Friday, 8 February 2013

Our attendance at McCann v Bennett (5th and 6th Feb 2013)

Having navigated through security Mr Morsal and I met up with familiar faces in the lobby along with Grenville Green. There we waited for Mr Bennett to arrive. We then headed upstairs to court 14.

Mr Morsal and I sat at the back row of the gallery – which soon filled. People were turned away because there was no standing room permitted. Some had travelled huge distances to show their support, including one lady who flew over from the Netherlands and who had kindly brought a bunch of tulips for Mr Bennett’s wife. I believe a couple of so-called ‘Pro McCanns’ also attended although I’m unsure who they may have been (except for one who we later met on Day 2). All who attended were well behaved.

On the morning of Day 1, Adrienne Page Q.C started the proceedings. To me she seemed slightly quaky at first but then I had previously formed high expectations of how someone who charges a staggering £32,000 for advice and two-day hearing would perform in court. That aside, Adrienne Page Q.C picked up momentum. She delivered the reasoning’s behind the McCann choice of bringing Tony Bennett to court in a professional and coherent manner. Her colleagues listened intently while periodically scanning the public gallery.

When Tony Bennett gave his opening statements he was told, politely, by Mr Justice Tugendhat that some of his offerings were not relevant to the matter in hand and mentioned a few times that if a libel trial ensues then he may find that he will be able to make his points then. In my personal opinion Mr Justice Tugendhat was being fair while working within the (restricted) boundaries of what could and could not be permitted within this particular hearing. But he did at least allow Mr Bennett to have his say before intervening even if what he had proposed were not permissible.

Court ended at 1pm for lunch. We didn’t join Mr Bennett and others, instead choosing to use the canteen within the Royal Courts of Justice to save having to go through the scanners again on re-entering the building.

The afternoon session was when Tony Bennett came into his own. I admit that I was quietly impressed with the way Mr Bennett confidently, with professionalism, directed his questions.

Mike Gunnill took his oath at 2.15pm.
TB = Tony Bennett
MG = Mike Gunnill
P = Prosecution

Mr G admitted that he had used the aliases ‘Peter Tarwin’ on 20 August and also ‘Jason Peters’ when writing emails to Mr Bennett in an attempt to obtain the banned booklet “60 Reasons.”

TB: Take this through with you briefly, email from Peter Tarwin dated 20 Aug. Is that you?

MG: It is my LordTB: quotes from email re Deborah Butler… said keep up the good work…….was that a true statement?

MG: that was not a true statement my Lord

TB: reply to email from Peter Tarwin ….Peter I don’t know who you are but the address is incorrect and number 4 at the bottom as Peter Tarwin on holiday until Sept and can't reply. 5, 22nd Aug. Over the page…..item 5 from Jason Peters…to Mr Bennett new address provided to the BBC…Keep up the good work

TB: Jason Peters is you, is it not?

MG: it is, yes.

TB: Quoting from Mr Gunnill’s email (20th August?): “Jason Peters was entered in error… you see my name is Peter Tarwin.” That is you.

MG: It is my Lord

TB: email dated 26 Aug, Dear Sec Bennett I would like to attend the Madeleine McCann meeting - please add details, would like to attend...” Again not you is it and you did not intend to attend the meeting did you?
MG I did intend to attend the meeting, yes.

TB: no 9, email from me to others, Gunnill fake email 27 August 2009….Tony reads this out……facts again….you devised that false email address did you not?

MG: No I did not, my Lord

TB: now 10 on page 4, this is from Mr Bennett just for info……reads out email… re Kent police.

TB: The email purports to come from Debbie Butler but it’s not. Did you devise that email?

MG: I did not my Lord

TB: Did you make a complaint to Kent police about Deborah Butler?

MG: I did my Lord

TB: Do you know the outcome of the police enquiry?

