So (this might be a long email so settle down with a cuppa and a biscuit)...
Those of you who frequent the Doctor Who Forum might have noticed this morning that all mention of Obverse Books and the Iris book have been banned by Shaun Lyon
. As he says,"Please be advised that discussion, direct or indirect, of Obverse Books and/or its Iris Wildthyme material is no longer permitted in this forum under any circumstances. Anyone who does so will have their membership revoked. Sorry, but I won't be answering inquiries about this. Suffice to say that if you'd like any explanation, you are welcome to take it up with them."
Given that the fault for all this for once has little to do with me and everything to do with certain other people telling lies it seemed worth going public with this, and at least providing some entertainment for the faithful readers of this blog and, hopefully, the Iris book.
I promise not to editorialise or make my usual snarky comments, but essentially a poster on the Doctor Who Forum, one Magister, doesn't like me because I once or twice
pointed out the idiocy of his canon argument in a thread on that forum (yes, I know, canon debates - I should know better).
He's obviously a bit mental, hence his suggestion here that a load of PE teachers should come round and give me a kicking :)http://www.doctorwhoforum.com/showpost.php?p=7796195&postcount=412
Which is fine, really - lots of people over the years have been less than fond of me and I can no doubt be a pain in the arse at times.
However Magister then took advantage of the fact I was banned from (Steven Hill, Chief Admin of DWF, banned me rather hilariously for saying in jest that my pal Jonn was an absolute arse. In spite of Jonn immediately posting pointing out that he started it and we were pals and it was just a joke. Ho hum.)
Eh, where was I? Oh yes - Magister took advantage of my two week ban to post various things which suggested that I had used his order details improperly to find out private details about him. Starting on the 4th of May with this narky but relatively benign post where he first asked from nowhere 'How secure is the ordering system?" and then when Phil Purser-Hallard
pointed out that it was 100% safe, followed up with "I was more posting about how secure the information is within "Obverse Books", and how personal details are used by Stuart."http://doctorwhoforum.com/showpost. php?p=8211966&postcount=172
(though its been taken down as of yesterday I think)
Bit annoying and enough to piss me off a bit, but that was all.
I did think I better say something rather than leave that hanging, so I sent a humorous (I thought) post from a new account, called 'Madge', featuring an avatar of Madge from Neighbours
and styling myself 'The Representative of Obverse Industries' (any of you Jandek
fans? :) as
Thanks for the reply. I was more posting about how secure the information is within "Obverse Books", and how personal details are used by Stuart.[/QUOTE]
As Obverse Books' legal representative on doctorwhoforum.com I can assure all interested parties that Obverse Books uses only "Paypal" for its "payment" system, as this is by far the most secure such "system" around, on the grounds that Paypal only sends the customer
"address" to the vendor. No credit card details or other financial information is in any way available "to" Obverse Books.
Obverse Books has not as yet had any "order" from a Mr "Magister" but looks forward to receiving such in the "future".
Mr Douglas would also like to apologise to Mr Jonn Elledge for calling him an absolute arse and a total tit. This is patently not the case and having taken objective steps to re-appraise his position non-subjectively, Mr Douglas now finds it hard to credit he was ever so vile.
Further he would like to agree with Mr Elledge's mum that Mr Elledge is in point of fact "a very nice boy with a lovely smile" and with Mr Elledge's granny that "the other boys are just jealous of his good looks and will be his friend once they realise that that haircut works
just as well on a boy as on a girl".
The Representative of Obverse Industries."
All obviously tongue in cheek and in no way intended to subvert any rules on OG but in any case I got banned for life from DWF by Steven Hill for that.
Again, not the end of the world even though it meant I would need to get Paul Magrs or CodySchell or someone to make update posts to DWF. I did send Steven Hill an email apologising for creating duplicate accounts, but also pointing out that I had made no attempt to hide that it was me and was obviously joking but that if he felt an apology was called for then I certainly apologised.
In fact, here's the full text of my email to Hill from 6 May, the day after I was banned:
Apologies for the duplicate account. I was not aware that there was any stricture in place to prevent me from creating a temporary new user for a specific and, I thought, important, reason, but now that I have been made aware of that fact, I naturally understand that this
breaches the rules.
In my defence, however, I should point out that there was no attempt to create a genuine sock puppet, not did I make any attempt to hide the fact that it was me posting. It's just that I - and several other people who PM'ed and emailed me - felt my integrity was definitely
being called into question and, given the recent concerns raised by the Forbidden Planet fraud, I felt - and still feel - an immediate response was required.
