McKennitt v. Ash archive:
Gunnar Pettersson on "McKennitt v. Ash"
On these pages you will find all my Pressylta postings on McKennitt v.
Ash from August 2005 onward, to be added to as we go along. I have
not (yet) translated the early postings from Swedish into English, but
I know Quinlan Road has, so you could always ask them for a copy...
The postings are, as always, in reverse order.
[This page is an English language adjunct to my Swedish language blog
Wednesday 17 October 2007 - : - Final words?
Barring unforeseen incidents, I hope this will be the last word on McKennitt v Ash
for quite some time, at least on my part. I may well return to the subject in the
future, in more comprehensive form, but for now I feel it's time to move on.
A few points, then, about Loreena's last posting on the Greenslade blog. If you
haven't read it, I recommend that you do so: click here and then scroll down to
the near-end, Comment no. 734398. I'll try and be as brief as possible. But I'm
afraid I might fail. Apologies.
My first point is this. Throughout the posting, Loreena makes much of Niema's
alleged breach of the confidentiality agreement (henceforth "CA" for short) she
had signed. However, as I mentioned in one of my Greenslade postings, the CA
never became much of an issue in the various hearings in this case, and I said
I was slightly mystified by that. In fact, it's not mystifying at all. Going back to
my own, original postings (I know: doh....) from August 2005 (the first ones in
Swedish), the reasons emerge very clearly there. The CA simply wasn't valid,
basically on two grounds: (1) Niema signed it fully six months after she had left
Loreena's employ, and signing anything like a CA retroactively of course goes
against one of the central principles of the law of contracts; and (2) the CA was
drawn up according to the laws of Ontario, which made it inapplicable in a UK
Now, the fact that Niema took out insurance to cover herself against legal action
is, first of all, a wholly normal and routine thing for a freelance, self-publishing
writer to do in cases like this (obvious, when you think about it). In fact, I think
print-on-demand companies require it of their authors. It is decidedly not, as
Loreena seems to suggest, some sort of prior admission of guilt. It simply
couldn't be an "admission of guilt", for a reason which is actually an inherent
contradiction that Loreena doesn't seem to have spotted in her own argument,
namely that if Niema really had breached the CA in any way - and the insurance
company of course had a very good look at the document - then Niema would
never have been given cover in the first place! Again, obvious, when you think
So the issue of the CA is in fact an irrelevance in this case. Loreena may wish
it wasn't, but that's beside the point. The fact remains: there was no valid CA
for Niema to be in breach of. End of story.
Second point. Loreena says something about "most of [Niema's] friends" having
"fallen away" from her, because of the way they were depicted in an earlier book
of hers. This is depressing to read, not just because it's wrong, but because it's
so pointlessly wrong, a piece of low-rent non-gossip, which is a level of argument
I think we would do well to try and rise above, quite frankly. However, when it
comes to the fact that I myself have not appeared in any of Niema's books, this
has of course always been a big disappointment for me. But it has such a simple
explanation that it rather strengthens my suspicion that Loreena hasn't actually
read any of the books in question.
The explanation is that I wasn't there. I wasn't there when Niema made the epic
journey into Tibet, which became "Touching Tibet". I wasn't there when a whole
load of our group of friends, spearheaded by Niema, went on the equally epic
holiday to Morocco, which formed the basis for "Travels with my Daughter". The
only book I do appear in, if only fleetingly, is, ironically enough, "Travels with
Loreena McKennitt"...! (That Loreena failed to notice this is more than forgivable,
believe me...). But if you think it's suspicious that I don't appear elsewhere in
Niema's writings, you might as well think it's suspicious that Karl Marx doesn't
appear in "Mary Poppins".
Finally, Loreena brings up the excellent question of why she simply didn't ignore
Niema's book - and then fails to answer it in a satisfactory way, at least in my view.
Her answer seems to consist of two parts. One is to do with the CA, and the point
of principle that a-contract-is-a-contract, and any breach of a contract has to be
pursued, otherwise the floodgates will open. This is fair enough. But Niema's CA,
as we have seen, wasn't valid in the UK, as any lawyer worth his salt should have
spotted. So we're back where we started: the CA was always an irrelevance here.
The second part of the answer has to do with Loreena's fear that Niema's book
would, as it were, ride piggy-back on the release of Loreena's next record, i.e.
what eventually became "An Ancient Muse". Quinlan Road estimated, Loreena
writes, that Niema's book could sell "thousands of copies if not ten's of thousands,
coasting on the marketing and promotional efforts and expenses we would be
incurring for the recording."
In my view, this was just about possible, but never particularly probable. Not
least because, presumably, most of those tens of thousands of readers would
have been fans of Loreena. And, believe you me, if a quick, strong, dignified,
once-and-for-all denunciation of the book had been the only response from
Quinlan Road, the vast majority those fans would have obeyed immediately,
and put their PayPal money back in their pockets prontissimo. At least if "Old-
Ways" - a chat room for fans of Loreena, a steaming cauldron of intensely
requited love and militant humourlessness - is anything to go by.
More importantly, perhaps, if huge sales had been part of Niema's plans for the
book, she would of course not have published it in the UK, but in Canada or the
US, where the potential for piggy-backing on Loreena's new record would have
been far, far greater (and, incidentally, where she would have stood a much better
chance of avoiding legal action!). Let's get real here: a self-published book in the
UK about a semi-famous (let's face it, guys) Canadian folk singer is definitely not
the way to go about creating a bestseller. You may think what you like about
Niema, but she ain't stoopid.
