Snooker Scene is facing an attempt at closure, its editor says

Snooker Scene, the monthly magazine that has chronicled the snooker world for 35 years, is facing an attempt to put it out of business, according to its editor Clive Everton.

Everton, who is also a BBC commentator and snooker correspondent for The Guardian, has fallen out with the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association after publishing critical articles about the body. He says that a row over legal costs could close his magazine.

Everton, who is a member of the WPBSA, was subject to disciplinary action from the body, that he said stemmed directly from the contentious articles.

The case was referred to an independent body called the Sports Dispute Resolution Panel, where the association's argument that "tournament rules" applied in the case was accepted. Under tournament rules, players are prevented from criticising the association or its members. But the panel also ruled that the WPBSA had not been specific enough in detailing what Everton was accused of.

The WPBSA disclosed the letters of complaint and identities of the complainants — who were past or present board members Peter Ebdon, Tony Murphy and Mike Dunn — 13 months later. Everton said there were no allegations of inaccuracy or, in the legal sense, of unfair comment.

Everton said: "Their solicitors, TLT, stated that ‘the truth or falsity' of what I had written, ‘is not in issue in these proceedings'. The alleged offence was simply that of publication. I am 30 years past my best as a player and I retained my membership for sentimental reasons to play in the one billiards event a year WPBSA organises. There are no allegations against me as a player. It's solely about my journalism, which accounts for 99 per cent of my income."

Everton resigned his membership rather than face legal expenses, but he said the WPBSA is now set to sue him for its own legal costs, which run to £47,631. Everton previously accepted £115,000 in costs and damages when he sued the WPBSA for libel in 1998.

Everton said: "I believe that a common sense human rights defence of truth and/or fair comment would have succeeded at a full SDRP hearing, but this would have meant that I would have had to devote an enormous amount of time to preparing my defence and incurring legal expenses of my own as I did so. I therefore opted to resign my membership of WPBSA.

"The WPBSA now proposes to sue me for its own costs, including £20,000 for the hire of a barrister for the one-day preliminary hearing, and have warned me that they will apply for further costs of £20,447 if I resist. This is simply an attempt to silence criticism by putting Snooker Scene out of business."

The WPBSA said it was not in a position to comment as the proceedings were still live.


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