Monday, 22 September 2014

What does Alison Sauer actually do for a living?

I have been trying to puzzle out lately what it is that Alison Sauer actually does. We know that she is a paid professional, because she said the other day that;

In the next 10 days I have a trip to Whitby, wages, VAT return, annual accounts, 6 clients to catch up on 

All well and good; she works at some business which entails being paid to work with clients. A few days before this, she said;

 I spend about 15 hours a week helping people in child protection issues all over the UK and work with some top lawyers

Is this the same work?  Is she a social worker, a counsellor or what? I am genuinely interested to know. 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Negative energy...

Commenting yesterday, somebody made the very sensible point that it looked as as though I was somehow trapped in the past and obsessing about things that happened ages ago. the expression negative energy was used to describe this. I think that the fault is mine, for not making myself clearer about why I am reminding people about all this stuff that happened in the past. Attempts have been made over the last few months, chiefly by Alison Sauer, to install Mike Fortune-Wood at Education Otherwise in some ill-defined role. Alison herself refers to,  'bringing him on board'. It is understood that once he was 'on board', then he would work with Alison and one or two allies of hers within EO to re-vitalise the organisation. What I have been doing over the last few days is to remind people who we are talking about here. If, knowing what these characters are like, members of Education Otherwise are happy to see their group fall under the increasing influence of such people; then all well and good, there is nothing more to be said. By looking at their past actions, we can form a pretty good idea of the sort of people that Alison & Co actually are, which is why I have been raking over  past events.

If home educators in this country are content to see the biggest home education group in the United Kingdom being guided and directed by a woman who runs secret campaigns of harassment against those with whom she falls out; then that's up to them. Alison's main friend within EO is currently suing one of the trustees of the charity, has threatened other home educators with legal action and more than once tried to have people arrested by the police for drawing attention to her activities in the field of home education. She and Alison have launched a company concerned with education which they hoped to keep secret. They were so annoyed when this company was mentioned here, that a solicitor's letter was sent and the police contacted once again. I have never in all my life heard of the directors   of a new company being so desperately anxious to keep their business a secret that they have resorted to such tactics. Perhaps readers could suggest an innocent explanation for this desire for secrecy? There was something decidedly surreal about finding myself being questioned by the police about mentioning Alison's latest business venture in a blog! 

I am, in the next few days, going to stop blogging again. It does not really matter to me what happens to Education Otherwise, or who runs it. All I would say is that those who are members should think very carefully about the direction that the organisation is going.  

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Am I a liar?

I observe that Alison Sauer is now telling people that I am lying about her role in helping to close down free speech on this blog. Earlier today, I posted a brief account of how this was done and below will be found evidence that Alison did precisely what I have said that she did.

Perhaps readers might like to ask themselves why Cheryl Moy could possibly have wanted to know my wife's name? They might wonder why Alison really wanted to know my home address. She said that it was because Wendy might need to serve 'papers' on me, but  all I had said was that Wendy lived near Snowdonia. What  legal action would be possible for mentioning that somebody lived near a National Park? Having acquired my address, for the purpose, as she claimed, of Wendy Charles-Warner serving papers on me, why do readers suppose that she then gave it to everybody else? Was that in case they too wished to serve me with papers? Or was it perhaps to encourage people to send nuisance deliveries to my home? And why on earth did Alison only want this to be spread via private messages? Might it be that she wished to keep her role in coordinating the harassment secret?  Since Alison is telling her friends that I am making all this up, and since she is reading this blog, may we expect her to come on here and tell us all about this? Does anybody not think that this looks like a woman launching a campaign of harassment and intimidation? 

Alison Sauer launches a campaign of harassment and intimidation...

Alison Sauer

Please spread this message but ONLY by PM
Kat Brown

Far too tempting just to sign up his email address to random lists for fun.
Alison Sauer

Can anyone get me his house address? Wendy may need to serve papers on him
Chez Moy

whats his wife called?

23:22Dawn Baxendale left the conversation.
Alison Sauer

And for future reference and deliveries of manure...
Simon Webb
Chez Moy

i once did have 2 tons of manure delivered to someone :)smile
Alison Sauer

We could have a whip round...I'll put a tenner in the pot!

23:48Hellen Barnes- Kowalkowski left the conversation.

23:52Julie Thomas left the conversation.

06:14Ann-Marie Harrigan left the conversation.