I have in the past run several highly successful and profitable businesses and while Obverse Books is more by way of being a sideline, did not succeed with these companies in the past by ignoring a statement which, with the greatest respect to your post to OG, is malicious, potentially libellous, almost certainly damaging to my business and which I did consider discussing with my solicitor.
In any case I had thought that the obviously humorous and exaggerated manner in which I both answered Magister's question and apologised to Jonn for an offence which he didn't take, made it clear that I had no intention of deceiving anyone as to the identity of the poster and had expected that to be taken into account.
That said, if you feel an apology is required then please do accept my genuine apologies.
I did consider mailing you to ask if you had any objection to my setting up an Obverse Books account solely to post news about the books, but that seems largely pointless when I already have an existing account. Should my account be restored, I have decided not to post to the forum in future except where it impacts upon my book which, though a shame, is probably for the best all things considered.
I look forward to your thoughts in this matter.
to which Hill actually replied on the 7th May (the sole reply before Shaun's final, banning obverse email) as follows:
Before I can respond to this myself, I need to have Shaun take a look at it. Any time anyone mentions legal complications, it becomes Shaun's business.
Sadly neither Shaun nor Steven Hill bothered to get back to me after that (and Lyon presumably now claims that Hill was lying and never sent the email on at all, if his initial claim to have known nothing about the matter is accepted at face value).
Magister however continued to post. On the 8th of May he said
"I'm going to try for a final post on the subject. I'm going to Pm a copy to Steve. I'm sorry Steve if this post isn't allowed. If you have to delete it please could you also delete the referenced post by Stuart on the other thread. If this post gets deleted I wont post on this subject again.
I've gone out of my way not to be defamatory, but to make as open comments as I can so that Stuart can reply.
The start of this, which I hoped to avoid posting for Stuart's sake, was that within days of me ordering, stuart posted on the books not canon thread the following:
Originally Posted by Stuart Douglas View Post
You know, I am so glad that I've now been told who you are in real life [ - I'd hate to think you'd one day be teaching my kids]
It was that post that led me to try, without breaking forum rules, to find out from stuart how he had used my order to find out who I am in real life.
I was hoping that Stuart would reply without me having to go into details."
Now he knew I was banned and all he had to do was ask me how I knew who he was (a fact I'd mentioned in passing jokey reference) - and I would have told him the truth, that a couple of people had told me it by email. Leaving aside the fact that I had no idea he'd ordered a
book, there's no way you can do anything with a Paypal email other than read it! But rather than email me via OG or the Obverse site, he took advantage of the fact I couldn't reply to suggest pretty plainly that I was up to no good.
With no reply from Messrs Hill and Lyon thus far and Magister getting more outrageous - and as the date of publication got nearer - Paul Magrs emailed Steven Hill directly via the OG address, as follows:
I'm a bit annoyed about this Magister bloke. It seems that he and Stuart Douglas have had a long-running debate about canonicity and other fun things. However, now it seems this Magister person has started to impugn Stuart's integrity and reliability, very publicly on the forum. To me it looks like it could have a very adverse effect on sales of the Iris Wildthyme anthology Stuart is publishing this month.
I'm not very happy about that. That book is something we've both put a lot of effort into. It's not right if a spat about something silly like continuity can end up with someone deliberately casting
aspersions on somebody's trustworthiness. That's what Magister's messages look like to me. In these straitened times it's hard to launch a new small press. It's really unhelpful to have someone
behaving as Magister seems to be doing. It looks like silliness and spite, but can have an effect on floating customers.
Stuart's been banned from OG, I believe. So he can't come back on these debates. His being banned is beside the point in all this. I don't have time to keep looking at these discussion pages, but I don't want people bad-mouthing Stuart's or Obverse Books' integrity. Will you, as a moderator, put a stop to this snideness, please?
i'll look forward to hearing from you,
Again, Paul got no reply.
I mail Hill again asking if Shaun Lyon had had a chance to look at my email yet and again get no reply. So I asked Jon Dennis, as a friend of Shaun Lyon's, to email him on my behalf, simply asking him to get in touch, as follows:.
My apologies if you are no longer running the Forum, but as far as I know, you are. I'm normally loath to ask a favor like this, but Stuart Douglas' company has been subjected to some defamatory posts by some guy calling himself Magister and Steve Hill appears more interested in staying on Magister's good side. I'll admit it's partially self-interest, I have a story in the book in question and Magister seems intent on costing it some sales. At least one of these posts could be considered libellous, so I think it might be a good idea if you contact Stuart at sa douglas at gmail.com."
