Your author has been very impressed with the diligence and professionalism of Cambridge Police and also with its Professional Standards Team. The Block Bot team have recently boasted online, using my real name, that I have been served with a Police Information Notice. The police have now completed a thorough internal investigation and revoked it. I have therefore decided to publish the rescinding letter to set the record straight. Screenshots below. (NOTE – the police were informed I was publishing this article and have not objected).
Your author is a Christian. Every so often there is something so good it restores your faith and requires thanks. This is one such occasion.
You would think that if you run an online database like the Atheism Plus Block Bot that describes people as ‘racists’ or ‘child abuse apologists’ you would expect to be sued. But no, on 05/03/2015 having received pre-action correspondence from me (checked by awesome solicitor Stefano Lucatello), former Block Bot administrator / blocker @AuntySarah turned up at a police station in Cambridge in tears claiming she was being harassed.
Atheism Plus is an embarrassment to atheism. Whilst I do not agree with them, there are many atheists and rationalists I enjoy speaking to and I enjoy interacting with. Atheism Plus regard all debate as harassment.
In any event, a few days later your author was served with an official police notice of ‘harassment’, which said I had sent ‘AuntySarah’ a legal letter of er … legal complaint. ‘Aunty Sarah’ was notified of the service and she and her friends publicised that I had received it online, presenting it as a finding of guilt. James Billingham (@Oolon) even used my real name.
The Block Bot team spoke to journalists, although thankfully Breitbart were very professional and listened to my side. They have strict procedures and demanded documents to check their facts.
The day after receiving the notice your author commenced the complex legal steps necessary to challenge it. I also did not back down in my claim against Brown and informed her lawyer I would pursue the Data Protection Act matter. Brown resigned and much of the objectionable material was deleted.
To their great credit police did a thorough and diligent investigation. An investigator called Mick Gilbert in the Professional Standards Department interviewed the police officer responsible and recommended it be rescinded and police training be improved.
That reflects well on the police team, including the head of Professional Standards Mike Hodgson, Inspector Steve Kerridge and Chief Constable Simon Parr. I sympathise with the police officer who issued the PIN and am not pursuing her. In real life @AuntySarah is former Liberal Democrat Councillor Sarah Brown (she makes this clear on her pages and Twitter so not revealing private information) and the officer may have felt significant pressure. This blog is pro-police.
As the police decision makes clear, litigation is not harassment. Another reason to sympathise with the police is that due to cuts in legal aid they will have to encounter many litigants in person acting reasonably but with highly variable degrees of skill. Had Ms Brown chosen to keep the PIN confidential I would not have written this article. Now she has had her reputation further damaged and doubtless her association with the Block Bot and attempts to silence critics will be ammunition for her political opponents and cause for journalistic scrutiny by people like me.
There is no need to pursue Brown as she has resigned from the Block Bot team however I am now considering further action against the Block Bot. The ICO are continuing to investigate and the oral advice I have received from the investigation officer seems to support my interpretation of the law.
The Block Bot team need to reflect that I am not just some law student. Your author has been representing people free of charge to High Court level for 4 years and winning. The legal work I have done would cost £5,000 if I had to pay – I did the whole job on a Sunday. Fortunately your author does not have to pay – I can do it myself and if I need a second opinion awesome lawyers like my friend Stefano can check it for me. If something goes wrong I will not back down – I will challenge it. And most of the time I tend to win.