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Monday, December 17, 2012

An Open Letter To The Liverpool Echo

With reference to Eleanor Barlow’s story in The Liverpool Echo on 14/12/12 concerning an objection to Liverpool Football Club’s Liver Bird trademark, we are astonished that The Echo felt that Mr Hinks’ former association with our Everton pressure group, Keeping Everton In Our City [KEIOC], was somehow worthy of mention when KEIOC has played no part in this action whatsoever.

KEIOC, which Mr Hinks resigned from in 2007, is about as relevant to this story as mentioning that Mr Hinks’ son is a fantastic award winning golfer; leading many to believe that it was nothing more than a clumsy attempt to stir up the rivalry between Everton and Liverpool supporters at a time when others, particularly KEIOC and The Spirit of Shankly, are endeavouring to encourage supporters to come together and support worthwhile causes such as that of The Justice Collective or the regeneration plan for both clubs, The Football Quarter.

Your story refers to an agreement between the city council and Liverpool FC; on this basis would it perhaps not have been more newsworthy to mention that Mr Hinks is a former City councillor? If it was your intention to sensationalise and trivialise this story then looking at the responses on your website it appears you have been almost 100% successful. Of course if it wasn’t your intention, why mention Mr Hinks footballing allegiance in the first place?

Your somewhat nebulous attempt to create division has once again prompted a flurry of complaints which almost all ask KEIOC to mount something we have been reluctant to promote in the past; a ban on The Echo by Evertonians.

It will be interesting to see how you eventually report the plight of a certain Richard Knights, a gentleman you'll be familiar with as he wrote on your paper's jury before being removed recently and whose campaign against the Everton In The Community [EiTC] Free School has resulted in him receiving a visit from Merseyside Police’s Football Intelligence Unit who issued him with a Recordable Verbal Warning on the grounds he’s harassed the principle of Everton’s Free School, Adrian Packer; a perfectly understandable action considering the police were informed that, in addition to this alleged harassment,  Mr Knights had allegedly further exhibited worrying behaviour which included being ejected from Everton’s club shop for actions which left several female members of staff of that shop fearful for their safety.

On the face of it not a great story, perhaps not as great as your recent story of the Jen Chang’s harassment of Sean Cummins, the  Liverpool fan who set-up a fictitious twitter account, a story that quite rightly received widespread local and national coverage. Not as big until you understand that Mr Knights has only met Mr Packer once, for ten seconds at a public consultation, and that to-date Everton are strangely unable to produce the CCTV footage of Mr Knights being ejected from the shop, possibly due to the fact that Mr Knights hasn’t set foot in the shop for over ten years and that Mr Knights has now had his season ticket revoked, is banned from Goodison Park and, under threat of seeking an injunction against him, has been warned not to contact any member of staff at either Everton, Everton in the Community or Everton Free School; a threat which includes the club’s Supporters Liaison Officer whose role, a UEFA licensing requirement,  is to mediate between club and supporter. Most laughable of all is that Mr Knights was only endeavouring to meet with members of the Everton Free School at the behest of club chairman Bill Kenwright who wrote to Mr Knights, applauded his passion and instructed him to meet with the people in charge of the free school.

Why do we mention all of this in this letter? The instigator of Everton’s despicable actions is their Director of Communications, Mr Paul Tyrrell, who is a Liverpool supporter; so of course you’ll be mentioning this along with his abrupt departures from other Premiership Clubs and the fact he’s an ex-journalist of the Liverpool Echo as well as having a six year working relationship with the solicitor who has threatened Mr Knights in a series of letters whose tone have not only upset his family by their nature but left Mr Knights fearing for his future employment prospects as Mr Knights is a primary school teacher subject to CRB checks.

Why is this story far more important than Jen Chang threatening a mischievous Liverpool supporter? It’s bigger because this isn’t about Richard Knights’ campaign against Everton’s free school; this is about the flagrant misuse of legislation designed to protect vulnerable people from being bullied and harassed.  Used, through making frivolous and vexatious allegations, as little more than a device designed to eliminate a person’s right to free speech; a device which has been used by many corporations to silence their critics and has long since been identified as such as can be seen here in this Guardian article from 2009.

We have been aware on many occasions of the Echo’s reluctance to criticise the actions of one of its prime sources of news, we will never forget your editor stumbling through an explanation, to twelve of our members, and a number of the paper’s editorial staff, that “perhaps” the Echo could have been more balanced in their reporting of the events surrounding Everton’s equally blatant attempt to mislead their fans and shareholders when telling them that Tesco were giving them £52m when they weren’t; a fact that the Echo to this day is reluctant to mention.

Perhaps as Mr Machray is a trustee of Everton in the Community [EiTC] you’ll be, yet again, reluctant to expose what can only be described as blatant corporate bullying; perhaps Merseyside Police is in a similar position with Chief Constable Jon Murphy as an ambassador of EiTC and former Deputy Chief Constable Bernard Lawson as a trustee. We shall have to wait and see as will all Evertonians.

I have no doubt you’ll claim your report on Mr Hinks was factually correct; I look forward to The Echo reporting the facts surrounding Mr Knights; a middle aged primary school teacher who’s a fifty season veteran Evertonian who has had a Liverpool supporter prevent him from watching his football club as he has done for half a century and had his right to free speech curtailed which has incidentally caused Mr Knights to make three complaints to the IPCC which have all been upheld.

You’ll be familiar with the IPCC, the Independent Police Complaints Commission; the body who are investigating the biggest police cover-up in history when the Police conspired with a football club to mislead the public and blame innocent people.

Kind Regards

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