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Part 2: My open reply to my favourite legal pen pal (Psychic Sally???s libel lawyer, Graham Atkins), after he sends me three more emails.

November 1, 2011

(You can read Part 1 of this exchange here.)

Dear Mr Atkins,

As I explained to you in our recent correspondence, I am making our email exchange public (again), which includes my reply to your most recent query. The exchange appears below in chronological order.

Please note that Sir Peter Bottomley (MP for Worthing West) has specifically asked to be copied in on any further correspondence between us. I will forward our previous correspondence and kindly request that you copy future emails to Sir Peter.

Best Regards,
Simon Singh.

P.S. You have twice written “its” when I think you mean “it’s”. You might find this site helpful:
http://www.eng-lang.co.uk/apostrophe_rules.htm 

 

—–Original Message—–
From:                Graham Atkins
Sent:                30 October 2011 17:40
To:                    Simon Singh
Subject:            TV psychic Sally Morgan’s powers to be tested in Liverpool

Some misunderstanding? No doubt you have corrected the position.
http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2011/10/29/tv-psychic-sally-morgan-s-powers-to-be-tested-in-liverpool-100252-29682267/

——Original Message——
 From: Simon

Dear Mr Atkins,
Thanks for getting in touch.
Please can you identify your concerns, including specific lines, and
then let me know.
I am just packing for Liverpool, so I am a bit rushed. If you can
email me in the next 15 minutes then I will drop a note to the Liverpool Echo.
Best Regards,
Simon.
________________________

From: Graham Atkins

Perhaps when you have read the article all will become clear….

—–Original Message—–
From: Simon

I have read it, but I would rather not play battleships.
Just point out your concerns and I will take a look at them.
I am now on the road, so please be helpful if you genuinely want to correct something.
Best wishes,
Simon.
PS As we are discussing a matter of public interest, and judging by my previous blog, you will be aware that I consider our communications public and I may well post them online.


—–Original Message—–
From: Graham Atkins
Sent: 31 October 2011 00:33
To: Simon MSN
Subject: Re: TV psychic Sally Morgan’s powers to be tested in Liverpool – Liverpool Local News – News – Liverpool Echo

Simon

Its [sic] a very misleading piece, whether intentional or not. Neither you or your team of Mersey Skeptics [sic] saw fit to have it corrected. I will endeavour to find out how this occurred and advise my client accordingly.  

I’m concerned that there may be more people thinking worse of Sally as a consequence of her not showing up, as she is effectively ‘billed’ to attend. The reporter also mentions $1m twice in the article, so maybe you will have a packed house – but it seems like this ‘error’ is at my client’s expense.   

I have a client who has been libelled. I have many things to consider, and I need to look after her interests. Again, I ask you to desist from any form of harassment, as per my previous email.

It would be appreciated if you followed the usual professional or other etiquette and refrained from publishing this private email on your blog.

Thank you

Graham Atkins
Atkins Thomson

——————————————————

From: Simon
1 November 2011

Dear Mr Atkins,

I am sorry for the delay.

My reply comes in two parts. As before, both parts are public and posted online here, for the reasons I explained previously.

Part 1

I am sensing the name Gordon … does that mean anything to you? And maybe the name Bennett? The spirits tell me that they may be connected.

In short, I find your emails bizarre.

Why do you deem it necessary to email to me? If there are errors in the article, then why not contact the newspaper as soon as possible and ask for a correction? Instead, you choose to email me on a Sunday at 6pm and 7pm and past midnight, when you know that I am travelling to Liverpool.

Just to be clear, neither I, nor the Merseyside Skeptics, are responsible for the content of a local newspaper. The journalist appears to have based her article on a website (Merseyside Skeptics), which was correct when the story was written. The website has since been changed. If, as a result of that, the story is inaccurate, you may wish to take this up with the newspaper directly.

However, as a courtesy to you, I did mention your concerns to a journalist from the Liverpool Echo who attended our Psychic Sally Halloween Challenge yesterday.

Please note that it is the Merseyside Skeptics, not the Mersey Skeptics (which is the term you used). The former describes skeptics who live either side of the river. Your term describes skeptics who live in or on the river. I don’t know if such an organisation exists, but it should not be confused with the Merseyside Skeptics. I will do my best to explain to the Merseyside Skeptics that this was merely a mistake on your part and was not intended to offend them.