MG: They told me they gave her a caution

Mr G stated that he had contacted the Sunday Express asking if they would be interested in buying his story regards obtaining the booklet. When Mr Bennett said that Mr G had intended to sell his story for monetary gain, Mr Gunnill agreed, admitting that he wanted to make money from the story that Tony Bennett had sold his booklet while under obligation to the court.

TB: A courier arrived this morning at 8am to collect the envelope…quotes from … admitted selling “60 Reasons” to me…..quotes on….is that the date that the courier came to collect the envelope?

MG: yes my Lord

TB: paragraph 16 of your affidavit…directing to witness...Are you at page 16? So if I can just read that out…I sent £5 in cash...quotes from that affidavit. Are we talking about received on the 1st or 4th February…in this posting website courier called this morning at 8am but in the letter you are saying Monday 1st Feb…Just asking when you received this booklet

MG: I think it was on the Monday

P: interrupts regarding apparent discrepancy with dates.

TB: I just want to ask him his recollection - you say you received it on Monday 1st February and having got it what did you then do…what was your next action?

MG: I contacted the Sunday Express

TB: They were having a conference at 11am?

MG: Sunday Express said they’d be interested in the story... yes

TB: Point 1 cash sent…because Mr Gunnill did not want to send a cheque to Mrs Bennett.

MG: From my memory that was in one of the emails, yes.

TB: We will see it in a moment and I said I got a copy of the book from my mother- it was her copy – and you say there are two further examples. What are the two further examples?

MG: Not sure, I can’t remember now…..I think of one selling in Wales but I don’t recall

TB: I put it to you there is no other examples

MG: I have no reason to lie

In his affidavit Mr G also states that besides the booklet which he obtained via Mr Bennett he had also acquired two other copies via other sources. When questioned he replied that he had not lied about the other two copies and that he “only needed proof of one purchase and that I obtained from you” [Tony Bennett].

TB: You obtained this booklet and made public with allegations that there are two further

MG: I don’t have my paperwork with me

TB: Do you concede that it might not be true - there are not two further examples

MG: As I said I only need proof of one purchase and that was from you. (Denies he lied about obtaining two other copies.)

TB: I will refer to the Affidavit in more detail... in paragraph 4 you say that in Aug 2009 you were commissioned by the Sunday Express to take a picture...this was commissioned by Debbie Butler. I received hate mail and late night calls...and a fake website set up in my name. As confirmed in paragraph 8.... Tony Bennett was not responsible for this website.

MG: As far as I am aware I had no involvement in that

Mr Gunnill admitted that under one of his aliases: “I was monitoring your [Tony Bennett’s] website.” (Note: In the transcript it states '...monitor the websites'. Mr Bennett was only on one forum at the time. Either way, Mr Gunnill was monitoring a website or websites)

Then directing his words to Mr Justice Tugendhat he continued: “Mr Bennett seemed to be breaching his court application” – he had no proof to offer.

TB: You then go on to say in paragraph 11 that you continued to follow the story and it appeared that the defendant was not honouring his undertakings – How would you do that…what would you look for?

MG: Under one of my aliases I was using to monitor the websites - the general conversation between members on the forum as Tony Bennett seemed to be ignoring his court undertaking. Mr Bennett seemed to be breaching his court application.

TB: You threw it into your affidavit

MG: I did my Lord

(When asked, MG has no proof to offer)

TB: There is nothing that appears to be particular …but you have put in your affidavit - paragraph 12, I thought that the Sunday Express might be interested in reporting it further

MG: Exactly what I did say

TB: What did you mean by it?

TB: You, Mr Bennett

TB: What me personally?

MG: yes

TB: page 3, bottom photo journalist and pitch ideas to newspapers and paid commissions. You were prepared to buy this booklet from me if you could make money

MG: yes

TB: Quote - I spoke to my contacts on the Sunday Express and then you said I emailed using fake ID’s Exhibit MG2 refers to…on page 4 of MG2…page 385 – 386, pages 4 and 5 of exhibit. Can you look at the email you first sent to me on 13th Jan 2010…

MG: Yes that is correct

Mr Gunnill also admitted on oath that he used another alias ‘Michael Sangerte’ offering a ‘good price’ for a copy of the booklet 'as a historical document’. Mr Bennett asked if by stating ‘good price’ it was to entice him, he replied “no, it certainly wasn’t.”

