
I am likely to seek to change those proposed directions, if only to seek a great deal more time to prepare my defence. The McCanns on their own admission began together with Carter-Ruck to prepare their Committal application back in June. They served it to me, unannounced, six months later, by two men in a limousine on 1 December, in a box containing five thick Lever Arch files and 2,000 pages of argument and evidence.

LEGAL ADVICE AND COSTS

For the record, I have taken the advice of a local Solicitor who advised that the terms of the undertaking I was forced to give in November 2009 were unusually wide and there were good grounds for them at least to be varied.

He did advise that I should be legally represented if at all possible, but after making enquiries via solicitors and the Legal Services Commission who run the Legal Aid scheme, no Legal Aid is possible to anyone who has savings over £8,000, which I have. He then quoted me figures for advising and said that in view of the many complexities and unusual features of this case, he would need to seek a written Opinion from an experienced barrister. Because of the sheer amount of material which the McCanns have placed before the court, and the need for both the solicitor and barrister to read and consider all the documentation, plus look up and apply all relevant law and case precedent, the cost of being advised alone would run to a 5-figure sum.

My solicitor is not one of the very few solicitors who has what are called 'rights of audience' in the Royal Courts of Justice, which means that if I wish to be represented in court, this would mean I would again have to hire a barrister. Again, I have been advised that if you include court attendance on say 3 days of both barrister and solicitor and possibly solicitor's clerk myself, and dealing with all the preparation of the case, correspondence with the court and Carter-Ruck, preparing Witness Statements, Skeleton Arguments of the case and so on and so forth, the whole bill for legal representation alone would cost potentially tens of thousands of pounds, money I just haven't got.

I therefore have to struggle on, on my own and unaided, on what feels like a very unequal contest indeed.

The main bone of contention for the McCanns is the opinions I have given on this very forum and on the Madeleine Foundation website.

They accept that I have adhered strictly to the undertakings I gave (1) to close our former website, (2) not to sell or distribute the '60 Reasons' booklet and (3) not to sell or distribute the '10 Reasons' leaflet, the only exception to that being the sale of a book to a photojournalist, Mike Gunnill, who under the name of Michael Sangerte insisted that he needed a physical copy of the book 'for the purposes of historical research' - after I had initially refused to sell him a book.

THE HEARING ON 8 FEBRUARY - WILL I BE ENTIRELY ON MY OWN?

I have asked via a unit called the Masters Support Unit at the High Court if the hearing on 8 February will be in open court or in chambers, and have also asked if I could bring a relative or a friend to take notes at the hearing. I got a very short note back saying that all the answers are in a book called 'Civil Court Practice', otherwise known as the 'White Book', which I could buy from a legal bookshop. Even to get that answer took four e-mails dated 23 and 30 December and 5 and 20 January. I am still trying to find out if anyone is allowed to accompany me to the hearing.

CARTER-RUCK's COSTS

I have raised the question of costs with Carter-Ruck, given the following statement by Dr Kate McCann in her book, 'madeleine'. On page 287 of that book, she wrote: "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".

Not so in my case, it seems. By way of response, Carter-Ruck have clarified the position so far as claiming costs against me is concerned. This is what they have said:

"In relation to your queries about our clients' costs, we entered into as fee-paying retainer with our clients in relation to this Contempt of Court application. As previously indicated ,our clients intend (as they are entitled) to seek an Order for the repayment of their costs by you in the event that their application is successful".

I think I have previously indicated that the McCanns claim I have breached the undertaking I gave the High Court in November 2009 in 149 instances, once by selling a book to Mike Gunnill, and on 148 other occasions by words I have used in postings, articles and leaflets published between January 2010 and August 2011.

SURPRISING CLAIMS OF LIBEL

There are not a few surprising claims of alleged libel.

Alleged breach of undertaking number 148 is described as "The 48 Questions video recording created by and featuring the Defendant". When this was brought to our attention by Carter-Ruck in August, we decided to voluntarily remove that video from YouTube, despite the fact that we could not see how a mere recital of those 48 questions could possibly constitute libel when they consist of a list of questions made public by the Portuguese Police, and are still available to read on the BBC website, and have been published in numerous British and Portuguese newspapers and elsewhere on the internet.

Alleged breach of undertaking number 2 is described as "The Madeleine McCann Case Files, Volume 1, booklet published by the Defendant". Once again, seeing that this is merely a compilation of a selection of documents made public three years ago by the Portuguese Police, it is hard to see where the libel lies in reproducing them. Furthermore, Carter-Ruck do not specify what parts of that book are said to be libellous. For example, is it possible to view Inspector Tavares de Almedia's interim report containing the police team's assessment of what may have happened to Madeleine McCann as 'libellous'?

I should add here that "The Madeleine McCann Case Files, Volume 1", was first published by us in late January 2010. The McCanns have made no objection to the publication of this booklet during their occasional correspondence with me during 2010 and 2011 and I confess I was hugely surprised to find that they regarded this as libellous. In their recent letter of 13 January 2012, they say:

"You are continuing to publish some of the publications complained of in our clients' application against you for Contempt of Court - most notably, by continuing to offer the booklet 'The Madeleine McCann Case Files Volume 1' for sale via your website".

We honestly cannot see on what grounds the reproduction of e.g. the 48 questions, the interim report of Inspector Tavares de Almeida, the evidence of Martin Grime, the Gaspar statements and excerpts from the lengthy ramblings of Jane Tanner can constitute either libel or a breach of my undertaking.

Therefore our 108-page book remains for sale on our website, price £4 including postage; now may be your last chance to get a copy to give to your relatives, friends an acquaintances before it is banned, like 60 Reasons and 10 Reasons.

A BATTLE - PICKED

On page 290 of 'madeleine', Dr Kate McCann writes this:

"We have taken action against one or two websites, but it has proved almost impossible to get this stuff removed from some of them, particularly those hosted in the USA. Friends flag up some of the worst offenders for us, but in the end it comes down to picking your battles".

Well, I have been well and truly 'picked'.

I don't mean this in any way unkindly, but for those of you who can type away your opinions on what really happened to Madeleine McCann without fear of inviting a libel action, think yourselves fortunate. It's a freedom that might be curtailed later, if I lose this battle and if Lord Leveson has anything to do with changing press freedoms and internet law.

Finally, thanks so much to all of you who say kind things about my stand. They may not stop me going to prison, paying a heavy fine, or losing all my savings and my home, but I assure you they are a solace and a comfort at a time of stress, and I appreciate each and every one of them.



Relevant comments, with Tony Bennett's replies:

Kololi wrote: Surely if your fees are likely to run to such a huge amount then the costs of their legal support is also likely to be massive too.
REPLY: Someone at Carter-Ruck has had to take instructions from the McCanns, probably Senior Partner Adam Tudor, but it is usually Isabel Hudson's name that the letters go out from.

Someone at Carter-Ruck has had to read, select, photocopy many times and collate 2,000 pages of 149 alleged breaches of my undertaking.

Someone put Mike Gunnill up to trying to buy a book in the name of Michael Sangerte (Alleged Breach of Undertaking No. 1, by the way).

Carter-Ruck and the McCanns probably had to read every single one of my 3,700-odd posts on Jill's forum before deciding which 50 or so, in their terms, breached my undertaking (the other 3,650 or so presumably were not breaches of my undertaking) and they had to presumably read every single one of our articles on our website before deciding which 10 out of the 60 breached my undertaking). It looks like the McCanns think I crossed some 'line' in 50 postings here, but not the other 3,650. I have to say it is very hard to know where the line should be drawn.

Carter-Ruck have written three letters to me before August 2011 and they and the McCanns would have had to read and deal with my replies.

Then there are the hours every day they spend on this forum hunting for possibly libels - Jill has all the daily records from Peter Carter-Ruck's I.P. address.

The question has certainly been asked before: exactly who is paying for all this?

According to Dr Kate McCann on page 289 of her book 'madeleine', all the work of Adam Tudor and Isabel Hudosn is being given 'without payment'. Until they decided to bring contempt proceedings against me, it seems.
I understand a retainer agreement to be a sum of money placed up front with the solicitor. It is placed in a trust fund and drawn upon as work is completed. Where would the money that was required up front have come from?
REPLY: As a matter of law, Solicitors and their clients cannot, except in truly exceptional cases, be forced to disclose their source(s) of funding. The McCanns could make a voluntary disclosure; if so, that would of course sit very well with their oft-repeated claim to be 'open and transparent' about all that they do (excepting of course Clarence Mitchell's oft-repeated dictum that nothing may be disclosed about all their private investigations 'for operational reasons').
I am guessing from Madeleine's fund or from one of the people who it is said is sponsoring their legal costs. Heck I am just working class so maybe that sort of money with no strings attached is a spit in the ocean for a wealthy sponser but it still seems odd to me when you start to see the potential amount in black and white.

With no offence meant to you Mr Bennett why would they spend all this money on attacking somebody that, in the great scheme of things, is potentially small fry. The newspapers makes more sense but your reach to Joe Public is not as big as a daily or weekly paper.
REPLY: I think there may be two elements as to why the McCanns have, in their words, picked me for their 'battle'. One is that they may have a perception that our 'reach' with our booklets, leaflets, website, petitions etc., is greater than it actually is. The second reason may be [withheld for legal reasons].
Good luck and no sneering from me if you are able to settle this without going to court.
REPLY: I doubt it this time, though I have made an offer to the McCanns which I am not at liberty to disclose.
You have your family, your home and livelihood to think of so do what you need to do to look after yourself.

 
MCCANNS v BENNETT - CONTEMPT HEARING 8 Feb will be in open court - anyone can attend, 27 January 2012
 

MCCANNS v BENNETT - CONTEMPT HEARING 8 Feb will be in open court - anyone can attend Jill Havern Forum

Tony Bennett
Friday 27 January 2012 at 10:12 am

At the sixth time of asking over a period of five weeks, in a 'phone call this morning, I have managed to extract from Mr James Tipp, Deputy Court Manager and Court Co-ordinator for the Queens Bench Division Judges Listing Office to give him his full title, the following information:

1. The 2-hour Directions Hearing on 8 February will be in open court, absolutely anyone can attend to observe, media included, McCann-sceptics and McCann-believers alike

2. I can have someone with me to record the proceedings (in writing) and have made provisional arrangements for someone to do that.

As stated before, decisions as to the Court room number for the hearing and time of the hearing won't be taken until the day before. I have to ring the Court Listing Office after 2pm on 7 February and they will give me that information.

I will post up that information here as soon as I get it a week on Tuesday.

In view of the costs of legal representation, and because only very expensive barristers are allowed to represent Defendants in High Court proceedings, I shall have to represent myself.

Thanks once again by the way for all advice received and expressions of support, they have all been much appreciated.

One final point: the law on freedom of speech in this country i.e. what one can reasonably say about another without crossing the indistinct line between fair and honest comment on the one hand, and libelling someone on the other, has been changed as a result of the decision two years ago in Spiller v Joseph. There, five Supreme Court judges unanimously extended the rights of those who might be making adverse comment on others. It is well worth a careful read, but does run to 48 pages, here's the link:



PDF Download:

pdf logo

Supreme Court Judgment: Spiller v Joseph (pdf, 164K)

click here to download file

 
Supreme court changes fair comment defence in libel cases, 01 December 2010
 
Supreme court changes fair comment defence in libel cases The Guardian

Lord Phillips says that key test for defending libel cases should be changed to 'honest comment' in light of new technology

Afua Hirsch, legal affairs correspondent
Wednesday 1 December 2010 18.54 GMT

The supreme court has changed a key test for defending libel cases, in another significant step by the judiciary to weigh into the highly political debate about libel reform.

In a unanimous decision on the defence of fair comment – a Victorian rule originally designed to protect art critics from being sued for libel – the court said the law should be updated to make it more simple, and to take account of changes in technology and the modern media.

"The defence of fair comment should be renamed honest comment," said Lord Phillips, the president of the supreme court.

"Today the internet has made it possible for the man in the street to make public comment about others in a manner that did not exist when the principles of the law of fair comment were developed," he added. "Millions take advantage of that opportunity."

Phillips, who described the issue as "a storm in a teacup", said the defence of fair comment was "one of the most difficult areas of the law of defamation".

The law on fair comment has been developed by judges in cases going back to the 19th century, and originated to protect art critics who were critical of books, plays and performances.

But the rules determining when a defendant can invoke fair comment to protect themselves from libel have become increasingly complicated as judges have considered whether the defence could apply to a wider range of comment.

The defence was a key issue in the case brought by science writer Simon Singh, after he was sued over comments in the Guardian about the British Chiropractic Association.

Overturning high court judge Mr Justice Eady's decision that Singh could not use fair comment, the court of appeal ruled in April that judges should be slower to draw the line between fact and comment in contentious areas of journalism and debate.

But today's decision by five members of the UK's highest court will have even further-reaching implications for the future of the law on libel.

"The defence is clearly going to feature more significantly now," said Sarah Webb, partner and head of media, libel and privacy at Russell Jones & Walker. "Whilst the Singh case widened the understanding of what was comment rather than an assertion of fact, today's judgment states that the comment must now only explicitly or implicitly indicate at least in general terms the facts upon which it is based."

"It is clearly going to be easier for defendants to now rely on this defence although the supreme court have still said it needs further refinement by the Law Commission".

The case was brought by a group of musicians called The Gillettes and Saturday Night at the Movies after a promoter posted a notice on its website stating it would no longer work with the group because the musicians were "not professional enough".

The musicians sued the company for libel, claiming that the notice on its website implied that they were unprofessional and unlikely to honour future bookings, damaging their reputation.

The supreme court ruled that the company should be entitled to the defence of fair comment, because the statement posted on its website identified the facts on which the comment was based.

The court also considered human rights protections for free speech under article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, stating that a defendant in libel cases could not be expected to prove whether a value judgment involved in a statement defended as fair comment, was true.

