Reply to Notts County Solicitor

Except for the addition of this comment and changes to the layout and navigation links, the content of this page was last updated on 3 January 2002 at 1:45am.

1 July 1997

C P. McKay, County Solicitor Nottinghamshire County Council
County Hall
West Bridgford, Nottingham
NG2 7QP
United Kingdom

Dear Mr. McKay,

I have received an Email message sent by John Gass which is purportedly from you. As I have no Email address for you I am replying via John Gass's Email address and will have copies posted to several mailing lists, including Fight Censorship.

The subject of the Email was a report (the JET Report) which describes how social workers in your County Council's Social Services Department lead sexualy abused children into fabricating stories of their having been subject to ritual satanic abuse. I can understand that your County Council wishes to limit access to the report.

In the Email the claim is made that the Nottinghamshire County Council has copyright in the report despite the fact that its main author deems it in the public interest that the report be published, and the fact that it is apparently already a public document. The Email also, correctly, states that the report is on my web site (at http://pobox.com/~mbaker/mirror). However you ignore the fact that both my web site and I are not located in the United Kingdom.

The Email also contains the threat: "I therefore give you notice that unless the report is removed from the Website forthwith and for the avoidance of doubt within 24 hours of receipt by you of this mail The Nottinghamshire County Council will issue such Court Proceedings including injunction proceedings or take any action as may be appropriate."

My initial reaction was to comply with your demand. However on further consideration I decided to just ignore what appear to be empty threats, given that the "Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988", which is quoted in the Email, only applies to actions taken in the United Kingdom. As Professor Junger has already pointed out to you "that Act specifically provides that copyright holders' exclusive rights apply only to ``acts in the United Kingdom''".

However as Professor Junger has made very public his intention not to be coerced into removing the report, I have decided to do likewise. It is apparent from the press reports that your actions are engendering that your efforts to suppress the truth about what happened at Broxtowe have had something other than the effect that your County Council wanted. Headlines like:

Such publicity can not have been what you wanted. After all, no one would have mirrored the Broxtowe report at their sites on the World Wide Web had you not sought to prevent its original publication. There are at least two dozen web sites where the report is mirrored, not one of which would have existed if you had not sought to suppress its original publication on the web. For those of us who are opposed to governmental censorship of information on the World Wide Web, this reaction is gratifying. I doubt that it is so for your County Council.

It is also my position that, were you to seek an injunction from a court of competent jurisdiction requiring me to remove the report from my web site because of your County Council's claim of copyright, even if it could establish that claim, my publication of the report on my web site is "fair use".

The report is a compilation of facts, even if the allegations of satanic rites that it discusses were fictions. As the United States Supreme Court made clear in _Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co., Inc._, 499 U.S. 340 (1991): "the copyright in a factual compilation is thin." Since your County Council desires to suppress the work, rather than to publish and sell it, they have suffered no damages from the posting of the report on my web site; since I am making the report available as a public service and receive no compensation for doing so, I have received no profits from that posting: facts that go a long way toward establishing that my posting of the report is fair use. But the most important fact is that the report that your County Council wants to suppress is a document whose publication may assist in the prevention of further abuse of children by public authorities who subscribe, for whatever reason, to fantasies about satanic rites. As the report says: "We have to consider the damage that may have been done to the children in working with them on the basis that they had been involved in experiences such as the slaughter of sheep and the killing of babies that had not actually happened. What has been done to [Mary] by convincing her that she was a child murderer who had indulged in acts of cannibalism or that she might kill again if she did not feel guilty?"

I initially set up my mirror site <http://pobox.com/~mbaker/mirror> as my part in protecting freedom of speech on the Internet and as a demonstration of the futility of trying to suppress information on the Internet. However the report that your County Council is trying to have disappear, is an important document in its own right that must be available to family therapists, police departments, departments of social welfare, and lawyers throughout the world. It is an important historical document, especially in its tracing the spread of satanic hysteria to sources in the United States.

More importantly the publication of the report may assist the forces of reason in rejecting the evil that once infected the social workers of Nottinghamshire. That is, after all, why one of its authors, who is a social worker himself, felt that it should be published.

I am not, by the way, insensitive to your claim that: "Some of the young persons named in the Report are the subject of deemed care orders made in accordance with the provisions of the Children Act 1989. The Nottinghamshire County Council has Statutory and Common Law obligations and duties to those young people. It is in acknowledgement of those Statutory and other Common Law obligations and duties that The Nottinghamshire County Council is taking the steps mentioned in this letter." But I am afraid that I do not believe you. The report, after all, has been carefully edited to hide the identity of the young people who were the victims in this sordid affair. In any case, even were I to try to suspend my disbelief the fact remains that I agree with the authors of the report when they say: "we do not consider that suspending disbelief should also mean a suspension of commonsense or the use of critical faculties."

I shall therefore not comply with your demands.

Yours sincerely,


Dr Michael Baker.


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