TB: You sent it to me from Michael Sangerte 13th Jan at 3.52pm…quotes from that email…

MG: Yes, I lied my Lord. That was a lie –

TB: Why urgently to be purchased

MG: It was not

TB: So you could make money

MG: yes, (MG admits he wanted to make money from the story of TB selling his booklet while under obligation to the court)

TB Quote – Email from ‘Michael Sangerte’: I will pay a good price - why would you pay a good price?

MG: To purchase it from you

TB: was it to entice me?

MG: No, it certainly wasn’t.

TB: reply which is on the previous page…13th Jan 2010 at 4.19pm. Dear Mr…Then you reply 18 minutes later  from Michael Sangerte...Dear Mr Bennett...quotes... an important book “as a historical document” that was your claim….was that true?

MG: No, it was not true my Lord

TB: Nine days later I sent you a further one, Dear Mr Sangerte...please send a cheque made payable to my mother Mrs M Bennett…quotes from. At that stage you sent me the £5 note.

J: Would prosecution like to cross examine?

P: No

Mr G released 2.30pm

Interestingly Adrienne Page Q.C did not want to cross examine Mr G.

Carter-Ruck's lawyer and partner, Isabel Martorell, took her oath at 2.35pm.

*Mr Bennett held up the book 'The Madeleine McCann Case Files: Vol. 1'

Mr Justice Tungenhadt intervenes; explaining that Ms Martorell is here as a witness and that Adrienne Page Q.C is the one to question regards this matter.

Through further questioning it transpires that although Ms Martorell is aware that the PJ Files have been translated into English she apparently does not know anything about the PJ documentation. She seemed adept at avoiding any definitive answers, one way or the other, to Mr Bennett’s questioning. He states that with each question Ms Martorell keeps relating to the booklet as a whole when the contents are found on the internet. To clarify, he asks “what parts are you referring to?” Ms Martorell replies that Mr Bennett had written the introduction to the booklet but then struggles to recall anything else as having being written by him.

She also admits that she has not read Mr Amaral’s book “The Truth in the Lie.”

Mr Bennett states that Ms Martorell had no sufficient concerns after 23rd July. She agrees that there are none except the video of Mr Bennett reading out the 48 questions which Kate McCann had refused to answer. Mr Bennett then points out: “Yet you [Ms Martorell] have brought things to the court since that date.

In her Affidavit, Ms Martorell had said that 'Madeleine was abducted'. After Mr Bennett had questioned her further she admitted that she had been told this by her clients but didn't know whether or not that was true. In all fairness, I doubt she could say any more than that, after all, as she rightly pointed out, the McCann couple are the clients of Carter-Ruck. I doubt it is up to them to believe their clients, simply to act on their behalf. But it does at least show that this case is rather lopsided. If the McCann version of events is unproven then how can Mr Bennett have breached anything?

It seems inconceivable that a law firm as highly paid as Carter-Ruck has not at least read the
 PJ files. Surely they would naturally want to be furnished with all available evidence from their clients? Even if they had no trust in the translated files held on Pamalam’s site then they could have obtained the ones which the McCann couple say they have spent X amount having translated (professionally)? Again, if they have not read the official PJ Files then how can they possibly know that Mr Bennett has breached his undertakings?

When court closed on Day 1, we later met up with Tony Bennett and others for informal discussions. Everyone seemed in light spirits including Mr Bennett.

