Saturday

Madeleine McCann's voice: Madeleine Foundation closing down


Posted by Tony Bennett (with a little help from Himself at The Gallery

Well, The Madeleine Foundation website is no more, but The Madeleine Foundation itself is unaffected by the McCanns' demands made via their libel Solicitors Carter-Ruck. Our programme of meetings continues, starting with tomorrow's meeting in Cardiff and our meeting in Manchester on 14 November.

Just a small but important clarification about our wesbite - or our former website, I should say. Stevo in the U.S. offered in the summer of 2008 to build and set up our website. He offered to be the webmaster. The Madeleine Foundation paid appropriate domain name fees, hosting fees etc. to Stevo for setting up and maintaining our website. Throughout the past year several additional payments have been made to Stevo for his actual expenses and his time.

It was agreed for reasons of convenience that Stevo register the site in his own name from the outset although it was always understood and agreed that The Madeleine Foundation was the controlling force and had the right to determine its content. We maintained the content of the website, until today, in a certain manner which has won the respect of a great many people, bearing in mind always that the main purpose of the exercise was to discover the truth about and obtain justice for Madeleine, whom we did not believe had been abdcuted.

This afternoon at around 4pm our time Debbie Butler and I telephoned Stevo in America and informed him that we had reluctantly been forced to agree to all the demands of the McCanns, via Carter-Ruck, including that the madeleinefoundation.org website be 'suspended permanently'.

Stevo's response was that as the registrant and 'owner' of www.madeleinefoundation.org, he was now entitled to assert full control of the website and he has now re-styled it "The Website Formerly Known as The Madeleine Foundation".

This becomes clearer when you look at this exchange tonight on that website between Sharon Bradford and Stevo:

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Sharon Bradford Says:

October 2nd, 2009 at 8:17 pm edit

This does not have to be the end, there are other paths that can be taken to push forward. Just remember this – out of bad, something good always comes.

Madeleine McCann will get justice. The McCanns and their accomplices will, one way or the other, be punished for their misdeeds.

Stevo Says: This website is owned by me. It always has been. As far as I know it isn’t going anywhere. The domain name is the same and the site will continue. Remember to try the new chat page for real-time online chat.

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I must make it clear, therefore, in line with our decision to inform Carter-Ruck by their deadline of close of play today that we hve acceded to all of their demands, that The Madeleine Foundation neither owns nor controls nor indeed has any say whatsoever in the content of the website currently to be found at www.madeleinefoundation.org

THE DECISION TO ACCEDE TO CARTER-RUCK'S DEMANDS

Debbie and will explain this in full in due course.

Today began at 4.00 am for Debbie and 5.00 am for me as we had an appointment with Kirwans Solicitors, Liverpool at 11.00am.

The meeting was with Partners David Kirwan and Michael Sandys, Solicitor Julia Kirwan and Media Advisor Nick Mason and lasted four hours with three short interruptions.

Clear advice was given that because of the high degree of uncertainty in libel litigation, no guarantee could be given that if we defended a libel suit, we would win. It was emphasised in graphic terms by one of the Partners that on a worst-case scenario the outcome could mean complete financial ruin for both Debbie and myself, with all our savings raided and court orders made to recover the equity value each of us have in the homes we own. It was also emphasised that Carter-Ruck had immense resources both within their firm and beyond them, that they could sustain a case lasting many weeks, and that to defend the proceedings would require us to engage libel lawyers at huge fees which neither of us could remotely afford to pay.

We were further advised that correspondence between Kirwans Solicitors and Carter-Ruck on 24, 25 and 29 September and 1 October revealed a strong likelihood that Carter-Ruck had indeed already drafted a libel writ and would be ready to walk into the High Court on Monday (5th Oct) at 9.00am to issue a writ, unless we acceded to their demands in full by close of play on Friday.

Accordingly we telephoned Carter-Ruck at 3.14pm today and faxed them written notice of our accession to the McCanns' demands at 3.25pm. Attempts to speak to both Adam Tudor and Isabel Hudson, the two main Solicitors conducting the litigation for carter-Ruck, failed as we were informed that 'the entire department' was tied up in a meeting. That was still the case when we telephoned again at 4.47pm to make absolutely sure that our fax had been safely received.

Kirwans offered to assist us with concluding written terms of settlement with the McCanns, via Carter-Ruck, if we paid them a retainer of £5,000 plus VAT. After a short period of consideration, Debbie and I decided that neither of us could afford this. We offered the sum of £500.00 to Kirwans for their advice to date which was accepted and paid by us. I should explain that this was in respect of several hours of advice and assistance from Kirwans during the period 24 September until today, notably including a sentence-by-sentence analysis of the '60 Reasons' book by Partner Michael Sandys, for which we are grateful.

As we cannot afford further legal help, we shall have to deal with any further correspondence with Carter-Ruck ourselves.

That's all, and I have to be up again at 7.00am in order to make our Cardiff meeting tomorrow on time.

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P.S. Thanks all of you for the nice messages received by e-mail, 'phone and on the forums tonight and I am sorry that we felt we had no realistic option but to yield to the enemy's overwhelmingly superior firepower.
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Carter-Ruck's six key demands:

As per their communication of 27th August 2009, and as stated by The Madeleine Foundation,

1) To permanently take down our website at www.madeleinefoundation.org
2) To deliver up to Carter-Ruck all outstanding copies of the booklet "What Really Happened to Madeleine McCann? - 60 Reasons which suggest that she was not abducted"
3) To deliver up to Carter-Ruck all outstanding copies of the leaflet: "What Really Happened to Madeleine McCann? - 10 Key Reasons which suggest that she was not abducted"
4) To erase all electronic copies of both the booklet and the leaflet
5) To use our best endeavours to remove all allegedly defamatory postings by either of us on any website, forum or blog, and
6) To permanently cease from making any further allegedly defamatory statements about the McCanns.