The Plaintiff is the Chairman of the 'Leckford Shoot' and is well known as such by many employees and members of John Lewis plc. The Leckford Shoot is a club membership of which is open to employees of John Lewis plc, of which there are
currently 23 members in total. The Plaintiff is a Chairman of Committees for Communication at John Lewis plc and between 1981 and 1996 had been the Managing Director of the John Lewis store in Bristol. Prior to that he has been the General Manager or Head of Branch of other stores within the John Lewis Partnership since 1972.
- The Defendant is an active and leading member of the 'The National Anti-Hunt Campaign' inter alla publishing and distributing campaign literature. He was formerly an active member of the 'Animal Liberation Front'.
- On or about February, March and April 1997 the Defendant wrote and published:
(a) in a letter on the National Anti-Hunt Campaign notepaper distributed to activists, supporters and sympathisers, the following words:
"John Lewis Partnership, owners of the food chain Waitrose and a large number of department stores, own several country estates which are used to entertain John Lewis Partners.
"At one such estate - Leckford Abbas in Stockbridge, Hants - parties of drunken
John Lewis employees blast away at pheasants, ducks, grouse, pigeons, squirrels
and anything else that moves. The shoots are staged three times a week, from September through to February. Many of the pheasants, said by a whistle blower at the site to be "so young that they can barely fly", are merely injured and left to die agonising and prolonged deaths from their injuries."; and
(b) in a leaflet headed "JOHN LEWIS WILDLIFE KILLERS" distributed to customers, employees of and passers by at several branches of the John Lewis Partnership, the following words:-
"The John Lewis Partnership owners of Waitrose, goes to great lengths to promote itself as an ethical, caring and compassionate company. The reality however, is somewhat different, with tens of thousands of pheasants needlessly massacred every year in shoots to entertain John Lewis Partners.
"Up to three times a week at the Leckford Abbas Estate near Stockbridge, Hants, parties of drunken John Lewis staff blast away at the pheasants, along with ducks, grouse, pigeons, squirrels and anything else that moves.
"Inevitably many of the birds, described by one sickened member of staff as "harmless creatures, so young they could barely fly", are simply wounded, only to die an agonising and prolonged deaths from their injuries.
"The staff member tells John Lewis pheasants spend their first weeks "factory farmed indoors, in overcrowded conditions in the pitch dark.
Prior to the shoots, the birds are released onto the estate, but are provided with regular food and water to ancourage them to remain in the area. Once a particular field has been "shot", however, food and water is withdrawn, leaving any ramaining birds to starve."
- . The words referred and wae understood to refer to, inta alia, the Plaintiff:
(1) Paragraph 1 above is repeated;
(2) The Plaintiff will ask the court to infer that the facts and matters set out in paragraph (1) herein and paragraph 8 hereafter were widely known to a substantial number of John Lewis plc employees.
- In their natural ordinary meaning the words complained of in paragraph 3 above meant and were understood to mean that:
(a) the Plaintiff was a hypocrite and/or cruel, and/or drunken, and/or irresponsible and/or insenstive toward the suffering of animals; and in particular
(b) many of the birds shot on the Leckford Estate were young infant birds; and
(c) the birds on the Leckford Estate are reared in conditions tantamount to cruelty
and if they are not shot they are left to starve.
By implication the Plaintiff and the other members of the Leckford Shoot are associated with this drunkenness, random killing and cruelty;
- By reason of the publication of the words contained in paragraphs 5 above, the reputation of the Plaintiff has been saiously damaged causing him considerable distress and embarrassment.
- The Plaintiff will rely on the following facts and matters in support of his claim for general and aggravated damages:-
THE LECKFORD SHOOT
(a) The Leckford Shoot shoot approximately 2,750 birds a year, not the tens of thousands as the Defendant claims. The Leckford Shoot only shoots birds;
(b) The Leckford Shoot meet 14 times between September and the end of January, not three times a week between September and February as the Letter claims;
(c) The birds are reared humanely in accordance with established codes of breeding practice. They are not released until they are 12 weeks of age. Whilst young birds are occasionally shot there is no question of intentionally shooting birds 'so young they can barely fly';
(d) Food and water is provided for the birds immediately upon release. However, as the birds are able to find natural food this is gradually withdrawn. This is entirely in keeping with normal breeding and rearing procedures.
