An account of the abuse of people living on boats on the waterways by the Canal and River Trust, previously British Waterways.   Then a Public Authority, now part Public Body, part Charity.   In receipt of public funds and public donations.  The account is based around the story of me and my boat Pearl, a converted Thomas Clayton tar boat built 1935.  It's not about me it's about them and their deliberate persecution of people, particularly 'vulnerable' people, who live on boats, and those who collude with them for their own selfish interests, and those authorities that allow them to get away with it.     

You don't have to live on a boat to find it alarming.    

8. My boat has sunk due to the damage caused in the course of the theft of my boat by the Canal and River Trust

My boat has sunk

On 15th August I phoned the boatyard where my boat was impounded.  I was told that my boat had sunk - several times - and they couldn't keep it afloat.  It had had mains operated pumps on it since it had been there but they couldn't keep it afloat. He said they were thinking of taking it out of the water.    

I said that as far as I was concerned my boat had been destroyed. It had been taken unlawfully.  Craned out and transported 125 miles then craned back into the water.  Obviously damaged in the process as I had told them it would be and then it had sunk. Remember it's a 72ft wooden boat and will always leak if craned out and back in again. I told him it was entirely the fault of CRT and I had no argument with him, or claim on him. 

My boat had, inevitably, sunk and CRT had not responded to my questions relating to its recovery.   Quite obviously they knew it had sunk and were not wanting to admit it as the boat still belonged to me. They hoped to stall me until 30th August when they claimed possession of the boat.   (Actually, they don't claim possession of the boat but offer it for sale at that point).  It was my boat and I was negotiating its recovery before that date.

I sent an email requesting that they acknowledge that my boat had sunk, 17th August. Sent it again on 19th August.

No reply.

Sent the email again on 21st August stating that I had passed the details to a solicitor. Received a reply the following morning from Paul Griffin, Head of Enforcement.

This is the reply:-

     'Whilst we do not feel it would be helpful to engage in discussions about Pearl unless you are prepared to seriously consider payment of our costs under the lien, we acknowledge your interest in the boat and so can confirm that following your recent emails stating you were aware Pearl had sunk, we contacted the boatyard where she is being kept through our contractor.  We are informed Pearl did partly sink when a power cut caused pumps on board to stop working.  However, as custodians of the waterways and promoters of the public's interest in their history, we are as keen as you are to see that Pearl is preserved and we recognise the boat has some historic significance.   There is no intention to allow Pearl to deteriorate, although the boat was not in a good condition when it came into CRT's possession, and we are keeping under review any action which may be required to ensure this.   However, please note that unless you have repaid our costs then at the expiry of the Torts notice it is our intention that Pearl will be placed on brokerage and sold in due course, as is usual with vessels seized under our enforcement process, or other suitable home found for it.'

My reply:-

   'You unlawfully seized my boat. You unnecessarily transported it 125 miles. You damaged it. It has sunk in your care. You refused to respond to my questions as to how I recover my boat. You did not answer my emails asking you to acknowledge you were aware that my boat has sunk until I told you the details had been passed to a solicitor.  You now expect me to pay you a contrived debt for a sunken boat that you have said I have to, upon recovery, remove from CRT water again.  The boat is damaged and has sunk several times. The boatyard manager/owner said he is thinking of taking it out of the water as they can't keep it afloat. 

Your attitude and response would be beyond belief if I was not fully aware of the organisation I'm dealing with.  The boat did not sink in my care over 24 years while, mostly, travelling around the system. It sunk when you seized it in breach of an undertaking to the court who you misled as to the situation (having misled them about everything else).

To say CRT care about historic boats is laughable.  You care about getting away with your nefarious activities and crushing those who challenge you and expose you.

You owe me a replacement historic boat or the cost thereof.  As you will, clearly, not allow me to have a boat on the waterways you owe me the cost.  I owe no debt to you.  You destroyed my boat through your unnecessary actions to create that contrived debt. 

Do you seriously expect me to pay you about £12,500 (VAT added twice - no explanation or correction received) for a sunken boat in a boatyard 125 miles away that can't be floated because it has been damaged?   Which, I, then, am not allowed to keep on the waterways. Further proof, if needed, that your attack on me is malicious and your intention is to do me harm.  I cannot recover my boat as a result of your actions and you cannot lay claim to it.'

I received a prompt reply to this from Steven Holder, CRT Solicitor:-

'In Paul Griffin's absence, I respond on behalf of CRT as follows.

Pearl was lawfully seized and this has been dealt with in previous correspondence, so I do not propose to return to this issue.

You have also previously been made aware (on more than one occasion) that you may retrieve Pearl by paying the lien which CRT has taken over the boat, to cover the cost of removing it from our waterways.   As for you allegations that a contrived debt has been created, this is simply untrue.  Again, as we have previously explained to you, CRT uses a single contractor for boat removals and the costs incurred reflect the steps taken to carefully remove, transport, and store Pearl, costs which would not have been incurred if you had removed Pearl from our waterways yourself.  However, I note your concerns that there may be an inaccuracy in the figures so if you could please clarify precisely why you think VAT has been added twice, I will ensure this is followed up early next week when the relevant colleague returns to the office. If there has been an error, this will of course be corrected.

I can confirm that when you emailed CRT on the afternoon of 17th August stating that Pearl had sunk, this was followed up with our contractor and the boatyard where it is being stored, and Paul Griffin responded early this morning.  I believe he had intended to email you yesterday afternoon but he was dealing with other matters before commencing a period of leave, so responded this morning (on his day off).   As Paul said in his email, Pearl was partly submerged because a power cut caused pumps to stop working.   Pearl was kept afloat by the mooring ropes and CRT are exploring how the boat can be preserved for the long term because we do, contrary to your allegations, respect its historic value.

