I get a legal threat from a struck-off psychotherapist

Previously I commented on the case of Ray Holland, a psychotherapist who was struck off by the UK Council for Psychotherapy for serious sexual misconduct with an “evidently vulnerable client”. Mr Holland denies the allegations despite the striking-off, and has returned to psychotherapy practice. This week I noticed that he had put up a new business website, changing his name to Ray Bott-Holland.

Today, I received two e-mails from Holland (or Bott-Holland, or whatever he’ll be calling himself next week) threatening to sue me if I don’t remove all his details from my blog.

The first e-mail from him was as follows.

Subject: breach of confidentiality and my civil rights
Dear Mr Dore,

I have not provided you with any permission and yet you continue to publish information about me – and now under my new family name. You have taken it upon yourself to effectively persecute and hound me which is causing me and my family considerable distress. The title ‘psychotherapist’ or any of its common derivatives is not a protected title (i.e. regulated by United Kingdom government and law) and I have every right to practice as a psychotherapist unhindered and certainly not be be hounded by members of the public as I advertise and carry out my professional practice.

I will provide you with 24 hours from the sending of this email to remove all information about me (including internet ‘tags’ and ‘links’ to my name and website:http://www.raybottholland.co.uk) on your blog, located at: https://notsobigsociety.wordpress.com
I look forward to hearing from you -at the earliest- when you have completed this.
Yours sincerely,
Ray Bott-Holland
A few hours later, I got a second e-mail.
Dear Mr Dore,
Further to my email below. Having taken good legal advice at a very high level of expertise, if you do not remove all the information I have clearly requested below [and in the time period stipulated] and indeed desist from making any further comments about me and my professional life as a ‘psychotherapist’ in various contexts on the internet (www), I will take legal action against you. I strongly emphasise the fact that I have not provided you with permission to publish and further pursue me in the relentless manner that you have. You have no authority to comment on and undermine my professional psychotherapeutic work. Note, I resigned my membership of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) and ‘psychotherapist’ is not a protected professional title.
Yours sincerely,
Ray Bott-Holland
So, where to start here?
First of all, Ray, let’s talk about this “breach of confidentiality” you mention in the subject header. I have commented on the UKCP striking-off order, your website that you initially put up following the striking off (and subsequently took down), and the second website that you put up with a change of name. None of these can be considered confidential documents. In fact, “freely available on the Internet” is the very opposite of “confidential”.
As for the “breach of your civil rights”, I have criticised you on my own website. You do not have a civil right not to be criticised. What I am doing here is not “persecution” but a little thing called “journalism”, and journalism is one of the cornerstones of democracy. Permit me here to recite my favourite quote by George Orwell. “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.”
I will grant you that psychotherapist is not a protected title. It sticks in my craw to say this, but you do have the legal right to continue calling yourself one. This is despite the fact that the UKCP upheld extremely serious allegations against you, and that “in the Panel’s view he remains a potential risk to female patients and towards the standing of the profession”. You have the right to do it, but I also have the right to criticise that decision.
You state that you “taken good legal advice at a very high level of expertise” but neither you nor your lawyer have furnished me with a valid legal argument. You haven’t even told me who your lawyer is.
You may wish to ask your lawyer (assuming you do actually have one) whether anything I have said constitutes defamation. Once he or she has stopped laughing, I suspect they will point out to you that the highest defence in defamation is truth.
I have stated that you have been struck off by the UKCP (yes, I know you point out that you resigned, but after you resigned they still struck you off), and that despite this you deny the allegations. These statements by me are true.
I have stated that you have continued to practice after being struck off, and indeed you have confirmed that this is the case. These statements by me are also true.
I have stated that after being struck off you have changed your name. Again, this statement is true, and thank you for confirming in your e-mails that this is true.
Your lawyer may also tell you that Section 4 of the Defamation Act 2013 provides an additional defence of public interest.

