Letter from Prof Rebecca Stott to members of Humanist Society Scotland

Exclusive Brethren sues Scottish academic over publication of sermons

Dear Scottish Humanists,

I am hoping you might be able to help support a dear friend of mine, Ian McKay, a 74-year-old academic from Glasgow who is defending himself against a relentless campaign of ‘vexatious litigation’ from a group of fundamentalist Christians called the Exclusive Brethren (they now call themselves the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church).

Ian was a friend of my late father’s. He helped me find the courage to write my memoir about growing up inside the Brethren. Very few ex-Brethren are able to talk about their experiences because of the psychological control the Brethren instil in their children. (In the Days of Rain: A Daughter, A Father, A Cult won the Costa prize for biography in 2017 – I’ll be giving a reading from the book and a Q&A in Edinburgh at the Humanist Society Conference on May 17th – please join me by booking your place here).

The Brethren are so litigious that my publishers insisted on employing three libel teams. Brethren lawyers have left me alone as a consequence but they are currently suing or threatening to sue everyone who has ever said anything critical about them in the press or on ex-Brethren fora on the internet.

Vexatious litigation, as you will know, is a strategy used to silence people. If you can keep the case open for as long as possible (like the Jarndyce and Jarndyce case in Dickens’ Bleak House) then your enemy will have to agree to your terms or go bankrupt or have a breakdown.

Ian is now 14 months into the horrible experience and there is no sign that the Brethren intend to let up. What are they accusing him of? Publishing short extracts from their preachings. They have charitable status and receive millions of pounds of public subsidy via tax breaks every year but they are taking Ian to court for quoting from their preachings.

The Times and the Sydney Herald have covered Ian’s case in the last week. His friends are exploring every way they can to support him. We have raised £17,000 so far but Ian is likely to need £100,000 to stay afloat. If you can donate we’d be grateful. If you have ideas about other large potential funding bodies who might help, do write to me at rebecca@rebeccastott.co.uk

Here’s the link to the donation page:


Best wishes and thank you for reading this,

Rebecca Stott (Professor)


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