07:27Tracey McPherson left the conversation.
Jai Daniels-Freestone

I appreciate the heads-up, but it strikes me that this man, vile as he is, wants attention! This is attention seeking behaviour and I'm not going to give him the satisfaction.

How to close down debate on home education; a case study

Some readers will probably be aware that I have, in one way and another, been mixed up with home education for over forty years. My views are not shared by everybody, but I am always ready to discuss home education; which was of course why I started this blog and never switched on the moderation or tried to stop anybody from saying what they pleased here. This was very annoying to some people and so one or two of them set out to put a stop to the free exchange of views here.  Let’s see how this was done, and by whom.

Two years ago, a briefing paper about the Welsh Assembly Government’s plans to alter the law on home education began to circulate. Parts of it first appeared anonymously on Mike Fortune-Wood’s site and some people, including me, thought that it had been written by Alison Sauer. After a while, the author’s name was added. This was Wendy Charles-Warner. Like a number of home educators, I had already come across the name, because Wendy had written to the Daily Telegraph about  home education and approached the BBC and various newspapers and got them to publish information about her family, along with photographs of her and her relatives. She also of course was listed in the Good Hotel Guide and various other places on the internet. I mentioned briefly on this blog that the briefing paper had not been written by Alison, but was rather the work of Wendy, who lived near Snowdonia. That was all. No address or other details; just that bare statement. Considering the sheer quantity of information that Wendy herself had caused to be placed in newspapers, the BBC and so on  about her family, I hardly thought that this was an invasion of her privacy.

I was then approached, not by Wendy herself but by Alison Sauer; which I found odd. She asked me to remove mention of the fact that Wendy lived in North Wales, as it put her in danger. Since that very week, yet another article had appeared in a newspaper at Wendy’s instigation, actually mentioning the name of the house she lived in; this struck me as absurd and I told Alison so. That night, she organised a campaign against me on Facebook. She published my home address and suggested that people make nuisance deliveries to my home. Cheryl Moy wanted to know my wife’s name, somebody else suggested sabotaging my email. Alison herself urged people to come on here to, as she put it,  ‘bomb’ this blog, with offensive messages. She told people not to debate, but just, ‘leave your smelly messages’. Clearly, she hoped that people would be as offensive as possible. This was a brilliant success, because Alison and her friends vied with each other to see who could be most inventive with personal abuse about me and my family. I removed the worst examples, which made mention of my wife, but left some of the others for people to see. Then the abuse became even cruder and some people contacted me and asked me to take down some  the messages as they were afraid that it was making home educators look like absolute maniacs. At that point, I was compelled to switch on the moderation for the first time since I had begun the blog three years earlier. Round one to Alison Sauer.

After a while, I turned off the moderation, only to find a new problem starting. Industrial quantities of spam began to appear; hundreds of advertisements for things like rubbish disposal turning up in the comments every day. I had never encountered anything like this before and it only began in earnest after Alison  had launched her campaign of harassment. One of Alison's chums, Kat Brown, had already suggested sabotaging my email and so I assumed that this was a variation of that theme. Because I didn’t have time to go through every post and all the comments to remove this stuff, I was compelled once again to switch on the moderation. Round two to Alison and her friends.

None of this made me feel very well disposed towards Alison and Wendy and so I posted a few questions here, asking what on earth was going on. Quite a few people answered in the comments, giving their own views on the subject. The general opinion was not favourable towards Alison and Wendy. Then I received a letter from Wendy, threatening  to sue me for defamation. She objected to forty three things which had been said about her on this blog. The clever bit about this was that almost none of these things had been said by me. Forty of the things she complained about had been remarks  made anonymously in comments here. Wendy pointed out that I was legally liable for these comments, even though I hand't made them myself; it was my blog.  If I allowed them to continue, she would take me to court. Game set and match to Wendy and Alison. The moderation has been switched on here ever since and because I don’t have the time to come here every five minutes to check the comments and allow publication  of those which are acceptable to Wendy, I no longer bother with this blog. My wife was also alarmed about the threats, especially about our home address being publicised and Alison's friends trying to find out her name. She too put pressure on me to stop blogging.

This same method has been used to close down debate on home education in other places as well.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Can you imagine?

To show readers how things have changed in the home educating scene in this country over the last five years or so, I invite you all to conduct a little thought experiment, which involves former trustees of Education Otherwise. Can anybody imagine Fiona Nicholson threatening to have somebody's daughter raped? What about Shena Deuchars ringing the police and having somebody arrested for criticising something she had written?  Can anybody believe for a moment that Annette Taberner would incite people to make nuisance deliveries to the home of somebody who annoyed her? 

