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Dear Mr Atkins,
As I explained to you in our recent correspondence, I am making our email exchange public (again), which includes my reply to your most recent query. The exchange appears below in chronological order.
Please note that Sir Peter Bottomley (MP for Worthing West) has specifically asked to be copied in on any further correspondence between us. I will forward our previous correspondence and kindly request that you copy future emails to Sir Peter.
P.S. You have twice written “its” when I think you mean “it’s”. You might find this site helpful:
From: Graham Atkins
Sent: 30 October 2011 17:40
To: Simon Singh
Subject: TV psychic Sally Morgan’s powers to be tested in Liverpool
Some misunderstanding? No doubt you have corrected the position.
From: Simon Dear Mr Atkins,
Thanks for getting in touch.
Please can you identify your concerns, including specific lines, and
then let me know.
I am just packing for Liverpool, so I am a bit rushed. If you can
email me in the next 15 minutes then I will drop a note to the Liverpool Echo.
________________________ From: Graham Atkins Perhaps when you have read the article all will become clear….
From: Simon I have read it, but I would rather not play battleships.
Just point out your concerns and I will take a look at them.
I am now on the road, so please be helpful if you genuinely want to correct something.
Simon. PS As we are discussing a matter of public interest, and judging by my previous blog, you will be aware that I consider our communications public and I may well post them online.
From: Graham Atkins
Sent: 31 October 2011 00:33
To: Simon MSN
Subject: Re: TV psychic Sally Morgan’s powers to be tested in Liverpool – Liverpool Local News – News – Liverpool Echo Simon Its [sic] a very misleading piece, whether intentional or not. Neither you or your team of Mersey Skeptics [sic] saw fit to have it corrected. I will endeavour to find out how this occurred and advise my client accordingly. I’m concerned that there may be more people thinking worse of Sally as a consequence of her not showing up, as she is effectively ‘billed’ to attend. The reporter also mentions $1m twice in the article, so maybe you will have a packed house – but it seems like this ‘error’ is at my client’s expense. I have a client who has been libelled. I have many things to consider, and I need to look after her interests. Again, I ask you to desist from any form of harassment, as per my previous email. It would be appreciated if you followed the usual professional or other etiquette and refrained from publishing this private email on your blog. Thank you Graham Atkins
Atkins Thomson ——————————————————
VERY ROUGH REPLY
Dear Mr Atkins,
I am sorry for the delay.
My reply comes in two parts. As before, both parts are public and posted online here, for the reasons I explained previously.
I am sensing the name Gordon … does that mean anything to you? And maybe the name Bennett? The spirits tell me that they may be connected.
In short, I find your emails bizarre.
Why do you deem it necessary to email to me? If there are errors in the article, then why not contact the newspaper as soon as possible and ask for a correction? Instead, you choose to email me on a Sunday at 6pm and 7pm and past midnight, when you know that I am travelling to Liverpool.
Just to be clear, neither I, nor the Merseyside Skeptics, are responsible for the content of a local newspaper. The journalist appears to have based her article on a website (Merseyside Skeptics), which was correct when the story was written. The website has since been changed. If, as a result of that, the story is inaccurate, you may wish to take this up with the newspaper directly.
However, as a courtesy to you, I did mention your concerns to a journalist from the Liverpool Echo who attended our Psychic Sally Halloween Challenge yesterday.
Please note that it is the Merseyside Skeptics, not the Mersey Skeptics (which is the term you used). The former describes skeptics who live either side of the river. Your term describes skeptics who live in or on the river. I don’t know if such an organisation exists, but it should not be confused with the Merseyside Skeptics. I will do my best to explain to the Merseyside Skeptics that this was merely a mistake on your part and was not intended to offend them.
I want to point out that the tone of my replies so far does not accurately reflect how I feel. I have been light-hearted in our first exchange, and above, but I want to admit to experiencing nausea when I receive an email from a heavyweight libel lawyer such as yourself. This is not a metaphorical nausea, but a literal nausea. The only thing that stops me from taking the easy option of shutting up is that I would feel even more nauseous if I stopped doing my job as a science journalist and skeptic.
At the same time, I realise that you are only doing your job. But is it really necessary to send emails at 6pm, at 7pm and then past midnight on a Sunday? Does this reflect well on you, your client or your profession? All you really needed to do to be effective was email the newspaper directly.
Some of the comments on twitter have questioned whether you are an experienced libel lawyer, but other tweets by legal experts pointed out that your tone and style are entirely in keeping with how claimant libel lawyers work. You and I both know that such emails are generally highly effective.
I am sorry if you had to miss the X Factor Results programme and/or Antiques Roadshow in order to write to me, but your emails are having a much more disruptive impact on my life. At the same time, and I must stress this, I am not going to be intimidated.
Finally, you should be aware that I have actually corrected statements about your client Sally Morgan during live radio interviews. I am not harassing Psychic Sally. I am not calling her a fraud. I am merely trying to find out if she has genuine paranormal abilities.
Finally, finally, lots of people were interested in your statement that you know that Psyhic Sally is the real deal. You wrote that Sally has “given details or messages which could not possibly have arisen as a result of “hot or cold reading” or “cheating”. Please, please can you lay out your compelling evidence for this? It might mean that our open challenge to her is no longer necessary. We are genuinely waiting with baited breath to hear about the evidence that convinced a highly trained and rigorous person such as yourself that Sally has genuine psychic powers.
If you are not reading this on Posterous, please note that you can only leave comments at the Posterous website. Also, please bear in mind that these comments are not moderated, i.e., I rely on you to act responsibly.
Originally posted on slsingh’s posterous