Your Chief Reporter writes this article with an incredibly heavy heart, especially today of all days, but at the same time it is vital that everyone understands why this very difficult decision has been taken. Yesterday (March 31st), at Southend News Network we received official notification that a local business owner intends to launch legal action against Southend News Network over what their solicitor describes as ‘A number of satirical articles that have contributed towards an attempt to damage my client’s business – above all others a piece of writing entitled ‘URGENT RECALL of Southend rock as sticks are found containing COCAINE.’ At this stage, the Chief Reporter would like to make it known that causing harm to hard-working and well-respected local businesses has never been the intention of Southend News Network, but at the same time this notification of impending legal action has not been something that we are in a position to ignore.
Although Southend News Network does not publish any identifying details, an application was made to our hosting provider via the courts for these details to be released solely to the solicitor’s office that made this application, and yesterday’s notification was a result of this action. At the present time, we are not in a position to release details of this legal action, other than the following key points:
- The business owner that has launched legal action is involved in the Southend tourism industry, and they have taken ‘exception’ to a number of Southend News Network stories that ‘have the potential’ to cause their business ‘irreversible damage.’
- The further allegation is that the piece entitled ‘URGENT RECALL of Southend rock as sticks are found containing COCAINE’ has had the greatest negative impact on their business.
- An ‘out of court’ settlement is possible if Southend News Network can be taken offline, and a ‘token payment’ to cover legal costs incurred by the complainant is offered by the site’s owner. In the event that this can be negotiated, Southend News Network will remain online until 12pm on Saturday 2nd April to allow any readers to ‘download’ or ‘archive’ content for their own future enjoyment WITHOUT the right to distribute it online in the future.
The third and final point above brings us to the current situation that we find ourselves in. After taking our own legal advice on this matter, it has now become clear that contesting these allegations will prove to be costly beyond the financial means of both Southend News Network and the Chief Reporter who in effect is the sole owner of the website. Unfortunately, this leaves us with only one option, and therefore Southend News Network will be taken offline from Saturday 2nd April at 12pm – this includes the main site at southendnewsnetwork.com, our Facebook page and our Twitter account. As part of the proposed settlement, the business owner in question has agreed to meet the costs of making multiple applications to Google for the most ‘damaging’ articles to be removed from search results.
This is as much information as we are able to give at the present time, and Southend News Network believes wholeheartedly that the timing of yesterday’s notification of legal proceedings was cynically planned to coincide with April Fools’ Day – in effect its timing has forced us to release this statement on a day when the rest of the media world is trying to do what we feel we have done so well since launching on September 30th 2015. All that remains now is for us to say a massive ‘Thank You’ to all of our fans for reading our articles and sharing our content, and while we hope to release more details of this legal action in the future, we are aware that doing so at this point will probably just lead to further complications.
See you all again some time,
Chief Reporter – Southend News Network