Part 2

I want to point out that the tone of my replies so far does not accurately reflect how I feel. I have been light-hearted in our first exchange, and above, but I want to admit to experiencing nausea when I receive an email from a heavyweight libel lawyer such as yourself. This is not a metaphorical nausea, but a literal nausea. The only thing that stops me from taking the easy option of shutting up is that I would feel even more nauseated if I stopped doing my job as a science journalist and skeptic.

At the same time, I realise that you are only doing your job. But is it really necessary to send emails at 6pm, at 7pm and then past midnight on a Sunday? Does this reflect well on you, your client or your profession? All you really needed to do to be effective was email the newspaper directly.

Some of the comments on twitter have questioned whether you are an experienced libel lawyer, but other tweets by legal experts pointed out that your tone and style are entirely in keeping with how claimant libel lawyers work. You and I both know that such emails are generally highly effective.

I am sorry if you had to miss the X Factor Results programme and/or Antiques Roadshow in order to write to me, but your emails are having a much more disruptive impact on my life. At the same time, and I must stress this, I am not going to be intimidated.

Finally, you should be aware that I have actually corrected statements about your client Sally Morgan during live radio interviews. I am not harassing Psychic Sally. I am not calling her a fraud. I am merely trying to find out if she has genuine paranormal abilities.

Finally, finally, lots of people were interested in your statement that you know that Psychic Sally is the real deal. You wrote that Sally has “given details or messages which could not possibly have arisen as a result of “hot or cold reading” or “cheating”. Please, please can you lay out your compelling evidence for this? It might mean that our open challenge to her is no longer necessary. We are genuinely waiting with bated breath to hear about the evidence that convinced a highly trained and rigorous person such as you that Sally has genuine psychic powers.

Best Regards,
Simon Singh.

If you are not reading this on Posterous, please note that you can only leave comments at the Posterous website. Also, please bear in mind that these comments are not moderated, i.e., I rely on you to act responsibly. 

You can can read part 1 of this exchange here

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35 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink

    If anything, Simon, I think this stand is showing the general public that legal qualifications do not always translate into professional communications with prospective Defendants. Years ago, many people used to be frightened of bailiffs (and unfortunately still are) but high profile personalities, like yourself, highlight the flaws of these kinds of people. Suddenly, they do not seem as threatening when you bring them down to the human level.All the same, receiving such threats is hard to take but you should know that you have massive support and I for one join you in your stand against the oppressive tactics on display.Keep up the inspirational work!

  2. Anonymous permalink

    Excellent!But is it wise to criticise Graham???s misuse of ???its??? when a highly trained and rigorous person such as <i>you</i> misuses reflexive pronouns? 😉 http://www.writing-skills.com/resources/e-bulletin/october-2010/me-myself-and-i-reflexive-pronouns-explained

  3. Anonymous permalink

    This is just surreal. What is he trying to achieve with this petty nitpicking?

  4. JonDonnis permalink

    Erm… Simon do you really think it is big and clever to attack someone for their poor grammer etc when you yourself cant even spell PSYCHIC.And I quote:"Finally, finally, lots of people were interested in your statement that you know that Psyhic Sally is the real deal."?????????Perhaps instead of attacking the spelling mistakes of the lawyer you should concentrate on exposing Sally Morgan as a fraud. Surely that is what most people would prefer?

  5. Phil permalink

    You do mean Grammar don’t you Jon?

  6. robvickerstaff permalink

    Fascinating reading! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFods1KSWsQKeep up the good work!

  7. JonDonnis permalink

    Phil, I was reffering to Billy Grammer (born 1925), American country music singer and noted guitar player!I left school at 16 unfortunately, and although I try my best, my lack of schooling leaves me open to such mistakes. Luckily I rarely if ever attack someone else for their own spelling mistakes so it doesn’t come bite me on the ass like it has for Simon in this case.

  8. Anonymous permalink

    for goodness sake Jon give is a rest with your sniping, we dont see you making headway in exposing this woman, all youve done is attack everyone for doing it. You just arent being constructive.

  9. Chris permalink

    @jonA mistype is a world away from not understanding the concept behind when an apostrophe should be used.Besides, Simon – in this context – is simply a skeptic. I would expect more from a lawyer who feels he is in a position to send intimidating "law speak" emails.

  10. Ian Atkinson permalink

    My Mum is a big believer in psychics and when I had a conversation with her about the Psychic Sally challenge she said that the only reason Sally wouldn’t attend is that she lives in London and it’s too far to go to Liverpool to prove she can talk to ghosts!Maybe next years challenge should be in London so that there’s no excuse along those lines?

