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A Reply From Crest Nicholson

January 29, 2018
by the gentle author

Ten days ago, I wrote to Crest Nicholson regarding their use without permission of my photograph of the Bethnal Green Mulberry in their leaflets and exhibition for their proposed London Chest Hospital Development. I was encouraged by their initial response, admitting ‘we made a mistake’ and apologising ‘I am sorry you have had to contact us in this respect.’ But then this disappointing letter arrived from the Company Secretary which attempts to gag my criticism of their development and their plan to dig up the ancient Mulberry tree. Click here to read my initial letter.

(Click on this letter to enlarge)


My reply emailed to Crest Nicholson today:

29th January 2018

Kevin Maguire
Company Secretary
Crest Nicholson Operations Ltd
Crest House
Pycroft Rd
KT16 9GN

Dear Kevin Maguire,


Thankyou for your letter of 25th January in response to my letter of 17th January, relating to your use without permission of my photograph of the Bethnal Green Mulberry, which you reproduced in your leaflets and exhibition for your proposed London Chest Hospital development.

I understand that you have ceased circulation of the leaflet, removed my photograph from your exhibition and are now offering to pay for this usage.

However, I am unable to agree with your proposed letter of agreement in its current form.

I see no need for confidentiality in this matter and intend to continue to publish our correspondence as I have done to date. The confidentiality provision should be removed.

The statement referring to no admission of liability is a nonsense – you have acknowledged that it is my photograph which you have used without my permission. There is a clear breach of my copyright for which there is liability.

Your language concerning what I may or may not publish in the future is totally irrelevant to the issue of your breach of my copyright and has no place in the letter.

“by accepting this payment you agree that you shall not publish or cause to be published any false, misleading, derogatory, or disparaging comments about Crest Nicholson.”

You well know that I am critical of your proposed London Chest Hospital development and your attempts to secure permission to dig up the ancient Bethnal Green Mulberry, so I am unwilling to sign a document which would grant you recourse to take action against me if I were to write anything that you might choose to interpret as “false, misleading, derogatory, or disparaging.”

You underestimate me if you think that I will permit you to gag me by making it a condition of payment.

May I remind you it was your indefensible behaviour in using my photograph without permission in your leaflet discrediting the history of the Bethnal Green Mulberry which was the catalyst for this dialogue?

I am under no obligation whatsoever to accept any conditions of payment from you, but you are under legal obligation to pay me for the use of my photograph which was in clear breach of the law of copyright.

Please pay me without further delay.


Yours sincerely


The Gentle Author


The Gentle Author’s photograph of the Bethnal Green Mulberry which Crest Nicholson want to dig up

The Gentle Author’s photograph as reproduced without permission by Crest Nicholson in their leaflet and exhibition for their proposed London Chest Hospital development

You may also like to read about

A Letter to Crest Nicholson

Here We Go Round The Bethnal Green Mulberry

A Plea For The Bethnal Green Mulberry

The Bethnal Green Mulberry

The Haggerston Mulberry

The Dalston Mulberry

The Whitechapel Mulberry

The Mile End Mulberry

The Stoke Newington Mulberry

The Spitalfields Mulberry

The Oldest Mulberry in Britain

Three Ancient Mulberry Trees

A Brief History of London Mulberries

115 Responses leave one →
  1. Robin Call permalink
    January 29, 2018


  2. Janet M permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Well said GA. I admire your refusal to be bullied by this company, and I hope that the local council takes their actions into consideration when allowing their proposal.

  3. January 29, 2018

    Your letter in reply is a model of clarity and rectitude, Gentle Author. Well done.

  4. January 29, 2018

    What audacity to demand that you remain silent and keep it all under covers! Fight the good fight! Valerie

  5. Barbara permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Well done….. behind you all the way.

  6. Jakki Moxham permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Well done. Don’t let them bully you.

  7. January 29, 2018

    Well done. If you need any help with perusing an action against these copyright thieves try looking at the EPUK ( Editorial Photographers UK) website, if you have not already done so. There is a lot of information and how best to get the right results.

  8. Caroline permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Good, it’s good to see examples of people standing up for themselves.
    Very inspiring.

  9. Sophie permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Dent pour Dent.

  10. January 29, 2018

    Thank you for sharing this a Gentle Author.

    I had not seen you photograph of this noble tree previously, but have now thanks to Crest Nicholson’s actions!

