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Dear Doing Dance posters,


Out of necessity, we are going to have to change the way in which we discuss full-time dance schools on the BalletcoForum.  We hope that this change will be temporary, lasting only as long as BBC Panorama and Leigh Day Law, among others, are investigating multiple allegations of mistreatment and malpractice at several full-time ballet and dance schools in the UK, and during any litigation that may arise as a result of this investigation.


We hope that by now, you are all aware of some schools that we do not discuss on this forum.  The reason we have always given for taking the step to ban all discussions of these schools is that it is “in line with our legal obligations”, hoping that people would draw their own conclusions from that sentence.


Some of you have done so, understanding what we meant by that statement, but others have not, so it seems that the time has come to be crystal clear about why we have the rules that we have, why we have to lock and/or hide some threads, and why we do not discuss some schools at all.


Put simply, on more than one occasion, we - the Balletcoforum - have been threatened with legal action because of posts made by forum members.  And by “we”, we don’t mean members, or individual posters, or even the Forum as a “business”; we mean the 7 individual members of the Moderating Committee.


As has been mentioned on numerous occasions, we Mods are volunteers.  We have jobs, lives, families outside of the forum, and we give our time and technical expertise for nothing in return.  We are not paid.  Reports come to our personal emails at all hours of the day and night, and we do our very best to deal with these as soon as possible, because it means that the forum can keep running.  But because our names are listed as Committee Members, we are the people who receive complaints and threats of litigation against us.  

We all love ballet, and we are happy to give our time to run the forum, but believe me, we have neither the time, the resources, the energy, or the inclination to go to court or be sued for defamation.  

We have already had to lock and hide several threads, and we have given the explanation that the process of litigation is now beginning and, as such, further discussions about (at time of writing) three schools will have to cease for the time being.  Now a thread about problems at a different school has been started, and we have already had to hide several posts that contravene our forum rules.  All public (as opposed to Private/Direct messaging) posts on the Forum are precisely that - PUBLIC.  They can be read and screenshots can be taken by anybody, anywhere, with internet access.


We are now left with two choices:  Ban all discussions of full-time vocational schools on this forum, or allow only news/announcements/updates about any of the schools being investigated or where allegations have been made.  

We do not want to have to take option 1.  

So we will trial the second option.  We will unlock the BBC Panorama post transmission thread and keep it open for news/factual updates only, but please be aware that we will have to lock it at the first sign of a breach.

We will also allow new threads about other schools not hitherto mentioned but which may be or come under investigation, but these threads must ONLY contain news or announcements, not discussions/opinions, anything else that breaks our forum rules, or puts us at risk of complaints about defamation.  

If you have experiences to share that relate to the allegations, we suggest you contact the Panorama team (mark.daly@bbc.co.uk), whichever journalist has written a news article, and/or Dino Nocivelli at Leigh Day Law (dnocivelli@leighday.co.uk).


At present, these are the choices available.  Abide by the rules, abide by the (hopefully temporary) embargo on discussion/opinions/arguments about the schools in question, or we will be unable to allow any discussion about any full-time school on the public forum.  

We thank you all for your understanding and cooperation.


Kind regards,


BalletcoForum Moderators


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Thank you so much for all you do, and for taking the actual and potential heat. It is a huge thing (I have a bit of experience in modding a different ballet board) and I know how difficult it can be.


I hope we will all behave ourselves. 


Your advice to posters to take specific grievances and experiences to the people currently investigating is excellent - it's action which has far more chance of making change than posting on a messageboard!

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I know people plural who have been caught up in the nightmare of defamation litigation, launched against them over something said / done on social media.  There are lawyers quite eager to launch action for various reasons on behalf of clients who may have a slim chance, in the end, of winning. Some do this on a 'no win no fee' basis, backed up by a form of insurance.  Lawyers have to make a living. There are lawyers willing to waste a great deal of time and money with pre-action letters back and forth, racking up costs, making very strange claims indeed. Some of it is designed to scare people off.   Even if you think you have done nothing wrong, have the defence of truth, opinion, and the rest, you will in all probability need to hire a lawyer to reply for you and pay that lawyer fat fees as you go. You certainly don't want to have to be put in the position of Crowdfunding, or face the threat of losing your home. 


Those 'in charge' of any forum are at risk of being accused of allowing potentially defamatory material to be published by forum members.  Seven moderators receiving a legal letter, no matter how much of a 'try on' it may be, then having to spend time worrying and seeking advice and paying for advice (it's not cheap) and responding?  It's not a position in which anyone with a conscience should be putting them.  It may be unfair, but the 'chilling effect' of being threatened with a civil case, or an injunction, is real. 


Those I know didn't 'lose' the cases against them, though I can't say they 'won' either.  The cost in stress and time (these things drag on) was astronomical.  It also isn't always the case that not losing means you get back all your costs.  Tens, even hundreds, of thousands can be spent, many thousands of what was spent not returned.  If you lose, you need very deep pockets indeed. 


Don't think you are anonymous either, so can always post without consequences. A judge can make an order (Norwich Pharmacal) seeking the details you used when registering.  This can be followed up with email / internet providers. 


I appreciate there is strength in numbers, if you have a grievance against a particular dance school there are ways of wording a post which isn't defamatory and you can carry on in Private Messaging and private 'chat groups', but public posts making claims and naming names I'd certainly not recommend. 


On a slightly different note, once civil action has been launched, as is the case with a clutch of known ballet schools, it's also not a good idea to say too much in public which could be claimed is going to prejudice the outcome of the trial.  Don't put yourself, or the forum moderators, at risk. 




I'd echo what was said above. If you feel you have information about cases already launched, or wish to add your case to the others, contact the legal firm, or a journalist or TV company.  



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