Paul Barford’s blogs, including his main one that has a major worldwide readership, have currently been made “Invitation only”.
He has just sent us the following account:
“A few months ago I raised the perfectly valid question of whether finds shown on You Tube videos made by a Gloucestershire metal detectorist have been responsibly reported. Since then, I have been stalked and harassed by this individual, who even started a scurrilous blog initially impersonating mine, apparently with the aim of turning readers away from the real Paul Barford blog [http://paulbarford.blogspot.com/2011/08/ebay-or-not-to-ebay-that-is-question.html]
In the last few weeks I have also been bombarded by a large number of malicious electronic communications from this person sometimes as many as eleven in one day, all written in an aggressively abusive style, some consisting of threats against myself and my family. Among them was that the detectorist had Polish contacts who would be paying me “a visit” soon. At the same time a thread appeared on a Polish metal detecting forum indicating that this was no empty threat. Suspicious activity has since been observed on my websites and around my home, an incident on Friday led me to take the matter to the police.
The same individual has also attempted to blackmail me into deleting my blog. He stated that, having already entered into a no-win-no-fee agreement, London legal firm Carter-Ruck [http://www.carter-ruck.com/Our%20Clients/] was advising him how to bring a 100,000 pound lawsuit against me on the basis of his unsupported allegations. At the end of last week, this individual demanded [http://paulbarford.blogspot.com/2011/09/mr-barford.html] 10,000 pounds or “delete all you blogs on heritage subjects, and never write one again, if you do I will still take action out on you…” making his actual aim clear. This matter has also been reported to the police.
I was given until 6.00pm on Saturday 17th September 2011 to pay up or delete my blogs. The date is significant, the next day was slated to be a national joint effort by metal detectorists to get my blogs deleted. As we read: [http://paulbarford.blogspot.com/2011/09/national-barford-day.html ] “Anyone who’s been mentioned in his blogs, should delve through his archive, where you will find plenty of material pinched off the net. Google will close his account down if enough people hit him at the same time, so now is your chance to get your own back. […] There must be plenty of folk out their (sic) with an axe to grind.”
The writer of those words seems a little confused about the difference between using the internet as a source of information and quoting the source, and “a copyright infringement”, nevertheless I determined that a lot of people had been searching my blog all week, some of them for over an hour, and downloading material relating to metal detecting in the UK. None of the posts they examined of course actually contained anything that could conceivably regarded as a copyright infringement.
It was clear however that the plotters counted on being able to persuade the web host to delete my heritage blogs by the sheer number of nuisance claims they could muster. I run my blog, as a “coffee break activity”, and at the expense of other activities. Obviously I am concerned to protect four years of my hard work from loss through malicious mass action by UK’s metal detecting community. Dealing with this threat directly by answering each spurious notification would have been time consuming, the blog has been made private until further notice”.
COMMENT (Nigel Swift, Heritage Action).
This has been met with great glee by metal detectorists and perhaps elsewhere. However, in my view it is shameful. Over the past few years metal detectorists have used disruption in response to all difficult questions on the PAS Forum, the Heritage Action forum and Britarch and succeeded in getting the first two closed down and the subject disallowed on the third. Detectorists have threatened me and Heritage Action (“we know where you live” and much else) and our appeals for any of their colleagues to let us know the real name of the perpetrators have been ignored. Paul has suffered the same thing but this time it has come in an organised, cross-border manner which I personally find very disturbing. I hope someone is brought to book this time but in the meantime it is not rocket science to calculate that HA is likely to be next – for at present our Site is one of the few places left that is able to openly say to the public that the reality of the situation is very far from what most detectorists and The Establishment are telling unwitting landowners it is. For that situation I blame everyone that thinks what has happened is a welcome development or a victory. Tell that to those who believe that conservation outranks recreation and that the public has a right to be properly informed that metal detecting has a major net damaging effect upon the buried common archaeological resource. Or the hapless landowners, misinformed from all sides.