in the back

Grim shady
Green Eye, Issue 1623
solar-panels-2.jpg THE row over A Shade Greener (ASG), which claims to be the UK's largest domestic solar panel installer and has been accused of using legal threats to try to silence unhappy customers, shows no sign of abating.

It is suing one customer who posted unfavourable online comments for the enormous sum of £200,000, and was suing two others for £100,000 each before dropping the actions (Eyes 1620 and 1622).

Netting profits
A fourth customer threatened with litigation is Judy Clemson of Swadlincote, Derbyshire, who had panels installed in 2015 under the rent-a-roof scheme. She was told she would get cheap electricity while ASG pocketed the feed-in tariff. She was also assured the panels would cost her nothing to maintain, then was later told she would be charged £1,000 to fit bird-proof netting around them.

Last September she was sent a "letter before action", the prelude to being sued, by ASG solicitor Gary Anderson, who wrote that as admin of the Facebook group "A Shade Greener Complaints", which has 1,200 members, she was accountable for every post on the group's page.

These included posts about homes being damaged and people being unable to sell properties because buyers couldn't obtain mortgages on them.

"You are personally responsible for all damages and liability resulting from this material," he said, accusing Mrs Clemson of writing "numerous" defamatory posts, though he did not cite any or say what it was about them that was objectionable.

The letter said the company would be seeking "extremely significant" damages. It also told Mrs Clemson: "You are guilty of both civil and criminal activity." What being guilty of "civil activity" might mean was not explained.

Stress test
"The Facebook group is only a discussion forum for people to help each other," Mrs Clemson said. But the stress has taken its toll and she has now left the group. "I find myself only sleeping a few hours per night through the constant worry," she said.

The final straw came when she received a Facebook "friend request" on the weekend of her birthday from ASG chairman Stewart Davies, who then wrote that he would be sending her a letter.

"I already have a live letter before action, so I guessed it would be court papers or something like that. The whole weekend my every thought in my head was, 'When are they coming for me? Will I lose my home?'"

Desperate times
In the event Mr Davies sent another message saying he had "positive suggestions" about discussions with unhappy customers, but by now Mrs Clemson could take no more. "I have sat for hours and hours taking calls from people who like me fell foul of ASG problems. People who were suicidal, crying, angry and desperate for help. No one has helped."

Mr Davies described "A Shade Greener Complaints" to the Eye as a "hate group" run by a "handful" of disgruntled customers. "Their primary purpose is to cause my companies as much harm as possible in the hope of closing my companies down. I contend that there are few or no genuine grievances out there," he said.

More top stories in the latest issue:

The campaign to stop what would be Britain's largest solar farm reached Westminster last month, as locals descended on parliament.

As BP's profits – and the rewards for its bosses – rise, the firm's pensioners are having a tougher timing claiming any of its £5bn UK pension fund surplus.

New expert testimony and revelations of cover-up by the Post Office could result in a murder case being sent back to the appeal court.

The campaign continues to help hundreds of thousands of leaseholders who have fallen through holes in the Building Safety Act legislation.

Schools with confirmed cases of crumbly concrete will be allowed to put off Ofsted inspectors for the rest of the school year.

Schools are being caught in the crossfire as the battle rages between IT firms for lucrative contracts for school management information systems.

Telling 175 law students they had failed an exam when they had actually passed could be an expensive cock-up for one assessment company.

Saudi officials have confirmed that fitness blogger Manahel al-Otaibi has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for, er, "terror offences".

To read all these stories in full, please buy issue 1623 of Private Eye - you can subscribe here and have the magazine delivered to your home every fortnight.

Next issue on sale: 19th June 2024
Crossing swords
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P&O is making waves again
In The Back, Issue 1624
Crime wave
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Closing act
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Nadhim Zahawi's theatrical exit
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Private Eye Issue 1623
In This Issue
Comedy candidate fails to win… Shock as Boris Johnson breaks rule he set… Plan to make all retail goods cost more 'could stop shop thefts'… Delight as sale of Nursery Telegraph halted… Ryanair to fly to Rwanda – Michael O'Leary explains… Lines on the resignation of Humza Yousaf as First Minister of Scotland… God 'doesn't believe in Russell Brand'… Thames complains about Brand baptism… Richard Branson's culture fix, as told to Craig Brown.

Straight jabs
MD on Covid vaccine risks and compensation

Port whine
Freeports slammed by a Commons committee

Hastings battle
Southern Water's latest catastrophe

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19th June 2024
Private Eye Issue 1622