EXTENT OF PUBLICATION
- The Leaflet has been distributed to customers, employees of and passers by at several
branches of the lohn Lewis Partnership. ln specific the leaflet has been distributed at and in the vicinity of:
(i) the Bainbridge Store, at Eldon Square, Newcastle upon Tyne NE99 1AB on the
days of 22 February, I March, 8 March, 12 March, 13 March, 15 March, 18
March, 19 March, 20 March, 21 March, 22 March, 25 March, 27 March, 1 April,
3 April, 10 April, 12 Apnl, 14 April, 15 April, 16 April, 19 April and 23 April 1997; and
(ii) the Cole Brothers Store at Barkers Pool, Sheffield S1 1EPon the day of 8 March 1997; and
(iii) The Trewins Store at The Harlequin Centre, High Street, Watford WD 1 2TW on
days of 24 March and 8 April l997; and
(iv) the Robert Sayle Store at 12/17 St Andrews Street, Cambridge CBZ 3BL on the
of 29 March 1997; and
(v) the Tyrrell & Green Store at 138-152 Above Bar, Southampton S014 7NL on the
day of 29 March 1997; and
(vi) the John Lewis Store at Oxford Street, London W1A tEX on the days 29 March
and 19 April 1997; and
(vii) the Jessop & Son Store at Victoria Centre, Nottingham NG1 3QA; and
(viii) the Waitrose Store, at 74a High Street, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG 1 3EH on the
day of 19 March 1997; and
(ix) the Waitrose Store, at 168-176 High Street, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire HP4 2JS
on the day of 15 February 1997; and
(x) the Waitrose Store, at Bray's Lane, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 4QJ on the day of
16 February 1997; and
(xi) the Waitrose Store, at 45 Mason Hill. Bromley, Kent BR2 9HD on the day of 21
March 1997; and
(xii) the Waitrose Store, at Queen Street, Ramsgate, Kent CT 11 9EJ on the day of 24
March 1997; and
(xiii) the Waitrose Store, at 366 Holloway Road, London N7 6PA on the day of 24
March 1997; and
(xiv) the Waitrose Store, at 199 Finchley Road, London NW3 6NN on the day of 24
March 1997; and
(xv) the Waitrose Store, at Wood Street, Kingston-Upon-Thames, Surrey KTI 1TG on the days of 24 March and 2 April 1997; and
(xvi) the Waitrose Store, at 196 Kings Road, London SW3 5XP on the day of 24
(xvii) the Waitrose Store, at I Ermine Close, Mayne Avenue, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL3 4JZ on the day of 26 March 1997; and
(xviii) the Waitrose Store, at 9 Kingsend, Ruislip, Middlesex HA4 7DS on the day of 27 March 1997; and
(xix) the Waitrose Store, at the Brent Cross Shopping Centre, Hendon Way, NW4 3FQ on the day of 27 March 1997; and
(xx) the Waitrose Store, at The Backs, Chesham, Buckinghamshire HP5 1DR on the day of 27 March 1997; and
(xxi) the Waitrose Store, at 52 Green Lane, Northwood, Middlesex HA6 2XB on the day of 27 March 1997; and
(xxii) the Waitrose Store, at 110-114 Monrow Street, Monmouth, Monmouthshire NP5 3EQ on the day of 25 March 1997; and
residential address of the Chairman of John Lewis plc, at Parkridge Farm, Chinnor Road, Bledlow Ridge, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire HP14 :4AE on the day of 27 April 1997.
- Unless restrained by this Honorable Court, the Defendant will further publish or cause to be Published the said or similar words or matter defamatory of the Plaintiff.
AND the Plaintiff Claims:
(i) damages, including aggravated damages, for libel which shall not exceed £10,000;
(ii): an injunction to restrain the Defendant whether by himself his agents, his associates or otherwise howsoever from further publishing or causing to be published the said or similar words or matter defamatory of the Plaintiff.
Served this 1st day of May 1997
The Director of Legal Services
John Lewis plc
171 Victoria Street
London SWIE SNN
Solicitor for the Plaintiff