David Steel – An Apology 27


This blog has received many scores of lawyers’ letters over the years and given every single one a rude reply. For the first time I am offering an apology.

David Steel says that he was only a director of Heritage Oil and Gas for two years, many years ago, and that he resigned as soon as he became aware of the associations of Heritage and Tony Buckingham with Sandline and Executive Outcomes. I accept that David Steel never had any association with Sandline and Executive Outcomes, and that my accusations of hypocrisy were unwarranted. So were claims on his property dealings and values. I am meeting his legal costs.


27 thoughts on “David Steel – An Apology

  • Njegos

    Well Craig, we all make mistakes and it will be interesting to see which media snakes jump all over this but look on the bright side. Here is evidence that your word carries influence. And you have behaved honourably.

  • glenn

    In fairness, Clark, there were other rather uncomplimentary references in Steel. All the same, I’d have thought that anyone would be able to say, “Hang on – you’ve made a mistake. Let’s talk about this, once you’ve got all the facts, I think you should print an apology.”
    .
    Why would someone want to do it all through their lawyers, making it an expensive and overly formal process? Why not just “man up” and make the approach yourself?

    ALL – To be fair, it seems that Steel did in fact try to contact me personally, but was defeated by junk mail filters and my frequent changes of address. Craig

  • Eddie-G

    Well done, Craig. Not that you needed to pay the legal tab, but it certainly underlines that your apology in genuine.

  • Njegos

    Glenn:

    ‘Why would someone want to do it all through their lawyers, making it an expensive and overly formal process? Why not just “man up” and make the approach yourself?’
    .
    Agreed.

  • Passerby

    Knowing that he is a Scot too, David Steel need not have lodged his complaint to lawyers. One would have expected him to drop a line on the blog, and state his gripe. Alas, far too ready recourse to the legalities are considered to be the way of response and conduct, at these times.
    ,
    I hope the costs will not amount to much, given the austere times that we are all living in.

  • lwtc247

    Now all those people who ripped into Steele simply because you did, can once again follow your lead Craig, and take back what they said.

  • geomannie

    For what my opinion is worth, I am glad that you have apologised. Having had a high regard for David Steel (as high a regard as I have for any politician, that is), your acusation that he was using Heritage/Sandline/Executive Outcomes links to line his pockets did not fit well with my view of the man. I queried you on your information source at the time and you assured me that your source was solid.

    I guess in hind-sight it was not. Its never easy to apologise and it speaks well that you have. I also agree that you should pick up his costs. The acusation was a serious one and he should expect to be have no loss, either to his character or finances, as a result.

  • nuid

    “Its never easy to apologise and it speaks well that you have. I also agree that you should pick up his costs. The acusation was a serious one and he should expect to be have no loss, either to his character or finances, as a result.”
    .
    Yep, well said.

  • MJ

    I think there’s rather a lot we’re not being told here. Usually when Craig receives solicitors’ letters threatening libel action he gleefully publishes them here for our delectation. Not this time. Also, Craig appears to make his rather stilted apology and retraction on the basis only that “David Steel says…”, which strikes me as a bit odd.
    .
    Also, the offending post has not been removed or edited. What Craig has removed however is one of his own comments under the post. Maybe it was this that caused the problem.

  • Clark

    Azra, thanks. I’m rather stressed by a family situation and often I don’t feel like commenting. It will pass, eventually.

  • glenn

    Hey Clark – I meant to say good to see you back too, sorry things aren’t as well as they might be on a personal front.
    .
    Very generous of Craig to say “Nobody” is always right, he hasn’t even posted on this thread. In fact, I haven’t seen “Nobody” comment in some time come to think of it.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    I was enthralled by your account in ‘The Catholic Orangemen of Togo’ of Tim Spicer and Tony Buckingham, Craig. The Sandline arms shipments to Sierra Leone affair certainly embarrassed Robin Cook bless him.
    .
    I believe Spicer was the source of your anger; without making excuses. that anger may well have affected straight thinking. It happens to us all.

  • Clydebuilt

    I still don’t like Steele. He’s too quick to attack the Scottish Government any chance he gets. I’ve never heard him say anything complimentary regarding Alex Salmond or the SNP.

  • John Goss

    If Steele has moral fibre I am sure he would waive any legal costs. He’s made his point. You’ve apologised. Matter closed now we know he’s not in cahoots with Tony Buckingham, Hague, Osborne, Fox, Werritty and the other Atlantic Bridge cronies.

  • Daniel

    “I’d have thought that anyone would be able to say, “Hang on – you’ve made a mistake. Let’s talk about this, once you’ve got all the facts, I think you should print an apology.”
    .
    Why would someone want to do it all through their lawyers, making it an expensive and overly formal process? Why not just “man up” and make the approach yourself”?

    Glenn, I agree.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    Anyone can make a mistake (and i make them frequently) but not everyone will admit to making them. Well done for admitting it. If more people were willing to admit to making a mistake when they realised they had, it’d be a better world.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    As people might recall, I intimated at the time that I was surprised and shocked by the allegations as I’d always thought Steel to be basically an honourable man. Not a saint (who is?), a politician, but basically a good person. I am glad that my shock and surprise were warranted. It is unfortunate, though, that Craig is having to pay legal costs. I’d have thought that a retraction, a public apology and deletion of all the pertinent threads would have sufficed. One acknowledges that unlike solely print media (are there any of those left?), material posted on the web can and does get copied extensively and that rumours become difficult to quash, once they have been posted. I’ve come across stories on the web, repeated on various sites, concerning a number of musicians, for example, where the stories claim that the musician died in such-and-such year due to such-and-such, when in fact, the musician is alive and well and living in, say, France.

  • Mary

    Suhayl – I watched the Master of the Rolls Neuberger and Mr Justice Tugenhadt giving evidence to a Joint Committee the other day. Their joint opinion was basically expressed thus:
    .
    “There is a difference between the blogosphere and other media. The two main differences are that people take more seriously something that has passed through the editorial department of an established newspaper, it carries more weight … whereas you may dismiss anything on the blogosphere as being impossible verification.

    “Also there’s the question as to whether something is ephemeral or not. In newspaper nowadays, most news organisations have archives. Once you get your name in the BBC or the Guardian, it’s unlikely it will ever be removed. Whereas something on a tweet or on a blog is much less likely to be everlasting.”

    .
    http://www.journalism.co.uk/news/lord-neuberger-law-maintains-reputation-of-newspapers-/s2/a546821/
    .
    In other words, unless it’s on the BBC or in the Guardian, it is pretty much worthless. How wrong can they be?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Yes, Mary, it seems to me that material – comments, etc. – often is removed from at least Guardian sites, esp. when it seems to conflict – I’m thinking of the reported experiences of various of the contributors to this site. Perhaps the Guardian is afraid of being sued. But from the info. provided by some of the posters here, the material removed did not relate to any potentially legal matters, but rather, to political issues.
    .

    I suppose the judges meant the actual published newspapers/broadcasts. But as we know, and as one of the regular posters here, Paul Johnson, rightly once pointed out to me on this site, material, once on the web, is very difficult wholly to obliterate. Think of the various right-wing politicians/bloggers who tried to remove or chnage elements of their posts in the wake of the Breivik terrorist mass murders. People had already copied the sites.

  • l. o'man

    If he resigned as soon he became aware of the associations of Heritage and TB with sandline and EO……why? What exactly were the concerns he had? Did he share them with us, or did he just slope off quietly.. in a mum’s the word, thanks for the fish kinda way? Had he made his disassociation more public and perhaps explained why, none this unpleasantness and misunderstanding would have arisen

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