Shaun never got in touch at all - and presumably claims not to have received this email either.
A week or so passed with no replies from any of the emails to Shaun or Steven Hill from me, Paul or Jon, and then on the 22nd May Magister popped up again and, after a few daft snidey comments about me, posted this:
"There's a lot more I could say about one poster which I'm not allowed to by forum rules which I respect, but I do have information I ought to find a way to become more generally available. So I do bite my tongue here a lot, as I'm sure others do to and if unguarded comments are leaking out I apologise...It is my responsiblity to find a way away from OG to share the inappropriate actions of a particular poster, and I should not have referred to him here in that way. I will redouble my efforts not to do that again."
in response to a post which mentioned Phil PH and I. I was banned but Phil took reasonable umbrage and pointed out that the statement was potentially libellous and would he care to elaborate. He sent Phil a PM apologising to him and confirming that his quarrel was with me.
He's of the opinion that I'd "used" the personal details he submitted with his order for the Iris book, which is demonstrably neither possible nor the case, as he'd been told on OG when he first brought the matter up.
That last post was the straw that broke the camel's back for me as was a follow up post where he 'apologised' for the allegation while simply repeating it.
With the book coming out in a week and these posts presumably putting some level of doubt in the minds of the potential readership (already spooked by the FP International issues just previously), I spoke to a mate who's a lawyer in the States and showed him the same email
chain I've added above. He said that the final post in particular was "defamatory" and "likely to do material damage to [my] business" and definitely actionable. I told him that I didn't want to do that - apart from anything else it's expensive, I could conceivably lose and - most importantly - it would be overkill. He suggested I therefore send an email to Shaun Lyon via as secure a method as possible, laying out the problem in a calm manner, as one professional adult to
another, and pointing out that as owner of the forum, Shaun Lyon was legally liable for the content contained on it, especially if it has been previously brought to his attention.
I asked round, got two different email addresses for Shaun from mutual friends, plus got Jon Dennis to send the email via Facebook mail so that he couldn't pretend not to have received it, although I suspected that the suggestion of legal consequences should at least guarantee a
What I sent was:
I am extremely sorry to have to bother you but as Steven Hill has chosen to ignore emails from myself and Paul Magrs and continues to allow one poster, Magister, to make posts on OG which increasingly look likely to force me to instigate formal legal proceedings against
you, it seems best to at least attempt to go over his head before I have to spend further money on lawyers.
I have no idea if you know what has been going on over on the DWF but as you are the owner of that site you are unfortunately legally liable for the content posted on it, particularly if that content has been reported for potentially illegal activity and nothing has been done by the people you appoint to run the boards.
Please note that this is not a plea to be reinstated on the forum, from which I am currently banned by Mr Hill. Mr Hill is in my opinion clearly partial, but membership of a public forum is equally clearly in the purview of the owner and his representatives and if you feel that DWF is better served without my presence then that is your decision.
However, this Magister has some vendetta against me quite out of proportion to the fact that I have on several occasions pointed out - I admit possibly less than politely - the foolishness of both his arguments and of his ability to use English correctly.
So out of proportion have they become in fact that one of his latest posts (number 792 in the Canon thread in the Books section) is most definitely libellous and aimed at me. The libel is self-evident - in reply to a post from BryanB in which Bryan pointed out that Magister's
previous post was both defamatory towards Phil Purser-Hallard and I - Magister said, in part,
"There's a lot more I could say about one poster which I'm not allowed to by forum rules which I respect, but I do have information I ought to find a way to become more generally available...It is my responsibility to find a way away from OG to share the inappropriate
actions of a particular poster, and I should not have referred to him here in that way. I will redouble my efforts not to do that again."
and then confirmed to Phil by PM, when he quite rightly replied to highlight the libel contained therein, that he was talking about me.
His problem is that he in some way believes that I have misused a Paypal email from him to identify who he is, when this is in fact utterly impossible (as he has been told) - while obviously anyone who buys a product online needs to put his name and address down, there is
no magister@ email in the orders thus far and so no way in which I could identify him from that.
In fact, I had no idea he had ordered a book and was actually sent the same name for Magister by three separate people within a couple of days of one another advising that should I ever need to legal action against him for the more inappropriate things he had said about me
that his name would be helpful. Had Magister emailed me directly I would have told him this, but instead he has chosen to continue to post false claims about me, with the collusion of Mr Hill and, therefore, the approval of yourself.
