When Ian Puddick, a self-employed London plumber employing 20 people, learned of the long-standing affair between his wife and her boss (we’ll call him Mr X for now), a Director and Board member of the worlds largest re-insurance broker (Company IB for now), which had been facilitated by improper use of the Director’s expense account, he was both angry and upset. He made a single contact with the Mr X by telephone informing him that he knew of the affair and generally conversing in a manner to be expected in the circumstances. He was told to mind his own business; that Mr X had nothing to say to him; and not to call again or else….. Ian then contacted a number of the Directors clients and informed them that the Director was “… a person of no integrity”.
Big mistake! It turned Ian into a company risk, to be managed and mitigated accordingly – and the outfit retained to manage and mitigate Company IB’s risks just happened to be one of the worlds most notorious providers of private spying and covert intelligence/dirty tricks know-how – to those with deep enough pockets (we’ll call it ‘Company K’ for now). In a call from a pay-as-you-go mobile phone, Ian was told by a director of Company K – “you have no idea who you’re fucking with, we have deep, deep pockets and we will fuck you like you have never been fucked before.”
Here is a brief resume of the events that quickly followed:
- July 2009. Mr X complains to Sussex police (the county of Mr X’s domicile) that his clients have been contacted by Ian who has slandered him. Sussex police decline to get involved as they believed the issue to be civil not criminal. They also noted that if they did prosecute, Mr X would likely not turn up in court
- Unbeknown to Ian until the court discovery of documents process months later, a secret application to the high court for access to Ian’s telephone and banking records is granted to Company K and monitoring of all his telephone traffic, personal, employees and business begins.
- 12 August 2009. Ian’s home, his business premises and those of his accountant are raided by a team of armed anti-terrorist police (Google Operation Bohan). All his personal and business computers, phones GPS’s are seized and sent to the high tech specialist crime laboratory for forensic analysis. Ian himself is arrested and volunteers the above information about the extent of his actions, in a short interview with no lawyer present. He is released on police bail.
- September 2009. Ian answers bail alone and is dealt with in the manner that the police know they can get away with when seeking to intimidate someone who has never been charged nor even seen the inside of a police station before. Again there is no lawyer present and the interview is not video-taped. Ian is neither cautioned nor charged.
- October 2009. First court hearing to consider continued bail conditions pending further police ‘investigations’. Ajourned due to mislaid court papers but police made to look foolish over unsubstantiated and forced withdrawal of suggestions, made in support of onerous bail conditions, that Ian had a history of threatening violence.
- November /December 2009. Ian’s business suppliers are contacted anonymously and informed that his business is in financial trouble. His accountants are called and told that Ian is a convicted drugs dealer. Ian continues to receive threatening and mocking anonymous calls.
- January/February 2010. The Chairman of Company A authorises an internal investigation into Mr X’s expenses which confirms there has been a misuse of funds.
- 22 February 2010. Mr X is informed that an internal company disciplinary process is to begin. Mr X resigns.
- 23 March 2010. Mr X meets with City of London police and informs them that he does not wish to proceed with the case against Ian. Ian is able to collect all his computer and other seized equipment the same day. (running a 20 man business with all your business computer records missing for 7 months is no picnic).
- 10 April 2010. Ian is so outraged at what he regards as gross abuse of power on the part of Companies IB and K, together with clear police complicity in it, that he produces an explanatory video and blogs about it.
- 10 May 2010 Ian’s home and office are again raided – this time by City of London police murder squad officers. He is arrested and charged with a criminal offense under the 1997 Harassment Act. He is released on police bail one of the conditions of which is that he must not contact Mr X nor name him on any website.
- The court hearing is set for an indeterminate date in the future (since confirmed as 15 June 2011).
- 10 December 2010. Ian’s home is broken into. All the case papers pertinent to his defence (12 ring-binders) are removed and a hidden bug is planted. Nothing else is missing. Local police confirm that it was a professional job. The firm that found the bug for him describe it as 20 year old technology which would require a listener to be no more than about 100 metres away. It was operational when found.
- 28 February 2011 Court hearing adjourned to 7 March 2011
- 7 March 2011 Court hearing adjourned to 15 June 2011
- 23 May 2011. Ian is pulled over by an unmarked police car in Muswell Hill North London and handcuffed whilst police make inquiries. They’re Metropolitan, NOT City of London coppers and indicate they have information suggesting the van he is driving is stolen. It isn’t of course and, after checking Ian’s information concerning his forthcoming court case etc, he released with apologies and best wishes for 15 June.
Ian is rapidly wising up to the world of corporate risk management and mitigation.
Apart from his first telephone call and the delivery of a letter to Mr X’s wife informing her of her husband’s affair, Ian has made no contact whatsoever with Mr X – despite what Ian believes to have been a number of ‘agent-provocateur’ -like attempts to get him to phone Company IB and Company X telephone numbers.
But in 21st century Orwellian Britain, it seems that blog posts setting out provable facts (whilst deliberately and consciously withholding many of the more damaging ones since his beef is now with an outrageous abuse of Corporate-Police power) are sufficient to mobilise £multi-million police operations against you – provided they accord with the interests of deep deep pocketed companies like IB and X of course. It seems like there is a particular brand of justice that is already bought and paid for….
But maybe we should reserve judgement for a week or two.
Ian’s court hearing is set for Wednesday 15 June 2011. He is charged with harassment under Section 2 of the Harassment Act 1997 in that he “published a website or blog which discredits a person personally or professionally”. The police have confirmed that they are seeking a custodial sentence.