Urgh, it’s happening again! This is the 4th incident where I’ve been told to remove content from my site because it’s supposedly libellous. It’s like Groundhog day, because the threats are always so ridiculous and petty, in my opinion.
The latest episode is actually the most flimsy libel notice I’ve ever received. At least the others were properly formatted, informative and seemed somewhat legit (in terms of the way they were written). Take a look at the email I received:
LIBEL NOTICE – Article title – Is your Letting Agent holding Deposits… Post – Romeo Victim wrote this on 2010-01-08 19:09:43
Please note there is an ongoing libel action underway regarding similar defamatory statements which have been put all over the net. Please accept this as notification that is the above comment is not removed by 5pm on Tuesday 12 January 2010 you will be added to the proceedings as a voluntary publisher. Google are aware and are in the process of removing all search links to this and similar comments.
Here’s a link to the article: Is Your Letting Agent Holding Deposits Or Failing To Pass On Rent?, and the actual comment is at the bottom of the page- “Romeo Victim”, wrote this on 2010-01-08 19:09:43.
Note: I’ve removed the comment now. However, the user “Romeo Victim” was basically complaining/accusing a letting agent (that has now seized trading due to financial difficulties) of leaving dozens of landlords trying to trace £100k+ of missing rent and deposits.
1] The comment may be libellous, but Claire didn’t tell me what in particular is defamatory. Surely she should tell me, right?
2] I received the email at 1pm – she gave me 4 hours notice to bend over and lick her toes. 4 hours? Give me a break. I didn’t even have access to my website until 8pm tonight. I’m not sure what the law stipulates, but is 4 hours appropriate notice? I had a similar problem before, when some fucker gave me a few hours notice to remove some content from my website. Seems ridiculous.
3] I refuse to believe for one second that Google are aware and are in the process of removing all search links to this and similar comments, as Claire claimed. Firstly, Google are way too big to bend over for such a small case. Secondly, it’s not illegal to link to libel comments, it’s only illegal to host the content. So why would Google bother?
4] Who the fuck is Claire Mulally? Claire didn’t even tell me who she is, or what relation she has to the whole issue.
5] Since I’m such an uber geek I entered Claire’s email address (the one she provided in her email) into Facebook and I got this result:
Hmm..I’m confused!!!! The result pulls up “Charlotte Massett”, yet the email was signed from a Claire Mulally. So what’s happening here?
It all seems pretty flimsy to me, right? I’m not going to take this seriously until Claire (or whoever) approaches me properly. At the moment, there’s no substance, yet the threat seems very real.
I ain’t going to remove shit for now, not only because this is a piss-poor case as it stands, but also because as I’ve stated in my previous libel cases, it’s about principle. People shouldn’t just be able to threaten people so abruptly without being courteous and precise. I hate it when people go in all guns blazing. Claire could have tried asking me nicely to remove the content (without the legal shit). Granted, I wouldn’t have removed the content even if she was sweet as Miss Daisy, but still…she could have tried playing nice before getting dirty with legal jargon.
I haven’t replied to Claire’s email yet. Should I? If so, what should I say? I was just going to reply, “No”, and that’s it.
If there’s any progress on this case, I’ll keep you guys informed.
UPDATE – 14/01/2010
Yesterday Charlotte/Claire emailed me advising me to remove this article. Yet again, she failed to explain WHY I needed to do so, just as she had yet to explain what exactly was libellous about the comment she wanted initially removed. It was all starting to get quite tedious. I was getting orders barked at me, with no explanation. I wonder how she would have reacted if roles were reversed?
I responded asking 3 very simple questions: 1) what is libellous about the comment she wants removed 2) was I talking to Charlotte or Claire (and who is Claire?) 3) Why should I remove this blog post?
She replied, and this time actually gave me detailed and precise answers. Wicked. Last night I removed the comment because for the first time I was actually given real reasons to remove it, as opposed to “I’m not going to tell you who I am, I’m going to use a false name, I could be anyone….but I want you to remove that from your website in 4 hours”
For those wondering, Claire is a fake name Charlotte used. Not entirely sure how legal it is to send a legal notice to someone under a fake name? There’s got to be some kind of irony there, however…
Due to the fact I’m such a kind natured beast, I’ve blocked out Charlotte’s Facebook picture (due to her request).
