1) First things first...
Craig Murray - for the moral courage that triggered this latest difficulty
Clive Summerfield - for handling this and many other technical difficulties
Justin McKeating - for handling the response to this latest difficulty
200+ other bloggers - for that response
The many bystanders who were affected by a nuclear response to a pissweak threat.
2) Schillings used a combination of misdirection, intimidation and character assassination to silence and undermine Craig Murray instead of properly addressing the substance of what he had to say about their client Alisher Usmanov or challenging it through the courts. While the exact abuse(s) of power and inappropriate use(s) of media, law, and money differ, this is otherwise indistinguishable from Jack Straw's approach to the former ambassador to Uzbekistan (1, 2). It's comforting to know that Iain Dale considers this type of assault on free speech to be wrong but, in an effort to maintain the remarkable level of cross-spectrum support we've seen in recent days, I'm going to draw this observation to a close at that point and say no more.
3) Seeing the extraordinary level of support, it's hard not to collapse into a blubbering heap a'la Sally Field, but the reality of it is that this matters to bloggers because it could happen to any one of us. Nevertheless, Clive and I do have a responsibility to finally make clear exactly what has happened and attempt to see that some general good comes of this manifestation of absolute absurdity.
4) But before we proceed, I have a quick personal message for those representatives of the mainstream media who only regarded this to be newsworthy because of the collateral damage done to Boris Johnson and/or took people like Schillings and Fasthosts at their word without even bothering to speak to us:
To ensure we broadcast as clear a picture as possible, Clive and I need to deal with this matter by addressing the parties/issues involved in the following order:
- Alisher Usmanov
- UK libel law
Today, we begin with Fasthosts. A small part of their response will be vital to our subsequent response to Schillings, but if we have to proceed without their co-operation, then so be it:
Shortly, Clive and I will be publishing a timeline of the events that led up the closure of the account, and the events that followed. However, we would like to offer Fasthosts 24 hours in which to deliver the following before we do so:
- All Schillings correspondence that Fasthosts have so far failed to show us, and an apology for the delay in disclosure.
- A retraction and/or correction of any false or misleading statements issued/relayed by Fasthosts to the press regarding the account closure, and an apology for same.
- A fair offer of compensation for all parties inconvenienced by that closure.
- An additional fair offer of compensation for the inconvenience and stress caused to myself, Clive Summerfield and Craig Murray and for the damage done to our reputations by the action (and inaction) of Fasthosts *and* for any false or misleading statements made regarding the account closure and this matter in general.
In the interests of transparency, we request that all of the above (with the exception of the Schillings correspondence itself) be addressed via a public statement to be published in this section of Fasthosts' website:
On that final request for compensation, a lot of detail will have to wait until the timeline is published, but for now we can say that we felt greatly restricted in what we could say on this matter at the time due the removal of our primary communication devices and the further complication of Fasthosts still being in possession of a large amount of our data (and their initial insistence that we move it with the equivalent of a bloody teaspoon). Fasthosts either sought to take advantage of this situation, or failed to fully communicate the exact nature of some aspects of this case to/via their PR department for reasons unknown. Either way, the message quickly spread in some quarters that we had repeatedly refused or failed to co-operate with Fasthosts over the relevant legal threats, and this simply isn't true.
We expect the response to be fairly widely-read by many opinion-makers in the field of personal web publishing, so it would also be in Fasthosts' interests to take this opportunity to also reassure current and future resellers and end-users by donning a a full-body cilice *and* outlining any changes or improvements they plan to make to their procedures when handling threats of legal action. Currently, the most popular line of thinking is that the safest way to handle matters is to host outside of the UK; therefore, we feel that Fasthosts have a unique opportunity here to help not only themselves, but the UK web hosting industry in general.
[UPDATE (26 Sep) - The deadline passed with no response from Fasthosts. The timeline had to be published with some gaps, and you can read all about it right here.]
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
1) First things first...