Roger Whittaker

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Damage (5) (Craig Murray and Schillings)

Tuesday 25th September 2007

The Schillings web site repays a little study.

It seems that these lawyers actually specialise in the exactly the type of cowardly and bullying action which they took against Craig Murray by threatening his web hosting company, rather than advising their client Usmanov to sue him for libel. It was not surprising that Fasthosts caved in, given the absurdity of the law in this country which would make them liable for damages if Usmanov and Schillings had dared to actually sue.

The partners in Schillings (Rachel Atkins, Gideon Benaim, Rod Christie-Miller, John Kelly, Keith Schilling and Simon Smith) claim that

Today, we continue to push the boundaries, not only practicing [sic] law but acting as a catalyst for change.

They use these quotes about themselves:

"Schillings -- one of the legal companies most feared by Fleet Street"
The Scotsman

"Ruthlessly and spectacularly efficient media law firm"
The Independent

They have a page devoted to their claimed skills in the area of getting web content removed.

Their Press Releases page boasts of their successes on behalf of clients such as Naomi Campbell, David Hasselhoff, Jonathan Ross and Marco Pierre White.

Using the crazy English libel laws combined with the precedent set in the case of Godfrey v Demon Internet, they think they can get any web content removed which upsets any of their rich clients.

(I suffered from something like this myself on one occasion, when the compulsive auto-googler and ex-Principal Franciska Bayliss used other people's money to pay Veale Wasborough to write threatening letters to Bytemark -- while not contacting me directly in any way -- which forced me to remove some content from this site.)

In the case of Naomi, Jonathan and Marco Pierre, it's simply a case of the unspeakable defending the grotesque, and it may be hard to summon much sympathy for the tabloid journalists who wrote the original stories.

However, the fact is that in this country the rich and powerful are accustomed to being able to prevent anything being published about them that they don't want to be seen, regardless of its truth. Only the very determined and the very courageous can hope to win in such cases. Craig Murray is one of those.

In the case of Usmanov's complaint about Craig Murray's site, the lawyers have over-reached themselves, partly because of the publicity resulting from the fact that Fasthosts at least temporarily took down other sites including Boris Johnson's, but mainly because a very large number of Murray's supporters have published and linked to copies of the original article.

What a pity Rachel Atkins, Gideon Benaim, Rod Christie-Miller, John Kelly, Keith Schilling and Simon Smith can't get honest jobs instead of taking money from a billionaire to persecute a decent and honourable man.

Collectively, with the power of the Internet, maybe we can give these people the answer they deserve -- the one which was made famous in the case of Arkell v Pressdram.