Saturday, 30 July 2011

July 2011: A Busy Month for a Bankrupt Solicitor

ISPAs 2011
Andrew Crossley: Internet Villain
You’d think that once a solicitor had closed down his business and been declared bankrupt he’d probably enjoy a fairly quiet life, right? Wrong.

July has been an unusually busy month for Andrew Crossley.

In 2010 Crossley as ACS:Law was nominated in the Internet Service Provider Association Awards’ (ISPAs) for ‘Internet Villain’. On that occasion he made it to the finals but was pipped at the post by the thoroughly deserving Peter Mandelson who completely ignored a public consultation and, supported by a lot of other people who also ought to have known better, forced through the ill-formed, ineffectual and costly Digital Economy Act** apparently because he was mug enough to believe the unsupportable claims of the media industry.

Not many people get nominated two years running for an ISPA, but Crossley went one better and in 2011 made it again to the finalists. But this year, at the ISPAs dinner (where, incidentally, HHJ Colin Birss – the judicial superhero who annihilated the Crossley-led MediaCAT copyright claims - was a finalist for Internet Hero) Crossley triumphed over his adversaries (a first time for everything then) and was announced the recipient of the award for Internet Villain 2011.

Crossley wasn’t present in person to collect the award - probably wise as the dinner reportedly included fruit kebabs that were served on devastatingly sharp skewers – but it was collected on his behalf by BeingThreatened, the grassroots support group that has been among those leading the campaign against speculative invoicing.

James Bench of the group made light of the occasion. He quipped that he’d heard about ‘a copyright lawyer joke’…

…‘Andrew Crossley’ – badum tish, and went on to comment that he fully expected Crossley to be promoting himself the next day as an ‘award winning solicitor’.

The attendees – largely senior managers from ISPs – seemed amused, some them perhaps forgetting their own industry’s role in speculative invoicing. While it’s easy to joke about the demise of speculative invoicing in the UK and Crossley’s ungracious downfall it’s important that the very real impact of speculative invoicing is not forgotten. The tens of thousands of members of the public that were harassed by Crossley will not quickly forget the episode. His pursuit of innocent individuals for his own financial gain is something which was far from amusing and while the Digital Economy Act still lives on the harassment of innocent members of the public on the whim of the copyright lobby is a likelihood which remains a great concern.

Writing of Crossley’s own financial gain (and his bankruptcy) it’s also worth mentioning, in case anyone missed it, the report from the day prior to the ISPAs, which made public the Information Commissioners Office’s doubts that Crossley would pay the £1000 monetary penalty issued in respect of his staggering September 2010 DPA breach. This was the breach that the ICO saw fit to reduce to 0.5% of the intended penalty of £200,000 since Crossley was in some financial difficulty (later revealed to be his bankruptcy).

Later in the month ACS:Law’s name again surfaced in the news. What transpired to be a scam, operating with apparently mischievous but no financial motive, involved sending emails to Greeks accusing them of copyright infringement – in much the same manner as ACS:Law’s own speculative invoicing operation – and indeed using ACS:Law’s letterhead (which leaked, along with everything else, in his September 2010 data mishap).

Crossley was quick to respond to the reports telling PC Pro, “This is obviously a scam. is not a demand made by me and it is quite clear from the way it was written that it was not.”

Crossley appears to have forgotten surprisingly quickly how readily a legal operation with serious intent can appear to be a scam – including his own (didn’t he shut down a website because he didn’t like his operation being thought of as a scam?). The only give away clue from the letters that they aren’t indeed from the bankrupt closed-down solicitor is that they request payment to an address which doesn’t exist. Assuredly Crossley would never fail to supply a valid address to which payments should be sent.

You might think, after such a month, that it might start to dawn on Crossley the error of his ways. And you’d be sorely mistaken. But you didn’t really expect him to see the error of his ways; if you’ve followed this nonsense for any period of time, you’d know that that part of Crossley’s brain just ain’t wired that way.

No, instead Crossley recently contacted V3, despite being slated by HHJ Colin Birss in the court cases he foolishly started, despite facing numerous charges at a disciplinary hearing later this year (charges which, at the hearing of his predecessors at Davenport Lyons, were upheld), despite being named Internet Villian 2011… and stated "I still maintain the work I did was compliant, lawful, measured, appropriate and needed.”

Compliant: no – that’s why the ICO fined him. Lawful: no – that’ll be why his indemnity insurers had to settle in the claims he took to court. Measured, appropriate and needed: just pfft! His half-baked scheme was needed like blowtorch to the eyeball.

He also said, “I no longer read what is out there about me anymore. Life is too short." Does that mean that I can write here that I think he’s an unprincipled, unethical idiot* and he won’t whine about it?

(* I toned that down, in the interests of a family audience)

(** I recently found out, via an FIOA request, just how much the Government spent defending this monstrosity of a waste of space in the judicial review. I might share that with you at some point in the near future, if you're interested.)


  1. Thanks for this, quite a laugh that the BeingThreatened crew accepted the Internet Villain of 2011 on behalf of Crossley. What a shame that Crossley didn't get a table together for the awards event, Tsang, Miller, Glen & Mehru missed out on more exposure.
    Please post the reply to for FIOA request about how much the Government have spent on defending the DEA, I'm sure lots of UK tax payers will be interested in this dreadful waste of money at a time when the country is almost broke.

  2. Will, thanks again for writing and keeping us up to speed on this.