Barry Vera wants to sue me

Here is the solicitor’s letter in full. As in my terms on this site I state that every email is for publication, I’m publishing all correspondence.

Confidential – Not for Publication

Dear Mr Charles

Re: http://tomatom.com/2007/04/14-ways-to-tell-when-a-restaurant-will-close-down/

We are a firm of solicitors from England, acting for Mr Barry Vera.

As you may be aware Mr Vera is a professional Chef who previously held the position of Head Chef at the now closed Australian Restaurant ‘VERAS’. Mr Vera now resides and works in the UK.

We are writing in relation to an article published on your website blog tomatom.com (herein ‘your Website’). It is our understanding that the article in question, titled ‘14 ways to tell when a restaurant will close down’ (herein ‘the Article’), was first published on 18th April 2007. Currently a search for ‘Barry Vera’ on either the Google.com or Google.co.uk search engine provides a results page in which the URL to the Article is prominently displayed.

We should make it clear that Mr Vera has no objection to the substantive content of the Article itself, or of your Website in general. As you are no doubt aware, the Article does however contain a comments section where users can anonymously post items. We note that this section is almost entirely made up of statements regarding Mr Vera and, in particular, his involvement with VERAS and a few other establishments. These statements are often phrased in abusive language and constitute a variety of unsubstantiated accusations and allegations, which are entirely refuted by Mr Vera, and are highly damaging to Mr Vera’s reputation as a professional chef. It is our understanding that the comments are likely the result of a mistaken belief as to Mr Vera’s role and involvement at VERAS, and as such are presented as factual information. The comments are in fact, at best conjecture, and at worst a deliberate attempt to direct blame toward Mr Vera who, as head chef, is an easy albeit unjustified target.

Whilst we appreciate the individual(s) making the anonymous comments appear to be genuinely upset, directing their anger at Mr Vera in the manner they have – in lieu of reaching out to Mr Vera (or those actually responsible for the acts complained of) would have been a far more appropriate and legal means by which to seek a resolution to any dispute.

Having considered the comments in detail, we have advised Mr Vera that the content falls foul of English Legislation concerning defamatory statements, and that Mr Vera has a right to have the content removed, and to pursue those responsible through the courts. We have similarly advised that the removal could take place with or without your co-operation.
Clearly Mr Vera has a legitimate interest in protecting himself from defamatory or otherwise untrue statements likely to damage his reputation and livelihood. Mr Vera however has no desire to enter into a protracted and heated dispute with you through the Courts, nor does he wish to interfere with your Website activities. In this instance therefore he is merely seeking a means to have the URL to the Article removed from a search for his name on google.

The simplest way of achieving this would be for you to either remove the offending comments from your Website yourself, or otherwise to provide your consent to Google removing the URL from the result page for a search for Barry Vera. We request that you respond to this email by no later than 16:00 (GMT) on Friday, 9th January 2015, confirming your willingness to assist in this matter.

Should we not receive such a response Mr Vera will have little alternative but to take further action, including the instruction of Australian Solicitors and contacting your Internet Service Provider.

Should you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours sincerely

Thomas Henson
Partner
Hansel Henson
Hansel Henson Limited
4th Floor, 22 Newman Street, London W1T 1PH
Tel (+44) (0)20 7307 5106

This e-mail and the information it contains are confidential and may be privileged. if you have received this email in error we ask you please notify us as soon as possible.

‘Hansel Henson’ is the trading name of Hansel Henson Limited, which is a limited liability company registered in England and Wales with registered number 8938624. Its registered office is at 4th Floor, 22 Newman Street, London W1T 1PH and its partners are David A. Hansel and Thomas M Henson. The term “partner” is used by us to denote a shareholder and director of Hansel Henson Limited which is a firm of solicitors authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The new venues shaping St Kilda

St-Hotel-St-Kilda-dining

You’ve probably noticed that everything hip that is happening is in Fitzroy, Collingwood or the CBD. And perhaps Northcote or Yarraville.