"A value judgment is not susceptible of proof so that a requirement to prove the truth of a value judgment is impossible to fulfil, and thus infringes article 10," said Lord Phillips.

But the court stopped short of radical reforms to the law, by refraining from adopting a wholly objective test for fair comment.

"While the court agreed to a small bit of modernisation in stating that the defence should be renamed honest comment … the court did not accept suggestions that the defence should be expanded to embrace facts which were not known to the defendant, or even in existence when he made his comment," said Gill Phillips, head of legal for the Guardian, which was one of the media organisations that intervened in the case. "Rather they suggested that the onus should be on a defendant to show that he subjectively believed that his comment was justified by the facts on which he based it."

 
Retired lawyer faces jail for 'harassing' Kate and Gerry McCann, 29 January 2012
 
Retired lawyer faces jail for 'harassing' Kate and Gerry McCann The Sunday Telegraph

A retired lawyer who has repeatedly accused Kate and Gerry McCann of covering up their daughter Madeleine's death is facing jail for harassment.

Tony Bennett has waged a campaign since 2007 against the Kate and Gerry McCann
Kate and Gerry McCann arriving at the Leverson Inquiry

By Robert Mendick, Chief Reporter
8:20AM GMT 29 Jan 2012

For almost five years, Kate and Gerry McCann have suffered the anguish of not knowing what happened to their daughter Madeleine.

Through it all, they have also had to contend with a sustained campaign of harassment conducted by a small band of fanatics convinced they had a hand in their daughter's disappearance.

Now, one of their main tormentors is facing jail for refusing to leave the McCanns' alone.

Tony Bennett has waged a campaign since 2007 against the couple – repeatedly accusing them of covering up the girl's death in leaflets, books and on internet postings.

On one occasion, the Madeleine Foundation, which he runs, handed out 1,500 pamphlets in Rothley, the couple's home village in Leicestershire, entitled "10 key reasons which suggest she was not abducted."

Another booklet has been posted by registered delivery to the McCanns' home.

Next month, a court will decide whether to jail Mr Bennett, 64, for contempt of court.

The action is being brought by Mr and Mrs McCann who have grown increasingly disturbed by Mr Bennett's attacks on them.

Mr Bennett is accused of flouting an agreement in the High Court – made in November 2009 – that he would stop repeating allegations that the McCanns were in some way involved in their daughter's abduction.

Since then, Mr Bennett, a grandfather-of-two from Harlow in Essex, who is obsessed with the case, has posted on the subject of Madeleine McCann's disappearance an astonishing 3,800 times on one website alone.

Lawyers acting for the McCanns accuse him of breaching the undertaking on at least 149 occasions. The list of alleged breaches is not exhaustive.

The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "This has gone on for a long time and Kate and Gerry now feel enough is enough. It is obviously very distressing for them. The fact they are taking legal action speaks for itself.

"Tony Bennett is his own worst enemy by persistently doing what he does, he has brought this action on himself."

The couple, both doctors, live in hope their daughter may still be alive and continue the search for her.

A Metropolitan police review of the evidence, put together by Portuguese detectives, continues but is not thought to have produced any significant new leads in the search for Madeleine.

A draft order seen by The Sunday Telegraph, which a judge is expected to rule upon at a hearing in February, includes an option for Mr Bennett to be "committed to HM Prison for a period" to be determined.

Mr Bennett could also be fined and ordered to pay costs that are likely to bankrupt him.

The undertaking Mr Bennett signed – he will now claim he only agreed it under duress – prevents him from making a number of claims in relation to Madeleine's disappearance from her parents' holiday apartment in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz on May 3rd 2007.

At the time she was just three-year-old.

The agreement signed in court states: "The defendant [Mr Bennett] undertakes not to repeat allegations that the claimants are guilty of, or are to be suspected of, causing the death of their daughter Madeleine McCann; and/ or of disposing of her body and/ or of lying about what happened and/ or of seeking to cover up what they had done."

The undertaking also included the destruction of a book "What really happened to Madeleine McCann? 60 key reasons which suggest that she was not abducted" and a leaflet "What really happened to Madeleine McCann? 10 key reasons which suggest that she was not abducted."

But since that November 2009 undertaking, Mr Bennett has continued many of his activities.

The list of 149 alleged breaches, compiled by the McCanns' lawyers Carter Ruck, includes a book: "The Madeleine McCann Case Files: Volume 1" and a series of postings on the social networking website Twitter.

Mr Bennett runs the Madeleine Foundation, whose website has been subject to scrutiny by the McCanns' legal team, while also putting up 3,800 posts on another website The Complete Mystery of Madeleine McCann at a rate of about five a day.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Bennett was largely unrepentant and seemingly happy to repeat some of the allegations that put him under threat of contempt.

He first became interested in the case while watching it unfold on television in 2007.

He attempted to bring a private prosecution against the couple in November 2007 for child neglect – on the grounds the couple were eating dinner with friends when Madeleine was abducted – but the case was thrown out in a magistrates' court.

Mr Bennett said: "I have done my best to comply with the undertaking but I would argue to the courts it was an unreasonably wide undertaking to sign.

"In the last two years I have not written specifically about the details of how she [Madeleine] might have died or how the body was hidden.

"It is my sincere conviction that one day I will be proved right. I truly believe that one day the truth will be told. And yes I am risking a breach of the order by saying that."

Asked how he felt about harassing a couple, grieving over the disappearance of their daughter, Mr Bennett replied: "The thing that came closest to harassment was when we distributed the '10 reasons' leaflet in Leicestershire in August 2009.

"Three of my colleagues in the Madeleine Foundation distributed a small quantity of leaflets in Rothley. I would honestly say that perhaps that was a leaflet distribution too far.

"If Madeleine was abducted I would accept what I have done is a wicked campaign of harassment. If I am wrong I am evil. But if I am right, I am a victim of simply having the desire to pursue the truth."



Ex-Lawyer faces jail for 'harrasing' McCann family The Sunday Telegraph (paper edition)

Robert Mendick - Chief Reporter
Sunday 29 January 2012

[Picture: Retired lawyer Tony Bennett could be jailed for allegedly harassing the parents of Madeleine McCann]

For almost five years, Kate and Gerry McCann have suffered the anguish of not knowing what happened to their daughter Madeleine.

Through it all, they have also had to contend with a sustained campaign of harassment conducted by a small band of people convinced that the couple had a hand in their daughter's disappearance.

Now, one of their main tormentors is facing jail for refusing to leave the McCann family alone.

Since 2007, Tony Bennett has repeatedly accused the couple of covering up the girl's death in leaflets, books and on the Internet. On one occasion The Madeleine Foundation, which he runs, handed out 1,500 pamphlets in Rothley, the couple's home village in Leicestershire, entitled "10 key reasons which suggest she was not abducted". Another booklet was posted by registered delivery to the McCanns' home.

Next month, a court will decide whether to jail Mr Bennett, 64, for contempt of court. The action, being brought by Mr and Mrs McCann, accuses Mr Bennett of flouting an agreement made in the High Court, in November 2009, that he would stop repeating allegations that the McCanns were in some way involved in their daughter's abduction.

Since then, Mr Bennett a grandfather of two from Harlow in Essex, has posted on the subject of Madeleine McCann's disappearance 3,800 times on one website alone. Lawyers acting for the McCanns accuse him of breaching the undertaking on at least 149 occasions.

"This has gone on for a long time and Kate and Gerry now feel enough is enough," the McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said last night. "It is obviously very distressing for them. The fact they are taking legal action speaks for itself."

The couple, both doctors, live in hope Madeleine, who disappeared from a holiday apartment in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz on May 3rd 2007, may still be alive and continue to search for her.

A draft order seen by The Sunday Telegraph, which a judge is expected to rule upon at a hearing in February, includes an option for Mr Bennett to be "committed to HM Prison for a period" to be determined. He could also be fined and ordered to pay costs that are likely to bankrupt him.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Bennett seemed happy to report some of the allegations that put him under threat of contempt, claiming that one day he would be "proved right".

He said he had not written specifically about how Madeleine may have died or "how the body was hidden" since signing the 2009 agreement, but argued the undertaking was "unreasonably wide".

"If Madeleine was abducted I would accept what I have done is a wicked campaign of harassment." Mr Bennett added. "If I am wrong I am evil. But if I am right, I am a victim of simply having the desire to pursue the truth."

 

Contempt of Court case - latest, 30 January 2012

 
Contempt of Court case - latest The Madeleine Foundation

30 January 2012

Madeleine Foundation Secretary Tony Bennett is summoned to a Case Management Hearing on 8 February

The McCanns applied to the High Court for a delay in the trial of Secretary Tony Bennett - and the application by the McCanns to commit him to prison will not now take place on 8 February. Instead, on that date, there will be a 'procedure' hearing to sort out various matters in preparation for the trial. The Case Management Hearing will be in the Queens Bench Division, who will decide the day before which court the hearing will take place in, and at what time.

The following article appeared in the Sunday Telegraph on 29 January 2012:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/madeleinemccann/9046508/Retired-lawyer-faces-jail-for-harassing-Kate-and-Gerry-McCann.html

Replying to the article, Tony said: "The Telegraph maintains in the article that only 'a small band of fanatics' disbelieves the McCanns' account that Madeleine was abducted. In fact, many books have been written, by police officers involved in the initial investigation, criminologists, criminal profilers and psychologists, all saying that they doubt the McCanns' claims.

"There are dozens of YouTube videos casting doubt on the McCanns' version of events, and dozens - if not hundreds - of websites, forums and blogs run by others who also take a sceptical view'. The original co-ordinator of the police investigation, Dr Goncalo Amaral, set out his view that the evidence pointed to Madeleine dying in her parents' apartment in a book: 'The Truth About A Lie', which can be openly read and discussed in his native Portugal ,and in eight other European countries where his book has been translated. It will be a strange thing if the court decides that in this land noted for its commitment to free speech, I am not allowed to discuss what is freely available to be distributed, and debated, in most of the rest of Europe. Besides all that, only two months ago, Dr Gerald McCann told the Leveson enquiry, under oath: 'I am a strong believer in the freedom of speech'."

 

Jail risk for harassing the McCanns, 30 January 2012

 

Jail risk for harassing the McCanns Correio da Manhã

Lawyer and chairman of the Madeleine Foundation faces prison for defaming Kate and Gerry

By M.C.
30 January 2012 1:00 am

Tony Bennett, a retired lawyer who heads a private foundation in the name of Madeleine McCann, the Madeleine Foundation, faces a possible prison sentence if found guilty of the harassment of Kate and Gerry McCann.

The lawyer Tony Bennett
The lawyer Tony Bennett

The parents of little Maddie, who disappeared in 2007 in Praia da Luz, in the Algarve, are prosecuting Tony Bennett, attributing the lawyer with authorship of a smear campaign against them. According to the British newspaper 'The Sunday Telegraph' yesterday, the alleged harassment of Kate and Gerry McCann has been through the release of public leaflets and publications, in which Tony Bennett argues that the couple are responsible for the alleged death of the child.

The couple are prosecuting the lawyer and, at the beginning of February, a British court will be able to adjudge on his imprisonment, as well as the payment of compensation, which the lawyer can hardly bear.

 

McCanns take legal action over Madeleine slurs, 31 January 2012

 

McCanns take legal action over Madeleine slurs Leicester Mercury

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A former solicitor could be jailed for repeatedly accusing Kate and Gerry McCann of covering up the 'death' of their daughter Madeleine.

Lawyers for the Rothley couple are taking civil action against Tony Bennett to try to stop him making allegations that they were involved in Madeleine's disappearance from the Portuguese resort of Praia de Luz in May 2007.

Tony Bennett could be jailed for repeatedly accusing Kate and Gerry McCann of covering up the 'death' of their daughter Madeleine.

Mr Bennett is secretary of an organisation called the Madeleine Foundation, which repeatedly claimed the three-year-old was not abducted.

The 64-year-old, of Harlow, Essex, signed a High Court agreement in November 2009, to say he would not persist with his accusations.

Court papers say: "The Defendant (Mr Bennett) undertakes not to repeat allegations that the Claimants (The McCanns) are guilty of, or are suspected of, causing the death of their daughter Madeleine McCann: and/or disposing of her body and/or of lying about what happened and/or of seeking to cover up what they had done."

Mr Bennett is accused of being in contempt of court for breaching the agreement in leaflets, books and internet postings.

There will be a hearing at The Queen's Bench Division of the High Court in London next week.

The McCann's spokesman Clarence Mitchell yesterday told the Leicester Mercury: "The matter is in hand with Kate and Gerry's lawyers. It has been pretty distressing for them.

"He has accused them of lying and that is a prima facie libel.

"Kate and Gerry do not want this but he (Mr Bennett) has persisted with making hurtful and untrue allegations about them and they want it to stop.

"They feel enough is enough.

"It is the case that he could face jail."

Madeleine's parents were considered suspects in her disappearance by Portuguese police in the early stages of the investigation, but were subsequently completely cleared of any wrongdoing.

In 2007, Mr Bennett launched a private prosecution against the McCanns, alleging child neglect, but it was thrown out by magistrates. In summer 2009, the Madeleine Foundation delivered leaflets around Rothley relating to the youngster's disappearance.

Mr Bennett was unavailable to comment yesterday.

In a story about his prosecution in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Bennett said: "I have done my best to comply with the undertaking but I would argue to the courts it was an unreasonably wide undertaking to sign.

"In the last two years, I have not written specifically about the details of how she (Madeleine) might have died or how the body was hidden.

"Three of my colleagues in the Madeleine Foundation distributed a small quantity of leaflets in Rothley. I would honestly say perhaps that was a leaflet distribution too far."

