Nominet have launched issued formal legal proceedings in the High Court of England and Wales against Graeme Wingate and his company That Internet Limited, a member of Nominet, for publication of defamatory content. Nominet is seeking an injunction to remove the content and prevent its publication in future.
Since early December Wingate has been publishing content critical of Nominet’s CEO Lesley Cowley and the Nominet proposal to launch registrations of .uk domain names at the second level.
In response to the second level domains proposal, Nominet had received more than 850 formal responses with one day to go, as well as a range of feedback from meetings, phone calls and emails.
The proposal for second level .uk registrations is for it to be called direct.uk and to be aimed at businesses. For a significantly higher fee, the second level domains would potentially offer shorter domain names as well as one of the most comprehensive package of security features available.
Wingate established a website called Avoid.co.uk whose “idea … is to focus solely on the leadership of Ms Lesley Cowley, Chief Executive of Nominet and her immediate removal as CEO on the grounds of dishonestly, transparency and incompetence. In addition we aim show why we think she is not a fit and proper person to be in charge of national Infrastructure that accounts for £100 billion of UK GDP.”
In their announcement of the launch of the High Court proceedings, Nominet say they are “entirely comfortable with legitimate protest about Nominet’s actions or proposals, [but] there are assertions about Nominet and our CEO published on the avoid.co.uk and that.co.uk sites that are untrue and defamatory.”
“The Board is united in its view that harassment and victimisation of our staff is unacceptable, and that Nominet should take appropriate action to support staff and protect our reputation.”
Nominet say they “have written to Mr Wingate and That Internet Limited to inform them that [they] have been advised that some of their content is defamatory, but [their] attempts to encourage them to remove the content, discuss the matter or enter into mediation have been rejected.”
Wingate has been a fly in the ointment for Nominet for some years now. In 2009, “Wingate ran for election to the post of Non-Executive Director at Nominet, but Nominet declined to publish his platform statement in a booklet accompanying the election due to possibly defamatory allegations against Cowley contained in it,” according to Tech Week Europe.
In response to the launch of legal proceedings , Wingate has refuted the allegations made by Nominet in rather colourful language, and no doubt further inflaming tensions between the parties.