For what it's worth, I believe Loreena's choice of not ignoring the book and going
to the law, had to do with power, in particular narrative power: who tells, and
therefore owns, Loreena's story? But that's a question for another day.
Meanwhile, Niema has been silenced for good, and has to pay a hefty sum of
money for the privilege. Whatever the rights and wrongs, that's not what I would
call a "victory" on Loreena's part. It's bad money. It's bad karma.
Saturday 13 October 2007 - : - On-and-ongoing business...
I thought/hoped we'd seen an end to the, erm, discussion on Greenslades's blog
(link in yesterday's posting) but Loreena insists we go yet another nine miles...
(And remember, in among all this, she's actually touring...!) Anyways, in her latest
contribution she answers some questions that people have apparently asked her,
and it makes for interesting reading, in particular her version of the history - and
pre-history - of this case. She even mentions little me. Now, rest assured I will
return to this particular posting of Loreena's - but here, rather than Greenslade's
blog - with my whole box of analytical tools sharpened to within an inch of their
lives. But - and this is a Big But for me - I'm off tomorrow on a few days of extremely
- nay, intensely! - well-deserved break, so why don't you talk amongst yourselves
until next week, when will I return more bronzed, more muscular, more lithe, and
more handsome than ever. And that's the point, my friends, when we'll get to grips
with this particular wagon-load of heifer dust.
Friday 12 October 2007 - : - Ongoing business...
If you haven't already, you should glance through the comments following
Roy Greenslade's short piece, which I already referred to in Tuesday's posting.
There are by now several very long comments from Loreena. And they are a
sight to behold. Verbally incontinent, resentful, truculent and arrogant by turns,
the figure that emerges from these postings is an unholy combination of Joan of
Arc and Mrs Malaprop. She has apparently remembered every single newspaper
article written about the case, especially the ones that did not wholeheartedly
agree with her: she has noted every perceived slight, every attempt to see
Niema's side of the dispute - and she wants them nailed! Especially poor Mr
Greenslade, who Loreena basically seems to want to haul up before Mr Justice
Eady and submit to the most rigorous of cross-examinations. Reading all this,
I keep having to remind myself that it was Niema who "lost" the case....! I am
not one to psychologise, but I will anyway, because in my eyes Loreena does
not seem overly happy here, in the immediate aftermath of her, well, triumph,
I guess you'd call it.
Tuesday 9 October 2007 - : - Wow...
I assume you have all read what's been written about the settlement so far...
There are a few things at Quinlan Road, of course, including a press release.
More interestingly, perhaps, The Guardian's Roy Greenslade posted his views
on the outcome on his blog, which Loreena then commented on, twice, and at
some considerable length... And I have to say, although I speak as a layman
here, some of what Loreena says in her comments there seem to me highly
libellous. This is Loreena at full-steam-ahead, and for those of you who have
never met her, it certainly gives you some idea of what it's like to be on the
wrong side of her... Crikey...
Meanwhile, I'm plugging away at my own final comments, which are turning
out to be quite lengthy, too, but slightly more coherent than Ms McKennitt's, I
hope. I'll post them when things have calmed down a bit.
Sunday 7 October 2007 - : - It ain't over till the thin lady sings...
Sorry about the end to Thursday's posting, I was just a bit depressed about it all.
Of course I'll return to the subject, it deserves nothing less. I'm going to get my
toolbox out and start carving a longer piece, a sort of "In conclusion", which will
appear here some time next week. Bear with me.
Thursday 4 October 2007 - : - The end.
The case of McKennitt v. Ash has been settled, fully and finally, nigh on two years
after it began. This afternoon, following lengthy negotiations in the Law Courts, an
agreement was reached in which - according to the statement finally read out in
open court in front of Mr Justice Eady - Niema Ash undertakes not to "publish
'Travels with Loreena McKennitt' any further, nor publish or disclose any other
information about the Claimants [i.e. Loreena or her companies] or her dealings
with them." Niema will also make a "substantial contribution in payment of the
This means that Niema is basically not allowed to say anything in public about
her past dealings with Loreena, not even about the past two years' litigation. The
statement ends with the following sentence (the English is atrocious, but you have
to blame Loreena's solicitors at Carter-Ruck for that...): "Loreena McKennitt feels
she has achieved her objective in protecting the human right she shares with
others to a private life, and welcomes the settlement which has been achieved".
I'm sure this is what Loreena feels. You and I might conceivably feel that this
settlement has nothing whatever to do with privacy, but everything to do with
the first principle of the law: might is right. But then, what else is new?
I don't know if I'm going to comment on this case any further. Why? Because I'm
rather looking forward to the rest of my life, in which I propose to spend not a
single thought on Canadian folk singer Loreena... erm, you know, Whatsaname.
Sunday 30 September 2007 - : - Updates
First off, I'm glad to report that the abusive phone calls to Niema have stopped.