    Of course you must fight on, we must all fight on, and stand up against any person or company who thinks they can act in such an arrogant fashion. I have lived in this area most of my life, as I am sure have many of your readers and we know that these people will try to do their dirty work, make a wad of cash and then disappear leaving the area in slightly diminished way. This ultimately affects all of us who care about the area that we live in and our local heritage.

    They do not respect and care about this area so why should we care about them!

  11. Ruth Offer permalink
    January 29, 2018

    You are a Wordsmith.
    More power to you.
    Tenterfield NSW

  12. Coralie mattys permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Their response is ridiculous. What makes them think they can impose conditions? They’ve breached your copyright and they must pay. I’m not sure that they even have a right to set the level of the compensation. Seems to me they’re behaving like bullies. Keep fighting them.

  13. January 29, 2018

    Bang, bang! Both barrels. Good on you.

  14. david donoghue permalink
    January 29, 2018


  15. John Gilham permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Good on you. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

  16. Hilary permalink
    January 29, 2018

    More power to your elbow!

  17. Venice permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Thanks for sharing. Crest Nicholson seem to be discrediting themselves very nicely!

  18. January 29, 2018

    Your reply was spot on. Well said. I’ll just link to this…

  19. Greta kelly permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Great admiration for your stance re Mulberry Tree! Is there anything your readers can do to show their solidarity? Signatures? Demonstration at the London office of Crest Nicholson? ( Making sure the press is present )

    Greta Kelly, Wapping

  20. Jenny permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Great letter – Bravo! Please keep us up to date!

  21. Allison Holmes permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Good on you, Gentle Author. He is being a bully and trying to intimidate you. A corporate thug.
    best wishes, Allison

  22. Enid permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Absolutely, keep going!

  23. Maura Blackburn permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Little did they know whom they were dealing with! Wish there were more advocates like you and you were down here in Sussex preventing erosion of our national treasure the South Downs conservation area. Well done.

  24. January 29, 2018

    Shame on Crest Nicholson….appalling response

  25. January 29, 2018

    Thnak you for publishing this correspondence. The language, both arrogant and bullying, in Crest’s letter is astonishing, your reply succinct and clear. Please keep sharing this exchange and do know that you have many supporters cheering you on.

  26. Vita permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Crest has exposed itself once more as an unaccountable bullying corporate but naive to say the least – a call to action to boycott buying any of the nasty Crest developments is the next step.
    But what I am still confused by is how the plan to fell the Mulberry can be carried out there’s a TPO in place…what outrage….

  27. Ann permalink
    January 29, 2018

    What a cheek trying to use the issue to gag you from writing about the removal of the tree. Good for you for drawing attention to their manipulative actions. As if you’d care more about the money than the preservation of the tree. It’s an insult. They should just pay up and take responsibility for their mistake.

  28. January 29, 2018

    Ugh, they’ve shown their true colours, haven’t they? Calm and collected response of course, Gentle Author, but that letter of theirs is rage-inducing. They do underestimate you, and the wider community. I hope Crest do not prevail.

  29. Russell Vincent permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Absolutely first class response to their impertinent letter. They have admitted liability which does not require conditions attached !

  30. Sigrid permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Agree with previous comments, Brilliant response! Their handling of the issue does show their true colours well, doesn’t it?

  31. Shawdian permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Crest Nicholson’s reaction is like something from the gestapo – brutal in their suppression of the opposition. They apologies to you with one hand then threaten you with the other. What is their real purpose of antagonising you. They know how you feel and yet they want to play this pathetic public game. This says so much about the type of company they are. I would like to know why they chose to use that particular photograph of the Muberry Tree when they could easily have taken a picture of their own. One Tree, now one Photograph. This is not just about the Gentle Author, this affects all of us who cares about ‘anything’ with regards to the big conglomerates who over the years are not only bulldozing the life out of the City, but trying to bulldoze the life and rights out of the people.

  32. David Ransom permalink
    January 29, 2018

    A wonderful response to a bully. Well done.

  33. Helen permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Good on you, GA! Your response is excellent. The cheek of them, though…!

  34. Hélène permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Spot on! How dare they!

  35. Hugh permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Tremendous work flushing out Crest Nicholson’s true nature. It is all of a piece with their crass approach to the development of such a historic site. Just like Carillion, Berkeley Homes and countless others they will say and do anything to serve their one motivation. Protect the executive remuneration at all costs.

  36. Helen Breen permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Greetings from Boston,

    Rock on, GA. Excellent reply!