(1)It is a defence to an action for defamation for the defendant to show that—(a)the statement complained of was, or formed part of, a statement on a matter of public interest; and

(b)the defendant reasonably believed that publishing the statement complained of was in the public interest.

Is it a matter of public interest to comment on the decision of a therapist struck off for serious sexual misconduct to keep practicing? I think you will find that the Court’s response would be an emphatic yes.
If, despite this, you decide to go ahead and sue me, I think you will wind up spending an awful lot of money on a case you cannot possibly win. I also think you will experience a harsh lesson in the Barbara Streisand effect. As various litigants before you have discovered, suing to try to scrub unflattering information from social media tends to have an effect similar to trying to put out a fire with a hose that sprays petrol.
To summarise, I emphatically refuse your demands that I take down content about you from my website. If you take any further action against me, I will vigorously defend against such action.
Shall we conclude with a song?

55 thoughts on “I get a legal threat from a struck-off psychotherapist

  1. Ray Holland really does know how to make himself look like the Supreme Knob of The Universe. I sincerely hope that this comment does not add to your legal woes or get me in any kind of legal shit. 😉

  2. As someone who (a) has personal legal training, and (b) has consulted with a close friend who is a Ptofessor of Law at one of England’s leading law schools, I find Mr (Bott-)Holland’s threats utterly hilarious.

    I’d say good luck to him…but nah 😉

    Keep on fighting the good fight, Phil!

    • I have no idea whether Mr (Bott) Holland did sexually exploit a vulnerable female client or not. However, the UKCP findings are very damning. Personally, if I was innocent and had findings like that against me I would take legal action against the UKCP or at the very least put in a robust complaint with the PSA who oversee the UKCP’s Accredited Voluntary Register.

      Furthermore, having been victim to a sexually exploitative therapist who was subsequently devoid of any remorse or insight I am concerned about the parallels between his and Mr Holland’s behaviour:

      The first issue is the attempt to prevent the complaint through intimidation of the complainant. Check.

      The second is resigning during the complaints process. Check.

      Showing zero remorse or empathy. Check.

      Carrying on practising regardless despite damning findings, without challenging the findings. Check.

      Legal threats against anybody who shares the publically available information. Check.

      So from my point of view, even in trying to be open minded and fair, it really doesn’t look good. The UKCP have only struck off 3 therapists since 2009.

      Does Mr Holland not see that shooting the messenger is not going to help him at all? In fact, it might just make things look even less ambiguous than they were.

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  4. I concur: Arkell v. Pressdram provides an appropriate, measured, yet pithy response. Sadly such attempts at bullying are all too common across many fields.

  5. Well, I live in the US and never would have seen this had this fellow not decided to make an ass of himself with empty legal threats. Streisand is already very hard at work it seems.

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  7. I know this person. He was “counselling” me years ago when I was a student. For almost a year. The whole process was an utter horror – an absolute lack of empathy, the use of techniques such as guilt tripping and very subtle but clear threats when I decided to terminate therapy. He was sleazy throughout the process and, silly me, I believed that I had to work with this and that I was projecting things that were inside me (his suggestions). He then also threatened me with legal actions if I don’t pay him for the whole month (after I had decided to stop seeing him) even though he didn’t have to do it as I wouldn’t have done so and have paid him anyway (have saved these emails, yes). I googled his name as I wanted to show my therapist friend whom to avoid in the community and was sooooo happy to find out this individual has been struck of the list! Well done, UKCP! (My teachers at school advised me to report him at the time, I know, I should have done it but I was too scared of him and also so disgusted that I just wanted to cut off anything having to do with him).

    • Sorry to hear you had this experience.

      I’m happy to say he never did sue me.

