The letter below was submitted to Clare Hogan of the Times Law Supplement at her invitation to reply to the paper’s wilfully misleading article about Baron v Housmans. She stressed it should be both short and non-defamatory. Short, it ain’t!
93c Venner Road, Sydenham, London SE26 5HU. 020 8659 7713 E-Mail A_Baron@ABaron.Demon.Co.UK August 26, 2002 Madam, Your article A triumph that cost us dear (August 20) is one of a number of seriously misleading reports that have appeared about this case in recent weeks. The legal actions against Housmans Bookshop actually date back to a November 1993 article in the magazine Searchlight where toge- ther with two other men it was claimed that I was engaged in some sort of criminal conspiracy. Shortly after that article was pub- lished I was assaulted on my doorstep by three men, two of them wielding mallets, in what was a clearly politically motivated attack. As a result of said article and a subsequent article I brought two successful actions against both the magazine's then editor and its distributors, including Housmans. The actions were concluded when the editor paid me five thousand pounds and pub- lished a retraction. Prior to that Housmans had paid me 3,200 pounds and published an apology in Peace News. Company Secre- tary William Hetherington has since admitted both verbally and in print that this apology was totally insincere. In the recent action I instituted proceedings over the claim that I am a plagiarist; Housmans ignored not one but two pre-action letters and removed the defamatory publication from their shelves only after I had instituted proceedings, and after it has been on sale for seven months. Incredibly, at the trial the judge excluded all evidence of previous actions, otherwise my damages would surely have been much higher. Craig Liddle's claims of innocent dissemination - which was not pleaded in the first two actions - are undermined by the admitted fact that in 1995 Housmans distributed a letter written by a member of its staff which openly accused the editor of Search- light of inciting violence against Larry O'Hara, the author of the publication at the centre of the latest action, and one of my supposed co-conspirators. Such claims are undermined further by the sort of literature that Housmans has stocked over the years and continues to stock, including the infamous Kirkup poem which was reprinted in Peace News in the run-up to the Gay News blaspemous libel case, and in defiance of the law of contempt. Housmans has also stocked for many years the newspaper An Pho- blacht, which is the mouthpiece of the Provisional IRA, indeed copies of this newspaper can be seen in the background of the photograph of Craig Liddle that appears in your law section. Housmans may be many things, but innocent disseminators? Never! Yours sincerely, A Baron
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