A SOUR BACKGROUND NOTE for many in the fancy this year has been the awareness that some of our fellow birdkeepers have been engaged in legal struggles – not against thieves or law-breaking antis but, almost unbelievably, against one another.

A line has now been drawn under this wretched episode, which I’ll summarise as briefly as possible. Three court cases have been heard in quick succession: Raymond Fox v Simon Devaney; Simon Devaney v Raymond Fox; and The Exhibition Budgerigar Forum v Raymond Fox. The first two cases were inconclusive, and in the third the judge found in favour of the EBF, to the tune of £5,000.

In all three cases, the writs were issued over allegations of defamation – not concerning statements made in print, but in online discussion forums. How did it come to this, you may ask? It’s a sad story that I trust we’ve heard the last of, but as a result of it, ALL fanciers need to be aware that yes, you can be sued for defamation over comments made online, and yes, the penalties can be severe. And now there’s a precedent. So please: when online discussions get heated (as they do), stick to the moderators’ rules and the law of the land. Let’s not risk a repeat of this, ever.

■ If, like me, you figure there’s still loads of time before you need to get round to your Christmas shopping – first, check your calendar, then check our late gifts-for-fanciers suggestions on page 17. But there’s more: our friends at the Exhibition Budgerigar Forum have reminded us that the 2018 EBF calendar will again be available. It will feature 12 winning birds from the 2017 BS Club Show. This calendar is a limited edition of 100, yet costs only £7.95 plus £1.50 p&p. Contact Mick Freakley (tel: 07718 855 207) to order.

■ IMPORTANT CLUB NEWS HEADS-UP: because of the Christmas production schedule, clubs are alerted that details of all meetings taking place between December 27, 2017 and January 10, 2018, inclusive must be sent to the office via post (full address at foot of this page) or by email to:birds.general@kelsey.co.uk by December 15 at the latest for inclusion in the December 27 2017/January 3 2018, issue. This includes time-sensitive notices. Thank you, and have a great week.

Rob Innes

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