ITSMF takes legal action against former director

What is the process for dealing with alleged efforts to discredit an organisation?


The US branch of the IT Service Management Forum has filed a defamation lawsuit against a former executive director, alleging that he attempted to discredit and damage the organisation via comments posted on a blog under a fictitious name.

This lawsuit follows an allegation, made last year by "Julie Linden, Ph.D," that the election of ITSMF USA's board of directors had been tampered with. The tampering claim turned out to have some validity to it, but it was only part of a bizarre series of events that included blog comment postings hinting at some broader but opaque conspiracy among members of the board.

One anonymous e-mail received by Computerworld included a spreadsheet that had the names, address, and phone numbers of thousands of ITSMF-USA its members. Another contained voting records. In short, someone had copied the group's data.

Linden communicated with Computerworld by e-mail through a now-defunct public Hotmail account, and once by phone with a blocked caller ID, identifying herself as "a messenger".

Linden said last summer that the motives behind the ITSMF-USA's election irregularities would be revealed at the group's annual conference in September in Charlotte, NC, but that never happened. The only new revelation coming out since then is a lawsuit filed last month in California Superior Court in Orange County by the ITSMF USA alleging that "Julie Linden" and its former executive director, James Prunty, are one and the same.

The organisation, which is also accusing Prunty of breach of fiduciary duty, wants hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages from him. Prunty left his post at the Pasadena-based, 8,000-member ITMSF-USA last year.

Citing the pending litigation, Prunty, reached by telephone, declined comment on the lawsuit. He hasn't yet filed his response to the ITMSF-USA lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that Prunty, writing under the name of Julie Linden, made defamatory comments about the group. It cites several comments on the blog of a New Zealand-based writer, the IT Skeptic, that disparage the ITSMF.

Meanwhile, the voting records sent to Computerworld via e-mail under the name "Ima Geek" appeared to be an attempt to add gravity to Linden's claims. But the only thing those files established was that someone had access to the ITSMF-USA's records.

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