He added on the Madeleine Foundation website: "It will be a strange thing if the court decides that in this land noted for its commitment to free speech, I am not allowed to discuss what is freely available to be distributed, and debated, in most of the rest of Europe."

 
Queen's Bench Division: McCann & anr v Bennett, 08 February 2012
 

Queen's Bench Division: McCann & anr v Bennett justice.gov.uk

Court 14: McCann & anr v Bennett

COURT 14

Before MR JUSTICE TUGENDHAT
Wednesday, 8th February 2012
At half past 10
FOR DIRECTIONS
APPLICATION TO COMMIT
ATC/11/0841 McCann & anr v Bennett



Background on Michael Tugendhat:

Privacy law expert joins high court The Guardian

Clare Dyer
Friday 18 April 2003 02.44 BST

The QC widely acknowledged as Britain's leading expert on privacy law is among four new high court judges whose appointments were announced by the lord chancellor yesterday.

Michael Tugendhat, 58, represented Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones and OK! Magazine in their successful legal battle against Hello! magazine over photographs taken at the celebrity couple's wedding.

He will play a key role in the high court's queen's bench division deciding the extent to which the English courts should develop a right to privacy after the implementation of the Human Rights Act.

As a QC, he unsuccessfully acted for the television personality Jamie Theakston in his attempt to stop newspapers publishing pictures of him leaving a brothel. As Mr Justice Tugendhat, he will be among the judges deciding whether badly behaved celebrities should be permitted to stop the exposure of their foibles.

Mr Tugendhat, who was educated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and Yale law school, is joint editor of the Law of Privacy. While he favours the development of right of privacy, he is also a strong advocate of press freedom.

He recently told the all-party select committee on culture, media and sport's inquiry into press intrusion: "We must never underestimate the asset we have in the free press and I am afraid a free press is bound to be one that occasionally gets it wrong either by malice or mistake."

The four new judges include one woman, family law specialist Anna Pauffley QC, 47, who has been appointed to the high court's family division, bringing the number of female high court judges to seven out of a total of 104.

The other two are Kim Lewison QC, 50, who has been appointed to the chancery division, and Judge David Clarke QC, 60, the recorder of Liverpool, who has been promoted to the high court's queen's bench division from the circuit bench.

 
Resume of today's Case Management hearing, 08 February 2012
 
Resume of today’s Case Management hearing Jill Havern Forum

Posted by Sharonl
08 February 2012 at 7:26pm

Tony has asked me to post this brief resume of today's Case Management hearing.

QUOTE TONY:

The hearing was only ever about getting the matter ready for trial.

The hearing lasted around 1 hour and 50 minutes. The McCanns were represented by Jacob Dean (barrister), Adam Tudor, Isabel Hudson and two assistants.

Carter-Ruck had proposed a timetable for serving and filing evidence ahead of the trial and proposed that the trial would last for 1-2 days, to be held as soon as practicable on or after 10 April.

I made a number of applications at the hearing, which out of courtesy I notified to Carter-Ruck by hand on 2 February.

My application to have a 'McKenzie friend' [lay helper] with me at the hearing was granted by consent, and I thank my friend who acted as my McKenzie helper today.

I made an outline application to be allowed to apply for one part of the original undertaking I gave to be rescinded. This was granted. I have until 22 February to submit that application. That involves paying a Court fee of £80.00 and submitting detailed reasons for that application. At this point I will say that I do not propose to seek to rescind any of the following undertakings, all of which I have abided by except for the sale of one book to Mr Michael Gunnill (see below):

• To deliver up all hard copies of "What really happened to Madeleine McCann? 60 key reasons which suggest that she was not abducted" (known in short as '60 Reasons') to Carter-Ruck
• To deliver up all hard copies of the leaflet entitled "What really happened to Madeleine McCann? 10 key reasons which suggest that she was not abducted"
• To destroy any electronic version of "What really happened to Madeleine McCann? 60 key reasons which suggest that she was not abducted".
• To destroy any electronic version of the leaflet entitled "What really happened to Madeleine McCann? 10 key reasons which suggest that she was not abducted"
• To close our website, whose domain name was: www.madeleinefoundation.org.uk
• To use my best endeavours to delete or otherwise prevent access to any and all defamatory allegations about the Claimants published by him on the website http://missingmadeleine.forumotion.net
• To use my best endeavours to delete or otherwise prevent access to any and all defamatory allegations about the Claimants published by him on the website http://democracyforum.co.uk
• To use my best endeavours to delete or otherwise prevent access to any and all defamatory allegations about the Claimants published by him on the website http://www.anorak.co.uk
• To use my best endeavours to delete or otherwise prevent access to any and all defamatory allegations about the Claimants published by him on the website www.truthformadeleine.com
• To pay £440.00 towards the Defendant's costs [subsequently reduced to £400.00.]

I applied for an Order that 'the Claimants [the McCanns] do specify which words they allege constitute alleged breaches of my undertaking'. This was because of what I claimed was a lack of clarity in the McCanns' application. The Practice Rules are very specific in requiring that in a contempt of court allegation, the Claimants must be precise and full in explaining to the Defendant precisely why he is alleged to be in breach of an undertaking to such an extent that he deserves to be sent to prison.

I had also asked for more time to prepare my defence. The Judge was concerned about the volume of paperwork I was faced with [153 alleged breaches of the undertaking] and said that 'there is considerable force in Mr Bennett's request for more time to prepare his defence'.

This was resolved as follows. The Judge invited Jacob Dean [the McCanns' barrister] to take a 5-minute adjournment to consider whether he wished to reduce his 153 alleged breaches to, say, 'the 10 most serious breaches'. He said that if the McCanns could prove those breaches, it was unnecessary to prove the other 143. After 15 minutes, the McCanns' legal team came back into Court and said that they would submit a new application based on 'around 25' of the most serious breaches. The trial will then be confined effectively to an examination of just those 25 alleged breaches. The Judge gave them until 4pm on Friday 17 February to serve this new application on me. He also suggested to Mr Dean that Carter-Ruck needed to be much more precise than they had been about the words I used that were said to be in breach of the undertaking and which term of any undertaking they were alleged to breach.

The Judge granted me until 9 March to reply to the McCanns' revised application [the McCanns had originally asked for my response by 22 February.

The McCanns will then have the right to reply to my response. They will have to serve this on me by 5 April.

I applied for an Order that Michael Gunnill be produced as a witness and was able to inform the Judge in outline of how Mr Gunnill had obtained a '60 Reasons' book from me by entrapment, and how Mr Gunnill had boasted about doing this 'on behalf of a third party' which I believed to be the McCanns, via Carter-Ruck. I was granted permission to apply for a Witness Order against Mr Gunnill requiring to attend the trial and give evidence. I shall be doing that shortly.

I had applied for an Order that one of the McCanns make a Witness Statement to (a) state what evidence there is that Madeleine McCann was abducted and (b) to state what evidence there was, as claimed in Isabel Hudson's Affidavit, that any of my actions had, as the McCanns claimed, 'harmed the search for Madeleine'. These applications were refused. The Judge said that it was for the Claimants to give whatever evidence they felt was necessary to support their application to commit me to prison and that if I felt there was insufficient evidence that an abduction had occurred I would have the right to make submissions about this in my closing speech at the trial.

I applied for the McCanns to produce certified English translations of the two judgments against them in the Portuguese Court of Appeal (October 2010) and Portuguese Supreme Court (March 2011). The Judge refused, after asking the McCanns' barrister if Dr Amaral's book was now freely available in Portugal, to which of course he agreed. He said that if I considered these relevant, I should produce these myself. One of my supporters at the hearing kindly volunteered afterwards to see if she could obtain these for me.

The trial is scheduled for 2 days, any time on or after 17 April 2012.

In conclusion, I would like to thank each and every one of the eight people who kindly troubled to attend court to support me, and it was a pleasure to buy them all lunch at the Dulcis Cafe afterwards.

UNQUOTE TONY

 
McCanns v Bennett: 153 alleged breaches reduced to 25, 18 February 2012
 
McCanns v Bennett: 153 alleged breaches reduced to 25 Jill Havern Forum

Posted by Tony Bennett
Sat Feb 18, 2012 9:18 pm

A process server arrived this morning with the latest parcel from Carter-Ruck, this time containing another 400-odd pages and setting out the 25 'most serious' alleged breaches of my undertakings (instead of the 153 I received on 1 December, along with five bundles and 2,000 pages). The new list of '25 serious breaches' is below.

The new committal bundle should have been served on me yesterday, but as I was out all day with my brother and his wife looking for care homes for our mother, I can't blame them for being a day late.

I didn't get a limousine with two people bringing me the parcel this time, just one bloke with an Audi.

Maybe there is a tariff for this sort of thing:

5 bundles - limousine and 2 blokes needed

1 large bundle - bloke with Merc or Audi needed

1 small bundle or letter - bloke with Ford Fiesta.

He was a nice bloke - recognised me from being on TV over the Michael Barrymore-death of Stuart Lubbock case. I ended up giving him a copy of my book to read, he said he'd bring it back to me.

We got talking about elderly relatives. He had had to place his father in a care home. He had carefully chosen the BUPA care home in Chelmsford. Sadly, three weeks and one day later, his father was dead. He had fallen out of bed in the middle of the night because there was no guard on the side of the bed. 'We probably could have sued them', he sighed, clearly still sad that so soon after placing him in what he thought was the best care home in the area, he was no more.

Mike Gunnill

My raising the subject before Mr Justice Tugendhat of Mike Gunnill's actions in deliberately entrapping me into selling one book has prompted a swift reaction from Carter-Ruck and Mike Gunnill (still a member of this forum I believe). For on Wednesday 15 February he attended his local solcitors, Beckett Solictors in Rainham, Kent, to swear an Affidavit setting out the circumstances in which he first lied about being Michael Sangerete, and then lied again about neeeding a copy of '60 Reasons' for the purposes of 'historical interest'.

The Affidavit itself is 7 pages long and consists of 26 paragraphs, but as either Carter-Ruck or Gunnill hmself or his solicitors advised him to include a photocopy of the whole of '60 Reasons' and photocopies of e-mail message and posts from this very forum, his Affidavit plus Exhibits ran to a hefty 61 pages.

In paragraphs 12-17 of his Affidavit, Gunnill explains why he schemed to try to get a booklet from me. Here is his account, in his own words - verbatim:
"Hav[ing] previously covered the story, I thought that the Sunday Express might be interested in reporting on it further, if it...turned out that the Defendant wasn't complying with his undertakings. I should mention that while I am a photo journalist, I also write articles occasionally and/or pitch ideas for articles to newspapers. If a newspaper decides to publish an article which I've suggested, I will be paid a commission both for the original idea and if any photographs of mine are used to illustrate it.

"I spoke to my contacts at the Sunday Express, who confirmed that they would consider publishing another article if I could obtain a copy of the '60 Reasons' booklet from the Defendant in order to prove that he was breaching the undertaking.

"I therefore emailed the Defendant in January 2010, using the pseudonym 'Michael Sangerte', requesting a copy of the '60 Reasons' booklet. Given the use of my photograph in the original Sunday Express article...I thought it extremely unlikely that the Defendant would agree to sell me the '60 Reasons' booklet if I wrote in my own name, hence my use of a pseudonym.

"As can be seen, the Defendant was initially reluctant to sell me the '60 Reasons' boolket because of the undertaking he had given...However, when I pressed the Defendant further, he confirmed he had been able to locate a copy...

"I informed my contact at the Sunday Express that I had been able to obatin a copy of the '60 Reasons' booklet from the Defendant. My contact told me the newspaper wished to consider a possible article at their 11am editorial conference, so they sent a courier round to my house to collect [the] package which I had received from the Defendant, together with my summary for a proposed article, first thing in the moning. I was curious to see if I could get the Defendant to admit publicly that he had been breaching his undertakings..."
So, to put it in a nutshell, this member of our forum, Mike Gunnill, tried to get me to break a High Court undertaking, and potentially get me into serious trouble, just in order to make a grubby few tenners. Or so he says.

Well, he will have to be produced as a witness now at the trial - and I shall have more than a few questions for him in cross-examiantion.

The documents I received were also remarkable for a 19-page Affidavit from Carter-Ruck Partner Isabel Hudson, who in 100-plus paragraphs, sub-paragraphs and sub-sub-paragraphs, attempted to prove that I had either authored each publication in question, or at least consented to its publication on our website. This was a wholly unnecessary exercise, as in correspondence with Carter-Ruck I have always conceded authorship of all the postings and articles they have referred to, or at least in some cases to jointly consenting with Madeleine Foundation Committee members to publish them. My claim has always been simply that the right to circulate facts, freedom of speech, and the right to make fair comment if you have an 'honest belief' in the truth of what you are saying, have justified all the statements I have made about the reported disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

What a waste of time and effort!

Here are the 25 'most serious' alleged breaches of my undertakings, but before that:

* Many thanks to all who have helped me so far in preparing my draft Affidavit of defence

* Many thanks to all of you who have registered your support for me, either here or by e-mail, 'phone or text

* And a special thanks to a lady called 'Mourena', of whom I have never heard before, but who sent me a very nice 'good luck' card and message - thank you Mourena, whererever you are.

Here's the revised list by which the McCanns hope I will be sent to prison or fined:



The 25 alleged beaches of undertaking that may send me to prison

The 25 alleged breaches of undertaking now pleaded in support of the application to commit me to prison may be summarised as follows. The breaches are numbered 1 to 25 as listed in Exhibit 'IJH6' at pages 1 to 10 of the new bundle, with the previous number for each given on brackets afterwards:

No. 1 (previously 1) Allegedly breaching an undertaking not to sell my book '60 Reasons' by 'selling' a book to one Michael Sangerte. I told 'Michale Sangerte' that the book was no longer for sale. When Michael Sangerte said he required it because he claimed it would one day 'be an important historical document' for which he was 'prepared to pay a high price', I agreed to find a copy for him, and sent it to him in exchange for its normal previous price, £5 including postage. The buyer turned out to be Michael Gunnill of Upchurch, Kent, who had deliberately deceived me into selling a copy which otherwise I had absolutely no intention of doing.