I don't know if my previous posting had anything to do with it - a bit spooky if it
did, right...? - or if the tortured soul behind them found something else to obsess
on. Whatever the case, ever onwards and upwards, eh, chaps? As you will know,
we are fast approaching next week's court dates: Thursday 4th and Friday 5th
will be devoted to the matter of the amended edition of the book, which Niema
tried to publish in April. This hearing will be held in front of Mr Justice Eady again,
with Niema this time (thankfully...) represented by a barrister, Jonathan Crystal
(see my posting on 27 June below). The hearing into the matter of Niema's so-
called "beneficial interest" in her husband's property will be held at a later date,
as I understand it. I will of course attend both days next week, and hope to be
able to post a brief report at the end of each day, with a longer summary shortly
thereafter. If anything else crops up in the meantime, you'll be the first to know.
Monday 10 September 2007 - : - Sad to report...
...that not only does Niema, as we approach the 4 October court date, have to
bear the ever-harder legal onslaught from Loreena's representatives, but she has
now also become the vicitim of vicious personal - and, of course, anonymous -
attacks. Niema has received a series of very unpleasant phone calls recently, all
of them with a one-word message, pertaining to canine gender issues. A number
of email messages have carried similar, anonymous thoughts, as have some web
postings, such as the mendacious and semi-literate comment (scroll down) by a
certain "werdna nosgib", relating to a piece on the McKennitt v Ash case, originally
from Digg.com. (And, no, it isn't from someone called "Andrew Gibson"...)
I really, really hope that the people behind these attacks are not fans of Loreena
McKennitt, because it would reflect so badly on Loreena herself. But, hand on heart,
I fear my hopes on that score are rather forlorn. Why? Because, as we know,
"Fandom" is an absolutist monarchy run by the sexually repressed, and when
sexual repression is challenged - and from that particular angle, Niema's book
could of course be construed as a challenge - then repression often turns to verbal,
sometimes physical, aggression in this way. It's not just unpleasant, it degrades us
all that some people allow themselves to act like this. It needs to stop, forthwith.
Monday 27 August 2007 - : - A quick one...
Media commentator Stephen Glover has a brief comment in the Independent
today on a recent case involving the auhtor JK Rowling, which has great relevance
to McKennitt v. Ash (scroll down to 'JK Rowling and others attempt to magic up a
Thursday 23 August 2007 - : - Yes, I'm still here...
It's been a while, simply (as before) because there hasn't been much of a reportable
nature to report, by which I mean that Loreena's side are as relentless as ever in
their delaying tactics, and in their attempts to impose ever more severe sanctions
on Niema (and on Tim, who is now - and, more importantly, whose business is now
- very much involved in the case). The pressure that Carter-Ruck is applying on
the two of them is unbearable at times, and the frustrating thing for their friends is
that there isn't much one can offer at the moment, other than tea and sympathy.
The main arguments are ostensibly to do with Loreena trying to recoup her costs in
this long and ever more drawn-out case. But, in my eyes, it's gone far beyond that.
If I were of a more melodramatic bent, I would have said that Loreena is simply out
to destroy them now, financially and psychologically, and at some especially dark
moments it seems as though she is half-way to succeeding in that. And it's this, in
turn, which makes me curious about her strategic thinking, i.e. what's going to happen
to Loreena's image when this case is finally resolved and the full story of her conduct
throughout it can be told, as it inevitably will, whether here or elsewhere. Because not
even the most purblind fan will find a story here that can be easily embellished into a
tale of the simple daughter of the Winnipeg soil staunchly mounting the barricades of
personal privacy and winning against all the odds. Very, very far from it.
Meanwhile, it will hearten you to learn that Niema's plans to take the case to the
European Court of Human Rights are continuing apace. And she's got great people
to advise her on that score, too. More to follow.
Thursday 2 August 2007 - : - Dates for your diary
The fog has begun to lift as regards future hearings in the case. There will be two
of them. The first hearing is to determine what, if anything, Niema's "beneficial
interest" is in the house she shares with her husband; that decision will form the
basis for the sum of money Niema owes to Loreena in costs. Now, there is some
dispute between the two sides at the moment, regarding when and in front of
whom this hearing should be held. Loreena's side insist it should be heard by Mr
Justice Eady, simply because he is familiar with the case. The problem is that Eady
may not be available for quite some time. Niema's side of course want this and any
other business cleared up as soon as possible, because of the continuing and ever-
worsening personal and financial strain on her and Tim as the case drags on and on
and on. As soon as I know of a resolution to all this I will of course report.
The second hearing we do have a date for: 4 October 2007. This will certainly be
heard before Mr Justice Eady, and will deal with the revised edition of the book itself,
which Niema published in April of this year. Now, in this instance, Loreena's side is
demanding nothing less than a "summary judgement" on the book. In other words,
if I've understood this aright, they argue that Niema has no case to make whatsoever,
and therefore she need not even be heard in court. On the contrary, they seem to be
saying, Loreena's case is so overwhelmingly clear-cut that Eady might as well just
decide on the appropriate sanction against Niema straight off. This is what might be
called the Brutalist Approach to the McKennitt v. Ash case, the string-her-up-and-
let's-all-go-home solution. Not pretty but, hey, it's not a bloody poetry reading we're
in for, is it? However, for those of us with an interest in justice and reason and freedom
of expression, let's hope they're whistling in the wind on that one.
