McKennitt v. Ash archive:


2005 postings

2006 postings




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

Pressylta Redux.]




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

legal setting.


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

about it.


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 (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

privacy law').



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

Hextalls and as her counsel, barrister Jonathan Crystal. This, you will agree, is prime-

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

of record.


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

smile, pal..."


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)?

The lawyers.



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

write about.


[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...?

I would.



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...