No. 2 (previously No. 2) Publishing and selling the book 'The Madeleine McCann Case Files: Volume 1'. It is claimed by the McCanns that this is libellous. The book is simply a compilation of 12 witness statements, police or expert reports, either in full or extracts from them, which were made public by the Portuguese Police 3½ years ago, in late 2008. So far as I am aware, the McCanns have not sued for libel either the Portuguese Police for publishing these documents, nor the authors of any of them, e.g. Dr Arul Gaspar, Dr Katarina Gaspar, Martin Grime and Inspector Tavares de Almedia. These various statements and reports have been published on numerous places on the internet and probably read by hundreds of thousands of people. So far as I am aware, the McCanns have not sued any of the website, forum or blog owners who have been carrying this material for the past 3½ years. I do not understand therefore the basis on which it is claimed that the contents of our book are libellous, if the McCanns have not sued any of the various authors and publishers of the material over the past 3½ years. IMPORTANT NOTE: Despite our publishing this book in January 2010, it was not until 1 December 2011 (when a limousine brought me the committal papers) that the McCanns first stated that they had any objection to this publication

No. 3 (previously No. 3) Sending to our members, supporters and contacts an email refuting the claims of the BBC that Goncalo Amaral had used the expression 'F___ the McCanns' outside the Lisbon Court in January 2010. The McCanns say that parts of this email libelled them.

Nos. 4 to 9 concern material published on The Madeleine Foundation website, as follows [IMPORTANT NOTE: Within 24 hours of our being notified by the McCanns of their objection to these six articles and five more on our website to which the McCanns objected, we removed them from our website].

No. 4 (previously No. 15) Publishing a copy of our letter to Home Secretary Theresa May on 4 July 2010 about the possibility of a 'Review' into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The McCanns say a part of that letter libelled them.

No. 5 (previously No. 18) Publishing an item 'News from The Madeleine Foundation' on 24 September 2010 which the McCanns say included a libel of them. I am not at liberty to say what the contents of this letter were.

No. 6 (previously No. 27) Re-publishing in February 2011 in full an article by Barbara Nottage on the events of the evening of 3 May 2007 which we had previously substantially cut - a year earlier - at the request of the McCanns. The reason we reinstated the article in full was because a few weeks earlier the McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell had admitted that the abduction of Madeleine was not a fact but only an 'assumption' or 'working hypothesis'.

No. 7 (previously No. 32) Publishing a copy of our letter to Prime Minister David Cameron sent on 18 May 2011 about the remit of the 'Review' ordered by David Cameron into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The McCanns say parts of that letter libelled them. I am not at liberty to say what the contents of this letter were.

No. 8 (previously No. 34) Publishing a letter I sent to Carter-Ruck on 8 June 2011.

No. 9 (previously No. 36) Publishing a copy of our letter to Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, Head of the Scotland Yard Review Team, sent on 11 July 2011 about the remit of the 'Review' ordered by David Cameron into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The McCanns say parts of that letter libelled them. I am not at liberty to say what the contents of this letter were.

Nos. 10 to 23 inclusive concern 14 postings on the forum 'Complete Mystery of Madeleine McCann'. [IMPORTANT NOTE: Within 24 hours of our being notified by the McCanns of their objection to these 14 and around 26 other postings of mine on this forum to which the McCanns objected, I arranged their removal from that forum, except for the last three which were removed on being notified about them on 1 December 2011].

These are the dates of these postings:

No. 10 (previously No. 44) - 4 July 2010 (four messages)

No. 11 (previously No. 46) - 13 July 2010 (two messages giving a link to a YouTube video I made reading out the 48 questions that Dr Kate McCann refused to answer when she was pulled in for questioning on 7 September 2007). That video is considered by the McCanns to libel them, although that list of 48 questions can be read all over the internet including today on the BBC website

No. 12 (previously No. 48) - 24 July 2010 (two messages)

No. 13 (previously No. 51) - 2 January 2011

No. 14 (previously No. 64) - 16 April 2011, which refers to the '50 FACTS' leaflet published by the Madeleine McCann Research Group, a document that the McCanns say libelled them

No. 15 (previously No. 72) - 2 May 2011 (two messages)

No. 16 (previously No. 79) - 14 May 2011

No. 17 (previously No. 87) - 22 June 2011 (two messages)

No. 18 (previously No. 90) - 7 July 2011

No. 19 (previously No. 97) - 20 July 2011

No. 20 (previously No. 108) - 3 August 2011

No. 21 (previously No. 109 - 18 August 2011

No. 22 (previously No. 118) - 7 September 2011

No. 23 (previously No. 130) - 1 November 2011

No. 24 (previously No. 140) A tweet on Twitter dated 7 July 2011 which referred to the report of Inspector Tavares de Almedia [NOTE: See also No. 2 above].

No. 25 (previously No. 147) Distributing the leaflet '50 FACTS' in Cheshire, Lancashire and Flinshire.

Last edited by Tony Bennett on Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:30 pm; edited 3 times in total

 
Update on McCann & McCann v Bennett, 25 February 2012
 
Update on McCann & McCann v Bennett McCann Exposure

Posted by Hardlinemarxist
25/02/2012

I can report that negotiations are currently in progress between Tony and Carter-Ruck to see if there is any way that the contempt of court matter can be settled without the need for a 2-day trial. In the meantime, and pending any agreement if there is to be one, Tony, on 22 February, made a cross-application within the contempt proceedings to be released from one of his undertakings. No date has yet been fixed for the trial. I will provide more information when available.

 
TRIAL DATE McCanns v Bennett 9 & 10 May 2012, 27 February 2012
 
TRIAL DATE McCanns v Bennett 9 & 10 May 2012 Jill Havern Forum

Tony Bennett
Monday 27 February 2012 at 1:10 pm

I informed Carter-Ruck on 23 February that I would be making no further comment of any kind about the reported disappearance of Madeleine McCann until after the conclusion of the committal-to-prison trial.

I am able however to report that today the Royal Courts of Justice have written to me to say that the trial is scheduled to last TWO DAYS and will take place on

WEDNESDAY 9TH and THURSDAY 10TH MAY 2012

at the Royal Courts of Justice, the Strand.

Unless there is a settlement between the parties prior to that date, two applications will be considered by the Court:

1. By the McCanns to have me imprisoned, fined, or my assets seized (or any combination) for allegedly breaching Part C of the undertakings I gave them and the High Court on 25 November 2009

and

2. By me to be released from Part C of the undertakings I gave to the McCanns and the Court.

I can add one other matter, namely that the McCanns have withdrawn the claim that the sale of one book to Michael Gunnill breached Part A of my undertakings (not to sell or distribute '60 Reasons'). However, the act of sending this book to Michael Gunnill is still retained by the McCanns as alleged breach of undertaking No. 1 on a list of 25 alleged breaches of Part C.

I understand it may be regarded as a breach of my undertaking if I were to re-state what Part C of my undertakings required me not to do.

I'm sorry, I won't be able to make any further comment nor answer any further questions about this matter on here unless it is simply to convey any details about the forthcoming trial.

 
TRIAL DATE McCanns v Bennett, 9 & 10 May 2012 - update, 23 March 2012 & 01 April 2012
 
TRIAL DATE McCanns v Bennett, 9 & 10 May 2012 - update Jill Havern Forum

Tony Bennett
Fri Mar 23, 2012 5:55 pm

There has been no settlement between the McCanns and me, nor have the McCanns/Carter-Ruck moved from the position set out in their letter of 20 February, so things proceed towards the two-day trial fixed for 9 and 10 May.

Today was the deadline for me to file two documents:

1) A sworn statement (Affidavit) of my reasons for making an Application to be released from an Undertaking which curtails my right of free speech on matters related to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and

2) A second sworn statement defending the McCanns' application to have me committed to prison/fined/have my assets seized.

These were duly filed at the Court and served on Carter-Ruck this afternoon, in line with the extended deadline for filing them, namely today.

Under the new deadlines, the McCanns have 28 days to reply, i.e. by Friday 20 April.

THANKS

Without naming anyone, I would like to thank every single person who has helped me in any way to prepare the two Affidavits. The help received has been substantial, it's been mostly from people on this forum, including some very well-qualified 'lurkers' on this forum (they know who they are - thank you all), and it includes an offer to give evidence in court from a person well-qualified in her field, I hope to receive a sworn statement from her soon.

INDEX TO STATEMENTS

I won't post this up here for public consumption, but I have compiled a two-page index to the topics covered in both Affidavits, which - under conditions of keeping them confidential between now and the hearing - I am happy to send to anyone interested by e-mail (ajsbennett@btinternet.com).



A brief update

Tony Bennett
Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:31 am

On 23 March I wrote to Carter-Ruck on various procedural matters, to which I await a reply. My letter included this sentence:
'So far as your two additional witnesses are concerned, please confirm that Michael Gunnill will be produced for cross-examination.'
As a result, Carter-Ruck have had to issue an application for Michael Gunnill to attend Court on 9 May 2012 (first day of the 2-day trial) at 10.00am.

The application cost a fee of £45.00, and Carter-Ruck have offered to pay him £110.30 to cover his travelling costs and loss of time on the day. If I lose the case, I shall probably be asked to meet these costs, plus Carter-Ruck's charges for their time in issuung this application, charged at either £1,000 per hour plus VAT (Adam Tudor's rate) or £800 an hour plus VAT (Isabel Hudson's rate).

The Court granted Carter-Ruck's application last Wednesday (28 March).

Carter-Ruck have until 20 April to reply to my Application and Defence.

 
Gonçalo Amaral Libel Trial - provisional date 13 September 2012, 19 April 2012
 
Goncalo Amaral Libel Trial - provisional date 13 September 2012 Jill Havern Forum

By Tony Bennett
Thu Apr 19, 2012 4:57 pm

I have today been served with new papers by Carter-Ruck in connection with the committal-to-prison trial on 9 and 10 May [start: 10.00am prompt, Wednesday 9 May].

Amongst the papers supplied is an on-the-record statement by Carter-Ruck Partner, Isabel Hudson, and I quote:
"While my firm is not instructed in the libel proceedings instigated in Portugal by the Claimants [Drs Gerald and Kate McCann] against Goncalo Amaral, I understand that...the case is proceeding to a full libel trial, and that a provisional date of 13 September 2012 has been given for the trial".
According to certain British newspapers, the McCanns launched their libel writ against Dr Amaral in early July 2009; thus if this provisional date sticks, it will take place more than 3 years and 2 months after the writ was first issued in Lisbon.

By the time the writ and application to injunct the book was issued [July 2009], Dr Amaral's book 'The Truth About A Lie' had already been published a year previously [July 2008], had sold over 200,000 copies in Portugal alone, had been translated into several European languages, and had been made into a TV documentary viewed by a record 2.2 million viewers in Portugal...

(...and had made a net profit for publishers and author of around 1 million euros).

 
McCanns v Bennett: LATEST - 4 June 2012
 
McCanns v Bennett: LATEST - 4 June 2012 Jill Havern Forum

By Tony Bennett
Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:27 pm

BACKGROUND

The two-day trial in the case of McCanns v Bennett, due to be heard on 9 & 10 May 2012, was adjourned at my request and by mutual consent, in order for me to explore the possibility of being granted Legal Aid under exceptional circumstances. This because there was a gross inequality of arms in the case, the McCanns' lawyers, carter-Ruck, having anon on 19 April that they had already spent 'well over £120,000' in costs on the case so far. The McCanns are employing a barrister, their most senior partner Adam Tudor, and another partner, Isabel Hudson in their application to commit me to prison. I was unrepresented at the hearing on 8 February before Mr Justice Tugendhat.

LEGAL AID

On 4 May, Mr or Ms Ka Poh Ling, of the Legal Services Commission (LSC)'s Central Complaints Handling Team, wrote to me confirming the LSC's original decision NOT to consider me for Legal Aid. S/he wrote:

"I can confirm that if you have capital above £8,000, after any relevant deductions, then legal aid will not be available to you. However, it remains open to you to submit an application to our Special Cases Unit through a contracted solicitor if your financial circumstances change".

However, it appeared that Mr/Ms Ka Poh Ling had ignored what is called 'the pensioner's disregard on capital', as set out in Paragraph 7-4 and Appendix 2 of the LSC Manual, which applies to those aged 60 or over.

To cut a long and complex story short, it appears that the effect of the pensioner's disregard could entitle me to Legal Aid.

AN APPEAL

I therefore appealed.

On 24 May I received a further letter from the LSC, this time from Ms Helen Riley, Director of Case Management.

The LSC reversed their previous decisions in December last year and on 4 May this year.

This time, Ms Riley wrote: "We can formally confirm whether you can receive Legal Aid when we receive an application from a Legal Aid solicitor, acting on your behalf...The next step you need to take is to find a Legal Aid solicitor to take on your case and to submit an application [for Legal Aid] on your behalf".

I have now made applications to a number of solicitors and given them an outline of the case. I expect to be able to instruct someone fairly soon to apply for Legal Aid on my behalf.

As I agreed with Carter-Ruck on 3 May, I have kept them fully informed of all these developments.

I should add for the record that Carter-Ruck, on behalf of the McCanns, have always accepted that I should be represented, this being a formal application to imprison me, and they themselves suggested I apply for Legal Aid. Carter-Ruck themselves seemed to be surprised that the LSC refused my initial application, and have agreed that I should have sufficient time in which (a) to see if I qualify for Legal Aid and (b) if I do, to be able to fully instruct a solicitor and barrister (in which case they will have to start by reading around 5,000 pages of documentation from Carter-Ruck and a further 440 from me.

