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
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,
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
I have had barely one hour to consider the contents of your letter and enclosures but will say this at
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.
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
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.
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.
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..."
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"
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..."
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.
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'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
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).
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.
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.
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
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
"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.
circumstances I wish all of you on here committed to discussing what happened to Madeleine every success in getting ever closer
to the truth.
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
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
Claim No: HQ09D05196
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Before Mr/s Justice
(1) GERRY MCCANN
(2) KATE MCCANN
draft //// ORDER
was made by Counsel for the Claimants and
was attended by [counsel / solicitor for] the DefendantThe 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:
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 OrderIT IS ORDERED
- 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]
- 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]
- that for his contempt the Defendant pay to Her Majesty
the Queen a fine of £ on or before [DATE]
- that the costs of the Claimants
summarily asssssed in the sum of £ be paid by the Defendant to the Claimants
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
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.
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
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.
- I must file my reply no later than 4pm on 22 February
- The McCanns to have a chance to reply by
- 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'.
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
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.
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
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.
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.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?
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).
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.
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.
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
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
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:
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
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.
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."
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
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
"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.
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.
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
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.
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."
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
|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:
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
Jail risk for harassing the McCanns Correio da Manhã
Lawyer and chairman of the Madeleine Foundation faces prison for defaming Kate and Gerry
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 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
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.
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."
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
Before MR JUSTICE
Wednesday, 8th February 2012
At half past 10
APPLICATION TO COMMIT
McCann & anr v Bennett
Background on Michael Tugendhat:
law expert joins high court The Guardian
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
asked me to post this brief resume of today's Case Management hearing.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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:
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.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.
"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
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!
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
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
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
(previously No. 48) - 24 July 2010 (two messages)
No. 13 (previously No. 51) - 2 January 2011
(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
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
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
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
9TH and THURSDAY 10TH MAY 2012
at the Royal Courts of Justice, the Strand.
there is a settlement between the parties prior to that date, two applications will be considered by the Court:
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A brief update
Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:31
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
Amongst the papers supplied is an on-the-record statement by Carter-Ruck Partner, Isabel Hudson, and I
"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
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.
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
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
To cut a long and complex story short, it appears that the effect of the pensioner's disregard could
entitle me to Legal Aid.
I therefore appealed.
24 May I received a further letter from the LSC, this time from Ms Helen Riley, Director of Case Management.
LSC reversed their previous decisions in December last year and on 4 May this year.
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
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).
To sum up:
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
- 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
- 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.
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):
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.
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:
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.
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
McCanns v Bennett: UPDATE - 8 August 2012 Jill Havern Forum
By Tony Bennett
Wed Aug 08, 2012 6:06 pm
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].
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:
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
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
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
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,
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
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
That's disappointing, BUT...
I received a 'sincere' apology...
...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,
Thank you for your emails of 12 and 14 August 2012 addressed to our Chief Executive, Matthew Coats.
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
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.
Carter-Ruck's 'To Whom It May Concern'
letter to Tony Bennett, 8 August 2012 Jill Havern Forum
Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:01 pm
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
Case No. HQ09 D05196
Hearing before Mr Justice Tugendhat
Jacob Dean (barrister)
Isabel Martorell (formerly Hudson)
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.
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 ), the defence of 'honest comment'.
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.
Jill Havern Forum
By Tony Bennett
Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:16 pm
Will the McCanns have to attend court? They seem not to have had to in any of their legal actions to date.
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.
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
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.
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:
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
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)
24 October 2012
McCann & Anor v Bennett  EWHC 2876
(QB) (24 October 2012)
Neutral Citation Number:  EWHC
Case No: HQ09D05196
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE TUGENDHAT
(1) GERRY MCCANN (2) KATE MCCANN Claimants
- and -
Jacob Dean (instructed by Carter-Ruck) for the claimants
appeared in person
Hearing dates: 11 October 2012
Crown Copyright ©
Mr Justice Tugendhat :
- 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.
- 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.
- The background against which these applications are made is as follows.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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".
- 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."
- 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.
- 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  EWCA Civ 248 setting out the availability, in principle, of legal aid for defendants facing applications to commit for contempt of court.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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 ".
- 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.
- 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  UKSC 53;  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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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  EMLR 1;  EWCA Civ 384 at paras 16-43.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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].
application to commit me to prison will examine:
(a) Whether I have breached any of the 16 undeertakings I gave,
(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
(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
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
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, 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".
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
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"
25 Oct 2012 00:00
|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:
I have asked for the clarification you require to be included in tomorrow's paper.
have any further issues on this matter please contact our legal department, headed by Charles Collier-Wright.
can be reached at [SNIPPED]
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
McCanns get ruling on alleged 'harassment',
25 October 2012
|McCanns get ruling on alleged 'harassment' 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.
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
Written by Chris Moss
09:00 Thursday 01 November 2012
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.