As some of you may know, Peter Reynolds opened defamation lawsuits in the High Court against myself, Chris Bovey, Greg de Hoedt, and Alun Buffry in February of this year. I have been unable to comment on this for legal reasons for some time, except to briefly counter some nonsense from Peter Reynolds who takes advantage of all such enforced silences to rewrite reality in his favour. This morning, I received a letter stating that I have been awarded judgement and costs against Peter Reynolds:
Today is a good day.
Let me back up a bit and explain what happened, now I can. In January, I blogged about Peter Reynolds trying to find out information about my personal details by pretending to be a journalist. Following this story, Peter Reynolds emailed me, and published to Facebook, a copy of the receipt for the High Court lawsuit he had filed against me. Brilliantly, he’d sent the actual documents to an address in Manchester that I hadn’t lived at for two years and had no way of getting to. When I told him to send me a copy to my workplace, he only sent the statement of claim (his allegations of my supposed defamation), and not copies of his evidence, so to this day I have no idea what it was he actually filed with the court. Not that it actually mattered.
The claim accused me of falsely claiming he is a sexist, homophobic, transphobic racist who has reported medical cannabis users to the police. As I have received judgement in my favour without ever seeing the inside of a courtroom, I like to think that is partly because Peter Reynolds *is* a sexist, homophobic, transphobic racist who has reported medical cannabis users to the police, and partly because legally he didn’t appear to know his arse from his elbow.
Three other people were sued along with myself, Chris, Greg and Alun. Chris’s case is ongoing in the same direction as my own. He hasn’t managed to find Greg yet. Alun chose to settle. Although I can’t say I approve, I have to admit that the settlement he reached legally gave Peter Reynolds nothing to show for his £2100, so kudos. Including application fees, Peter Reynolds has spent over £9,000 suing us – I shall leave you to imagine how you could have spent such a sum if you were a cannabis activist with that kind of money to throw around.
To judge from his original emails, which you will get to see for yourselves, Peter Reynolds apparently thought that we would all crumple as soon as he filed the lawsuits, and was quite put out by the fact that I submitted a 30 page defence noting that everything I have said about him is quite true and providing substantive evidence of such. So put out, he tried to claim that he’d never been sent a copy:
“I didn’t receive it personally” isn’t a compelling or relevant argument to the court, incidentally, even if someone residing at the same address coincidentally called P. Reynolds with an identical signature hadn’t signed for the package and Royal Mail hadn’t sent me a copy:
This is the level of bullshit with which I have had to deal. What has transpired in the last ten months has been largely moody letter-swapping, as Peter Reynolds repeatedly tried to get out of actually going to court by ordering, demanding and finally begging me to give up immediately. The letter in which he politely asked me if I would “please” consent to an interim costs order (requiring me to give him £2000) is definitely my favourite letter ever.
In the end, Peter Reynolds managed to get a court date put off by asking me for a stay of proceedings, which I agreed to because I would have had to have taken a day off from my work placement, and then never informed the court that he intended to continue suing me otherwise, so they struck out the entire case in August. The same thing happened with Chris, as Peter Reynolds Watch has reported. Peter Reynolds reopened the case against Chris after the post was published, but strangely, took no action against me. I left it a few months to see what would happen.
Then, after I wrote this article about his medical cannabis claims, Peter Reynolds sent an email about me to Dutch activist Peter Lunk in which he stated that he had taken legal action against me (past tense) and claimed that my defence was that I have “mental health conditions” (this was not my defence). I therefore wrote to the court with a copy of this and asked for judgement in my favour. Seeing as Peter Reynolds appeared to have checked out of his own lawsuit, Master Eastman, it seems, agreed.
And now, I have won. Ha. Lol. LMAO. ROFLcopter. etc. etc.
What Happens Now?
As promised, I will be publishing all court documentation and correspondence for your perusal, so that everyone, especially those who have also received legal threats from Peter Reynolds, can see the dumbassery I have been subjected to in full. This will happen in the next few days, as I need to upload it all, add comments etc. I did warn Peter Reynolds that I would be publishing his letters quite early on, and it’s remarkable how polite he became in contrast to his previous rantings, such as:
you believe that you can repeatedly abuse, harass and defame me with impunity but as soon as I take any steps to defend myself you seek to portray yourself as some sort of victim. This is a delusional state of mind. Your defamatory articles and conduct are the cause of this action and I suggest that you face up to this and deal with it.
There were also threats
- that he was going have my defence struck out (he didn’t);
- that I was going to be slapped with an order to pay his costs in advance of trial because of the overwhelming evidence of my guilt (I wasn’t);
- that he was going to sue me for reporting him to the police for harassment (he did not);
- and that he was going to apply for summary judgement because a trial wasn’t necessary (if he did, the Court threw it out and I never heard about it).