I should also add, for the record, that in their last letter to me dated 18 May, carter-Ruck themselves suggested the names of three London firms of solicitors known to do Legal Aid work in human rights-type cases, and I shall also be writing to each of them.

Finally, in Carter-Ruck's last letter, they asked me to make clear that in this case Adam Tudor is charging 'only' £660 an hour, inclusive of VAT, and Isabel Hudson 'only' £540 an hour (including VAT).

SUMMARY

To sum up:

  • I need to find a Legal Aid solicitor who will agree (no doubt for a fee) to apply on my behalf to the LSC for Legal Aid.
  • The LSC will then consider whether or not to grant me Legal Aid, and if so on what terms. They will consider both my means, and the 'merits' of the case. On the latter point, Carter-Ruck do not in any way dispute that, subject to a test of my means, I should be able to receive Legal Aid for the simple reason that I face serious consequences if I lose, namely imprisonment, a fine, seizure of assets, or even a combination of all three.
  • If I can qualify for Legal Aid, I shall no longer have to represent myself.
  • If I do not qualify for Legal Aid, I shall have to represent myself, as there is no way I can afford to match the McCanns' enormous fire-power.
  • It is likely to be a few weeks before the court is able to fix a new date for the 2-day trial. It may even be that he trial will need longer than two days.
VIDEO EVIDENCE IN COURT OF MARTIN GRIME AND EDDIE & KEELA IN THE McCANNS' APARTMENT, THE McCANNS' HIRED CAR, IN THE McCANNS' VILLA, AND EXAMINING THE McCANNS' CLOTHES AND CUDDLE CAT

One more point.

On this thread: http://jillhavern.forumotion.net/t5140-blacksmith-another-cracking-piece#111737

...'Newintown' wrote (and I am very grateful to her/him for pointing this out):

"Tony, you are probably well aware of the fact, but I thought I would just mention it, that the showing of the videos of Martin Grime, Eddie & Keela in Praia da Luz should be mentioned by your solicitor/barrister in your witness statement/court proceedings prior to the trial, as they may not be able to be used in evidence if they are not mentioned in the paperwork put before the judge for him to read up on on your behalf beforehand. I hope that makes sense.

If any facts/items are brought into a trial which the Judge was not aware of previously, they may be classed as inadmissable by the other side.

Having been through a very long, protracted court case myself I know how the other side's solicitor/barrister will try all they can to dismiss any evidence that goes against their client, especially if it hasn't been put through the proper legal procedure".

REPLY: That is quite right and, in general terms, neither side is allowed to bring up new points at the trial. All the evidence should be laid out beforehand so that neither side, nor the court, is taken by surprise.

Fortunately I had anticipated this, and Paragraph 119 of my Applciation to be released from one of my undertakings reads as follows:
QUOTE

An extended video of Martin Grime taking his cadaver dogs around the McCanns' holiday apartment has been made public (during the latter half of 2008) as part of the release of around 80% of the evidence collected by the Portuguese police. It is submitted with the very greatest of respect that before the court makes a decision as to what action if any to take in response to the Claimants' committal application it might wish to view the entire original footage of Martin Grime's visits with his dogs to the McCanns' apartment, accompanied as it is by Mr Grime's commentary on the alerts of his dogs. The video of this event has been placed on the internet where hundreds of thousands of people have already viewed it.

UNQUOTE
THANK YOU

Thank you once again to all those who have wished me well, and especially to all those who have offered me practical help one way or another, including many on this forum.

 
McCanns v Bennett: UPDATE - 8 August 2012
 
McCanns v Bennett: UPDATE - 8 August 2012 Jill Havern Forum

By Tony Bennett
Wed Aug 08, 2012 6:06 pm

UPDATE:

My efforts to see if I qualify for Legal Aid have now reached the upper echelons of the Legal Services Commission (LSC), who adjudicate on such matters.

The matter is now in the hands of Michael Forrester of the Central Complaints Handling Team at LSC HQ on th 8th floor, 102 Petty France.

One of the problems I have had in getting a Legal Aid Solicitor even to apply for Legal Aid for me is the fact that Solicitors seem to be unsure whether or not I come under the Civil Legal Aid Scheme, or the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme.

As there are different financial criteria for the two schemes, this is actually a matter of potentially critical importance for me.

The Civil Legal Aid Scheme covers all civil proceedings in the County Court, High Court and higher courts.

The Criminal Legal Aid Scheme covers all criminal charges dealt with in the Magistrates Court, Crown Court and higher courts.

The problem with these contempt of court proceedings is that they originate in a civil court, in this case the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court, but if found 'guilty' of contempt, the proceedings could end up in various criminal penalties for the defendant: prison, fines, seizure of assets - and of course, payment of the opponent's costs if you lose. As mentioned before, these were - according to Carter-Ruck - 'well over £120,000' by April, and no doubt quite a bit higher by now.

There is no way I can match fees like that from my resources.

And the European Court of Human Rights has many times insisted that if any defendant is faced with a jail term, he MUST be legally represented [see, e.g., Alkan v. Turkey, 2012]

Anyway, Mr Forrester in his letter of 3 August, writes:
QUOTES (IN BOLD)

"In the light of the problems that you have encountered with the Community Legal Advice Service and given that I still do not know for certain which category your case falls within, I think the best thing I can do is pass on your telephone number and request a senior CLA adviser to 'phone you".

[it's 8 August, and that hasn't happened yet].

"Regarding your question about the category of law in which your case belongs, I am reluctant to give out too much information on this issue because I do not know the particulars of your case. However, having carried out some brief research, it seems that Contempt of Court is a matter that fits our criminal funding criteria with Section 12(2)(f) of the Access to Justice Act 1999. With this in mind, it might be appropriate for you to bring your case to the attention of a provider with a criminal contract in the first instance..."

[Ever since 1 December 2011, when I was served with a large, 16-lb box of committal-to-prison proceedings, the LSC has told me that I should apply for Civil Legal Aid! The wheels of the CLA may grind very slowly, but after 8 months, it is certainly progress for them to be getting ever closer to telling me which of their two Legal Aid schemes may appy to me].

There is also an admission that for the past 8 months the LSC has misinformed me about their own financial eligibilty criteria:

"Turning to our conversation on 6 July 2012, I take your point about Regulation 35 and I acknowledge that it did not occur to me during our conversation to mention the exception to our usual rules relating to capital".

[that's the little-known rule that - for those aged 60 or over - the maximum capital you can have to qualify for Civil Legal Aid is £108,000, not £8,000 - depending also on your income]. Again, it is pleasing that after 8 months I have helped them to rediscover this almost unknown rule - and to be told that they now agree (at last!) that it could apply to me.

UNQUOTE
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ETA: I should just add here that the most likley date for the trial, at present slated for two days, is in the months of November or December this year. At present, the final trial of the McCanns' long-running [3 years] libel action in the Lisbon High Court against the original Portuguese Police invesigation co-ordinator, Dr Goncalo Amaral, is slated to start on Thursday 13 September - and that case is, I think, set down for 4 days of trial - T.B.

 
McCanns v Bennett: After over 8 months, the Legal Services Commission decide that I come under the Criminal Legal Aid scheme - increasing my chances of qualifying for Legal Aid, 12 August 2012
 
McCanns v Bennett: After over 8 months, the Legal Services Commission decide that I come under the Criminal Legal Aid scheme - increasing my chances of qualifying for Legal Aid Jill Havern Forum

By Tony Bennett
Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:55 am

You'll all recall that back in April, over three months ago, Carter-Ruck wrote to me informing me that their costs were now (and I quote) 'well over £120,000'.

The Legal Services Commission (LSC), who make decisions on eligibility for Legal Aid on behalf of the Secretary of State for Justice (at present, Kenneth Clarke, but may be not for much longer), informed me at 3.10pm on Friday that it has been decided that I should now proceed to seek legal help from Criminal Legal Aid solcitors, i.e those who have an LSC franchise to operate Criminal Legal Aid, not Civil Legal Aid Solictors. That's after more than 8 months of being told flatly by the LSC that I came under their 'Civil Legal Aid' scheme.

I am therefore, effectively, back to Square One, and will now have to begin again the process of contacting lawyers, but, this time, 'crime' lawyers, not 'civil' lawyers. It is inevitably going to delay aranging a date for my trial.

However, the manner in which this decision was communicated to me was highly unsatisfactory.

It came in a 'phone call from a lady called 'Jemma (with a J)' at 3.10pm, Friday (10 August). Jemma, she told me, is a junior staff member of a sub-department of the LSC called 'First Assist', which itself is a sub-department of another sub-department of the LSC called 'Community Legal Advice'.

I asked her when and by whom this momentous decision - and reversal of previous decisions - had been made.

She told me: "We [i.e. 'First Assist'] got it in an e-mail from LSC Head Office at 102 Petty France last Friday [3 August], but I am not at liberty to say who sent it to me".

I have now, in an e-mail sent today, asked LSC's Chief Executive, Mr Matthew Coats, to put his decision clearly to me in writing. I have also of course raised a formal complaint about why it took the LSC 8 months and 8 days before recognising that they had got this wrong.

Under the Criminal Legal Aid scheme, it looks like I will be required to make a significant contribution towards any legal help received from public funds. I have never queried or disputed that for one moment.

The real point is this. This country - the UK - allows the wealthy and powerful to spend vast amounts of money to slience their critics, by using the device of a libel claim. In the vast majority of cases, defendants have to give in, because they have no chance of matching the legal resources of the wealthy and powerful.

But the European Court of Human Rights, based especially on Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights [the right to a fair trial in all civil and criminal cases], has frequently issued these strong decisions, binding on all member countries (which includes the UK):

1. Anyone facing a term of imprisonment MUST have legal representation, and

2. In ALL trials, the defendant must be given 'equality of arms' with the claimant - and this of course includes libel actions.

I have raised these ECHR decisions with the LSC in correspondence. Maybe this is why they have now, suddenly, and after 8 months, changed their minds.

 
McCanns v Bennett: A sincere apology from the LSC, 22 August 2012
 

McCanns v Bennett: A sincere apology from the LSC Jill Havern Forum

By Tony Bennett
Wed Aug 22, 2012 1:37 pm

Today, after seeking final written clarification from Matthew Coats, Head of the Legal Services Commission, as to whether I do in fact come within the Criminal Legal Aid scheme (as suggested by their letter of 3 August), I have received a letter from his assistant, Ms Sarah Elwin, telling me that that letter of 3 August was WRONG.

In fact, I am now told authoritatively, my case comes within CIVIL Legal Aid, not Criminal.

Carter-Ruck had in fact sent me a 'To Whom it May Concern' letter, intended for me to show prospective Solicitors, telling them that my case came under Criminal, not Civil Legal Aid.

Both the LSC letter of 3 August and the Carter-Ruck letter of a similar date were WRONG.

The reason, apparently, is because it all depends on WHAT TYPE of contempt of Court it is alleged has been committed.

If you commit a contempt IN THE FACE OF THE COURT, then you are entitled to seek help (subject to your financial circumstances) under the CRIMINAL Legal Aid scheme. 'In the face of the Court' means on the Court premises e.g. punching your solicitor or a witness, using foul language to a judge, trying to escape from court, d overpowering a court official, using a hidden tape-recorder etc. etc.

If your alleged contempt of Court, however, is committed AWAY FROM COURT'S PREMISES, then apparently Civil Legal Aid applies.

So the last few weeks have been a complete waste of time, and it's back to seeking Solicitors who have a franchise for Civil Legal Aid (and there aren't many of those left these days).

That's disappointing, BUT...

I received a 'sincere' apology...

AND

...have been told that procedures are being revised to ensure that people are no longer mis-advised by LSC headquarters about which of the two schemes a person comes under.



Legal Services Commission's blunder re Legal Aid - The actual letter ++PLUS++ Carter-Ruck's 'To Whom it May Concern' Letter Jill Havern Forum

By Tony Bennett
Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:52 pm

First part of the Legal Services Commission's letter of 17 August (verbatim) in which they admitted their latest blunder about the law on potential eligibilty for Legal Aid.

The Carter-Ruck 'To Whom it May Concern' letter follows in the next posting:

Our Ref: SA/BEN/134533

17 August 2012

Dear Mr Bennett,

Your Complaint

Thank you for your emails of 12 and 14 August 2012 addressed to our Chief Executive, Matthew Coats.

Mr Coats has seen your emails and has instructed this team to respond on his behalf.

For ease of reference I have responded to the issues you have raised under separate headings.

Contempt of Court proceedings

Having sought advice from our Legal Team our understanding of the position is as follows.

A breach of a court injunction is a contempt of court. In the High Court, civil legal aid may be applied for by an individual who is financially eligible. The Lord Chancellor's direction specifically allows the Legal Services Commission (LSC) to fund a case which would otherwise be out of scope (e.g. a personal injury case, a business case or a defamation case) where the liberty of the individual is at stake. Paragraph 12 of the Lord Chancellor’s direction provides, "The Lord Chancellor authorises the Commission to fund excluded services in Legal Representation in relation to hearings at which the liberty of the client is in issue.". An individual simply has to be financially eligible for legal aid to benefit from this part of the Lord Chancellor's direction.

I understand that some of the legal aid solicitors you contacted have referred to s12(2)(f) of the Access to Justice Act 1999. This section provides, "(2) in the Part, "criminal proceedings" means (f) proceedings for contempt committed, or alleged to have been committed, by an individual in the face of a court." This provision only allows a judge to grant legal aid in circumstances where there is a contempt "in the face of the court", (usually, when there is an act of abuse or violence by a party or a witness towards another person or the bench). A contempt in the face of the court is a 'criminal contempt', and the Access to Justice Act allows a judge to grant immediate representation so that any lawyer in the building can represent the individual, take instructions and put forward mitigation, so that if the individual is committed for his contempt, they will have been given the opportunity to be properly represented.

