No class of person is more loathsome to me than those who exploit vulnerable people, such as the grief-stricken and bereaved, by pretending to have supernatural powers. I detest this sort of thing and avoid those involved in it wherever possible. Sometimes, it is impossible to give them a wide berth and when I do come into contact with people mixed up in that racket I am always sure to make my feelings known pretty plainly.
I am currently being threatened with legal action for libel because of remarks which I have made on here about a husband and wife team who claim to possess magic powers to foretell the future and summon up the dead. It is a pretty awful way to make a living and I have passed several comments about them on here, because they are also home educators.
Let us look at what I have said about these two characters and see whether or not it actually amounts to libel. This will give me an opportunity to repeat the statements of which they complain and to expand upon them, thus making it easier for them to bring action against me if they wish; a prospect to which I look forward with relish. Imagine sitting in a court and watching somebody try and prove that he is really in touch with the dead!
I must first say a few words about libel. The essence of a libel is that it is an untrue statement which tends to lower the person about whom it is made in the estimation of right-thinking people. It must be a statement of fact, rather than opinion. If I say, ‘Smith is an idiot’, this is not libellous because it is clearly my opinion. If, on the other hand, I say, ‘Smith is a thief’, this is a statement of supposed fact and could be libellous. The statements which I have made about the Harpers are a mixture of opinion and fact.
One of the statements which I have made, to which Mrs Harper objects and about which she threatens legal action, was that, ‘she is a very odd person called Nikki Harper who, with her husband, contacts the dead and reads the skies for a living.’ Clearly, the suggestion that she is a very odd person is my opinion and could not possibly be libellous. The statement that she and her husband contact the dead and read the skies for a living is a statement of fact and might well lower them in the estimation of right-thinking people. If untrue, it might be considered libellous; but is it untrue? Mrs Harper claims that at least part of the statement is untrue. She says bluntly of her husband, ' he doesn't make a living from being a medium.' The problem here is that both she and her husband claim in various places that contacting the dead is exactly what he does for a living. For example on Home-Education Biz, Mrs Harper says: ‘my husband I work full time from home. I'm an astrologer, author and writer, and he is a spiritualist medium and healer.’ and also, ’ My husband works as a platform medium in spiritualist churches, and does private readings’ This may be seen here:
On her blog, the same one where she is threatening to sue me, Nikki Harper states that, ‘I am an astrologer and mind body spirit author; my husband writes too and is a spiritualist medium and healer. We both work from home.’ This may be found here:
Finally, her husband is on Linked in as a self-employed medium. See here:
Is anybody left in any doubt at all that Nikki Harper reads the skies for a living or that her husband contacts the dead? I cannot imagine why either of them should wish to deny it, although they may of course be ashamed of their careers; as who would not be?
Another statement to which Mrs Harper objected was contained in this post of mine:
You will see that I said, ‘There is something quite terrifying about madness like this. One recognises some of the usual suspects here, people like Nikki Harper from Lincolnshire who is quoted. I do hope that local authorities are reading this stuff, so that they have an idea of the sort of disordered thinking which affects some parents supposedly capable of delivering an education to their children.’
Now Nikki Harper did not actually take part in this conference and nor did I say that she did. A post of hers is linked as evidence though, in Section 9. She posted this under the name ’Elysian’. It is perfectly true that I recognised most of those who are seen on this conference, as well as those to whom the links lead one. How this could be considered libellous is another matter. I did not think, nor did I say, that she took part in the thing. As for the bit about disordered thinking, I cannot do better than quote Mrs Harper herself on the subject of her daughter's education, ' XXXX is showing a real interest in herbalism, spell work and so on.' Spell work; that would be spells as in magic spells, yes? Does anybody here think that teaching a seven year-old to take a real interest in casting magic spells is not an example of disordered thinking? This is not incidentally make-believe; the mother really believes in this stuff and was actively encouraging her child to do the same. What about the statement that, 'Aquamarine prevents water-retention'? Water retention can be a symptom of various serious problems, including congestive heart failure, kidney failure and pre-eclampsia. Hands up everybody who thinks that it is disordered thinking to expect the possession of a semi-precious stone to help with potentially fatal health problems like these? This advice may be found here;
The third thing which apparently upset Mrs Harper was an attempt to connect her husband to Martin Smith, the home educating ’psychic’ who was convicted of rape and then hanged himself. She said, ’ I was disgusted to read the indirect linking of my husband and Martin Smith by either you or one of your commenters’ I have drawn a complete blank on this. I have certainly made no such connection and nor can I find any in the comments on this blog. However, following what Mrs Harper said, I looked into the matter and found one faint and tenuous link between her husband and Martin Smith. Jon Harper has appeared on stage with Ian Lawman, a rather dubious character about whom various allegations have been made. This fellow has been on Britain’s Most Haunted, a television programme on which Martin Smith also appeared. So the most we can say is that Nikki Harper’s husband shared a stage with a man who might have met Martin Smith. I had to dig around even to find this and would never have done so if Mrs Harper herself had not put the idea into my head!
I do hope that the Harpers follow through on their threats to sue me. If they really feel that I have made untruthful statements about them which tend to lower them in the estimation of right-thinking people, then I urge them to go ahead and issue a writ. I shall not post any more on the subject here, because it really has little enough to do with home education, which is after all the purpose of this blog!