    • He was my counselling tutor some years ago and I also found the experience utterly shocking and unprofessional, had a lot of the ‘unprofessional practices and issues’ I was raising at the time thrown back at me as issues I needed to work on. I made 2 complaints to the training organisation at the time but never heard back from them. I decided to move on with my life, life is too short to put it on hold because of maladjusted therapists (that’s a nice way to describe him) but like you Affected, I kept looking up his name over the years. I knew I would hear of him at some point. Didn’t have to wait too long

  8. This is obviously a poor platform to discuss such matters with any real authority, not least because of the anonymity of the persons involved. However, I have known of MrHolland’s difficulties for some time and I would like to say that I knew him as a person with much integrity and his professional work, from a supervisory perspective, to be of the very highest standard. And importantly, what I also now know is that the Complainant in question made an accusation of misconduct about a psychiatrist on another occasion and that this baseless fact was not known to the Panel adjudicating on this case.

    • Yes, I’m sure that the guy who’s been struck off and makes empty legal threats against those who criticize him is the very epitome of integrity.

      • I guess if I knew I’d been falsely accused then my response might well have been similar to the posts on your all-encompassing blog, Zarathustra. Mine being an act of moral integrity. Or I might simply have ignored your blog which, possibly inevitably, dissolves into gossip, oddly even anal-based crudity, in which moral integrity goes out the window.

    • “Anal-based crudity”? Excuse me?

      And I hardly call a proven outcome at a fitness-for-practice hearing “gossip”.

      • rccgrah is sounding very much like Skeptical Reader. May I respectfully request that you block this odious turdling (my anal based crudity) and apologist for sex abusers.

      • I believe it is clear that I do not refer to the Panel’s decision as gossip. I can only remind you of my original comment concerning the Complainants unfounded complaint against a psychiatrist, a fact that was absent from the Panel’s deliberations.

      • And your claim about an “unfounded complaint against a psychiatrist”? The one that we only have your word for it even exists, never mind that it’s unfounded? That’s NOT gossip?

    • Wow what’s your agenda? Abusive/exploitative therapists are very good at their job in some ways, that’s how they get away with it.

      Your comment regarding the complainant is way out of line and I think, very unprofessional. And you talk about gossip? Victim blaming with such flimsy, unsubstantiated piffle is really not on. Supervisor? Really?

      One would think you were Mr Bott Holland.

      Condolences and respect go out to the complainant and ‘affected’. Ignore this nonsense!

  9. There’s a request for my comments to be blocked and it is clear more confirmatory comments are affirmed, without question, as facts. More questioning perspectives are rejected, as erroneous. The agenda is clear.

    • The UKCP panel’s findings versus your meritless accusation against the complainant? Maybe you’ve been asked to be blocked because your comments are offensive. They are an affront to victims of therapist abuse and contribute to preventing victims from coming forward.

      • You accuse me unprofessionalism in such a context as this in which professional people (?) can say whatever they want, in a totally biased manner (at times blatantly vindictive) while retaining complete anonymity! I’d be hard pressed to substantiate such acts as descriptive of professionalism? Of course, I am also partaking in this gossipy context but simply to highlight and counter the often extremely biased dynamic that is clearly evident at times.

    • How are things in Exeter, RayBot?

  10. Nothing to do with me…

    • Yep, I never thought it was you. I think it’s RayBot.

      • This represents a good example of how this context can go astray: originally Missy and now Skeptical Reader (agreed) and Zarathustra have concluded my true identity. Fantasy all to easily replaces fact and, as I have highlighted, this context has become unconsciously collusive, dramatically biased and occasionally persecutory of MrHolland. It’s simply gossip, infantile at times, no more no less.

      • So, who are you then?

      • Thanks for this Zarathustra. To add to this perplexing context as to who’s who I make use of the philosopher John Searles’ Chinese Room. This small coming together, in often skewed infantile purpose, might not be a coming together at all but simply the ‘input-output’, imaginings of a single individual. It could of course be more than one, a pair or triad conferring and intermittently adding to the plot. To conclude, there is simply no way of knowing who anyone really is or if the adopted pseudonyms and are in fact individuals at all, plausibly authored by one or many of the visible cast: Skeptical Reader, Missy, jobaker1967, Ditto, rccgrah, affected, Zarathustra, Thatch, ferniglad, southsidesocialist, The Infamous Culex, Truth Seeking, Karen. Or the author/s may be none of these, simply invisible typing away from within his/her Chinese Room. The possibilities are endless.