People are also doing things in St Kilda and somebody has to tell the story.

St Hotel

Imagine what the illegitimate love child of the Royal Saxon and The Prahran Hotel would look like.

It would probably be very much like the St Hotel, the reimagined Saint nightclub in St Kilda, which is almost finished and may open very soon.

Last week 700 or so local riffraff, venue owners, girls, boys, girls who are boys, girls looking for boys (and daddies) packed in for the opening of the new multi level venue; on the ground floor a Chin Chin leaning Asian restaurant and bar; a club and private members lounge upstairs.

The look is concrete, dark steel window frames and raw ply. At least I think the look is raw plywood panels. It may just be that part isn’t finished yet.

The central atrium hangs over the restaurant and provides a glassed in balcony for clubbers and VIPs.

Upstairs there’s a nifty machine with lockers where you can recharge your phone after a long night on the town.

As soon as it’s open properly I’ll report back on the food.

Dog’s Bar

The good news is that the food has improved and the booze is cheap. The bad news is that the room is still badly in need of a good clean-up.

The pasta portions are huge and cost under $20. They are tasty and filling – I could barely finish my bowl – but nothing worth crossing town for.

The new manager, Lachlan Sleeman who was last seen in Melbourne running the London in Port Melbourne, has put Estrella on tap and red, white and pink Dal Zotto wines from the King Valley. At under $30 for the equivalent of a bottle, you can’t argue with that.

The usual local personalities and colourful characters are back. But in attracting the new upmarket generation of St Kilda locals the Dog’s Bar now has competition.

The-Nelson-St-Kilda

The Nelson

What was once Slow Down at Harley Court, and prior to that the local favourite cafe Spuntino, is now The Nelson an exciting new arrival to St Kilda.

What the new owners have done is taken a dark dungeon of a room, which was always awkward, and turned it into a light airy space that people want to be in.

The design, by Techne, uses recycled timber from wharves in Docklands creating a combined central bar and shared table. At 2 metres there is a watermark creating a nautical vibe, and below that walls are supposedly distressed by the tide.

The idea is a rum bar with 35 different varieties and some pretty decent cocktails and beers. The wine list is okay and the food menu is developing.

The whole marinated BBQ’d fish for $29 is cooked well and is amazingly good value – as are the chunky rosemary potatoes ($9) and the beetroot salad ($9). The seafood paella at $27 is also good but felt expensive for its size.

I was there last night with the neighbours. And I’ll be in The Nelson a lot and look forward to seeing how they develop.

Lona Pixtos

If you were going to open a tapas joint 5 hours down the coast this is what it may look like. As my neighbour said: “I looked inside and didn’t like it and didn’t go in”.

Lona is the St Kilda cousin of the Armadale pinxtos joint of the same name. It brings with it a suburban vibe and playlist, which unfortunately is played loudly in the street.

The pinxtos are cheap and are available at $1 each to anyone who signs-up to Club Lona. My impression is that the are more about the scheme rather than any kind of culinary innovation.

The wine list starts at $5.50 and cheap drinks seem to be the go for the crowd which appears to have the same suburban pedigree as the venue.

Gami

Yes, Korean fried chicken has arrived in the space once occupied by Worksense hair salon. The service area in the front and kitchen in the back are designed to look like bright yellow shipping containers.

The chicken is precisely as described on the menu and is the drawcard. The sous vide chips are not.

Dr Jekyll providor

With the arrival of the Dr Jekyll providor, selling various goods and pre-cooked pies, lasagnas etc for takeaway, the cafe’s kitchen has moved into what was the awful Base Pizza. It means the cafe now has a proper kitchen and can be more ambitious with its food.

They’ve applied for a liquor license and the hope is this will become a good value local wine bar in the evenings.

Meanwhile, these guys make the best coffee in St Kilda with their own blends from Clark St roasters. Come summer cold drip is on tap.

I’m hoping in the summer evenings they’ll do a wicked espresso martini.