I have spoken to a lawyer who specialises in US law and he tells me that this statement, when combined with confirmation of its target, is certainly libellous and likely to cause material harm to my business (in this instance, Obverse Books), especially given that any suspicion
- or hint of mistrust - about my handling of credit card details could be particularly damaging in light of the recent card fraud from Forbidden Planet International sales.
I am informed that all of this, combined with DWF's failure to take appropriate action in the face of multiple and repeated complaints about Magister, is a solid basis for a civil action.
As examples of these multiple complaints, Paul Magrs wrote directly to Mr Hill via the DWF email address but received no reply as did I; several people have reported Magister's posts multiple times using the DWF Report function; and others have posted directly in the thread
itself highlighting various inappropriate and potentially legally damaging posts by Magister - only to be effectively told to shut up by Mr Hill. All of these people are happy to confirm their actions.
As I say I am not attempting to be reinstated to the forum, but for all that Obverse is not my primary business it is a business nonetheless, and I thus have no choice but to take some action to ensure that Magister is no longer allowed to post libellously about me on a public forum and to obtain an apology and public retraction from Magister for the libels he has posted thus far.
I would be grateful if you could both reply to confirm receipt of this email and give some thought to its contents. I should stress that I am more than willing to take foral legal action in this matter if need be but would obviously prefer to avoid such unpleasantness over a problem which can be easily solved from your side.
I look forward to hearing from you but if I have had no reply with in one week of today then I will assume you are unwilling to take any action and are giving formal as opposed to merely tacit approval to Magister's activities on your forum, and will act accordingly to protect my personal and professional reputation.
For once, Shaun Lyon replied quite quickly - the following morning the email below was in my Inbox (and in Paul's too incidentally).
I think you have a lot of nerve, opening a dialogue with a person you've never met -- and who had no idea about ANY of this -- by taking a warning shot. Not a friendly "by the way". Not a "can you please help?" None of that. Just a reprehensible "Shaun, I have a problem, and if you don't solve it, I'm going to try to fuck you over." I am absolutely *disgusted* that you would choose this tack with me, considering that so many of your contributors are people I know personally... Mark Wright, Jonathan Dennis, Steve Cole, Steve Lyons, Steve Wickham, and especially Katy Manning. If it was your intention of being a twat, you've been a great success at it.
I read Magister's post in question, and frankly, if I wasn't one of the twelve or so people who might actually know what he's on about, I would have completely bypassed it. Whatever. I've taken Magister's post, and a reply to it, and removed it. I'm going to warn him not to
make any statements against you in future. I've put my staff on alert that he is not allowed to make any further comment about this, and should he, he will be removed from the forum.
Meanwhile, I am hereby letting you know that the discussion of your book and/or Obverse Books is hereby a topic non grata in my discussion forum. Period. I don't want anyone mentioning it, nobody discussing it, nobody putting links to it in their signature files, etc. As it
is *my* Forum, I don't want one single byte of my bandwith used for the promotion of your material. If you'd like to share that fact with your contributors, be my guest... be sure you make note of the fact that you threatened to sue straight off the bat.
Does that work for you, or is there anything else you'd like to take umbrage with?
I said wouldn't editorialise so I won't mention Lyon's aggressive attitude or even the swearing, but one thing he seems to think is that in some way I would have issues in telling anyone what had happened. Which is why I copied this mesage to every one of the book contributors, the contributors Lyon seems to believe I would be avoiding for some reason - every message, post and mail of which can be confirmed as the truth by a variety of other people involved. I also copied Shaun Lyon in on it - I've no idea why he thinks I would have a problem explaining why he's banned the Iris book from his forum given that I'm certainly not the one who ends up looking a 'twat'...
And remember kids - www.obversebooks.co.uk to buy a copy of Iris Wildthyme and the Celestial Omnibus!
Oh, and some relevant blog posts...
Philip Purser-Hallard's blog
Simon Bucher-Jones' blog
Jon Dennis' LJ
Louise Dennis' LJ
[NB I got an email today saying that it was a breach of netiquette to put private emails online. Fair point, but in my defence I should point out that the main reason I put this online as opposed to my original email to the book contributors is that Lyon emailed one of the writers and told him to ignore anything I said because I was a liar. And I mailed all the contributors with the exact post I made below, missing nothing out but adding nothing in, several of them advised similar contact and suggested I put it all on my blog. As the posts below demonstrate, I have nothing to hide. Meanwhile Lyon is defriending anyone on Facebook who so much as mentions Obverse Books.]
Labels: idiots, iris wildthyme