Sunday 29 July 2007 - : - A brief note
I haven't posted anything for a while, for the simple reason that there hasn't been
much of substance to report. The pressure is still on Niema, with constant demands
that she pay Loreena's costs, et cetera. At some point in the near future (let's hope)
the court has to decide what, if any, "beneficial interest" Niema has in the house she
shares with her husband, Tim, and from that decision any possible payments will be
determined. There is still very much a chance that Niema will be declared bankrupt,
and even be sent to prison. I will of course report any new developments. Meanwhile,
why not cast your eye over a comment last week by the ex-editor of Private Eye,
Richard Ingrams, to do with Mr Justice Eady's latest decision about we are allowed
and not allowed to see, or read, or learn.
Wednesday 11 July 2007 - : - It goes on, and on, and on...
Loreena has now registered a County Court Judgement against Niema and her
publishing company Purple Inc Press. It's a process that may, again, end up with
the bailiffs knocking on Niema's door. And it's come completely out of the blue,
giving Niema no chance of responding, or even having it clarified how this severe
measure fits in with the fact that it's not yet been established if she has any assets
in the first place... At least as far as I understand it.
This must be what Loreena means by "reclaiming noble values" in her fabled
Compass Points, eh...? Sheeesh...
Tuesday 3 July 2007 - : - Report from a parallel universe
Well, I accompanied Niema to today's hearing in the Law Courts: we figured two
sets of ears would be better than one. It didn't really help. We came out almost as
confused as we had gone in. The bare bones are that this was essentially about
Loreena's bid to retrieve some, if not all, of her costs. And it seems ("seems", note)
that she will eventually succeed in this. How? Search me. I'll report in more detail
when the fog has lifted.
Meanwhile, there is apparently a distinct possibility that the hearing into the amended
edition of the book itself, to be heard before Mr Justice Eady, may not take place until
October. -"But that's miles away!" I hear you exclaim. Indeed it is, and it is to be
sincerely hoped that this whole business can be settled long before that, so that we
can all get on with what was supposed to be our lives. Wouldn't you agree?
Monday 2 July 2007 - : - Further reading...
In today's Media Guardian, lawyer Ashley Hurst writes about privacy issues to do
with Facebook and, in doing so, mentions McKennitt v. Ash (you have to register
to read: scroll down to "Is the writing on the wall for Facebook?")
There is a hearing scheduled for tomorrow in the Law Courts. It concerns the issue
of whether, and if so to what extent, Niema has a "beneficial interest" in the property
where she lives with her partner, Tim - and which is in fact wholly owned by Tim.
As you will gather, this is part of Loreena's attempts to retrieve some of the costs
incurred in the case. I will report further.
Wednesday 27 June 2007 - : - Some good news...
After much toing and froing, much this and that and the other, I'm happy to tell you
that Niema has finally got some legal representation. Helping her out will be solicitors
cut, organically grown and tastiest of tasty Good News. Now, the final outcome of this
whole business is of course as difficult to predict as ever. And, thanks to Loreena, both
Niema and Tim are still very much up Manure River. But at least now they have a paddle.
As I understand it, there are various dates being talked of for the upcoming hearings,
and as soon as I know more I will of course post.
Thursday 21 June 2007 - : - Further report, sort of
It's hugely frustrating that, for formal legal reasons, which I hope to be able to go
into at a later date, I can't for the moment report much on recent developments,
or at least not in any great detail. Suffice it to say that things are still looking decidedly
down for Niema: it's as hellish as before, with new shocks practically every day. From
another angle, though, things are looking a bit more up. So it's hope and despair circling
each other at the moment.
I've said it before: there is definitely a book - "Another book, oi vey...!" - in this sorry
tale. Much of it will have to be written by Charles Dickens, of course, and some of it
by Jonathan Swift, and some by whoever wrote the "Twilight Zone". But it basically
needs a writer with a keen ear for the absurd and a sharp eye for sharp practices.
Suggestions on a postcard, please.
Wednesday 20 June 2007 - : - Slight re-organisation
To make this page slightly less unwieldy, in terms of size, I've separated out postings
in yearly archives: see left. Let's just hope there won't be a need for a 2008 archive...
Tuesday 19 June 2007 - : - Due to circumstances beyond my control, etc...
I was going to post this on Friday, but my service provider was switching FTP platforms
that day, when, all of a sudden, they discovered they'd brought the wrong screwdriver,
and so, what with Ron away at his sister's wedding, they had to ring Dave the Tech,
but Dave was sick, so it wasn't until today the whole shebang was up and running again.
Except they can't get Duluth on the radio anymore.
And my service provider is called Demon Internet... It's about as demonic as a pint
of milk left out overnight, in the rain, in Nether Wallop, on a Thursday, in October.
Anyway, the link takes you to a piece by Roy Greenslade, the Guardian's esteemed
media commentator, from last Thursday. He writes on privacy, the House of Lords and
the McKennitt v. Ash case.
More soon. I hope.
Thursday 14 June 2007 - : - Bear with me...
...there will be further postings on McKennitt v. Ash in the near future, I promise.
Meanwhile, veteran readers of this blog will recall my outrage at Lord Justice Richards
being accused of exposing his genitalia to a woman on a crowded commuter train:
see my posting "Newsflash" on 22 January 2007 below. You'll remember that Richards
it was who played the main part in allowing Niema to take Eady's ruling to appeal.