      • Thanks Mr Dore. A valid request. But, a) can you categorically rule out that you are not the sole [or multiple] author, typing from within a Chinese Room? And, b) of course linked to this, how can you verify that the assembled cast and unfolding plot is coming from a group of actual individuals? A mark of professionalism on your part and an equally valid request?

      • And c) I am Zarathustra

      • Hey I simply speculated. I haven’t concluded. Nor has Skeptical Reader from my understanding of the one, brief sentence. Zarathustra seems certain though.

      • I wouldn’t say certain. More, very likely.

      • As stated on the About page of this blog, my name’s Phil Dore. Zarathustra is just my WordPress username.

        So, what’s yours?

      • a) I can categorically state that all opinions by me on this comments thread are under my Zarathustra username.

        b) I can’t claim to police everything that people across the Internet do with WordPress usernames, but to the best of my knowledge the assembled commenters are multiple people, not a single sockpuppetting. Some of them I do have prior knowledge of. For example, Karen is somebody I count as a personal friend on and offline. Jo D Baker has commented on this blog many times in the past, and he’s never struck me as somebody afraid to own his opinions. Quite the opposite in fact.

        c) I said Zarathustra, not Spartacus.

      • I am an individual commenter and am frustrated by this red herring of accusing Phil Dore of sockpuppeting.

        Ray Holland sounds well dodgy according to the UKCP findings and his responses. The comments from other ex clients who have grievances sound plausible and consistent.

        I believe that engaging further I this is futile. Other people’s insinuations and gossip are not what will hold. The facts speak for themselves. The facts being the findings by an organisation that rarely strikes off its practitioners.

  11. Jokes aside Mr Dore, a friend (Karen) and a previous participant does not take us very far at all. In fact, the former in all likelihood adds to collusion, bias. You say you ‘police everything’ but ‘to the best of my knowledge’ is your most reliable assertion. Beyond this you know absolutely nothing of the true identity of participants. ‘Police’ is therefore a poor adjective to use. Missy, oddly takes, as factual, the so-called utterances of 2 aggrieved trainees, one of whom apparently failed to pay his/her therapy fees! And this silliness is supposedly continuous with the original complaint! In an earlier comment you do similar as Missy: take what ‘affected’ states as factual, against MrHolland, with, ‘sorry to hear you had this experience’. Why do you take these utterances as factual Mr Dore, and not for example my assertions, with something like: ‘that’s interesting’ i.e. that also possible? Surely, in this instance, a more neutral stance would be appropriate (appropriate for any commentator in fact) because you have no real foundation to tilt one way or the other, without of course being driven by a negative biased agenda, simply adding/seeking continuous condemnation. The anonymity of participants is a legitimate criticism. It follows, that to make truly adult this often bizarre narrative we need a detailed cast list in order of appearance. Or we remain ‘categorically’ locked inside Searles’ Chinese Room. With this, and here I totally agree with Missy, further engagement is futile. rccgrah PhD

    • …further engagement is futile…

      Indeed we finally do agree on something.

    • Please feel free to read my blog (linked to in both this comment and in my previous one) and see if you still think I’m a sockpuppet of Phil’s. Granted, I haven’t written on the thing since October 2013, but that because I’ve had a baby (and subsequently toddler) taking up a lot of my time. Also, if you wish to contact me privately (details on the aforesaid blog), I’d be happy to inform you my friend, the Professor of Law, is (subject, of course, to his approval). For my part, I have an MSSc in Law and Criminology, and worked as a paralegal and legal researcher for years.