  11. Anonymous permalink

    I find it interesting that Mr Atkins says ‘I have a client who has been libelled’ though without confirming how, when or by whom.

  12. kradlum permalink

    "Maybe next years challenge should be in London"Surely you’re not suggesting an annual Test Sally Morgan Halloween event?!

  13. Anonymous permalink

    "I’m concerned that there may be more people thinking worse of Sally as a consequence of her not showing up…"Getting one’s lawyer to send snippy emails counts as a bigger negative in my book. How interesting that the words or phrases chosen were ‘worse’ and not ‘badly’ and ‘more people’ instead of ‘people’.

  14. Colm Mulcahy permalink

    Simon, you’re smart enough to do much much better than this. Don’t descend to the level of your perceived "enemy" — a man with 17 (not 16 or 18) years of experience writing email:-)This trail of "public correspondence" clearly leaves both of you looking silly, for different reasons of course. Please leave the snarky stuff behind and focus on the real goal. James Randi is a good mentor here. I doubt he finds your recent postings on this topic to be too edifying, despite his sympathy for your cause. It’s a missed opportunity, that’s the real shame. And Sally will laugh all the way to the bank, now and for years to come.Take the high road!Remember the old saying, "Never mudwrestle with a pig" …I hope you can regain solid ground here soon, and move forward in a meaningful way.Please sit down, think carefully, breath deeply and re-direct your considerable energy and ability.Wishing you all the best in the important endeavour!

  15. Daniel Clarke permalink

    I thought the reason the event was in Liverpool was because this woman was doing a show in the city the day before.Oh, and please don’t make fun of myself for bad grammer yeah?

  16. JonDonnis permalink

    Louth Paranormal. Are you serious! Come on take your vendetta back to your orb website, and listen to your EVPs while waving your EMF meters around in the dark!I agree with Colm. SImon needs to get away from publicity stunts, and silly tit for tat email exchanges, he has damaged his credibility enough the past few days. When you have The Acorahs laughing at you, thats when you know you are failing in what you are doing.I want to see Simon using his resources and experience to expose Sally Morgan and other psychics. And not play games just to get your name in the paper, or give you 4 seconds on Ch4 news

  17. grrrth permalink

    Surely this is a perfect opportunity to refer Mr Atkins to Arkell vs Pressdram?

  18. Anonymous permalink

    I may do john, but im not the hypocrite here claiming to be outing bad psychics when you are pretty pally with a number of them on your twitter account….. odd if you ask me, whatever next, tea round at Sally’s?

  19. cloggingchris permalink

    Well done Simon. I think the best way to deal with these hard hitting tactics (despite how badly put they might be ) is the way you’ve done it – with common sense, humour and a fair dose of sarcasm. You’re definitely not the one looking silly!

  20. Anonymous permalink

    However it is done, exposing Sally if indeed she is not what she claims, is meant to be the agenda here. It would be constructive if people came forward to help and gather information rather than make personal remarks about Simon and others who are making progress with their own investigations. There are a few people who claim to have damming information on SM yet have failed to actually prove their claims time and again. If we want find the truth, people need to stop polishing their egos, making up wild statements about SM and get some hard facts.

  21. Chris permalink

    In this day and age I find it amazing anybody believes in this hocum of talking to dead people. I understand how the "con" works and I can even accept that some people will find comfort in what they hear (mainly because it’s what they want to hear!).However there has been NO recorded proof that any of these "charlatans" are anything other than that – Hell I’ll put my house up along with the $1m on offer from james if Sally (or any other) will accept the test by the Mersideside Skeptics (obviously if she/they fail then they pay what’s left on my mortgage – I know which one my "money’s" on 😀 )

  22. Chris permalink

    In this day and age I find it amazing anybody believes in this hocum of talking to dead people. I understand how the "con" works and I can even accept that some people will find comfort in what they hear (mainly because it’s what they want to hear!).However there has been NO recorded proof that any of these "charlatans" are anything other than that – Hell I’ll put my house up along with the $1m on offer from james if Sally (or any other) will accept the test by the Mersideside Skeptics (obviously if she/they fail then they pay what’s left on my mortgage – I know which one my "money’s" on 😀 )(apologies if this post appears twice – the first one appeared then disappeared)

  23. Anonymous permalink

    The problem is theres no 100% proof that they dont either and over 6500 people on sallys facebook page will argue that point until some discredit proves otherwise.