Well, I am happy - nay, delirious! - to report (a) that the good judge has been found
not guilty, and that (b) what clinched the case was a pair of black Calvin Klein briefs
exhibited in court (without anyone inside them, I hasten to add).
At last, some good karma in this sorry business...
Monday 11 June 2007 - : - A what-if scenario
Or "20/20 hindsight", call it what you will. Had it been my job to advise Loreena
about these things in the summer of 2005 - and I've had stranger jobs than that,
believe me - and she wanted to know what to do about Niema's book, I would
have replied: -"Nothing. Nada. Zilch." Why? Because consumer society has after
all produced some iron laws, and one of them is: "Ignore it and it will go away".
If everyone ignores the Betamax format for video in favour of VHS (which, on
purely technical grounds, we probably should not have done) then Betamax will
go away, as it did. If everyone and his grandmother ignores my brilliant new
love story, set in the Bolivian copper mines and featuring live girl-on-girl action,
then it will go away, only to be found in a sadly unthumbed copy in a library
You get my drift.
"But what if my fans...," Loreena would have said, "What if my fans read the book
and start thinking I'm an unbearable control freak who treats her old friends and
employees so abominably badly, simply because they dared gainsay one of my
orders...??!!" - "Don't worry," I would have responded, lifting a frothy capuccino
to my lips, "because all you have to say in response are two things. First, what
Niema writes is not true. Second, even if it were true, which it isn't, well I'm sorry
but I'm a very complicated person. Creative people often are, so what? Eat it and
And so, by September of that year, the whole thing would have been forgotten.
Loreena would have gone on writing and performing her music, safe in the knowledge
that her fans didn't believe a word of a book few of them had bothered to read
in the first place. Niema would have sold, say, a thousand copies max, happy with
the fact that she had had her say, and then gone on to other projects. And everyone
would have been richer and happier, and certainly in possession of better karma.
Instead, who's much happier and richer (and not in possession of karma, full stop)?
Friday 8 June 2007 - : - Oi...
The carter-rucking of Niema (and Tim) continues, if anything with even greater
ferocity. It probably wouldn't be wise for me to go into details at this stage, but
if the full story of this is ever made public - and I don't see why it shouldn't be,
at some stage - I think even the most hardcore loyalists among Loreena's fans
would be absolutely shocked. It's a total nightmare. And don't think for a moment
that Loreena is somehow blissfully unaware of what's happening, because all
lawyers act "under instruction" from their clients, and Carter-Ruck is no exception.
On a slightly more cheerful note. Last night I went to the launch of Donald Spoto's
new biography of Alan Bates, the actor. (Niema figures in the book, as it happens;
she was a close friend of Bates' late wife Victoria). Anyway, it's extraodrinary
to read Spoto on Bates' love affairs, especially, affairs with both men and women,
and what Spoto (and Random House...) gets away with, as far as detail is concerned.
Compare this to what Niema (and Purple Inc Press...) most emphatically did not get
away with. Oi... (to coin a phrase).
Wednesday 6 June 2007 - : - A few questions answered...
The journalist Morley Walker of the Winnipeg Free Press has mailed me a few
questions about myself and about this blog. It struck me that, since my early
"explanatory" postings are in Swedish, it might be useful for other readers if
I answered some of his questions here, and Morley has kindly agreed. Here goes.
Q: I've perused your blog. Very amusing. I take from it that you side with Niema
Ash. Is that accurate?
A: Yes. I had my misgivings when I heard she was writing it, but having read it
I understood straight away why she had to write and publish it. I think anyone
who reads it (if we ever get a chance again...) with at least one eye open, would
understand that too.
Q: I'm curious about what got you interested in this story. Were you a fan of
McKennitt's before Ash wrote her book?
A: Hand on heart, I couldn't really call myself a fan of Loreena's music, either
before or after Niema wrote the book. Further, see below.
Q: Have you met Ash?
A: I've known Niema for thirty-six years, and count her as one of my closest
Q: Have you read her book?
A: Of course.
Q: What got your started blogging on this subject?
A: I started by writing two long-ish postings (in Swedish) about it in August 2005,
for two reasons, mainly. One was that I knew the protagonists very well: as Niema
describes in her book, Loreena very quickly became part of our circle of friends here
in London in the 1980s. The other reason was that, knowing Loreena, I rather feared
things would develop out of the book's publication, perhaps even in a legal direction
(little did I know... ). So the fact that the whole matter involved some fascinating
issues around the mechanics of friendship and fame, around privacy and freedom
of expression, as well as memory and writing-the-past - all that, together with the
fact that I had been a witness to the whole story, made it an obvious subject to
[Maybe there will be some more Q-and-A's in the future, who knows. But this at least
lays out the ground plan]
Tuesday 5 June 2007 - : - Update
Sorry about not producing "plenty more postings" since Saturday, things have
been a bit hectic in my own life, never mind Niema's. However, I can report that
the bailiffs never turned up yesterday, probably because, as was pointed out to
them, Niema doesn't even part-own the house, and then they can't enter. I think
this was just another attempt to create hassles for Niema. It seems to me that
Loreena's side has decided to pour seven storms of legal shitrain on Niema and
Tim, just to make them feel awful. I can't think why else all this is happening.
As you know, there will be another hearing about injuncting the new version of
the book at the end of June, so why does Loreena go out of her way to make life
hell for Niema in the meantime? You tell me.