      Anyway, I’ll leave you to your conspiratorial (and oddly defensive) theories for now 🙂

  12. rccgrah
    “I have known of Mr Holland’s difficulties for some time and I would like to say that I knew him as a person with much integrity ” You knew him as……. past tense. What do you think led to him losing this integrity you speak of?
    It is such a shame that the UKCP panel did not know of the complainants previous issues with other psychotherapists.
    Just think, if this Mr Ray Holland or newly incarnated Mr Ray Bott Holland, had shown some of the integrity you allude to and actually shown up the UKCP hearing and defended the charges, we may not be having these chat, as either concerned individuals or Mr Dore’s sockpuppets.
    Instead he resigns the morning of the UKCP hearing, on the false assumption the UKCP would not sanction him, Mr Holland could have faced the music and defended himself, he chose not to.
    Rcgrah, you are close to him, please get us an answer as to why he didn’t face the music?
    The UKCP are a much maligned organisation (rightly so in many cases) who draw criticism for not acting swiftly and strongly enough, but out of all the innocents on their books, they decide to scapegoat Mr Ray Holland……..

  13. rccgrah, I stand corrected. Mr Ray Holland/ Mr Ray Bott-Holland DID attend the hearing, he just chose to resign from the UKCP on the day of their findings? Curiouser and Curiouser said Alice……
    Please clarify what happened on his behalf.
    Here’s a link to the UKCP’s decision, so others can interpret what happened. http://www.psychotherapy.org.uk/UKCP_Documents/Decisions/Raymond%20Spencer%20Holland%20decision.pdf
    You neglected to answer the question regarding the past or present tense in respect of Mr Holland’s integrity nor did you answer why he chose to resign from a body he’d used to bring creditability to his business?

    • Simon Davies, your curiosity is understandable as is why you might be led down Alice’s rabbit hole with speculative interpretations, clearly seeking poor motivation and presumably, from this, assuming guilt. Again a negative agenda (like Mr Dore) is revealed based upon poor foundations, i.e. negative fantasy. I have expressed my opinion about MrHolland. Lastly, you pose an valid question. I can’t answer for MrHolland, but, broadly, does belonging to an organisation such as the UKCP bring credibility to ones professional work as a psychotherapist? I’m not a member so I don’t know the benefits. But I don’t have time for further engagement in this blog as it’s clearly driven by much bias, speculation and frankly silliness.

      • What a load of twaddle.
        The decision UKCP is the basis of the foundation and that foundation has been greatly strengthened by both your and Mr Holland’s retorts. Indeed, the wording and gross choice to misinterpret are both so similar as to wonder on the subject of phantom surfers suggested earlier.
        Of course, your limited understanding as to why a person joins a professional body, (with credibility being the major influencing factor) may be indicative of your complete lack of appreciation as to the nature of Mr Dore’s blog and Mr Ray Holland / Ray Bott Holland’s true character. After all one does not need much life experience or mental capacity to be able to work out the reasoning for joining such a body unless in the same vein as the UKCP’s censure, you like Mr Holland exhibit a complete lack of empathy.

  14. PS rccgrah You still haven’t answered the question regarding the past or present tense in respect of Mr Holland’s integrity nor did you answer why he chose to resign from UKCP, while at the hearing ?

  15. Why on earth are the police not involved and stopping this Ray Holland from working as a psychotherapist?? This is so wrong. Surely it’s illegal for a psychotherapist who has been struck off for gross misconduct to then change his name (in this case to Bott-Holland) in order to pretend he is someone else….this can’t be legal surely? Has anyone spoken to the police about this?

    • Believe it or not, it actually is legal. Psychotherapist is not a protected title in the same way as “nurse” or “occupational therapist” is. One thing this case shows is how badly under-regulated the therapy industry is.

      • I understand what you’re saying and that anyone can call themselves a psychotherapist… the point I’m making is that he is trying to pretend he is someone else to avoid being linked with his gross misconduct – is this legal?

      • I don’t know. I’m not a lawyer. I certainly agree that it shouldn’t be.

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