Put like this, the whole thing sounds utterly grotesque. Five years ago, those who were well-known or high profile home educators would never in a million years have got up to such tricks. The fact that we now have a bunch of people who regularly engage in  activities of this kind  and that those people are trying to exert influence  over Education Otherwise  tells us how much things have changed for the worse.

Why does any of this matter to me?

Three people contacted me yesterday and asked why I was bothering with this business about Education Otherwise. After all, I’m no longer a home educator; why should I care? The reason is simple. I am very strongly opposed to censorship and am very much in favour of free speech.  What I have seen happening in home education in this country over the last five years or so, is the emergence of a group who are committed to quite the opposite point of view. They wish to suppress debate and prevent others from expressing their opinions. This is awful, both in the abstract sense of being a bad thing, and also in the practical sense of being unhealthy for home education.

Readers with long memories will perhaps recall that I was at one time widely hated by many other home educators. This didn’t particularly bother me. Those who felt that I was a fool or a rogue could say what they wished about me; why should I object? This was so, even when they told lies, such as that I was a relative or employee of Graham Badman. It didn’t occur to me for a moment to try and stop them speaking. What I did find a little disturbing was that I was thrown off all the home education lists to which I belonged, so that I was unable to explain my views. Even more alarming was that anybody who supported me or even said that I might have a point, was also shouted down and thrown off various groups. This was back in 2009 and in retrospect, was a warning of how things were developing in the world of British home education.

After I was chucked off the various lists, such as the one run by Education Otherwise and Mike Fortune-Wood’s HE-UK, I started this blog. The aim was always to allow people to come here and debate. I never operated any moderation, although of course that has now changed. The reason that comments are now moderated is that a small group of home educators and former home educators cannot bear others to exercise free speech. Some of you might remember that there were pretty lively debates on here, with anybody being able to say anything at all. I was widely insulted and in return, expressed my own views freely. It was a forum where anybody could come and say what he or she pleased. Not any more.

As time passed after I was thrown off those internet groups, I realised that others were suffering the same fate. Sometimes they would be removed, at others, their comments would be removed or they would be placed on moderation. Slowly but surely,  free debate about home education was strangled. This became so bad that people started a face book group where they could discuss things relating to home education freely. This was called Right to Reply. It no longer exists, although there is a second incarnation; Right to Reply 2. 

The fate of this blog and the Right to Reply facebook groups are very similar. They were both targeted by Alison Sauer and her friends. Threats were made, involving both legal action and more direct, physical harm; such as the rape of family members, nuisance deliveries to people‘s homes and the sabotage of email accounts. The police were called, arrests were made and writs issued. The consequence of all this was that I had to start moderating and deleting comments on this blog; which had the effect of preventing free discussion. The Right to Reply group was closed down and on the on the new version, posts are copied and sent to the police, as well as a writ being issued. All this has had the effect of preventing free discussion there as well.

The same, small group of people is behind all these actions. This group includes Alison Sauer, Mike Fortune-Wood, Katya Lamb and Cheryl Moy. It is some of these people, who have caused so much harm to free speech and open debate, who are now involved in the attempts to acquire influence or control over the largest home education group in the United Kingdom. That is why I am concerned and it is why I have started blogging again for a while.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A poisonous home educator from Doncaster…

No, not that home educator, you fools! I’m referring not to Cheryl Moy but rather to her friend; Katya Lamb. I had heard vaguely of Katya Lamb, but had no personal dealings with her until this year. She contacted me out of the blue, in a very friendly fashion, in order to tell me that Maire Stafford had bought special computer software to analyse comments on her blog, to see if they were being made by me. Yes, I thought it sounded pretty mad as well. Then, a month or two later, I had another brief exchange with Katya; but this time the mood was very different. Instead of being chatty and amiable and suggesting that we exchange stories, as she had in her first message, she threatened my family. This threat was so explicit and awful, that I think  it deserves to be widely known.

After claiming to be a friend of Wendy Charles-Warner, on whose behalf she was evidently speaking, Katya said;

What if, to get back at you and your obnoxious attitude, someone put your daughters photo, profile and home address on a rape fantasy website and invited undesirables to break into her house and fulfil her fantasy? How would you feel? 