A breach of an injunction is therefore not a contempt in the face of the court, and so s12(2)(f) of the Access to Justice Act is not engaged. The party accused of breaching an injunction may be entitled to civil legal aid if he/she is financially eligible and where the applicant's liberty is at risk.

Please accept our sincere apologies for the incorrect information we had previously provided. Feedback with [sic] be provided to the relevant departments and staff to ensure this does not happen again.

[REST SNIPPED...]



Carter-Ruck's 'To Whom It May Concern' letter to Tony Bennett, 8 August 2012 Jill Havern Forum

By admin
Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:01 pm

Carter-Ruck's 'To Whom It May Concern' letter to Tony Bennett, 8 August 2012

ADDITIONAL NOTE FROM TONY BENNETT:

"I do not criticise Carter-Ruck for composing this letter. Far from it, it was a genuine attempt by them to move these proceedings forward. Both myself and Carter-Ruck thought it would work. It is unfortunate, of course, that Carter-Ruck got the position on Criminal Legal Aid wrong, just as the Legal Services Commission had also done.

"This may illustrate the whole problem - to anyone looking at this thread who may be wondering why, nearly 9 months on, I have not been successful in finding a Legal Aid lawyer to represent me. Very very few solicitors' firms appear to have what is called a 'Legal Services Contract' to provide representation in civil contempt cases. Almost none of these have any real knowledge of libel law, hence their inability to represent me.

"But both the European and British courts have long insisted that (a) a person facing prison must be legally represented and (b) be provided with full equality of arms. Otherwise it would not be a fair trial within the meaning of Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Therefore I must continue to seek a Legal Aid solicitor, as there is no way I can match Carter-Ruck's legal firepower from my own resources. They had already clocked up 'well over £120,000' in legal expenses by April".

 
McCanns v Bennett: Hearing before Mr Justice Tugendhat, today, 11 October 2012
 
McCanns v Bennett: Hearing before Mr Justice Tugendhat, today, 11 October 2012 Jill Havern Forum

By Tony Bennett
Thu Oct 11, 2012 7:48 pm


McCANNS v BENNETT
Queens Bench Division
High Court
Case No. HQ09 D05196

Hearing before Mr Justice Tugendhat
11 October 2012
10.30am

Representing Carter-Ruck:
Jacob Dean (barrister)
Isabel Martorell (formerly Hudson) (Partner, Carter-Ruck)
Two junior members of Carter-Ruck staff.

This morning saw another interlocutory hearing in the McCanns' attempt to have me imprisoned for contempt of court. I'm sorry, this was all rather complicated, but I'll try to explain today's outcome as concisely as I can.

The hearing today resulted from an application by the McCanns in August to move the case forward to a final hearing. It had been mutually agreed by the parties to adjourn the hearing listed for 9 & 10 May, to give me a realistic opportunity to see if I could be legally represented on the committal-to-prison hearing. To be fair to the McCanns and their advisers, they gave me every opportunity to have time to explore this possibility. It turned out that with savings of over £8,000, my current net income was just above the limit at which I qualified for Legal Aid.

In advance of the hearing, I applied for a 'split' trial. I asked for my application to vary the terms of my undertakings to be heard first, following which the contempt trial should take place. This was so that the Court could first hear the evidence I was seeking to bring in support of my application to vary, before they determined the contempt of court application.

I also asked for a further adjournment to allow me an opportunity to apply for Legal Aid, on the grounds that if Edward Smethurst succeeded in even only being awarded one-half of the costs he is claiming against me (£52,713.26) in separate legal proceedings, my savings would then be below the magic £8,000 limit and, on my current income, I would then be able to claim Legal Aid.

By contrast, the McCanns came up with some novel arguments at the last minute. Two days before the hearing, a Polish motorbike rider from 'Courier Express' brought up to me a new bundle with an additional 350 pages of documents. Not content with that, the following day, a Russian motorbike rider from a different courier firm arrived with another bundle, this time containing a whole new set of legal arguments, and a court judgment in another libel case, Frank Warren v The Random House Group Limited. As I didn't receive this until 7pm, it was too late to study it and take it all in.

Apparently Ricky Hatton had, in a book, accused the boxing promoter (Frank Warren) of dishonestly conning a boxer, Vince Phillips, into accepting a pitiful fee for a fight. Warren, as the promoter of the fight, sued.

Anyway, the McCanns' barrister, Jacob Dean, tried to argue that my giving of an undertaking to the McCanns in November 2009 was just like making a voluntary contract and that any breaches of the undertaking by me should be treated just like an ordinary breach of contract. He tried to suggest that there was no effective legal argument in defence of breaching an undertaking. He wanted an immediate committal hearing. If that hearing held that I had committed a breach, he would then go on to make a new application, at a separate hearing, that my application to vary three of the 16 undertakings I gave would (on the basis of the evidence I had so far provided) stand no chance of success.

Mr Justice Tugendhat throughout the hearing thought that a full libel trial was the appropriate forum for resolving the issues as between the McCanns and myself. He asked Jacob Dean: "Why are these proceedings the appropriate forum?" He added that if these issues were to be addressed in the proper forum, there would have to be "Full disclosure, witness statements, and expert evidence on the sniffer dogs..." He added that he had "never come across a case quite like this, where an application to vary undertakings could be dealt with without it becoming an issue in a libel action...Mr Bennett's application does require the re-opening of the libel proceedings...these current proceedings do not have the necessary structure to deal with the issues...this can only be resolved in a libel action. He also noted that although the McCanns began their correspondence in August 2009 alleging harassment, they had never pursued that allegation.

At one point in the proceedings, and I quote, Mr Justice Tugendhat said: "Suppose it's established that the Claimants had lied about what happened?

Mr Justice Tugendhat made certain rulings at the conclusion of the case, and said he would set out his reasons in full in due course (these by the way have to be set out in draft form and sent to each of the parties, to make sure that the two parties agree that the judgment accurately expresses the judge's decision. It is merely an opportunity to correct any typos, missing commas, wrong names or dates, things like that). Once any corrections have been sent to the judge, he then issues his formal ruling. At that stage, he will make any formal orders for the further conduct of proceedings, to be drafted and agreed between the parties if possible. When his final written ruling is handed down, I'll scan it and upload it here.

His main decisions were:

1. My application for a further adjournment was rejected.

2. The McCanns' application to commit me to prison would be heard as soon as practicable, but under the very unusual circumstances of this case, if the Court were to find that I had breached any of my undertakings, any penalty against me would be determined only after a full libel trial.

3. That my application to vary three of the undertakings I gave in November 2009 should be treated as, in effect, an application to 'lift the stay' on the libel proceedings. To explain: On 25 November 2009, the McCanns simultaneously issued a libel claim and at the same time accepted my offer of giving various undertakings. That meant that the libel claim was effectively adjourned (= 'stayed'), so long as I did not then break any of my undertakings. 'Lifting the stay' means that the McCanns' libel claim now becomes 'live again'.

That means the McCanns will in due course need to serve on me what is called 'Particulars of Claim', setting out in minute detail what libels against them I am said to have committed.

I will then be able to enter a defence. Possible defences open to a libel defendant include: 'justification', 'public interest', 'fair comment' or (following the Supreme Court case of Spiller v Joseph [2010]), the defence of 'honest comment'.

Once the libel trial is concluded, either I will be found not to have committed libel, or I will be found to have committed libel. In the latter case, I will then face potential damages and a very large bill of costs.

Following that, the committal-to-prison Court will meet and (assuming that I have been found to have breached the undertaking) will decide what penalty I should suffer. It is certainly possible that even if I were to win the libel trial, the Court could nevertheless still punish me for having (if I have) broken my undertakings. The Court takes any breach of undertaking very seriously, especially as this was a so-called 'penal' undertaking, which has more serious consequences.

What has happened today, in effect, is that the core of this whole case has now been taken substantially out of the hands of a High Court judge, and put in the hands of an English jury of twelve persons.

The bad news for me is that there is simply no Legal Aid in any circumstances for those seeking to defend a libel claim. The costs of hiring a barrister to represent me during a libel trial, possibly lasting several days, will be utterly beyond me. Therefore I shall be on my own. It will be very difficult to conduct my own defence.

Last night, a true supporter wrote some words to encourage me. I told him that Mr Justice Tugendhat would again be conducting today's hearing. His reaction was, and I quote:

"It's before Mr Justice Tugendhat again? That is music to my ears. I have faith that this gentleman will bring a sense of calmness, proportion, realism and basic common sense back into focus!"

I am not going to disagree.

Finally, once again, many thanks to all true supporters who may read this report of today's proceedings. I'm sorry I didn't let anyone know in advance about this hearing. I felt embarrassed that people came at their own expense and time to support me last time. I'd prefer you to save your coppers to be with me on Day One of the McCanns v Bennett full libel trial. Please don't let anyone think for one moment that I am relishing the prospect of having to defend myself in a full-blown libel trial against the might of Team McCann and Carter-Ruck.

Because I am not.

TB 11/10/12



SNIPPED Jill Havern Forum

By Tony Bennett
Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:16 pm


Question: Will the McCanns have to attend court? They seem not to have had to in any of their legal actions to date.

Actually, Mr Justice Tugendhat dealt with that point at the last hearing, as I had asked for an order that the McCanns attend and give evidence at my trial. Mr Justice Tugendhat refused, explaining that: "It is entirely up to the Claimants in a case to decide what evidence they wish to bring in support of their case". He added, in terms (i.e. I am not quoting his actual words) that in any closing speech one could certainly ask the court to take account of the fact that the Claimants were unwilling to give evidence in person in support of ther own application.

In their claim, they said, via Carter-Ruck Partner Isabel Hudson, who has made several sworn statements on the McCanns' behalf in these proceeedings, that my publications 'harmed the search for Madeleine'.

This means that I can cross-examine her about this claim, but if the McCanns are not at the hearing, I could not ask them directly to justify that claim.

Indeed, that is the centrepoint of the McCanns' claim. The main reason they are spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on this, they say, is because people read my articles and then, apparently, stop searching for Madeleine.

I am rather hoping that at the full libel trial, both Dr Kate McCann and Dr David Payne will give evidence about the truth of what they said in their witness statements. Then we might get closer to finding out whether...

SNIPPED. I have to be careful

ETA: P.S. McCanns' estimated costs so far in McCanns v Bennett: £165,000



'only where absolutely necessary' Jill Havern Forum

By Tony Bennett
Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:45 pm


This is one of the actual quotes from Isabel Hudson's (now Isabel Martorell) in these proceedings:
[Paragraphs 15 & 16]

"When there have been instances where the Claimants have feared that the publication of defamatory allegations about them may threaten to hamper the search for their daughter (because if the public are led to believe that Madeleine is dead, they are unlikely to report any potential sightings or other leads to the authorites), they have taken action...the Claimants have brought only a handful of libel complaints against the national press, in additon to a small number of requests to media outlets and Internet Service Providers to remove defamatory postings from internet discussions forums or 'readers' comments' websites...the Claimants have tried to take action only where absolutely necessary".

 
McCanns v Bennett: JUDGMENT tomorrow (24 October), 23 October 2012
 
McCanns v Bennett: JUDGMENT tomorrow (24 October), 23 October 2012 Jill Havern Forum

By Tony Bennett
Wed Oct 23, 2012 7:13 pm


Tomorrow, 24 October 2012, at 10.00am in the High Court, the Honourable Mr Justice Tugendhat will announce his decisions in McCanns v Bennett in response to a set of applications submitted prior to the last hearing in the case, which was on 11 October.

Carter-Ruck will be present to hear the announcement. I will not be present. I am not sure how these things work, but I think the judgment will be placed on the internet or given out to reporters e.g. from the Law Gazette, so I think others will see the ruling before I do. I think it is supplied to me electronically at some stage. If it's not been announced by the time I get it, I'll add it here.

I appear to have misunderstood one element of what was a rather complex and convoluted set of points and rulings made at the last hearing.

Mr Justice Tugendhat has simply recommended that my applications to revoke three of the 16 undertakings I gave to the court be treated as, instead, a formal application to 'lift the stay' on the original libel proceedings.

However, that application does NOT lift the stay.

There will be (I think) an application to 'lift the stay', sometime after the application to commit me to prison is heard. However, the McCanns will vigorously oppose that.

Their main (and new) legal argument, which they kindly couriered to me by Russian motorcyclist during the afternoon of 10 October (the day before the hearing)*, along with the 50-page judgment in the Frank Warren v Random House Publishing case, can be swiftly summarised like this:

'Mr Bennett made a solemn and binding undertaking not to say certain things, for ever, equivalent to him voluntarily signing a contract. He cannot therefore get out of that contract so long as he lives'.

My counter-argument, which is no surprise to the McCanns and their advisers, is that there was such a gross inequality of arms (at the stage where the McCanns were threatening to bring a full-blown libel trial against me) that there was no valid 'contract'.

I have suggested that the reasonableness of all the undertakings I gave should now be considered after the McCanns have, in the normal way, set out formally what words of mine they say are defamatory, and I then have a full chance to respond. My defence (again no secret) is that all my comments about the case have always been 'honest and reasonable comment', on the basis of all the known facts and those I have been researching. That defence is based on the 2010 Supreme Court case of Spiller v Joseph, which came out only after I signed the undertakings.

If I lose this application, there will be no libel trial.

One final point. I made a mistake in relation to one of the two quotes from the 11 October hearing that I posted before.

These two quotes, which I attributed to Mr Justice Tugendhat, were:

1. "Suppose it's established that the Claimants had lied about what happened?" - and

2. "There will have to be full disclosure, witness statements, and expert evidence on the sniffer dogs..."

Both quotes were word-for-word correct.

