Alice Starmore dishes.
This statement follows on the story that was printed in The Herald on May 14. This was the article that reported that Starmore claimed that HTTL had stolen part of her website content, and that HTTL was going to engage in a “crude and audacious theft” of her work by producing hand knitting yarns to be called “Hebridean.”
In the story Starmore recounts of he said-she said-she said,
- The chair of HTTL allegedly told a BBC reporter that Starmore was also making some unauthorized use of the Harris Tweed trademark. The BBC reporter apparently discovered this to be untrue.
- Starmore got a chance to rebut this, and apparently told the BBC reporter a lot of what she knew about HTTL.
- The BBC reporter related Starmore’s comments back to the chair of HTTL, who apparently went “ballistic” (as told by BBC reporter to Starmore); the HTTL chair also apparently uttered something about Starmore being in breach of an agreement and of a previous legal action she brought against HTTL that was later withdrawn.
- Di Gilpin, apparently also informed of Starmore’s comments about HTTL, called the BBC reporter too, and apparently told said BBC reporter that the HTTL chair had told her that Starmore was going to sue her (Gilpin). Then Gilpin apparently backed off this statement and referred the BBC reporter to her partner, a lawyer.
- When contacted, this lawyer stated to the BBC reporter that he was not aware of any legal action between Starmore and HTTL/Gilpin, and that he was not aware of Starmore being in breach of any agreement.
- Starmore states in response to the article that she has never entered into any agreement with the chair of HTTL and his companies, and in response to Gilpin’s allegations, that she has never threatened her with any legal action. She then suggests that Gilpin is either delusional or grievously misinformed by HTTL.
- It’s not clear whether the BBC reporter would have arrived at the same conclusion regarding HTTL’s allegation of Starmore’s use of the Harris Tweed mark had the 2004 version of the Virtual Yarns website content been live. And it’s not clear if this previous website copy was the usage alluded to by HTTL, or if there was something else we don’t know about.
- This statement doesn’t contradict the allegations made by Starmore that HTTL copied her website content. Indeed, Starmore provide a link to another article that repeats these allegations concerning HTTL’s prospective launch of “Hebridean” yarn. I came away from this further article with the impression that Starmore is trying to lay claim to the concept of selling a line of knitting yarns based on her native landscape.
- Starmore’s statement denies any contractual arrangement with any company associated with the chair of HTTL, Derek Reid. Her statement does not deny that she has had a legal dispute with HTTL, although no action actually resulted. It’s not uncommon for non-lawyers, even businesspeople, to misapply terms such as “action” and “proceedings.” To many, correspondence such as a cease-and-desist letter from an adverse party’s lawyer is a legal action or a proceeding, even though to the lawyer, it isn’t any such thing until a complaint, petition, or statement of claim is filed with a court. I’m inclined to cut HTTL some slack for that statement, but Starmore, who is not unfamiliar with lawyers, held them to the strict interpretation of their (alleged) words. In her position, I’d do that, too.
- Starmore does state in this further article that she contracted with the principal of the predecessor company of HTTL (that is to say, the principal of the company that used to occupy the same space as HTTL currently does, and was apparently dissolved the same year as HTTL was formed). She describes that she commissioned this spinner, Donald Macleod, “in a private capacity” — whatever that means, I don’t know. Because the company was private? Did he work alone on the development of her yarn? Is this a way of saying that any supply contract between Macleod and Starmore was not assignable to a successor company?
- If you’re going to design hand knitwear in Scotland, the first thing you have to do is get yourself a lawyer for a spouse/partner. Seems to be a prerequisite.