Saturday 2 June 2007 - : - Welcome, new friends!
I see that I have quite a number of visitors now from the Loreena McKennitt "chat
room" OldWays. Someone must have linked to me from there. I wouldn't know,
because I've never been. I'm probably not spiritual enough. However, this is of
course excellent news, and you are all most welcome. There's plenty of seats at
the back, and there will be light refreshments afterwards.
With things moving at a fast and - dare I say it - furious pace, there will be plenty
more postings here in the next few days. I can't say too much at the moment, but
make sure you come back soon. And bring a friend.
Torsdag 31 maj 2007 - : - McKennitt v. Ash - "Vengeance is mine"
Loreena has now ordered in the bailiffs to seize "goods and chattels" from Niema's
home, to make up for some of her - i.e. Loreena's - costs incurred in the case Loreena
herself brought, and won. The bailiffs will arrive at Niema's house on Monday June 4
with an order from the High Court. If no one is present, apparently they have the right
to break in and take whatever valuables they find. If they don't find enough goods and
chattels to make up the £74,000+ sought, Loreena will then - as far as I understand it -
start bankruptcy proceedings against Niema.
I believe this is what our American friends call "playing hardball". Wow. What charmers
these folk singers can be, eh...? I know the Quinlan Road PR department is reading this.
All I can say is: I feel your pain. Running PR for Loreena McKennitt at the moment must
be a bit like running an outreach program for the Wehrmacht. Oi.
Måndag 28 maj 2007 - : - Måndagsrapport
McKennitt v. Ash: Nikki Tait had a short piece about the hearing in Saturday's FT.
Also, Matthew Norman, in today's media section of the Independent, has a moot
point (scroll down to para beginning "I was delighted...") about Steven Glover's
fears re Mr Justice Eady, which I linked to last Monday.
Lördag 26 maj 2007 - : - McKennitt v. Ash - a short report
Just quickly, I'm in a bit of a rush: the hearing has been adjourned for 28 days.
And it will be a hearing, not a trial. Whatever the difference is, we are still in the
process of finding out: like can witnesses be called, etc? However, a full two+
hours were taken up in court yesterday, with witness statements from both sides
- and Niema doing very well, at least according to Benji the Binman (I couldn't
attend myself). Loreena was there, too, with the full entourage. Niema, again,
was on her own, except Maggie was there to support her. Bless you, Mags. Now,
because the hearing was held in open court, I should be able to post more of the
meaty bits in the days ahead, and I will, if I can, and if I can, I surely will. And
guess who was, and will be, presiding over the hearing? Mr Justice Eady, again.
Like, hello...? And, oh yes, Eady agreed with Carter-Ruck that the book should
stay de facto injuncted until the next hearing. But that's pretty much what Niema
was expecting anyway.
Fredag 25 maj 2007 - : - McKennitt v. Ash - back in court...
I'm writing this early morning GMT, so I don't have a lot of details as yet, but there
is a High Court hearing taking place today, in which I understand Loreena, through
her representatives Carter-Ruck, will seek an interim injunction on the new edition
of Niema's book. Which is what happened last time too, in autumn 2005. And which
seems to mean that there will be yet another - full - trial at a later date. But it's all
a bit confused at the moment. As soon as I know more I'll post.
Onsdag 23 maj 2007 - : - [Rubrik här]
McKennitt v. Ash: Robert Verkaik, the Independent's legal correspondent, has his
weekly "opinion" in today's paper, in which he seems to say that it would be
preferable if judges made privacy law - à la Mr Justice Eady - rather than Parliament.
Who I always thought we elected precisely for that purpose, lawmaking. Anyway,
I've mailed Robert V. in the hope he might want to elaborate.
Måndag 21 maj 2007 - : - McKennitt v. Ash, etc
There was a long and comprehensive and rather splendido piece by Niema herself
in the Mail yesterday. Hair-raising stuff, some of it, I think you'll agree. Read and
ponder. And while we're on the subject (are we ever off it?!): Stephen Glover, the
Independent's media commentator, today expresses his misgivings about Mr Justice
Eady, not least because of his ruling in the McKennitt case.
Torsdag 17 maj 2007 - : - McKennitt v. Ash smoulders on...
Still no word from Lightning Source as to why - and on whose authority - they are
no longer printing Niema's book, or why it's unavailable on Amazon, as we reported
yesterday. Hang on, though... You don't think... - But no, it couldn't be... It couldn't...
It couldn't be that they have received some sort of threat of legal action - before any
injunction has even been applied for in a court of law, never mind granted...?! Surely
not. Such abject surrender would be unthinkable from any vertebrate creature. And
don't come telling me that it has happened before, because that has nothing to do with
it. At all. So let's dismiss that thought. For now.
Onsdag 16 maj 2007 - : - McKennitt v. Ash (+ Ducka, grabbar)
Readers wanting to purchase the amended edition of Niema's book from Amazon
are now finding that it's unavailable from that source. I'm still waiting to hear from
Lightning Source, the print-on-demand distributors, who may be able to tell me what
- and where - the problem is. As soon as I know more, I'll post.
Later: I had some interesting phone calls with Lightning Source's UK office this p.m.