Any further comment would be superfluous!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Mike Fortune-Wood in his own words

Because what I am writing here is being described as a 'fairy story', I thought that it might be worth quoting Mike Fortune-Wood's own words on the subject of 're-vitalising' Education Otherwise;

National campaigns cost money, at least on a large scale they do. We need to start putting a war chest together (I think a big one perhaps £100,000 or 

We need a charity to manage that (infrastructure issue - bank account, auditing, formal 
treasurers, democratic decision making accountability etc. etc.)
Its too late (and getting later while we argue) to set up a new one
The only extant one we have is EO, which is still in a recovery mode. Ergo EO needs further revitalisation and help with its development.

I did discuss the idea at a meeting at my home a few weeks ago with two members of EO 

 EO could assist by hiring meeting halls and paying for people with experience of fighting other local campaigns to travel and offer help in getting started, bring people together and establish structures where none exist.

Here, we see how jobs might be created for a few people who would be paid for travelling round the country and offering help. These posts would be for those with 'experience of fighting other local campaigns'. I wonder if he has anybody in particular in mind?    I have also been accused of making up the fact that trustees at EO have been discussing this with Mike Fortune-Wood and Alison Sauer. As we can see from what he has written above, this is not some invention of mine. Edwina Theunnison and Fe Mukwamba-Sendell went to his house and talked over his proposals. They were encouraged to do this by Alison Sauer.

Quashing a Rumour...

Alison Sauer is now telling people that I am suggesting that she is somehow manipulating Mike Fortune-Wood for her own sinister ends and trying to use him as a cat's paw. This is not at all what I meant to convey in my post yesterday. I was saying that the two of them are working together and have a common aim. We cannot be altogether sure yet what this aim is, because both are a little vague about it. The purpose of the current series of posts is to speculate a little and explore possibilities by looking at what facts we do know.

Monday, 16 June 2014

The Perils and Pitfalls of DIY Libel Actions

A little over forty years ago, before my family had quite despaired of shoehorning me into a respectable career, they managed to obtain a position for me at a firm of City solicitors; Crawley and de Reya, in Austin Friars. This firm handled a lot of libel cases and it was my job to go and make applications and keep an eye on cases when they were being heard. The ones I most enjoyed were those where one or both parties were not represented by barristers. I had the pleasure of watching such a case recently and it brought back many fond memories. I thought it worth mentioning one or two points which struck me during the hearing that took place at the High Court earlier this year.

One of the phrases that many litigants in person fail fully to understand is, ‘absolute privilege’. They believe that it means that they can say what they please and tell any lies in the courtroom without fear of any consequence. This can be a double-edged sword!  It is true that one cannot be sued for defamation as a result of anything said during judicial proceedings, but that also means that the person you have hauled into court can also say all sorts of unflattering and possibly untruthful things about you once they are themselves in the witness box. If they have had enough foresight to ensure that friendly journalists are present, then these people can then go off and report whatever has been said in court. Needless to say, this can work to the disadvantage of the person who brought the action in the first place. It means that the statements complained of will  receive a national circulation in magazines and newspapers; rather than just being read by a handful of people on closed internet groups.

I said that some people fail to grasp the nature of ‘absolute privilege’ and we saw a beautiful example of this at the hearing a few weeks ago.  Having pretended that she had been menaced by one of the witnesses for the other side, the applicant in the case made the mistake of repeating the allegations once the hearing had been adjourned and the judge had left the court. Oh dear! Worse still, she made the statements in the hearing of a journalist from a national magazine, saying of the witness, for example,  ‘I’m frightened of that man!’ Alas, the court usher and the journalist had now been told something likely to lower the reputation of the witness concerned among right thinking members of society. Far from being covered by absolute privilege, her statements were actionable.

Another way that those bringing libel actions without the help of a barrister can fall down is over the questions of damages and costs. One of the most despicable methods used to try and shut people up is to threaten them and their children with the loss of the family home. Most people are alarmed at such threats. If the person you are threatening to sue is living in social housing, you can tell them that if the case goes your way, you’ll put in the bailiffs and seize the kids games consoles and toys. Ugh! Fortunately, it seldom comes to this. If judgement is awarded against a defendant and he or she does not have enough money or property to pay, the court usually arranges easy terms. Now the defendant has to abide by such an order, or can be found in contempt. On the plus side, the weekly sums to be paid are often laughably small. I recall one case in 1973, where a man had been awarded damages and costs of over £10,000; an enormous sum in those days. An order was made for him to pay this to the plaintiff at the rate of 50p a week! Even this wasn’t done, the procedure in such cases being that the person would pay one week and then not the next.  Paying your lawyer to haul him back into court was pointless. You would have to pay for your solicitor and the amount would just be added to the original amount that he technically owed you. Don’t even ask about people declaring bankruptcy to get out of this sort of pickle…