Anyways, I still feel this could have all been avoided if Charlotte had approached me like a decent human (believe it or not, I am reasonable), and explained shit nicely. I don’t respond well to hastiness, brashness or legal threats.
I don’t want to host any illegal content in any shape or form, so I’d rather work with people on defusing these issues. Operative term being “work with people” – NOT “roll over and play slave”
UPDATE – 17/01/2010
This is fucking ridiculous now. Over this last week I’ve received more emails about this issue than I care to remember. I can’t believe I’ve got caught up in something so shit. I’ve received emails from both parties (the person who left the original comment and the person who told me to remove the libellous content). Both are playing victim, and both claim the police are involved, and both are providing me contacts to different Police officers to contact so I can clarify this is all legit! How crazy. I’m just a landlord blogger.
I’m in an unfortunate position where I don’t know what is true or not, and I can’t be arsed to get involved in a legal battle over this, so what do I do? It’s all very entertaining, granted, but I don’t want to get involved if it means I need to get solicitors involved, or stand infront of a jury. I’m young, I’d rather spend my time partying and picking up loose women.
UPDATE – 17/01/2010
Charlotte has emailed me AGAIN. So let me tell you how unreasonable I feel Charlotte is being. Firstly, this is what i’ve done for Charlotte so far…
1) Removed her picture/real surname (Massett is a fake surname to protect Charlotte’s real identity)
2) removed the comment she initially wanted removed
3) had to put up with several emails from her, warning/threatening me
Bear in mind, I feel she hasn’t been nice to me at all, and I didn’t feel I had to do any of the above. However, having done the above, she was happy (why wouldn’t she be happy? I did absolutely EVERYTHING she wanted). Then “Romeo Victom” left another comment, so she decides to email me telling me to do the following:
1) COMPLETELY remove this article. WHY? It wasn’t libellous before, and she was happy for the article to remain after I removed her name and picture. So why all of a sudden do I need to remove this article?
2) Remove 2 comments left by “romeo victim”
If I don’t do the above she’s going to take legal action against me TOMORROW and have my website removed from the internet.
I have emails to prove all of this. She’s the most unreasonable individual I have ever encountered. She’s basically giving me new orders, and if I don’t comply, she threatens me with legal action.
I cannot believe she is getting me involved so deeply with this, and so aggressively as well. And to top it off, she gave me some advice on how to run my website- apparently I should approve ALL comments before they display.
I feel harressed by Charlotte. NO JOKE!
UPDATE – 18/01/2010
So, I was told to remove this blog post by the 17th of January 2010 (yesterday), which I clearly haven’t done, and this is why…
I was told by Charlotte that they (she used the word “we”, so I assume her and her legal team) have contacted my web host and informed them I am hosting libellous material. Consequently, I was informed by Charlotte that my website could get removed.
Naturally, I got in contact with my host immediately, and explained the situation. My host came back to me this morning and confirmed that they haven’t received anything yet, and they won’t just remove my site without discussing the situation with me first.
So, yet again, something doesn’t quite add up here. Was I lied to (again)?
I’ve also been informed by another web admin that they also received the same libel notice as I did. I’m just waiting to hear what they did.
The odd thing is, I’m still not sure why Charlotte is doing all the talking. Richard James Davies, the ex-sole director at Romeo Bater (the letting agent which the initial comment was about) has left a comment on my blog (below) and he seems fine, and has even provided an email contact for anyone wanting to contact him. Moreover, Richard (Charlotte’s brother) used Charlotte’s REAL name in his comment, which I was told to strictly remove for legal reasons. What the hell?!?
So what the hell is going on here? Confused.com
Just like to say thanks to everyone who has shown me support through this whole ordeal. It really is appreciated. Hopefully my website will live to fight another.
UPDATE – 26/01/2010
On the 22nd of january I was informed by my hosting company that they have received a letter from Charlotte’s lawyers. Her lawyer’s basically told them what they wanted this article removed and a few specific comments Modified. But amazingly, they weren’t told WHY it NEEDED to be done, just as I haven’t from the start. There was no mention of which laws I was breaching by holding the content. All they mentioned is why THEY (her lawyers’) wanted it removed.
I’m just in the middle of resolving this with my hosting company as we speak. My contact with in the company has been extremely cool and understanding about the situation so far. Much appreciated, dude!
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger; I'm not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any information I share is my opinion based on my personal experiences as an active landlord, and should never be contrued as legal or professional advice. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.