  37. Richard permalink
    January 29, 2018

    The scourge of our times: perfunctory legal intimidation, deadpan and imperious. Shame on Crest Nicholson that, maladroit, they advocate bartering by browbeating!

  38. January 29, 2018

    Well done – shame on all these huge land-grabbing, tree destroying businesses. I have ongoing dealings with HS2 btw. Sigh.

  39. Peter Holford permalink
    January 29, 2018

    What arrogant and presumptive behaviour! Where is the sense of mea culpa and the quest for a negotiated settlement? Do they really think £500 and a host of legal constraints on you is going to resolve the matter?

    The original offence of using the photo could be construed as negligence but this response shows corporate Britain in its true light (OK there may be exceptions).

    Keep up the pressure – you have plenty of support.

  40. January 29, 2018

    The bullying attitude and forked tongue of corporations and their lawyers is a shocking aspect of modern life. They act like they are untouchable. Bravo for your principled stand.

    How go things with Norton Folgate at present?

  41. Richard Smith permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Good for you GA!

  42. Foxtaillily permalink
    January 29, 2018

    It’s not about the money. It’s the principle. Sadly they’re too ignorant too see that.

  43. Maggie Thwaites permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Good for you GA ! How dare they resort to Blackmail disgusting tactics.

  44. Jane Jones permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Excellent – David slinging the corporate Goliath. Love it!

  45. Adele permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Pay-off unfortunately seems to be the answer to everything these days. Continue to stick by your convictions. Good response to an insulting letter.

  46. bronwyn permalink
    January 29, 2018

    As a former IP lawyer – well done, an excellent response. Wouldn’t an apology have been nice to find in amongst that response from them!

  47. sarah steer permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Spot on – your reply I mean – keep on trucking.

  48. Wendy permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Your reply to their outrageous letter is absolutely magnificent – so eliquant and dagger sharp – imagine how many poor people fall for this type of bullying. Well done GA and I look forward to reading their apology.

  49. Yvonne M permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Well Done GA! You not only defend the tree, your rights as owner of the photograph, but free speech too. Behind you all the way.

  50. January 29, 2018

    very,very well done… took the photo; international law means your copyright

  51. January 29, 2018

    Excellent reply. Crest Nicholson are second only to McCarthy & Stone in the developers’ bullying stakes.

  52. Chris Speiser permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Go get ’em!

  53. Dermot O'Brien permalink
    January 29, 2018


  54. Eileen Bubeck permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Arrogance met with a perfect answer .Keep up the good fight.

  55. Sue Hare (Radley) permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Well done you have much support

  56. Jill permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Atta boy, GA!

  57. Poul Thorsen permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Good for you
    Who and what do they think they are. It is a straight case of copy right. They are in no position to set conditions. They need to find a better layer.

  58. Katya permalink
    January 29, 2018

    The mulberry matters!

  59. Juliet shipman permalink
    January 29, 2018

    What a terrible letter and stupid too. It reflects very badly on the crest company.

  60. CQM permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Good work, keep it up!

  61. January 29, 2018

    I do respect every human being, who’s spine cannot be bought!
    Well done, bravo!

  62. Dianne permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Good for you GA – don’t let them get away with their bully tactics! How dare they!

  63. Sally Baldwin permalink
    January 29, 2018

    What arrogance!!! Infuriating that they think for a moment that you will roll over and accept their outrageous conditions.

    Proud of your response. Go, Gentle!!!


  64. Gayle Thorsen permalink
    January 29, 2018

    CN has met its match! Excellent reply letter.

  65. Peter Harrison permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Excellent, GA. Sock it to them!

  66. Susan permalink
    January 29, 2018


  67. Anne permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Well done

  68. liza Hardy permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Good for you! Well done.

  69. Ann Meacher permalink
    January 29, 2018

    I really wish you luck with this rebuttal. As you rightly say they have no right to conflate the two issues. Please keep us abreast of the outcomes.
    Many thanks.
    Ann Meacher

  70. Teresa Clark permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Behind you 100 percent!

  71. January 29, 2018

    Good for you! Cheering you on! And am proud to be one of your adoring fans!

  72. Ian Silverton permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Your needed in Brussels with the weak negotiating team the UK sent there,well done GA,a tough Gentle Author, best of luck

  73. Robin permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Go! Go! Go!

  74. January 29, 2018

    It seems that Crest Nicholson have lawyers who don’t understand copyright law and PR consultants who don’t understand you and your mass daily readership. Their letter is threatening.

