EDWARD SMETHURST ISSUES A LIBEL SUMMONS AGAINST TONY BENNETT
Article filed 16 August 2011
On 9 August 2011, Mr Edward Smethurst, the Co-ordinating Solicitor for Drs Gerald and Kate McCann, issued a libel summons against Madeleine Foundation Secretary Tony Bennett, a fact he found out on returning yesterday from a 10-day holiday. The claim is limited by Mr Smethurst to ‘a sum not exceeding £100,000’.
The summons, technically called a Defamation Claim, was accompanied by an ex parte Order also made on 9 August by Master Eyre in the High Court, which requires that “any non-party seeking access to, or copies of any documents before the court or on court records (including statements of case and witness evidence) must make an application for such access on notice to the parties. Documents filed at court in respect of this action are to be placed in a sealed envelope marked: ‘Not to be provided to any non-party without the leave of a Judge or the Senior Master of the Queen’s Bench Division and on prior notice to the parties’.”
The Claim relates to postings made by Tony Bennett about Mr Smethurst on the ‘Complete Mystery of Madeleine McCann’ (CMOMM) forum between 9 and 12 May. The case has been assigned to Master McCloud.
Mr Smethurst’s concerns about one thread in particular were first brought to Mr Bennett’s attention on 4 August. Carter-Ruck, who act for Mr Smethurst, in the second of two letters sent that day, demanded: “Should you now fail to remove the defamatory postings…we will advise our client to issue proceedings for libel against you without further notice to you”. The allegedly defamatory postings were removed the following day, the day Mr Bennett began a 10-day holiday.
On his return from holiday yesterday, Mr Bennett discovered that Mr Smethurst had already issued libel proceedings, on Tuesday 9 August, in relation to two other threads on CMOMM which had not previously been brought to his attention by Mr Smethurst. These two threads about Mr Smethurst were removed from CMOMM as soon as Mr Smethursts’ libel summons was brought to the attention of CMOMM’s administrators.
Proposals to settle the dispute will shortly be put forward by Mr Bennett who has in the meantime agreed not to discuss the subject matter of his postings. We will publish further developments in the case as and when they happen.
Madeleine Foundation Committee, 16 August 2011
Additional note: In response to two letters from Carter-Ruck to me dated 4 August 2011, this forum's administrators decided the following day, as a precaution, to remove one of the Edward Smethurst threads from public view. On my return from holiday yesterday, I discovered that despite that thread having been removed at Smethurst's request, he had issued a libel writ on Tuesday 9 August, whilst I was away on holiday in Wales, citing two other threads on this forum that he claimed libelled him. Again, the administrators made a prompt decision to remove those two further Smethurst threads from public view - T.B.