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General, Rockall shenanigans

It is with some irony that the long-planned trip to Rockall - inspired by The Rockall Times' existence - would appear to have caused the death of the site. The trip was a disaster. And what's more, the fall-out from it is still going on weeks later. As these emails - in chronological order and starting the Saturday after we returned from the trip - show.

From: "Kieren Mccarthy" []
To: "Lester Manningtree" []
Subject: Footage, tapes and all that
Date: Sat, 9 Aug 2003 12:21:00


I've got copies of all the footage (I understand it did appear on Grampian TV) but could you please send all the blank camcorder tapes at your house and any/all cables etc with the receipt for the camcorder to my Newquay address. And my wetsuit if you have it.

12 Jenkins Court

As for the footage, I've spoken with lawyers at the NUJ and the best solution is for us both to sign an agreement saying it is a joint copyright and that both can use it as they wish without having to seek the future permission of the other. That way, if either of us sell it, whoever sells it gets the money.

As the law stands, I own the tapes and you own the copyright to the footage you took. As such nothing can be done with that footage without both of our permissions. However I am entitled to use stills of anything on the tape without having to seek permission from anyone, so it is in your interests that we come to mutual agreement.

If we sign a joint copyright agreement, I am happy for you to use any of the footage I took as your own.


Subject: Re: Footage, tapes and all that
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2003 10:38:10

No, I don't want the footage I shot to be used at all, ever, for any purpose - including stills which are my copyright, whatever you may have been told to the contrary. Be advised that legal action will follow any such use.

Of course, you are perfectly entitled to exploit your footage as you see fit. Make sure that any third party appearing in any moving or static images has signed the necessary release form. Your lawyer will advise on where to obtain a standard model.

Furthermore, I no longer wish to work with you on The Rockall Times. Either you can have the whole thing or, if you no longer wish to continue, I will. The choice is yours.


From: "Kieren Mccarthy" []
To: "Lester Haines" []
Subject: Re: Footage, tapes and all that
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2003 11:24:54

Fair enough. I will however follow my lawyer's advice rather than yours with regard to the footage.

I am happy to hand over The Rockall Times to you if you wish to continue running it just as soon as a cheque for everything currently in the bank account is made out to Mental Health Media and cleared.

Whether you send any subsequent funds for the trip to the charity, I leave to your conscience.

If you would please send the blank camcorder tapes, plus any cables and the receipt, plus my wetsuit if you have it, to my Newquay address I will reimburse you the cost.


Cc:, ""
Subject: Camera, tapes, and wrapping up The Rockall Times
Date: Wed, 13 Aug 2003 10:45:31

Kieren -

We are now concluding the business of The Rockall Times.

You have cashed a cheque for the camera without the knowledge or authorisation of Aaron or myself. Indeed, you asked Claudete to sign a blank cheque and then filled it in later without informing anyone. Furthermore, you made a great show of the fact that you owned the camera, when this was in fact a lie. And, incredibly, you attempted to gain access to the copyrighted material shot on the camera by suggesting a "joint copyright deal", after you had banked the cheque.

What's more, by banking the cheque without authorisation or checking first, you have taken the account into the red. Luckily, we have some t-shirt money outstanding which will cover this.

I'll make this plain - the camera is now the property of The Rockall Times, as are the tapes. You will return the camera AND TAPES immediately to me, and I will arrange for its liquidation to cover wrapping-up expenses.

Please do not waste everyone's time by claiming that the cheque was for other expenses , i.e. satellite phone, and that you will return the difference. This is simply pathetic, given that the cheque co-incidentally is for the exact camera invoice total - I have the invoice to prove it. Send me the bill for the satellite phone and any other outstanding expenses and I will see that it is paid. I will also require all of the receipts for the 300 cash advance you took to Scotland.

I am sending copies of all bank statements to Aaron for him to check. He will find that everything is in order.

Regarding sponsorship money, I agree that we should meet the PayPal commission and that all money collected for the charity should go to directly to them. I will pay 150 personally for this purpose. That should cover it.

I will conclude by saying that, despite what you may think, your contribution to the Rockall Ho! trip was zero. Worse, your behaviour compromised the whole operation, and has led ultimately to two years' work down the toilet. I'm sure, however, that you will be able to justify the whole thing to yourself. Just be certain that you do so inside your own head, and keep your mouth firmly shut. There were five other people on that boat besides me who may not agree with your version of events.


From: "Kieren Mccarthy" []
Subject: Resolving financial issues
Date: Wed, 13 Aug 2003 19:32:27

It is a very sorry state of affairs that it has come to this - idle threats and wild accusations.

I'm not interested in stoking the fire through constant argument and so I will state my position - which will not change - and hopefully we can bring this unpleasant businesses to a close.

I do have a cheque, which I have cashed, from The Rockall Times account for 572. Its original purpose was to pay me back for my purchase of a digital camcorder and 40 blank cassettes (on sale or return). I had purchased the camera on my credit card because the store would not take a cheque from The Rockall Times account without a cheque guarantee card, which I did not have.

I had made extremely plain my concerns about using money intended for the trip - and hence, after expenses, to be sent the charity - for purchasing a camcorder. To me it was not a valid expense. Before we left on the boat, I also made it clear that I had decided to purchase the camera myself to assuage my discomfort with the situation. On the boat itself, and before the contentious footage was taken, I forcefully explained that the camera and the tapes were my property and that any use of either by other people would have to respect that situation.

