With the Psychic Sally Halloween Challenge less than 48 hours, Sally’s lawyer sends me a heavy handed email. He is not a happy bunny.
On Friday evening, I received an email from Sally Morgan’s solicitor, Graham Atkins of Atkins Thomson. He has “17 years experience in the legal aspects of the media, reputation management and branding industries”.
The email is headed “STRICTLY PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL – NOT FOR PUBLICATION”.
However, having consulted with my friend and media lawyer Robert Dougans (Bryan Cave), I wanted to reply to Mr Atkins’ email and make both his email and my reply public. Here goes.
Dear Mr Atkins.
I don’t see why you are able to send me what I perceive to be a heavy handed legal email and then oblige me not to disclose this. I do not see anything in your email that is of a confidential nature. Indeed, your email contains matters that should be very public, e.g., I presume you want me to tell people that your client, hereafter referred to as “Sally”, at the current time does not plan to attend the Psychic Sally Halloween Challenge on Monday.
Moreover, I see the contents of your email as a matter of public interest; Sally has a large business, which has a turnover of several million pounds each year, and her abilities are currently the subject of much discussion. Finally, I think the public should also be aware of the way in which Sally is using her solicitor to deal with those who write about her.
By publishing your email and my response, I hope that you, Sally and the public will better appreciate my position.
Your original email is in black italics, and my reply after each paragraph is in red.
Dear Mr Singh
I have seen your email to my client of 27 October, and note you have also contacted Hayley Appleby.
Did you get my email of 10 October? It says that “….this firm has made a defamation complaint”. And it says that “nobody is proposing to say any more….at the current time.” I attach a copy just in case.
Yes, I did get your email. You seem to suggest here (and certainly state later) that my second email to you was unnecessary and you imply that I am harassing Sally. To quote the Prime Minister: “Calm down dear.”
My first email to you was about the statement on Sally’s Facebook page: “Sally Morgan has instructed Graham Atkins of Atkins Thomson to commence libel action”. In another email that was copied to you, I asked a series of questions in relation to a blog I was writing and invited a statement from Sally. It may well be that you are proposing not to say any more in relation to either of these two emails, but my email on Thursday was on a completely different matter, namely I was inviting Sally to take part in our challenge.
Also, you said “nobody is proposing to say any more….at the current time” in your first email, and it has been two weeks since I last heard from you so “current time” no longer seems relevant. Two weeks is a long time. I learned recently that two weeks is (10!)/3 seconds.
Perhaps its [sic] all part of your quest for “scientific understanding of the universe”. Perhaps you just want to badger and harass people. You will of course be aware of the PCC Code which states at Paragraph 4 – under the heading “Harassment” – “Journalists must not engage in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit.” It also says that “They must not persist in questioning, telephoning, pursuing or photographing individuals once asked to desist.” Once again, please desist.
“Badger and harass” – again, I would refer you to the Prime Minister’s earlier comment: “Calm down dear.”
I have called Sally’s office four times and sent half a dozen polite emails over the course of the last 10! seconds. On each occasion, my exchange with Sally’s colleague, Hayley, has been very pleasant and she gave no indication that my calls were problematic. Hayley was polite, and I was equally polite.
Would you prefer that I wrote my blogs without asking Sally any questions, or without asking her for a statement, or without her side of the story?
How can I invite Sally to a test of her psychic abilities without emailing or phoning her office? Oh, I get it. I am supposed to communicate telepathically. Or perhaps my dear departed grandfather in the spirit plane was supposed to pass on these messages.
If I have any further questions or invitations for Sally, which I consider to be important, then I will email them to you and you can act as her assistant and/or gatekeeper.
For the sake of clarity, Sally Morgan has instructed us to take libel proceedings, if necessary, in relation to allegations that she is a cheat. Doing your test or any other test is not part of our plans for this case. You have been involved in a libel case yourself. You well know that we all have far more important things to do than take part in this or any other “test” at this point. She will not attend at Liverpool or at any other time. Maybe you and your friends can prove she is a cheat and/or a fraud instead. I know she isn’t, and I have known Sally a good few years.
So, despite her earlier statement, you suggest that Sally has not instructed you to commence a libel action. In the paragraph above you say that you will only commence a libel action “if necessary”. That is very helpful.
I am surprised that this is taking up so much of Sally’s time, particularly as no libel action has commenced. Indeed, my understanding from her twitter feed is that on Friday: “I watched Paranormal Activity 3 today and omg I couldn’t stop jumping!” If Sally is able to spare three hours for a cinema outing, then I would hope that an hour on Monday taking our test would be possible.
Our offer to Sally remains open. We will all be at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool at 11am on Monday and there will be an empty chair saved for Sally. As we (Merseyside Skeptics, Professor Chris French, JREF and myself) have clearly stated, if Sally feels that the test is in any way unfair, then we would still ask her to attend in order to discuss how she would like to be tested on a future occasion.
By the way, am I right in thinking that you also acted in a libel case for Dr Gillian McKeith? If so, I would have hoped that you would have developed a natural curiosity about the importance of claims being evidence-based, and that you would be able to see the benefits of scientific rigour in order to get to the truth.
We note with interest that you have not attempted to contact, spoken about or written about anyone who has had a personal reading, or been at one of Sally’s shows, and has been given details or messages which could not possibly have arisen as a result of “hot or cold reading” or “cheating”. Balanced reporting and all that.
First, my main concern, and the subject of my writing, has been Sally’s theatre shows, not her personal readings. Second, I have attended two live shows this month. I have pointed out in my blog how some people have benefitted from her readings, and how (I suspect) some people have been unduly distressed. Third, I have sent emails asking for Sally’s side of the story and have asked for a statement, i.e., “Balanced reporting and all that” … with a cherry on top.
Anyway, there it is. Please do not contact Sally or her office any further. We are busy with our case and have no time or inclination for these peripheral or debatable matters for the foreseeable future.
I can see that you are busy. You seem to be working overtime calling various media outlets who might want to cover Sally Morgan. Is that right? Or am I just being paranoid? Yesterday I was invited to take part in two interviews in which the producers told me that nobody was allowed to mention Sally Morgan on air. One producer explicitly said that Sally’s lawyers had made this very clear.
Finally, the offer is still there. The Psychic Sally Halloween Challenge is going ahead on Monday. I note that Sally’s current plan is not to attend, but we will keep an empty chair for her in case she changes her mind.
Originally posted on slsingh’s posterous