Thursday, 7 August 2008

SPCK shops — Wet Fish rotting

Even with my mind was on higher things, I've been following the unfolding saga of SPCK bookshops and the Brewers, but somewhat from afar. I see it’s now made Private Eye again. This is certainly a classic Eye Story:
More on the Texan Brewer Brothers who presided over the disastrous demise of the SPCK chain of Christian bookstores.

The St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust (SSG) claims not to have the money to pay their former employees (see Eye 1214), but appeared to have somewhow scraped together the pennies to pay lawyers to silence cartoonist Dave Walker who had written about the affair on his blog...

...the saga has been taken up by other bloggers who have been checking out the US bankruptcy filings, which may explain why SSG can afford to pay the lawyers. The “disclosure of compensation of attorney for debtor” shows that for legal services rendered in connection with the bankruptcy case SSG is to pay $75,000 to lawyer J. Mark Brewer, who also happens to be.... chairman and CEO of SSG!

PS: As the Eye went to press, a number of other bloggers had received C[ease] and D[esist] letters from J. Mark Brewer, including Rev Sam Norton of West Mersea. Brewer’s correspondence now makes the bizarre claim that “Neither English nor American law permits you to engage in what you term ‘fair comment’ with respect to a private company, nor with respect to a private individual — namely, me.”
Thanks and greatest respects to Matt Wardman, Sam Norton and Phil Groom, who have borne the heat of the day. It’s an almost perfect example of the Streisand Effect — named after the attempt by Barbra of that Ilk to prevent her house appearing on the internet. Like a bizarre game of swatting the mole, every attempt to ban the picture increased the number online, until she had given her name to a whole new “groundswell” phenomenon. The whole SSG/SPCK fiasco demonstrates that to run a chain of bookshops you need staff, stock, suppliers and customers, as well as crusading zeal and views somewhre over to the Right of Genghis Khan.

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