However, in a letter to me today (23 October), Carter-Ruck have asked me to point out that it was not Mr Justice Tugendhat, but the McCanns' own barrister, Jacob Dean, who said these words: "There will have to be full disclosure, witness statements, and expert evidence on the sniffer dogs..."

* NOTE: I have asked the judge to make a court order to ensure that in future I get more notice from Carter-Ruck of brand new legal arguments and supporting precedent than just a few hours before the hearing

 
England and Wales High Court (Queen's Bench Division) Decisions, 24 October 2012
 

England and Wales High Court (Queen's Bench Division) Decisions BAILII

24 October 2012

McCann & Anor v Bennett [2012] EWHC 2876 (QB) (24 October 2012)


Neutral Citation Number: [2012] EWHC 2876 (QB)

Case No: HQ09D05196

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

24/10/2012

B e f o r e :

THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE TUGENDHAT
____________________

Between:

                           (1) GERRY MCCANN (2) KATE MCCANN         
Claimants

- and -

                                                   TONY BENNETT                               Defendant

____________________

Jacob Dean (instructed by Carter-Ruck) for the claimants
Mr Bennett appeared in person
Hearing dates: 11 October 2012

____________________

HTML VERSION OF JUDGMENT
____________________

Crown Copyright ©

    Mr Justice Tugendhat :

  1. There are two applications before the court. On 14 August 2012 the Claimants issued an Application Notice for directions to be given for the hearing of the committal application which they had issued on 1st December 2011. By that application they allege that the Defendant has been guilty of contempt of court in that he is in breach of the undertakings given to the court in an order dated 25 November 2009. They ask that he be imprisoned or made subject to such penalty as the court thinks appropriate.

  2. There is also before the court an Application Notice dated 20 February 2012 issued by the Defendant for an order varying the undertakings he gave to the court on 25 November.

  3. The background against which these applications are made is as follows.

  4. It is very well known, that the Claimants are the parents of Madeleine McCann. On 27 August 2009 solicitors for the Claimants wrote to the Defendant stating that he had been engaged in a course of conduct, largely under the guise of "The Madeleine Foundation" which, as they advised, constituted harassment pursuant to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. They also stated that he was responsible for the publication of numerous grave and actionable libels. They asked him to desist, failing which proceedings would be issued in the High Court. The Defendant took advice from solicitors, and correspondence ensued. An agreement was reached pursuant to which the Defendant agreed to give undertakings to the court. For that purpose it was necessary that a claim form be issued.

  5. The claim form was issued on 25 November 2009. In it the Claimants claimed damages for libel and an injunction to restrain the Defendant from further publishing the words complained of, or similar words defamatory of them. The publications complained of were set out in a Schedule to the claim form.

  6. Also on 25 November 2009 the court made an order which included the following:
    "All further proceedings in this action be stayed except for serving the claim form and this order on the Defendant and carrying out the terms of settlement, and for this purpose the parties are at liberty to apply".
  7. The order was headed with a penal notice (that is the words "If you the Defendant breach the undertakings given in this order you may be held to be in contempt of court and you may be imprisoned, fined or have your assets seized"). The undertakings given by the Defendant to the court were (a) to deliver up or destroy all versions of publications complained of, (b) to use his best endeavours to delete or otherwise prevent access to defamatory allegations about the Claimants published by him on specified websites, and (c) not to repeat the same or any similar allegations about the Claimants as those set out in Schedule A to the order. That Schedule to that order read:
    "The Defendant undertakes not to repeat allegations that the Claimants are guilty of, or are to be suspected of, causing the death of their daughter Madeleine McCann; and/or of disposing of her body; and/or of lying about what had happened and/or of seeking to cover up what they had done."
  8. Shortly after the making of that order the Defendant continued to publish statements about Madeleine McCann. Solicitors for the Claimants started to write a series of letters to the Defendant stating that he was acting in breach of the undertakings he had given on 25 November 2009. On 1 December 2011, and after further correspondence, the Claimants issued the application notice to commit the Defendant for contempt of court. The schedule to that application notice listed 153 publications in 2010 and 2011 (up to 19 November 2011) which the Claimants contend each amount to a breach of the undertakings given by the Defendant to the court.

  9. In the covering letter solicitors for the Claimants drew to the Defendant's attention (and enclosed copies of) the decision of the Court of Appeal in Hammerton v. Hammerton [2007] EWCA Civ 248 setting out the availability, in principle, of legal aid for defendants facing applications to commit for contempt of court.

  10. On 8 February 2012 the matter came before me for directions. Following an indication from the bench that the Claimants might select from the 153 allegations a more limited number which could conveniently be determined by the court, the Claimants agreed to do so, and I made directions for the service of a revised schedule. This did not involve any concession on the part of the Claimants that any of the allegations were not well founded. It was simply case management.

  11. At that hearing the Defendant intimated a wish to be released from some of the undertakings he had given in November 2009. Accordingly, I directed that any application by him to that effect should be issued by 22 February 2012. I directed the matter be listed again after 17 April 2012, in order to give the Defendant an opportunity to find legal representation.

  12. The Defendant attempted to obtain legal aid but he has not succeeded. His applications have been considered, but he has available to him funds which he has been told make him ineligible for legal aid. When the matter came before me for the second time, as it did on 3 May 2012, the Defendant's inability to obtain legal aid had not yet become clear, and I adjourned the matter again for the question of his entitlement to be determined.

  13. The solicitors for the Claimants also acted for Mr Smethurst in a libel action that he had brought against the Defendant, and which was settled on 7 December 2011. The terms of the settlement included that the Defendant would pay the sum of £2,500 damages to the Find Madeleine Fund (which he did), and that he would pay Mr Smethurst's costs. However there has been a dispute as to the amount payable in respect of those costs, and the Defendant has not yet made any payment under that order for costs. He states that when his liability has been established, and he has made payment of what is due, it is likely that his financial circumstances will be such that he becomes eligible for legal aid. But he cannot give a date as to when that will be and he asks the court today to adjourn the committal proceedings for a third time, until he does become eligible for legal aid.

  14. By letter dated 25 September 2012 the Defendant has made clear that he does not ask for the complete discharge of the undertakings he gave in November 2009. He wants the undertaking to be varied to enable him to publish to the public at large (the undertakings do not restrict his right to communicate with the police and other authorities)
    "that there is credible evidence that (1) Madeleine McCann died in the McCanns' holiday apartment, (2) the McCanns have covered this up, and (3) have on occasions lied about matters connected to Madeline's reported disappearance ".
  15. The Defendant applied for a direction that his application for a variation for the undertaking be heard first, and that there follow a separate trial of the Claimants' application to commit him for contempt. Alternatively, he asks that there be one trial at which his application is heard immediately before the committal application.

  16. In lengthy documents which he has submitted to the court the Defendant makes clear that the basis upon which he applies for a variation of the undertakings is that he contends that there is evidence, (which he claims is fresh evidence at least in part), which would satisfy the court that the three allegations which he wants to be free to make to the public at large are true, or alternatively, that they are honest opinion. He submits that there has been a material change in the law of honest comment as laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Spiller v. Joseph [2010] UKSC 53; [2011] 1 AC 852. In support of his application to vary the undertakings he wishes to argue these points, and to put forward evidence to prove what he says is the truth of what he has published, and of what he wishes to publish.

  17. For the Claimants, Mr Dean submits that the proper course is that there be determined as soon as practical whether there have been any, and if so what, breaches by the Defendant of the undertakings which he gave to the court on 25 November 2009 (as listed in the shortened Schedule to the application to commit). Mr Dean submits that if, contrary to his case, there are no breaches, then the application to vary the undertakings may not arise for consideration. On the other hand, if the court finds that the Defendant has breached the undertakings, then the court may wish, in determining the appropriate penalty, to consider the application by the Defendant to vary the undertakings.

  18. Mr Dean made clear on his clients' behalf, that they deny that there is any truth in any of the allegations which the Defendant wishes to be free to make, and they do not accept that he would have any prospect of establishing a defence of honest comment, or any other defence to what they say are serious libels.

  19. But they also take a preliminary point. They submit that he is not, in any event, entitled to seek the variation he does seek, at least on the basis that what he wants to say is true or honest comment. Mr Dean submits that the undertakings were given as part of a settlement agreement, and the court could only permit the Defendant to resile from that agreement on very limited bases. The Defendant would have to satisfy the court of one of the well established grounds for impugning any contract, such as misrepresentation or common mistake. The Defendant does not allege either of these grounds, although he does say he was subject to economic duress, because of what it would have cost to defend the libel action which the Claimants threatened to bring against him. Mr Dean submits that there is a public policy in promoting the settlement of legal proceedings by mutual agreement. Such agreements entered into by consent should not be set aside otherwise than in circumstances that in which a contract would be set aside. He cites Warren v. Random House Group [2009] EMLR 1; [2008] EWCA Civ 384 at paras 16-43.

  20. When the matter came before me on an earlier occasion, and again on 11 October 2012, I expressed concern as to the procedural route which the Defendant has chosen to pursue his stated aim. It seemed to me that a variation of the undertaking that he gave in November 2009 might not, of itself, even if he were to achieve it, leave him free to make the allegations which he wishes to be able to continue to make.

  21. The discharge of an injunction, or of an undertaking, is not of itself a licence or judgment of the court that a publication, which was previously restrained by such injunction or undertaking, may lawfully be published. There would need to be determined, in one way or another, at least two issues before it could be said that the Defendant is to be entitled to make public the allegations he wishes to make. The first issue is whether he can overcome the preliminary obstacle which Mr Dean submits is presented by the principle that settlements are not to be reopened in circumstances such as those existing in this case. If the Defendant succeeds on that first issue, the second issue would be whether the Claimants have a good cause of action, whether in libel, or harassment (if they wish to revive the harassment claim), such as would entitle them to have re-imposed an injunction in terms similar to the undertakings which the Defendant gave.

  22. It seemed to me that, as a matter of procedure, the appropriate course to follow in order for all these issues to be raised in an orderly fashion, and properly determined, is to treat the Defendant's application to vary the undertaking as an application to lift the stay of the proceedings which was ordered on 25 November 2009.

  23. I express no view, one way or the other, as to whether the Defendant has any prospect of persuading the court to lift the stay. But if the court were minded to lift the stay, it would not follow that it would immediately permit a variation of the undertakings. One course that the court could follow would be to take it in stages, as the court might determine. If the court did lift the stay, the next step would be for the Claimants to serve Particulars of Claim.

  24. There are detailed rules in the CPR governing the pleading and conduct of defamation actions, including provision for resolving issues in stages. These are important for the protection of both claimants and defendants. I see real dangers in the court attempting to resolve issues of truth and honest comment in the context of an application to vary an injunction, where the rules which govern pleadings and other interlocutory matters in defamation proceedings have no direct application. It would also be anomalous for issues of truth and honest opinion to be raised in an application to vary an undertaking at a time when the defamation proceedings in which those allegations would normally fall to be determined are ordered to be stayed. In effect the stay would be overridden, while formally remaining in place.

  25. In my judgment it is in the interests of justice that this committal application, like all committal applications, be heard as soon as possible. It should not be adjourned pending the hearing of any application made or to be made by the Defendant.

  26. It is a rule of law of great importance that undertakings to the court (like injunctions) must be obeyed so long as they are in force. If a party restrained by such an order wishes to contend that the order ought not to have been made, or ought not to remain in force, it is not open to that party to ignore the order and then, if faced with a committal application, to ask for that committal application to be adjourned pending the determination of an application to vary the undertaking or injunction. If that were permitted, the administration of justice would be seriously undermined: injunctions and undertakings would not be the effective remedies that they are required to be.

  27. It is regrettable that this committal application has had to be adjourned twice already. But that was necessary in order to ensure that the Defendant's rights to be given funding for his representation, in so far he has such rights, are not to be interfered with. The possibility that his financial circumstances may alter, and if they do, at a date unknown, is not a reason why the hearing of the application to commit him for contempt of court should be delayed any further.

  28. On the other hand, there is less urgency in the Defendant's application, although if it is to be made it should be made promptly. I would see no objection to any such an application being deferred until after the hearing of the committal application, perhaps to the point at which the court has decided whether there has been any, and if so what, breach of the undertaking. It would be a matter for the court hearing the committal application, if it found that the Defendant had committed a breach of the undertaking, to decide at that point whether to proceed immediately to determine the penalty, or whether to adjourn, and if so, whether or not to hear the Defendant's application before determining the penalty.

  29. For these reasons there will be an order, the terms of which I invite the parties to agree. The substance of the order will be that the Claimants' committal application be listed as soon as is practical, and that the Defendant's application be adjourned to be considered by the judge hearing the committal application as that judge may decide. The Defendant's application will be treated as an application to lift the stay of the action, and, if the stay is lifted, to vary the undertakings pending trial or other disposal of the action.

 
Tony Bennett's response to Mr Justice Tugendhat's judgment, 24 October 2012
 
Tony Bennett's response to Mr Justice Tugendhat's judgment Jill Havern Forum

By Tony Bennett
Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:50 pm


I was not present. Mr Justice Tugendhat read out his judgment at 10.00 and it was sent to me by e-mail by his clerk at 10.10. Carter-Ruck were present. So I don't know if anyone else was present.

I will do a brief summary.

1. I applied for an adjournment on the grounds that it was necessary for me to be represented. I informed the Court that if I had to pay even half of Smethurst's claimed costs against me of £52,713.26, my savings would then fall below £8,000 and I would be entitled to Civil Legal Aid. As I could give no date for this, my application was REFUSED [see Paras 13, 25 and 27].

2. The application to commit me to prison will be heard as soon as practicable [Paras 27 and 29].

3. The application to commit me to prison will examine:

(a) Whether I have breached any of the 16 undeertakings I gave, and

(b) If so, which ones, and on what occasions.

If I am held to have breached any of the undertakings, the Court may or may not impose a penalty on me at that stage, or may defer any penalty until after all the various proceedings have been concluded [Para 28].

