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The Vexatious Litigant website was opened May 3, 2002; at that time I had an association with the POW Trust, which was run by its founder and General Secretary, Peter Sainsbury. Terry Ewing was then the Legal Executive of POW, and like Sainsbury had been very helpful to me at a difficult time in my life. I set up the site for Ewing as an expression of my gratitude; at the time he had, or appeared to have, great ambitions for it, although in the event it was never much more than a database of albeit interesting cases from a very specialised area of law. I will point out that, unlike Ewing, I am in favour of the vexatious litigant law, which is used sparingly and for proper purposes, unlike many of the laws that are foisted on the public by sundry special interest groups.
I spent a total of just over twelve months working for the POW Trust - in two six month tranches - albeit without any meaningful salary, at the end of which time the book I had written about career criminal John McGranaghan was to be published by POW. In the event the book was not published, and I realised eventually that Sainsbury never had any intention of publishing it - not the first time this has happened to me. In the meantime, he had championed the case of Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer who was convicted of murdering a teenage burglar by shooting him in the back. Although there was a massive nationwide campaign to quash Martin’s conviction and free him, much of the credit for the instigation and success of his appeal must go to the POW Trust, and it is no exaggeration to say that without Ewing in particular, Martin would still be behind bars.
Sainsbury’s next brainwave was to publish a book on the Martin case, and I was commissioned, provisionally, to write it while the publication of the McGranaghan biography was put on hold. Sainsbury decided that he wanted a mainstream publisher for this, and having read John McVicar’s book on the murder of Jill Dando by Barry George, and finding McVicar lived in Battersea - literally a stone’s throw from both Sainsbury and McGranaghan - I contacted him. I had hoped first and foremost that he would be able to assist me in the publication of the McGranaghan book.
Things appeared to take a remarkable turn for the better when it transpired that McVicar was actually married to a publisher, and that both he and his wife were extremely enthusiastic to start on the Martin book. He read or at least paid serious attention to the McGranaghan manuscript, spoke approvingly of it and me, and wanted to press on with the new project. Unfortunately, he wanted this new work written in house style, which did not include footnotes and proper citations, as does mine. Also, he wanted it written to a strict if not impossible timetable due to Martin’s imminent release and a civil action that Martin’s surviving victim Brendon Fearon had proposed to bring against his assailant, an action which was later aborted.
I had not been particularly enthusiastic about writing the Martin book, at least not until the first book had been published, but as time went on I found McVicar to be patronising in the extreme, and when he asked me - not for the first time - to follow his template “or do we get someone else?” I replied “Get someone else!” and walked out.
The book was taken over by McVicar and published without Martin’s cooperation or approval. The farmer also showed his gratitude to POW by denouncing the Trust as “a bunch of shysters” whom he wouldn’t have touched with a barge pole had he been aware of their true motives. Ironically, Ewing had predicted he would do something like this.
My refusal to pander to McVicar’s whims was the end of the line for me as far as Sainsbury was concerned, and I was persona non grata; then he succeeded in doing something I thought he would never have been able to do, he destroyed the vast reservoir of goodwill I still had for him by wilfully scuppering the publication of the McGranaghan book I had lined up with a US publisher.
Some time later, he dismissed Ewing summarily and spread all manner of rumours and lies about him. I don’t know why he did this and don’t care, but later the big story broke; Sainsbury was a crook. In June 1990 he had been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for fraud. To be fair, he had never made any secret about being “an ex-offender” though I thought this related to something I had read about him in the 70s when he had been arrested and detained for some considerable time in The Lebanon. Although leopards can change their spots, this one hadn’t, and the activities of the POW Trust were being investigated by the Charity Commission. There is no doubt that like Jeffrey Archer, Sainsbury did make meaningful contributions to the welfare of the needy - myself and John McGranaghan in particular - but like Archer, the first and principal recipient of his largess, as well as the love of his life, was himself. Ironically, he even conned money out of Archer.
In June 2004, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper revealed in a follow up story that a cloned cheque for three hundred and forty thousand pounds had been passed through another of Sainsbury’s charity accounts, and that the Abbey National had brought a case in the High Court at Leeds in connection with this. The assets of POW and its associated trusts and companies had been frozen by the court.
POW’s patrons, including MPs and senior churchmen, resigned en masse, and Ewing - who by this time had learned HTML - set up a website complete with scans of official documents exposing Sainsbury and his scams. The POW Trust’s own website has gone, and the Trust has been shut down by the Charity Commission. When I spoke to Ewing at the beginning of December we agreed that the police must be dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s before moving in on Sainsbury, who can expect a very hefty gaol sentence this time around.
About this time I received a hysterical E-mail from Ewing demanding that I remove any mention of him being a Legal Executive for POW on my satpalramisguilty website; this I did. Ewing said he had already removed one such offending reference from vexatious_litigant, but I received messages to the effect that the site had disappeared. When I checked, the site was still there, but the HomePage had been removed, making it inaccessible, although individual pages could still be found using search engines.
On December 5, I went up to meet Ewing by arrangement; he had agreed to assist me with a legal matter, but when I arrived at his flat he wasn’t there. Like Sainsbury, I owe a personal debt to Ewing, but this is not the first nor the second time that he has done this to me, and even my patience has its limits.
I have therefore “taken over” vexatious_litigant, which has a new url. It may be that Ewing decides at some time to reactivate and even to augment the original site, but this site is staying, so it may be that the user comes across two sites claiming to be vexatious_litigant in the future. Well, this is now the REAL one! Please note that the E-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org is no longer valid for this site.
As of December 15, 2004, I have added only one new case: that of Akena Adoko, whose hate campaign against Dr Rita Pal has finally earned him the title of vexatious litigant to supplement his doctorate.
December 15, 2004.
A supplementary note: yesterday, I did a Google search on Sainsbury, the first one I’d done for some time, and the Times headline Charity fraudster Peter Sainsbury jailed for five years came up from May 28 last year. I was surprised he’d received such a lenient sentence, especially as the case took so long to come to trial, and can only assume the judge took into account both his age and apparent ill-health. The report said he was too ill to attend court; I knew he’d had a hip replacement some time back because I visited him in hospital; I don’t know if that had anything to do with it. A further search led to a report of civil court proceedings in which the name John McVicar appeared alongside his, but having served serious time at Her Majesty’s Pleasure and later marrying a Bulgarian countess, I can only assume that the one-time bank robber was far too savvy to get his hands dirty. And, I have absolutely no doubt both that Sainsbury had intended to drag me into his criminal schemes, and that Ewing was given his marching orders because he rebuffed a similar approach.
Good riddance to bad rubbish, and I hope he rots.
Updated January 7, 2012.
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