Any suggestion that CRT has acted against you maliciously or to cause you harm is simply not true.'

They didn't answer my questions about how I can recover my boat. I sent the list of questions several times. I have the emails. They did not respond to questions regarding why it was necessary to crane out a wooden boat, transport it 125 miles, crane it into the water and then present me for a bill for this careless and unnecessary action which, as I advised them, resulted in damage to my boat and its eventual sinking.  And they claim that they are looking after it (I don't use exclamation marks but will just this once) !!!!!    

I am expected to pay them to get my boat back, unless they now think it's theirs as of 30th August, and then, somehow, repair the damage and get it afloat and then I have to remove it from their water or they will take it again!

What am I supposed to do with a 72ft wooden boat if I can't keep it on the canal?

This is how they behave.  This is what we have to put up with.  This is what I wanted to expose in the court.  It is now exposed, at considerable cost to myself, so I would urge anyone in any way interested in the waterways and its history and heritage and its use as a means of a way of life for those who choose to pursue it with good intent ( which does not mean travelling on a never ending journey around the system subject to absurd restrictions and prescribed destinations) to do whatever they can to challenge and attack these crooks who have 'seized' the waterways just like they have 'seized' my boat. They regard themselves as the custodians of the waterways.  They are not.  They are the destroyers of everything of worth about the waterways. 

I was the 'custodian' of 'Pearl'.  I rebuilt it, maintained it, used it and kept it going when it was generally regarded as beyond repair in 1990.  I bought it because I didn't know what I was doing.   Sometimes the best way when faced with a difficult task. I have lived on Pearl for 24 years, always had a licence, never caused a problem.   I have a right to be on the waterways. They shouldn't be anywhere near them.  BW caused all the problems.  They decided to bully people on boats to get them off the canal or into marinas.  They realised that the easiest targets were the elderly and those with health problems so they harassed them to achieve targets and receive bonuses.  I complained about this abuse and so was targeted. I also had a health problem requiring medical investigation and was told I could not remain in the area to attend medical appointments. This was in the Northwich area in Cheshire run by the Northwich Office.  More of this in an article that deals with the complaints and the Complaint Procedure and the Ombudsman.

Anything written about me that I have seen is inaccurate.  I don't use Facebook so I don't know what's on there and I'm not interested.  I do not have serious mental health problems. I have had seasonal depression for years, most of my life, like a lot of people.  That does not result in mental impairment, arguably the reverse. After being in intensive care, on a ventilator and on 18 different drugs and having been in a coma with multiple organ failure and being given 48 hours to live, I went through a period of anxiety and depression generally referred to as ICU Psychosis.   An unfortunate description as it is not actually psychosis and is a general term describing something that is not understood but apparently related to being on life support and associated medication.  It does, however, add to an argument that I am a mentally impaired person, a 'nutter', and, probably, a dangerous 'nutter'. I believe this claim has been used by CRT and Shoosmiths to influence the court and the Judge (common practice by Shoosmiths) to give them licence to do what they did to me.  It would also have been used to influence the 'laughing policemen' who oversaw my 'eviction.   The police don't like 'nutters'.  (People who meet with CRT will also be advised that my account of events is 'flawed' due to 'mental impairment' and they should not get involved. Those in this situation invariably agree so as to maintain their 'relationship' and stay 'in the loop').     

If there was a consideration that I had a serious mental problem and was a bit 'dangerous' then I should have had representation and not been mistreated as a 'litigant in person'. They get away with this when the person concerned has a 'problem' and is not sufficiently literate or articulate to defend themselves. They don't expect the response that they get from me.

I wonder why more than half the prison population has a 'mental health' problem. 

My story is about abuse by an authority, BW/CRT, but is much more widespread and of a similar nature.   It is interesting to look at the world of the waterways as being like a 'state within a state'.    A state that is allowed to do what bit likes and is a law unto itself.   And has a population that has become a 'pariah' group as some 'users of the infrastructure' don't like them and see them as infringing their freedom to use the waterways as if they own them.   These 'user groups' get the support of persons employed by the authority, notably Sally Ash and Area Managers, and the result is discrimination and persecution - as a policy. This grows and grows and the, accompanying, enforcement gets more and more draconian.  

The Judgment against me was, initially, handed down on November 22nd 2013.  The hearing that I had been told had been cancelled.  The following day the people, solicitors and CRT employees, Helen Waterman and Jill Overum, and police and bailiffs and others, descended on a woman on a boat on the Macclesfield Canal and removed her, with threats, from her boat.  She was left with only the clothes she was wearing on the towpath in late November in a traumatised state.             

She was in dispute with BW/CRT and had been pursued through the same court as myself.   No doubt with the same deception and abuse of process as myself.   She is said to have 'mental health problems'. I don't think she had any representation. Why?  I tried to find out from the police what had happened to her as I heard she had gone missing. They said she was all right and had been found. She had not been found. She was missing for several weeks.

She has since been sectioned under the mental health act having set up camp outside the Macclesfield Police Station in protest at the theft of her boat.  She has not had her boat, or her possessions, returned to her.   

I'm sure such 'problems' as she had, as we all have, have been made far worse thanks to CRT, the courts, Shoosmiths and the obnoxious dimwits Helen Waterman and Jill Overum.

My case was running alongside her case and I think there was some attempt to correlate the two as cases of two slightly eccentric people who wouldn't do what they were told. 

In my case the Judge did see the validity of such of my arguments that were aired in court and did seek to ensure I could remain on my boat. He couldn't find in my favour as I was deemed to have provoked the court action which is arguable but not entirely inaccurate.  The Ombudsman would not decide on my complaint as it involved legal questions and said I would have to take BW/CRT to court.  I said I obviously couldn't do that so they would have to take me to court.

Who provoked whom.