  24. Chris permalink

    @Louth Paranormal.There have been many many occurences of "charlatans" being caught out on videothere have been ZERO, nil, nada showing anybody in a controlled test proving it works.You do the math

  25. Anonymous permalink

    Oh agreed Chris, but they have excuses for that hun….. and the fans go on believing…..

  26. Chris permalink

    Louth Paranormal – Apologies I mis-interpreted your reply. I [wrongly] assumed you were a believer – scrub the you do the math comment, you already did 🙂

  27. Anonymous permalink

    Dear lord no Chris, in over 250 psychic readings i am yet to be reunited with any deceased loved ones whatsoever, ive even been told i must be adopted on a couple of occasions, lol. I visit mediums to this day to further my own personal research and am a professional paranormal investigator who has so far debunked over 300 claims of spirit hauntings……

  28. Acleron1 permalink

    Nicely done Simon. Taking the piss out of a libel lawyer must annoy him considerably. Apart from arguing your own case and doing it well, the mystique that this type of lawyer needs to engender is being punctured.

  29. Danny Moules permalink

    "Perhaps instead of attacking the spelling mistakes of the lawyer you should concentrate on exposing Sally Morgan as a fraud. Surely that is what most people would prefer?"Personally I’m quite happy with him making a farce out of our pathetic and mishandled libel laws and the people who perpetuate it in an extremely unprofessional manner.It is not the responsibility of someone being sent… unreasonable… emails to be professional. It IS the responsibility of the solicitor sending those emails to be professional.

  30. Anonymous permalink

    Unfortunately, Simon seems to be using the same tactics as certain controversial religious persons, in challenging someone to make an appearance, then claiming victory, when they don’t . The religious "philosopher" William Lane Craig has challenged Richard Dawkins to debate, even supplying an empty chair, for Dawkins to fill, with Dawkins just flatly refusing to attend. Here is his reason: http://bit.ly/nBnYLa

  31. Anonymous permalink

    Unfortunately, Simon seems to be using the same tactics as certain controversial religious persons, in challenging someone to make an appearance, then claiming victory, when they don’t . The religious "philosopher" William Lane Craig has challenged Richard Dawkins to debate, even supplying an empty chair, for Dawkins to fill, with Dawkins just flatly refusing to attend. Here is his reason: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/20/richard-dawkins-william-lane-craigThis time with a proper link, because the other link directs to something supposedly rude. Thanks bit.ly

  32. Acleron1 permalink

    Dawkins doesn’t need to debate with Craig, as he says, it will look good on Craigs CV but not on Dawkins. But, anyway, that will be a debate over imponderables. Sally makes some pretty astounding claims, she can affect people who can be convinced she is correct. She should be made to prove those claims, now why should she refuse? It won’t be because the actual test will give much kudos to Singh. If she proves her assertions she will be at least 1 million dollars richer and with the extra of being the only psychic to pass such a test she would make even more money. It’s all to her advantage to take part. Must be a pretty compelling reason not to.

  33. IanS293 permalink

    Lovin’ it! 🙂

  34. purringpickles permalink

    While Sally is counting her cash and editing her Wikipedia page and isn’t turning up to challenges and claiming that Harvard Professors endorse her abilities – here’s a question that doesn’t require Sally to answer anything. Is there is a correlation between the people who attend a show and register online (and presumably tick the box that says you can share my details with a third party) and the people who get a reading? So, to be clear, what percentage of total readings are readings/ghostings given to people who paid in cash and/or did not register their details with the venue/Sally’s marketing machine.I ask, simply because, it’s very easy to research an awful lot about people on the internet, or using a private detective (or researcher). I should keep this to myself and start my own psychic reading business!

  35. Peter Robinson permalink

    Just sent to Atkins as only just caught up on this. Sorry! Been fighting international fraud and corruption!Dear Mr Atkins, Just caught up on your ridiculous correspondence to Simon Singh.You work in the law yet provide no evidence whatsoever for the so called powers of Sally Morgan.Get some respect and stop trying to defend the indefensible.You should know as well as I that personal anecdote and eyewitness accounts are highly unreliable.So where are your big legal threats now?Sally is selling a ‘service’. Under the law as we see it she really should have to prove what she says she can do.Of course she cannot because she cannot. Otherwise why not take the testing and then be able to really stick it to us skeptics?What a plonker you are for taking her rotten money.best,peterFake Explosives Detectors Campaign.

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