The first thing they told me was that they had withdrawn the book "on Niema Ash's
instructions"! This is of course nonsense, and vehemently denied by Niema. All very
mysterious, you'll agree. However, when confronted with Niema's denial, the Lightning
Source spokesman started stonewalling and I got nothing more substantial out of
him, other than an email address to their legal brains in the US "to whom all enquiries
should be directed from now on". When - or perhaps if - I receive a response from
this person, I will of course post.
PS: The book can still be purchased from Niema's web site, though. That is, until
she runs out of copies...
Måndag 14 maj 2007 - : - Måndags-Posten
McKennitt v. Ash: As I understand it, things are coming to a head with regard
to the publication of the amended edition of Niema's book. The rumble of heavy
artillery can be heard down the avenues: it seems legal proceedings, of one
kind or another, are inevitable, and quite soon. But Niema is of course not without
her supporters, and they are growing more numerous as we speak. Media outlets
and legal experts are offering their help. Not least significant, perhaps, are the
many emails and messages from disillusioned ex-fans of Loreena. As usual, I'll
post any new developments a.s.a.p.
Fredag 11 maj 2007 - : - McKennitt v. Ash
Just a brief note. I completely missed this article in last week's Mail on Sunday,
re the Lord Browne of BP affair, and how Browne, in his attempts to stop the
story being published, had used the McKennitt v. Ash ruling, unsuccessfully as
it turned out, but nonetheless rather, erm, eyebrowraisingly, wouldn't you say...?
Måndag 7 maj 2007 - : - Hej och välkomna till måndag förmiddag
McKennitt v. Ash: Two media lawyers, Hugh Tomlinson and Dan Tench, set out a
very useful checklist describing the emerging UK law on privacy in today's Guardian,
including the consequences of the McKennitt case.
Tisdag 24 april 2007 - : - McKennitt v. Ash
While Loreena is touring the States and Canada (read the New York Times review
here; what does a "fascinatingly docile audience" mean, by the way?), the publication
of the amended edition of Niema's book has not been met with untrammelled joy in
certain quarters. As I understand it, Loreena's representatives at Carter-Ruck are
taking the dimmest of views. The upshot of it all can't really be predicted at this stage,
though. Will Loreena take to the courts again, to try and stop the new book too? Will
Niema be found in contempt of court, and face the very real risk of a jail sentence?
The only thing we know for certain is that the saga looks set to continue.
Fredag 13 april 2007 - : - Ash v. McKennitt
The CBC is preparing a programme about the case, and Niema is being interviewed
today. But they'll talk to Loreena, too, of course. Hmmm, interesting, to put it mildly.
And with that brief announcement, I retire for the day.
Måndag 9 april 2007 - : - Ash v. McKennitt
Roy Greenslade's article, based on his interview with Niema last Wednesday, is in
today's MediaGuardian. And an excellent piece it is, too, as one would expect: fair
and balanced, while not being afraid to display a basic sympathy for Niema's case.
Worth noting in the piece is that fact that Loreena has previously managed to stop
the publication of another book about her; that Judy Stoffman of the Toronto Star
has published - with impunity - some of the injuncted sections of the book; and
that the piece ends - and is headlined - with Niema's fundamental argument: "It's
my story, and I should be allowed to tell it."
Söndag 8 april 2007 - : - Burn Niema's book!
Apparently, one of the denizens of the Loreena chatroom Old-Ways bought Niema's
book - only to burn it on a friend's bonfire! I think she's hit on an excellent idea, and
I would encourage everyone to purchase a copy immediately (matches not included)
from Niema's website.
I mean. Seriously.
Lördag 7 april 2007 - : - McK v A re-revisited
Wow... I hadn't seen this before, but... Whoa... For background, go to this section
of the Quinlan Road site, containing Loreena's letters to the press, and click on the
one called 'Who Watches The Watchdog'. This is a letter Loreena wrote in response
to Doug Sanders' piece in The Toronto Globe & Mail called 'Privacy isn't a right. It's
an indulgence', which I once recommended you read. Loreena's response is a long
letter. A lo-o-o-o-ng letter. A very, very l-o-o-o-o-ng letter, the details of which are
as self-serving as they are fatuous, but - wow - whoa - this much is clear, at least
to me: has she lost the Canadian press, or what...!? My Canadian readers - and you
know who you are - may be able to tell me different, but this looks desperate, this
has the distinct whiff of Lost Cause, this is a diagonal pass across the defensive zone,
if I ever saw one. Sheeesh...
Fredag 6 april - : - McKennitt v. Ash revisited
Loreena's concert at the Barbican on Tuesday night was a sell-out success, by all
accounts, but I haven't seen a single review in Her Majesty's Press (Macy Gray,
performing at Koko on the same night, seems to have bagged most of the pop
review space). However, it turns out that Loreena's programme notes contained
a section about Niema's book and the court case, headed 'A Word of Caution'...
First off, if I had been as determined to protect my privacy as Loreena is supposed
to be, I would certainly not have given Niema's book any more oxygen on the PR
front. Second, the section also contains this: "The courts determined that the book
[...] is inaccurate and false in many respects." Rack my brains as I have, flipped
through Eady's judgement as I have, I cannot for the life of me see that the courts
determined any such thing. Inaccuracy and falsehoods on Niema's part would have
given rise to a libel case against her, not a privacy case, where the courts determine
something quite different, i.e. whether the information published is in breach of
existing privacy legislation, or existing case law. In fact, at least as far as my
untrained legal eye can see, Loreena's statement seems to be itself inaccurate
and false. And that, by the way, is what we post-modernists call "ironic"....