  75. Gary Arber permalink
    January 29, 2018

    This matter does reflect on the efficiency of CN. They have obviously written to you without discussion with their lawyers. A breach of copyright has clearly occurred , the amount of payment is for you to decide. I am of the opinion that a further amount for costs should now be claimed by you.
    Keep fighting Gary

  76. Catherine permalink
    January 29, 2018

    As we say here in the States, you go, girl!

  77. Sonia Murray permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Beautifully written letter, Gentle Author. It’s not the money, it’s the principle of the thing! Do these morons really think that they can buy your silence and shackle you to boot? The more publicity the likelier it is that they’ll go down in defeat and the Mulberry survive. Can you get London newspapers interested in battling this arrogant company?

  78. Delia permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Keep up the fantstic work, GA. You have all my support, as well as that of many thousands/?millions) of others.

  79. Jo Gourlay permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Well done. Why on earth should they want to ‘gag’ you? It doesn’t show the company in the best light.

  80. January 29, 2018

    Your position is supported against the dire position of the Crest Nicholson appalling position.
    It is also clear that they have no wish to adhere to the positions being clearly put forward regarding the mulberry tree.

    I am sure I am just one of the many people who support your position. A pity that Crest Nicholson does obviously not listen.

  81. January 29, 2018

    An arrogant, insulting letter, which I hope they are already regretting …

  82. Claire Leavey permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Absolutely splendid!

  83. Ros permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Well done indeed. You are absolutely right that they cannot buy you off with this bullying letter, especially as they know full well the principles and thinking behind your objection to the destruction of this historic tree. How foolish and wrong of them to try to silence you in this way, having already been so foolish as to try to use your photo for their own ends.

  84. Steve permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Well done. Brilliant response. Keep on fighting

  85. rose permalink
    January 29, 2018

    great response! well done GA!

  86. DavidC permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Further to my earlier comment about the board (especially NEDs), I see there are board changes afoot that may provide an opportunity for renewed focus. Also, they have an annual report and AGM over the next few weeks, which may provide opportunities to encourage them to improve their focus . You may also wish to peruse last year’s annual report to consider angles such as relationships with the community and corporate risks (eg reputational risk arising from their behaviour) that you may wish to pursue once the new annual report is issued. Also, they appear to be represented by Red Consultancy . Indeed, there’s even a case study at : ‘We provide consumer and corporate PR support to Crest Nicholson, one of the UK’s leading property developers. Our remit focusses on promoting the corporate image and reputation of Crest Nicholson across its five geographic regions. Communications centre round promoting the quality and diversity of individual development projects both to potential homeowners and community stakeholders, and demonstrate how Crest Nicholson creates and engages with communities.’. Hmm. I wonder whether Kevin Maguire discussed his proposed response with Red Consultancy before popping it in the pillar box.

  87. Brigitte permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Well, of all the bleedin’ cheek!
    Hopefully, a lesson learned for them that not everyone submits to threats nor accepts a pay off to keep quiet. They made a mistake, did something wrong and are turning it into an attack on you. They cannot put any conditions on their payment for use of your photo. Beggars belief!

  88. Victoria permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Get ’em!

  89. David permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Great response to a bullying corporate machine that obviously thinks it is above reproach. I think even the Chipko movement people would proud of you!

  90. Anne permalink
    January 29, 2018

    My husband has been reading Mervyn King’s The End of Alchemy, which mentions the mulberry trees in the courtyard of the Bank of England where they maintain a particularly symbolic presence that resonates poignantly in the context of case of the Bethnal Green mulberry:

    “Four mulberry trees grow in this courtyard. They are a reminder of the origins of paper money: the earliest form of paper currency in seventh-century China was printed on paper made of beaten mulberry bark. The planting is practical as well as symbolic: the roots of mulberry trees grow horizontally rather than vertically into the ground, allowing them to grow safely above the Bank’s gold vaults.”

    So appreciative of your commitment to ensuring this issue remains in the public domain, Gentle Author. Good work.

  91. Jane Gardner permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Great response. Confidentiality has no place here. Make sure they pay up for your beautiful photo!

  92. January 29, 2018

    They can shove their money up their communal arses. Should you need people to form a protective ring around this tree, count me in. I hate this corporate greed and their veiled threats. One tree is worth preserving. No passerans, GA.