Day 2 – although up bright and early we were a few minutes late arriving at the court due to traffic delays. By the time we arrived the gallery was already full (again) so we were unable to gain entry. Others turned up after us and were also turned away. While we waited outside the court room, another person arrived. She introduced herself as a ‘Pro’ and was hoping to meet other fellow ‘Pros’. Regardless of her personal beliefs we invited her to join us for a tea in the canteen on the proviso that we do not discuss the case. (Grenville carried her case down the stairs – which I thought was a rather nice gesture). Of course, asking someone not to discuss a case is easier said than done. She attempted on a few occasions to get her views heard and unfortunately mistook my smile as a ‘snigger’. But in her defence it must have been an awkward situation for her considering she was sitting with us three and perhaps was looking for any tell-tale signs of disagreement. That was the only uncomfortable moment. I excused myself, left the woman (I’ve omitted her name because I do not have her permission to share) with Grenville and Mr Morsal, and headed for the court room again, thankfully I was squeezed in – albeit very late on in the hearing.

Mr Bennett read an extract from the book (pages 289-290) ‘madeleine’ written by Kate McCann.

Mr Justice Tugendhat stated that he will hand down his verdict in writing within a week or so, which, in my personal opinion, is only fair considering the complexity of the case. I would be worried if he had entered a verdict immediately after both sides had been heard.

A portion of Mr G's Affidavit referencing the above:
Source:  Jill Havern Forum
Written by Tony Bennett:
In paragraphs 12-17 of his Affidavit, Gunnill explains why he schemed to try to get a booklet from me. Here is his account, in his own words – verbatim:

"Hav[ing] previously covered the story, I thought that the Sunday Express might be interested in reporting on it further, if it...turned out that the Defendant wasn't complying with his undertakings. I should mention that while I am a photo journalist, I also write articles occasionally and/or pitch ideas for articles to newspapers. If a newspaper decides to publish an article which I've suggested, I will be paid a commission both for the original idea and if any photographs of mine are used to illustrate it.

"I spoke to my contacts at the Sunday Express, who confirmed that they would consider publishing another articles if I could obtain a copy of the '60 Reasons' boklet from the Defendant in order to prove that he was breaching the undertaking.

"I therefore emailed the Defendant in January 2010, using the pseudonym 'Michael Sangerte', requesting a copy of the '60 Reasons' booklet. Given the use of my photograph in the original Sunday Express article...I thought it extremely unlikely that the Defendant would agree to sell me the '60 Reasons' booklet if I wrote in my own name, hence my use of a pseudonym.

"As can be seen, the Defendant was initialily reluctant to sell me the '60 Reasons' boolket because of the undertaking he had given...However, when I pressed the Defendant further, he confirmed he had been able to locate a copy...

"I inforned by my contact at the Sunday Express that I had been able to obatin a copy of the '60 Reasons' booklet from the Defendant. My contact told me the newspaper wished to consdier a possible article at their 11am editorial conference, so they sent a courier round to my house to collect [the] package which I had received from the Defendant, together with my summary for a proposed article, first thing in the moning. I was curious to see if I could get the Defendant to admit publicly that he had been breaching his undetakings..."
To tidy up any myths surrounding the hearing regards Mr Gunnill it should be made clear that he was not working under instructions of the McCanns when he attempted to, and succeeded in, obtaining “60 Reasons” booklet.

Point number 30 of the official judgement (copy on Pamalam's site) it states:
What the Defendant wrote in the letter about Mr. Gunnill is accepted by the Claimants and Mr Gunnill himself to be correct, except for one important point. As the Defendant now expressly accepts, Mr Gunnill was not in contact with the Claimants. He wanted the book for the purposes of journalism and he was in touch with a newspaper publisher. 


*Mr Bennett later informed me of the following regards the book:
'The Madeleine McCann Case Files: Vol. 1' has been openly sold since January 2010 by 'The Madeleine Foundation' and consists of twelve key extracts from the published Portuguese police files. At the time of writing this it continued to sell steadily.

The McCanns have never attempted to injunct the book or otherwise stop it. The contents of this book were said by Carter-Ruck to amount to a breach of one my undertakings and no doubt Mr Justice Tugendhat will rule in due course on whether it was or not.