Onsdag 4 april 2007 - : - Is there a God?
But there is Roy Greenslade, ex-editor of the Daily Mirror and prominent media
commentator, who is doing the first in-depth interview with Niema practically as
we speak, for an article to appear in the Guardian in the next few days. It has
been a feature of this case that, while Loreena's voice has frequently been heard
commenting on the case, through the Quinlan Road media operation, Niema's
has been something of a sotto voce throughout. And it's high time she's heard.
Tisdag 3 april 2007 - : - McKennitt v. Ash again
And so, with all the sweet irony of post-modern life, we welcome Canadian folk
singer Loreena McKennitt on to the London stage for tonight's performance at the
Barbican, featuring an unplugged, New Age rendition of Queen's 'We Are The
Champions'. Or maybe not. Or maybe Bob Dylan's 'Positively 4th Street': "You've
got a lot of nerve / to call yourself my friend...". Or maybe not. I jest.
One of the features of Friday's House of Lords decision, as many have pointed out,
is the other-worldliness of it. It resembles the law grappling with copyright and
file sharing issues: mystification and incompetence rule. From Judge Eady onwards,
the law simply did not grasp a basic feature of the celebrity universe, namely
that when the fame-sodden (as I like to think of them) protest about invasion of
their privacy, what they're actually after, more often than not, is the protection of
their image. The two, as you and I know, are very different things. One is to do
with your inalienable right to pick your nose in your own home without having to
see it plastered across the tabloid press; the other is to do with the more or less
rickety scaffolding structure you and your entourage have constructed to encourage
the record-buying hordes to buy your records. One is to do with who you basically
are; the other is to do with what you became a little while back. And what you
became perhaps didn't turn out to be a particularly pretty person, but it's too late
to do anything about that now, unfortunately. Such is post-modern life.
Tomorrow we answer the question: is there a God?
Måndag 2 april 2007 - : - McKennitt v. Ash
Disaster. On Friday, the House of Lords turned down David Price's petition for
permission to appeal the case, on the grounds that it “does not raise an arguable
point of law of general public importance which ought to be considered by the
House at this time”. Yes, I know. Read that again: "...does not raise an arguable
point of law of general public importance...". I have to say, the further we've
travelled in this case, the more bizarre, the more Alice-in-Wonderland it has
turned out. A seismic shift in the balance between Article 8 issues of privacy
and Article 10 issues of freedom of expression, and the controversial introduction
of a de facto privacy law into English law, is deemed not of sufficient "general
public importance". Go figure.
There are lots of articles in the press about the decision, but I'll only link Mark
Sweeney's piece in the Guardian today.
So, this is basically the end of the road as far as the domestic justice system is
concerned. Niema's intention is now to take the case to the European Court of
Human Rights, to fight on for her right to tell her story, but it's a process that
will of course take time. In the meantime, a revised version of her book, with
lots of added material about the case itself, will be published in the next few
days: read more about it on Niema's web site.
I'll post more comments in the next few days. It seems there's a temporrary
break in the temporary break I was intending to take...
Måndag 12 mars 2007 - : - The Times It Is A-Changing
McKennitt v. Ash: The case was mentioned in a Sunday Times piece yesterday on
Madonna's nanny trying to flog her memoirs. Ho hum.
Måndag 5 februari 2007 - : - Tidskriftsflora då och nu (+)
McKennitt v. Ash: There was a piece by Philip Stone the other day on followthemedia,
including an email interview with Niema.
Måndag 22 januari 2007 - : - Newsflash!
McKennitt v. Ash: You may remember, from May last year, a certain Lord Justice
Richards, one of the two Court of Appeal judges who, having heard David Price's
"skilful advocacy", allowed Niema's appeal to go ahead. In a rather bizarre twist,
it seems the same Lord Justice Richards now stands accused of exposing himself
to a female passenger on a train...! Eh? I simply refuse to believe it. Don't you?
Such a fine, upstanding member of the judiciary. (If that's what I mean...) In the
Saturday edition of the same paper, Janice Turner writes about privacy, and mentions,
inter alia, McKennitt v. Ash.
Onsdag 10 januari 2007 - : - Rubriker rubriker rubriker
McKennitt v. Ash: Deborah Orr has a rather point-missing (it seems to me) comment
piece in the Independent about creeping privacy legislation. Oooh behave! sort of...
And the BBC has their usual sixth-form introduction to the issues - à propos the Kate
Middleton/papararazzi business - but it doesn't mention McK v. A.
Måndag 8 januari 2007 - : - In media res
McKennitt v. Ash: Media commentator Stephen Glover devotes the main part of his
Monday column in the Independent to the case, headlined 'The folk singer calling the
tune to restrict Press freedoms', and it's accompanied by a nice picture (not online)
of Loreena-at-harp. In essence, Glover is saying that the gap in English law where
a privacy law would have sat, is now being filled in by "the likes of Mr Justice Eady"
producing an "embryonic privacy law" via Article 8 of the ECHR. However, Glover
is perhaps unnecessarily snooty about the extent of Loreena's fame. He's never
heard of her, apparently. Ah well, at least he has one journey of discovery still to
undertake, eh...? "Cultural learnings for benefit of," and all that...