It is extremely unfortunate that events have meant that rather than simply provide everyone with a copy of all the footage taken, there have been a number of threats over copyright and ownership, none of which have issued from me.

My position on the footage remains the same and will not change. I believe that everyone on the trip should be entitled to view and use the pictures taken as they like. It seems apparent that I will never see the numerous other photographs taken of the event but nevertheless I wish to at least maintain my side of it. Since threats have been made over its use, I have no choice but to insist that a joint copyright deal is signed in which both myself and Lester agree that the other is entitled to use the footage however they wish without having to seek prior permission from the other. Without such an agreement, I will not hand anything over. I do not understand why this is a contentious request.

My banking of the cheque for 572 was based on the consideration that I would not be able to retrieve my possessions (blank camcorder tapes, camcorder CD and USB cable and new wetsuit) from Manningtree because of the level of hostility that existed. I also felt certain, for the same reasons, that I would not be refunded the cost of the satellite phone. It seems I was justified in my fears. I had no reason to believe that the cheque would push the account in the red.

Below is a breakdown of legitimate expenses plus money that needs to be paid into The Rockall Times account to go to the charity. The satellite phone bill will not be available for two weeks. However in order to tie things up quickly, I have given what a belief to be an accurate figure for its likely cost. I am willing to pick up any extra cost personally and reimburse the difference if I have over-estimated. I have assumed there is no intention to send me the blank tapes, so, save the five in my possession, have taken this as an expense.

I would like to think that the remaining items - CD, USB cable, wetsuit - will be sent to me since there are of no use without the camera and withholding them would be no more than spiteful, but I do not hold out much hope.

Included in the sums is 15 spent on transferring the Rockall footage onto a VHS cassette to be sent to Grampian TV at very short notice; 55 from friends coughing up sponsorship; 25 (170.20 split between seven) for my share of the food (bought at Troon supermarket) for the trip and paid for with charity funds; 10 for two beers and a whisky at the bar of the isle of St Kilda, also bought with charity funds (40 spent in total).

The cost of insuring the satellite phone was 5 per day. We had it for 19 days (total: 95). Calls cost $5 per minute. I conservatively estimate that 10 minutes was spent on the phone in two calls - one to Stornaway weather station and one to Aaron's mobile phone to give him the news. $50 equals 31.

Cheque for 572.

Camcorder: 400 (399.89, I believe)
Blank tapes: 172 for 40 (4.30 each). Five tapes cost 21.50, hence the outstanding 35 cost 150.50.
Satellite phone: 95+31 = 126
Food: 25
Sponsorship: 55
Beer: 10
VHS tape: 15

Total to pay: 400 + 21.50 - 126 + 25 + 55 + 10 - 15 = 370.50.

I will place the balance in the The Rockall Times account.

I welcome the offer to make the accounts of the joint bank account available. These arguments could doubtless have been avoided if we had all approached the situation more professionally from the start.

Since I am powerless to act, I can only plead with people's consciences over monies that have not yet been put into The Rockall Times account.

These include:

* Money for all Rockall Times T-shirts, both charity and otherwise
* Share of food bill for trip
* Cost of bar tab at St Kilda
* Sponsorship for the trip

Since I have no more money to pay into the account and due to the hostile situation am unable to influence or gather the further funds, I therefore, regrettably, leave the issue of sending a cheque to Mental Health Media for the fullest amount possible to Lester.

I can only hope that the separate issue of winding up The Rockall Times can be done more rationally and maturely.


To: Kieren Mccarthy []
Cc: Aaron Crane [], ""
Subject: Re: Resolving financial issues
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2003 09:44:25

No. The cheque issued was for the purchase of a camcorder and tapes. You have banked that cheque without authorisation. The camcorder and tapes are the property of The Rockall Times. You will return the property.

You had no reason to assume that you would not be able to retrieve "your property". In fact, it is us who cannot retrieve our property from you. Think about it.

The other expenses will be paid as due, as I have already said.

All monies due to the charity will be paid into the account. This includes t-shirt and sponsor money. Please let me know how much you personally raised, and when it will be paid in (I'm sure the 55 mentioned can't be the full figure).

Everything which was raised for the charity will go to them. Figures will be provided to show that this has been done.

The footage I shot is my copyright. You will not use it for any purpose, neither will you takes stills from it or copy it. I reiterate what I have already said - legal action will result from any breach of my copyright.

You're quite right that we should try and resolve this is a more rational and mature fashion. So, be a grown up and return the footage which myself, Mark and Jamie worked for so long and so hard to obtain.


PS. We have no idea where your wetsuit is, I'm afraid.

From: "Kieren Mccarthy" []
Subject: Re: Resolving financial issues
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2003 10:28:30

I have nothing to add to my previous email.


To: Kieren Mccarthy []
Cc: "", Aaron Crane []
Subject: Re: Resolving financial issues
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2003 14:36:39

Fair enough.

Just to reiterate one last time:

You will not use any of the footage I shot, including stills, for any purpose. Neither will you make copies of it without written permission. Any breach of my copyright will result in legal action. This will be confirmed by letter next week.


PS. How much personal sponsorship can I expect to be banked by yourself?

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