Barristers and solicitors know all about these things, which is why they very seldom advice people to start proceedings  for defamation; unless the client is wealthy enough not to worry about losing money on the business. I am watching with enormous enjoyment to the latest case in which I have an interest, because I have a strong suspicion that the applicant is going to regret getting embroiled with the courts in the first place.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

A Forensic Psychologist is determined to get her two penn'orth in a few weeks ago...

Dear Kayleigh 
Thank you very much for this. I think it is very important that knowledgeable 
members of the home educating community are involved in the creation of the new 
guidelines, rather than the minister (or more likely his staff) electing to use only 
home educators local to Cardiff for convenience. 
As Welsh liaison for Education Otherwise, the largest home educating charity in the 
UK and author of the briefing paper used during the consultations, I am anxious 
that I should be involved from the very start in all aspects of the new guidelines. 
I would be very grateful if the committee felt able to recommend that my 
involvement is accepted from day one. 
Best wishes 

Wendy Charles-Warner 

Friday, 13 June 2014

Alison Sauer's latest business venture

Readers might be interested to know that Alison Sauer has started a new company with Wendy Charles-Warner; Heatherside Educational Consultants Limited. They only registered this business  a little over a week ago, so it is too early to say much about it. There are already one or two points of interest though. Mrs Charles-Warner is listed as a forensic psychologist; rather than a lawyer. Also, her service address is given as being the same as Alison Sauer's in Barnoldswick. Most companies, when registering with Companies House, give at least some vague indication of the nature of the business being undertaken. This is not the case with Heatherside  Educational Consultants Limited, which is slightly unusual.

Readers will perhaps be aware that Alison Sauer is already director of a company with a similar-sounding name to the new one; namely, Heatherside Homes Ltd.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Litigants in Person; a Guide to the Perplexed

With the cuts in legal aid, many people are choosing to conduct their own cases. This is seldom a good idea, especially if your mental faculties are impaired or you are not as bright as you wish others to suppose. I want to look today at a couple of the ways in which litigants in person can easily come a cropper, especially if their knowledge of the law is of a purely theoretical nature; drawn from library books and not actual court practice. It is all well and good studying law  with the Open University, but unless you know what you are doing, it is so fatally  easy to get your fingers badly burned.

 Let us look first at the case of Mrs X, a vexatious litigant from the provinces. She arrives in the capital for her big day in court, the whole adventure being rather overwhelming; after all, she is not used to big cities. There are so many cars, and the buildings are far taller than the cottages and farm buildings with which she is familiar. Never the less, she makes her way resolutely to the Royal Courts of Justice in the famous Strand, full of her own importance. Perhaps she is the first member of her family ever actually to visit London; only previously having seen the place on pathe newsreels at her local cinema.

Once in court, Mrs X at once  makes a terrible faux pas, which immediately alienates the judge in her case! It is the convention that all High Court Judges are addressed as ’My Lord’; even if they are only knights. Having only read about courts in a book called, perhaps, ’Every Woman her Own Lawyer’, and having no direct experience of them, poor Mrs X cannot be expected to know this and calls the judge, ’Your honour’. It is twenty years since he was addressed in this way, as though he were only a humble circuit judge. At once, Mrs X has put his back up, without even realising it!

Or take the case of Mrs Z, a decrepit farmer’s wife from a remote part of the country. She is determined to recover her costs in travelling to the court from Giggleswick and feels that the best way to do this is to deny that she has any money or occupation and to claim  that she is wholly reliant upon state benefits. Surely, this will melt the hardest judge’s heart? What an error! If only she had known about the Litigants in Person (Costs and Expenses) Act 1975. By admitting that she was running a business, she would have been able to claim for loss of earnings. But because she insisted on maintaining the fiction that she had no money other than her benefits; she got nothing!

Next week, we shall be looking at the mysterious  case of the woman who couldn’t tell the difference between her witnesses and her legal advisers and also examining the disadvantages for a litigant in person of speaking in a slow, patient, patronising  and annoying tone of voice, like  a cross between a  teacher for the deaf and  a relationship counsellor.