Dear Bishop Buckley
I work within the Assessment and Early Resolution team at the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Thank you for your report form dated 12 April 2023.
I understand you write a daily blog about the Roman Catholic Church and its failure to address abuses and corruption.
You wrote a blog about Father John Paul Lyttle and sexual misconduct allegations against him, following victims approaching you for support.
Hill Dickinson LLP (HDL) acts on behalf of Father Lyttle.
HDL sent you a letter dated 4 April 2023 regarding Father Lyttle’s personal data published on your blog.
HDL requested you to remove the personal data, otherwise it would make a report to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The firm also requested you to suspend any further publications until you dealt with the complaint.
You believe the matter amounts to a Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) suit, as the firm has not challenged what you have written but has threatened to make a report to the ICO.
You also believe the firm is acting in a conflict of interest, as the firm acts on behalf of an insurance company of one of the churches, who deals with claims brought by the victims. Father Lyttle is one of the priests at this particular church.
The SRA is the regulator of solicitors and law firms in England and Wales, protecting consumers and supporting the rule of law and the administration of justice. The SRA does this by overseeing all education and training requirements necessary to practise as a solicitor, licensing individuals and firms to practise, setting the standards of the profession and regulating and enforcing compliance against these standards. As part of this role, we consider allegations of misconduct on the part of solicitors or their firms.
When making decisions on matters one of the tools we use is our Enforcement Strategy. The Strategy aims to provide the public and profession with greater clarity on how we decide whether to act in a given case, and what factors we consider in deciding the seriousness of misconduct and the action to take.
The SRA cannot provide legal advice, nor can we become involved in legal disputes or court proceedings.
We also cannot provide any forms of compensation or apologies from the firm, as this is outside of our remit.
As SLAPPs is a new area for us, I will be seeking guidance on the concerns you have raised. I will return you once I have received the advice.
Thank you for contacting us.
It’s good that the SRA is keeping me updated on my complaint.
It’s also good to see them saying that SLAPPs are a new area for them and that they will seek guidance.
Of course, I’ll keep my faithful blog readers updated.