  93. David Irwin permalink
    January 29, 2018

    What creepy corporate bull from CN.

  94. Chris Ashby permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Well well well – I see they have an office in London:

    London Address

    7th Floor
    New Fetter Place
    8-10 New Fetter Lane
    EC4A 1AZ

    T: 0203 640 7555

    For more information email:

    Customer Services

    T: 0808 168 6170
    F: 0203 640 7556

    Thanks and Best wishes.

  95. January 29, 2018

    Illegitimi non carborundum!

  96. Martin Tolley permalink
    January 29, 2018

    Brilliant response.

  97. Bee permalink
    January 29, 2018

    What on earth were they thinking? Fabulous response GA!

  98. John Linquist permalink
    January 30, 2018

    I am in total agreement with your stand.

  99. Simon permalink
    January 30, 2018

    Great response. This has made my day. Thanks GA

  100. Georgina Briody permalink
    January 30, 2018

    In the past I have had to deal with an arrogant, bullying company: corporate greed exists even more today, these big companies think they can ride roughshod over us all – I’m so glad you are standing up to them GA……I so admire your stance.

  101. January 30, 2018


  102. ABIGAIL MCKERN permalink
    January 30, 2018

    BRILLIANT letter, thank you! We in Farnham, Surrey have been fighting Crest Nicholson and Waverley council for 12 years who want to tear down our community asset, the REDGRAVE THEATRE, despite a petition signed by 5,000 residents. They SAY they are going to save two ancient trees on the site but tree experts say digging them up will definitely kill them.

  103. Ian Perry permalink
    January 30, 2018

    Brilliant response GA, keep up the good work – these giant bullies must not be allowed to trample all over our heritage!

  104. Sarah permalink
    January 30, 2018

    Could it be that Crest Nicholson’s letter appears to be trying to buy you off by offering you £500 for the use of your photograph as long as you cease to criticise them? I’m sure all your supporters are looking forward to seeing what they say next.

  105. January 30, 2018

    Good to see how much well-deserved support you have. We are behind you all the way.

  106. Mary permalink
    January 30, 2018

    I and the 105 responders above stand alongside you GA. Well done!

  107. pauline taylor permalink
    January 30, 2018

    I am with you all the way gentle author. The letter from Crest Nicholson only serves to confirm what we all know already about them, corporate bullies who will try any trick in the book in order to get their own way. Your excellent reply is spot on, they have admitted their guilt so no more needs to be said except that they have a legal obligation to pay up. I shall be extremely interested to see what they will try to threaten you with next, they epitomise the sickness in our society now and I fear that they are not used to people with integrity standing up to them. I applaud you, well done.

  108. Mike Marriott permalink
    January 30, 2018

    Thank you for sharing this. And for inspiring us all to stand up to the current culture that seems to prize money over anything else (like morality!). Bravo!

  109. Jay permalink
    January 30, 2018

    Dear GA,
    A magnificent response that has cheered me up no end at the end of a long and difficult day. It turns out there is some integrity and clear-mindedness in the world after all. And I’m not talking about Them! Mr Pussy would be proud of you; as are we appreciative readers. Thank you for the inspiration.

  110. John permalink
    January 30, 2018


    Do keep up the very good work!

  111. Linda Granfield permalink
    January 31, 2018

    Their use of your photograph, leading to this exchange of letters, will save the tree.

    It would be pretty daft of them to now touch/move/damage/destroy a tree that has brought so much negative publicity to them.

    Well played!

  112. Mary permalink
    February 1, 2018

    As the primary tree and woodland campaigning body in the UK I contacted the Woodland Trust regarding the threat to this tree. They were aware and have placed an objection with Tower Hamlets Council. Please contact me GA if you would like me to forward this.

  113. Jill permalink
    February 1, 2018

    Fight the good fight! The arrogance of these companies knows no bounds.

  114. Robert permalink
    February 3, 2018

    The correct response when caught redhanded infringing copyright for commercial purposes is a grovelling apology and immediate payment because it’s a criminal offence. If this isn’t resolved in their next two responses then, as I mentioned in a comment on your earlier post, take the matter to the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court. It is inexpensive (for you) and this seems to be an open and shut case.

    Also consider issuing a press release when this is resolved. The photographic magazines are interested in this sort of case and the attempt to gag you adds an extra perspective which could even make it a story for papers like The Guardian. It will all be extra publicity about the mulberry tree.

  115. January 24, 2021

    Good for you, not so “Gentle” Author !

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