On a more serious note, both myself and the other defendants have been bothered online for months by CLEAR peons boasting about how our time was coming and we were going to regret “smearing” Peter Reynolds and “undermining” the cannabis campaign, I presume because that’s what Peter Reynolds was predicting was going to happen to them. But the idea that we were going to lose was just never on the cards. Literally everyone I spoke to with any kind of legal experience said his case was completely mad. The question was when, not if.
I’d like to thank all of the many people who have written to express support for me, in particular Jeff Ditchfield who kindly took on Power of Attorney to deal with Peter Reynolds’ emails. Being emailed nearly every day while I was at work started to wear on me and that gave me the space to deal with Peter Reynolds’ verbosity on my terms rather than his. Cheers to Chris for all his support and I hope he has his own happy announcement soon. Thank you to those who gave me advice, support and leeway on deadlines while I was dealing with letters and court documents.
I would like to say that this is the end. I fell into this entirely by accident and I have other things to do with my life. I’m studying for an MSc in Occupational Therapy and I’m eight months away from ordination as an interfaith minister. But as long as Peter Reynolds attacks me, my friends or groups I am associated with, I will defend them.
How much did you win in costs?
Sadly, I don’t know right now. There remains some legal manoeuvrings to determine this that I can’t go into. As you can see in the order at the top, I didn’t actually send in receipts for my costs and apparently the hours I applied for were unusually high as well (something I find quite ironic given I based my costs schedule on Peter Reynolds’). So I will have to prepare a load more stuff for the court, and that will take a little while. The final costs won’t be an insignificant amount, but it has never been about the money.
Whatever the final bill, on top of the £2145 Peter Reynolds dropped on suing me in the first place that he won’t be getting back, this has been an extremely expensive exercise in intimidation.
Was it worth it?
Asked to me by a cop the second time I reported Peter Reynolds for harassment, and echoed by the people who are too lazy to stand up for what they believe it, I’d have to say that I would rather not have been sued. It has been a stressful time and the number of hours I officially submitted in my costs estimations was dwarfed by the amount of time I spent talking about it, thinking about it, researching etc. But I was sued, and sometimes you have to take the lemons that life deals you and prove to a forensic standard that those lemons are racist.
Peter Reynolds Watch broke the news of the strike-outs in August, and predictably, people have been complaining that by giving him attention, we strengthen both him and CLEAR where they would otherwise has faded into obscurity. I hope that the CNN documentary has disabused them of that notion, and in any case, being sued is a bit more of a deal than writing a Facebook status. You can’t ignore someone who has literally spent thousands of pounds trying to find you and ruin you offline. I have been legally silenced for the last ten months, but now I would really like to address this point. The fact is that as a consequence of some dedicated efforts of individuals in the cannabis movement, Peter Reynolds has been denied credibility as a representative of cannabis users, with most journalists writing stories about them contacting me or PRW for further information. And he has to a large extent stopped posting bigoted comments on his blog and on the CLEAR Facebook page, which was really what I wanted in the first place.
You know, you should write a book about this.
I am writing a book. I have always wanted to write a book, and they say you should write about what you know. And after two years and a lawsuit, I know this subject very, very well. I am 20,000 words in, and intend to finish it over the Christmas period, with a tentative release date of February 2014. Provisionally entitled “Cannabis and Conmen”, it is a memoir looking at how I first found myself involved in the cannabis community and Peter Reynolds’ effort to silence and sue, people who disagree with him on basic things like the rights of gay people to not be slandered, cannabis smokers to gather together in parks, and heads of state to not be assassinated because Peter Reynolds doesn’t approve of them. The book contains new and bonus material beyond what has been previously published by myself and PRW, including:
- The stories that led up to each article that I’ve published to date.
- All the details of how the lawsuit played out behind the scenes.
- New and exciting ways in which Peter Reynolds has sought to express his particular brand of malevolence towards everyone in the world, including previously unseen emails and screenshots. Things like:
- How Peter Reynolds has been continually trying to spy on my social media accounts (did you think I didn’t notice that?).
- More extensive coverage of the antics of Derek, Maharg and other members of Castle CLEAR that I have not previously blogged about. Derek in particular likes to post things that aren’t worthy of attention in their own right but are fun to bring up. Like this:
- A 3,000 word MiSTing I wrote on CLEAR Executive member Joel’s bizarre legal document in response to being caught accepting cocaine on the internet. I never published it because I went out to attend synagogue and when I came back, Joel had already been fired, and it seemed unsporting to kick a man when he had been put down. I have fewer qualms about putting it into print where it won’t follow him around online.
You can therefore sign up to this mailing list below to be notified of its release. I need hardly say that any further attempts to harass me will simply be documented and included in another chapter.
What lesson should I take from this?
Don’t fucking sue me.