As we reported last month, John Bishop, the CEO of an independent media company called Crocels, based in Pontypridd, Wales, argues that by taking down his paper, De Gruyter defamed him and breached a contract — their agreement to publish his paper. Now, Bishop has sent the publisher what’s known in the UK as a “letter of claim.”
In the letter, Bishop writes:
In accordance with the civil procedure rules in the United Kingdom I am notifying you under the pre-action protocol that I am likely to have to take legal action against you under the E-Commerce Directive for breach of statutory duty and under the law of contract for breach of contract.
You can read the whole letter of claim here, which is addressed to Alex Greene, the Senior Editorial Director at De Gruyter. Greene told Bishop in an email last month that had the paper “been read critically, the article would not been accepted for publication.”
In the letter, Bishop writes:
I cannot be held responsible for your internal procedures failing – you agreed to publish my work and therefore have no right to back out of that agreement.
He argues that the retraction notice defames him:
On Google Scholar in particular, when people see the citation for the original work they see the derivative with the words “Reaction of” and in all other academic paper databases people see the derivative among all my other research papers, furthering the defamation of me.
He outlines his planned course of action:
This letter is to notify you that if within the next 14 days that you do not adhere to our contract that my work be published on your website and other avenues and you do not cease publication of the derivative work and withdraw it from all academic database where you have associated with my name then I will have no alternative but to take legal action in the civil courts of the United Kingdom including by making use of the E-Commerce Directive and the Services Directive, which apply to De Gruyter as a German-based company.
Per UK legal protocol, De Gruyter is obliged to respond now, and either accept the claim, provide more information, or reject the claim.
As we reported in an update on an earlier post, Greene told Bishop via email:
If, somehow, you succeed in court in compelling us to re-instate the article, we would do so and publish a full Publisher Note together with an annotated version of the article so our readers understand what the problems are with the article. We don’t think that will serve either of us well.
Reached for comment today, De Gruyter repeated what they have said previously, that they will “not have any out of court comments.”
This wouldn’t be the first time a researcher has sued a publisher over a retraction. Mario Saad lost his case last year against the American Diabetes Association, but an author earned an apology and $10,000 in legal fees when he sued Elsevier in 2011.
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