4. The Court takes very seriously the issue of a Defendant breaching any undertakings given to the Court [Para 26].

5. The application I made to the Court on 22 February to vary three of the 16 undertakings I agreed to will be treated (instead) as a formal application to 'lift the stay' (see below for what this means) on the original libel claim by the McCanns.

6. There will be a separate trial, after the committal trial, to see if I can persuade the court to 'lift the stay'. To do that (as I understand it at present), I will have to do one of two things:

(a) persaude the court that the original undertakings were not, in effect, signed voluntarily, or

(b) persuade the court that since I signed the undertakings, circumstances have changed so that it would no longer be appropriate for some (or all) of the undertakings to be kept in place.

With reference to point 6(a) above, the key issues will be (i)what alternatives are available to a person who has to defend a libel claim brought by people who can afford the best legal help in the land and are able to bring or threaten libel proceedings at will, against an individual with a net income after tax of less than £10,000 a year and with very limited savings and (ii) the government's failure to make arrangements to provide legal representation for a person confronted with such a gross imbalance of legal resources - contrary to strict rulings by the European Court of Human Rights in the Steel & Morris v UK and Alkan v Turkey cases.

7. If I do persuade the Court to 'lift the stay', the McCanns will have to submit Particulars of Claim, setting out in precise terms what published words of mine they say are defamatory of them. I will then be able to find a detailed Response in which I will be able to set out why all of my publications on the case are simply 'honest comment' based on avalable facts (cadaver dogs, contradications etc.) and a reasonable interpretation of those facts.

8. If I do NOT persuade the Court to 'lift the stay', all of the 16 undertakings I signed will stay in place indefinitely, unless and until there is reasonable proof that the undertakings were extracted from me under false pretences. In that case, the Court will decide (if they have not already done so), what penalty to impose on me for any breaches of my undertakings (which could include prison, a suspended prison term, a fine, or seizure of assets, or a combination of any or all of these).

 
McCann's case against lawyer to be heard soon, 24 October 2012
 

McCann's case against lawyer to be heard soon Leicester Mercury

Merc_Reporter
Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The parents of Madeleine McCann have won their latest court spat with a retired lawyer who they say has mounted a libel and harassment campaign against them.

Gerry and Kate McCann, of Rothley, are asking the High Court to jail 65-year-old Tony Bennett who they say has persisted in spreading false allegations against them, both on-line and in print.

Kate and Gerry McCann, the parents of missing Madeleine McCann

Mr Bennett, of Harlow, Essex, in November 2009 promised to stop making wounding allegations that the couple were guilty, or suspected of, causing their daughter's death, disposing of her body and trying to cover up what they had done.

But Mr and Mrs McCann's lawyers claim he has since breached that formal undertaking more than 150 times and are seeking his imprisonment, or other punishment, for alleged contempt of court.

At the High Court today, Mr Justice Tugendhat underlined the vital importance of court orders and undertakings being obeyed and directed that the couple's case against Mr Bennett be heard "as soon as practicable".

Madeleine went missing in May 2007 from an apartment complex in Praia da Luz, Portugal, where her parents had been holidaying with friends.

 
Madeleine McCann's parents in court bid to jail retired lawyer accusing them of causing girl's death, 25 October 2012
 

Madeleine McCann's parents in court bid to jail retired lawyer accusing them of causing girl's death Daily Mirror

Mr Justice Tugendhat said the couple's case against Mr Bennett should be heard "as soon as practicable"

By Mirror.co.uk
25 Oct 2012 00:00

Court bid: Kate and Gerry McCann
Court bid: Kate and Gerry McCann

The parents of Madeleine McCann yesterday won their latest court battle with a retired lawyer they say is waging a harassment campaign against them.

Gerry and Kate McCann want the High Court to jail Tony Bennett, 65, who has accused them of causing their daughter's death, disposing of her body and covering up what they had done.

Mr Justice Tugendhat said the couple's case against Mr Bennett should be heard "as soon as practicable".

In 2009, Mr Bennett, of Harlow, Essex, promised to stop making allegations against the McCanns.

They claim he has breached that formal undertaking more than 150 times and are now seeking his imprisonment, or other punishment, for alleged contempt of court.

Mr Bennett wants the court to "vary" the undertakings so he can publish his "credible evidence" Madeleine died in their holiday home in May 2007.



Complaint Jill Havern Forum

By Tony Bennett
Thu Oct 25, 2012, various posts 1:26 am-5:39 pm

I have never said that the McCanns caused the death of Madeleine. So there will be an immediate complaint by me to the Mirror, and if they don't publish a correction straightaway, there'll be a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission.

...

1. I've established that the original error was made by a press agency called 'StrandNews' - this was the source of the Mirror report.

2. Mel at the Press Complaints Commission has been informed of the complaint and is investigating it.

3. Dean Rousewell of the Mirror's editorial team is investigating and has referred the matter to the Mirror's legal adviser, Mr Partington

...

Just heard from Mirror that their Head of Legal Dept, Charles Collier-White, is now dealing with my complaint.

...

I've just received this:
Mr Bennett,

I have asked for the clarification you require to be included in tomorrow's paper.

If you have any further issues on this matter please contact our legal department, headed by Charles Collier-Wright.

He can be reached at [SNIPPED]

Regards,

Dean Rousewell


For The Record Daily Mirror (also appeared in paper edition, page 2)

Friday October 26, 2012

IN reference to a story in the Daily Mirror, (page 29, Oct 25) Tony Bennett has asked us to record his position that he has undertaken to the High Court not to repeat allegations that the parents of Madeleine McCann are guilty of, or are suspected of, causing the death of their daughter, but has never made that accusation himself."

 
McCanns get ruling on alleged 'harassment', 25 October 2012
 
McCanns get ruling on alleged 'harassment' Leicester Mercury

Leicester Mercury
Thursday, October 25, 2012

The parents of Madeleine McCann have successfully argued for a speedy hearing in their dispute with a retired lawyer they say has mounted a libelous harassment campaign against them.

Gerry and Kate McCann, of Rothley, are asking the High Court to jail 65-year-old Tony Bennett, who they say has persisted in spreading false allegations against them, both on-line and in print.

Mr Bennett, of Harlow, Essex, promised in November 2009 to stop making allegations that the couple were guilty of, or suspected of, causing their daughter's death, disposing of her body and trying to cover up what they had done.

Mr and Mrs McCann's lawyers claim he has since breached that formal undertaking more than 150 times and are seeking his imprisonment, or other punishment, for alleged contempt of court.

At the High Court yesterday, Mr Justice Tugendhat underlined the vital importance of court orders and undertakings being obeyed and directed that the couple's case against Mr Bennett be heard "as soon as practicable".

Mr Bennett is asking the court to vary the undertakings he gave in 2009 so that he can publish to the world at large what he claims is "credible evidence" that Madeleine died in her parents' holiday apartment, that her parents have covered this up and have, on occasions, lied about matters connected to her reported disappearance.

The McCanns "deny that there is any truth in any of the allegations which Mr Bennett wishes to be free to make" and argue that his continued publication of "numerous grave and actionable libels" against them amounts to harassment.

Madeleine went missing in May 2007 from an apartment complex in Praia da Luz, Portugal, where her parents – both doctors from Rothley – had been holidaying with a group of friends.

 
Former Harlow solicitor could face jail over McCann allegations, 01 November 2012
 

Former Harlow solicitor could face jail over McCann allegations Harlow Star

Written by Chris Moss
09:00 Thursday 01 November 2012

A RETIRED lawyer from Harlow is facing the threat of a jail sentence for contempt of court following his latest run-in with the parents of missing schoolgirl Madeleine McCann.

Tony Bennett (65), of Chippingfield, Old Harlow, has been accused of multiple breaches of formal undertakings he signed in November 2009 in which he agreed to stop making allegations that Madeleine's parents – Kate and Gerry McCann – were involved in covering up their daughter's death in 2007.

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett

Three–year-old Madeleine went missing in May 2007 from an apartment complex in Praia da Luz, Portugal, where her parents had been holidaying with friends.

The McCanns believe their daughter was kidnapped and have mounted a high-profile campaign in a bid to find her. But despite widespread investigations by both the Portugeuse and British police, she has never been found.

In 2008 Mr Bennett published a controversial book – What Really Happened to Madeleine McCann – in which he made a number of allegations relating to the case.

Last Wednesday lawyers acting for the McCanns went to the High Court in London to argue that Mr Bennett had persisted in spreading false allegations against them both online and in print and as a result they were now seeking his imprisonment – or other punishment – for alleged contempt of court.

For his part, Mr Bennett is asking the court to vary the undertakings he gave in 2009 so he can publish what he claims is "credible evidence" that Madeleine died in the holiday apartment, that her parents have covered this up and have lied about matters connected to her reported disappearance.

The court heard the McCanns denied there was any truth in any of the allegations which Mr Bennett "wishes to be free to make" and argued that his continued publication of "numerous grave and actionable libels" against them amounted to harassment.

Mr Justice Tugendhat underlined the vital importance of court orders and undertakings being obeyed and directed that the couple’s case against Mr Bennett should be heard "as soon as practicable".

Speaking to the Star this week, Mr Bennett vowed to fight for his right to free speech and said he believed he had "valid" arguments for his defence.

"Britain's libel laws are so oppressive that I had no alternative but to agree to the terms of the formal undertakings set out by the McCanns' lawyers in November 2009," he said.

"Of the 16 undertakings I signed there are only three which have been broken. I want to make it absolutely clear that I have never claimed the McCanns killed or were responsible for Madeleine's death."

He added: "I believe that in a country where freedom of speech is valued so highly I should have the right to publish what I believe to be credible evidence about what happened to Madeleine."

 
McCann v Bennett: Court documents in the case can be made public, 03 November 2012
 
McCann v Bennett: Court documents in the case can be made public, 03 November 2012 Jill Havern Forum

By Tony Bennett
Sat Nov 03, 2012 8:16 am


A ruling this week by Mr Justice Eady in a libel case against the Sun newspaper means that I will be free to publish any of my documents and evidence in McCanns v Bennett.

The same doesn't apply to Smethurst v Bennett, though, since the day before he issued his libel claim in the High Court, he obtained, ex parte (in secret), a draconian court order forbidding anyone to reproduce any of the documents in the case without a court order, i.e. without the judge giving consent. That does not, however, restrict me or anyone else from publishing facts about or relating to Smethurst.

Anyway, here is the Eady ruling:



Privilege defence sees asylum seekers' £850k libel claim against The Sun struck out Press Gazette

PA Media Lawyer
01 November 2012

The right of journalists to report court documents without fear of being sued for libel has been upheld by the High Court after it struck out a libel claim against The Sun brought a pair of asylum seekers.

The pair sued The Sun for £850,000 in libel damages over a story it ran saying they were seeking a massive payout to take their children on holiday.

Afham Ismail and his wife Bibi sued over story the newspaper ran in July last year which was based on documents filed with the courts in a "discrimination" action they were seeking to bring against the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

The story, headlined "Asylum seekers: Pay for us to have a hol", said the couple were demanding a £100,000 payout, arguing that their two children had been deprived of their rights to have enough books, toys, food and holidays, and said they also wanted an extra £50 a week in handouts, as they could not live on benefits of £181 a week.

Mr Justice Eady gave the newspaper summary judgment in a decision handed down yesterday.

The judge said the couple, who assessed the worth of their claim at £850,000, believed they had been unjustly treated.

But they had not sufficiently taken into account the latitude which had long been permitted under English law for reports of court proceedings.

The content of the article was based on the pleadings in the UKBA case - which was struck out in April - and most of the elements comprising the article were reflected in those documents.

Privilege attached to "a fair and accurate copy of or extract from any register or other document required by law to be open to public inspection" by virtue of section 15 and Schedule 1, Part 1 of the Defamation Act 1996, the judge said.

"Minor errors will not undermine such a defence. The headline was of course intended to be punchy and eye-catching.

"The basic facts were given a 'tabloid tweak', in the sense that the passing reference to 'holidays' had been rather buried away as part of a more general illustration of the family's limited circumstances; they were not actually 'demanding a £100,000 payment - so they can take their two kids on holiday'. But I do not regard such a gloss as falling outside the permitted leeway."

Granting summary judgment to News Group Newspapers, he said that, overall, there was no allegation in the article which would not be capable of being defended by way of justification or fair comment on the basis of the case pleaded in the UKBA case.

 
Letters to the editor: 'Court will decide if I broke undertakings', 08 November 2012
 
Letters to the editor: 'Court will decide if I broke undertakings' Harlow Star

By Tony Bennett
Published: 08 November 2012

SIR, Your report ("Lawyer back in court over McCann claims", November 1) omitted to state the key element of my defence against claims I broke court undertakings.

As is widely known, the original senior detective in the case, Dr Goncalo Amaral, published a book in 2008 setting out his views on the case. It's a book on which I base my views of what happened.

It's also widely known that the McCanns successfully banned his book at court hearings in September 2009 and January 2010 in Lisbon.

But what is not so well known is that the ban on Dr Amaral's book was lifted by the Portuguese Appeal Court in October 2010. The McCanns appealed unsuccessfully to the Portuguese Supreme Court against the unbanning of his book in March 2011. In both cases, costs were awarded against the McCanns. These two courts were very clear: they said it was a breach of his rights to freedom of expression and speech, under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to continue the ban on his book.

So his book has been on sale again in Portugal for over two years. But much more than that, his book has been translated into nine European languages and has sold a million copies in over two dozen countries.

The current position is that people in Britain can't read Dr Amaral's book in English because no publisher will take the risk of publishing it so long as Britain retains its oppressive libel laws.

Finally, it was not correct to state that three of the 16 undertakings I gave to the McCanns and the court have been broken. That remains for the court to decide after they have heard my defence.