This entry was posted on
Wednesday, May 6th, 2009 at
11:59 pm and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.
Recently I was forced to talk with Jag Singh, Chief Information Officer at MessageSpace about the conduct of Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes’), one of the bloggers in that banner advertising network. During a conversation where we established that MessageSpace would not consider hosting ads on a BNP site or an unregulated forum such as 4chan, Jag finally realised that his company could not claim to be a professional advertising network if they knowingly generated revenue via authors who knowingly published hateful/malicious/actionable claims… especially when those authors had no evidence to back these claims.
[Note – Watch out for spin: I was not and am not asking for the removal of a political opinion I don’t agree with, but instead the removal of false and damaging accusations that cannot be backed with evidence. Normally, one would/could retain a lawyer to compel an author to put up or shut up, but there’s also a legitimate ‘free market’ approach one can take by appealing to advertisers or, in this case, an advertising network.]
Happily, Paul Staines saw sense in protecting his cash intake by maintaining a (barely) professional stance, and he removed those false claims from his website.
Unfortunately, that same day Iain Dale, another MessageSpace blogger, also made and published multiple false claims about me.
He was approached by Jag with the same appeal regarding a professional approach.
Iain Dale responded in a way that one might describe as unprofessional.
Jag retained him on the network, anyway.
(One might be tempted to think that he put up with this behaviour because Iain is an advertiser as well as a publisher on the MessageSpace network, because he pays for ads for his magazine Total Politics. However, Jag had revealed earlier that Iain is not only a stubborn bugger who will lay into me “every opportunity he gets”… but also a bit of a slowpoke/deadbeat when it comes to making payments. I suppose even if Iain makes those payments later than any other advertiser on the network as Jag claims, the payments still get made, so perhaps Jag is willing to put up with his nonsense on that basis. It would appear, however, that Iain can afford to do without MessageSpace if it comes to it; Jag also revealed at one stage that Iain had made “about 5k” from articles and media appearances to do with ‘smeargate’ alone. Nice work if you can get it… bloody glorious if you can get it by publishing lies about others while playing the victim of smears.)
Jag Singh then inexplicably began to copy Iain’s tired old technique of ignoring my emails and not returning my calls. At one stage he tried to laugh this tactic off by saying that it “works with some people”.
Not long after this, another MessageSpace blogger Harry Cole (aka ‘Tory Bear’) took it upon himself to describe me as a ‘shady’ character and group me with Derek Draper, providing only Iain Dale’s misleading posts and false claims as justification for his use of ‘shady’ and refusing to engage under comments or withdraw that what he could not support with evidence.
Now, Harry Cole is a bothersome gnat and not usually worth bothering with, but it’s clear that he saw Iain getting away with it and fancied his chances in the circumstances. I saw a pattern developing and wanted it to end, not matter how keen Jag might be to dodge or ignore the issue.
(The way he’s been playing it down, you’d think this was a disagreement about boiled or poached eggs for breakfast. I’d like to see him face repeated false accusations of corruption, paedophilia, and/or mental illness with no right of reply and watch how calmly he takes it.)
Several attempts were made to reach Jag Singh and stop the rot, but he was not answering his emails or his mobile or returning his messages… and he appeared to be ‘out to lunch’ for most if not all of Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
It was in these circumstances that several calls were made to Jag Singh’s direct line (answering machine) and mobile number (answering machine), and the following two calls were made to the main switchboard at MessageSpace. I have recordings of both, but for now at least you’ll have to make do with transcripts:
The morning call to the MessageSpace switchboard:
Yes, is Jag Singh there, please?
I’m afraid he’s out at the moment.
I’ll reach him on his mobile then.
(Note – This may have been the same person I spoke to on the second call, but that didn’t register until later, thus my assertion in this next call that it was my first call to this person when it was most likely my second.)
The afternoon call to the MessageSpace switchboard:
Yes, is Jag Singh there, please?
I’m afraid he isn’t.
Is he still out, then?
Is Paul Staines available?
He’s out, too?
Is anyone there?
Who are you?
Who’s that? Who are you?
[long pause and protracted sigh]
This really tries my patience. My name is Tim Ireland. Who’s available?
Sorry? I’m available. What do you want to say?
Knowing who you are would be a start.
Well, knowing who you’d be would be a start. You’re the one who rang.
I just told you my name.
No you didn’t
Yes, I did. I said; “My name is Tim Ireland.”
And this is…?
My name’s Nick.
Your name’s ‘Nick’.
Yeah. What are you wearing?
I beg your pardon?
What are you wearing?
I’ve just called the office of MessageSpace and you’re asking me what I’m wearing.
What’s your interest in what I’m wearing, Nick?
Well, I’ve seen a picture of you, and I find you quite an attractive man.
Well, thank you very much. I’m taken, though Nick – and I frankly find that the whole… trail you’ve gone off on quite… offensive. Is it possible that I could speak to somebody in authority?
I’m in authority.
You’re in authority?
Yeah, I am.
Is Kelly about?
No, Kelly’s on holiday.
So you’re the most senior person there…
… and you’re asking me what I’m wearing…
… because you find me to be a very attractive man.
OK, thank you very much. Nick, do you have a last name?
I do, actually, yeah.
Would you mind sharing it with me?
I got it off my father, but I’m not going to give it to you.
I beg your pardon?
Well, I’d like to give you something, you know? As I say, I find you a very attractive man.
And you’d like to share that with the world, I take it.
No, of course I wouldn’t. It’s a private conversation, just between you and I.
Is it now?
Yes it is.
Unfortunately mate, it can be shared with your employer.
Who’s my employer?
I didn’t… say they were my employer, did I?
So you’re just hanging around their office, answering their phones.
So Jag’s going to be quite surprised if I talk to him and say that some guy called Nick answered the phone and didn’t work for him and…
… and asked what kind of underwear you were wearing.
Yeah. You never know; he might be surprised, he might be pleasantly surprised. Who knows?
So who do I speak to there if I want to talk about advertising on MessageSpace and who your current advertisers are?
Um… probably nobody, Tim, because I don’t think you’ve actually got enough money to afford to be able to do it, so… why don’t you just like… maybe… I think… what’s the phrase I’m looking for? “Get a life!”
Uh, yes, OK Nick. You don’t even know what I’m calling about mate, so I fail to see why you’re being so… evasive.
Tim, would you please go away, and just get on with… doing what you do?
Well, this is the first time I’ve called you today. I really can’t see what your problem is.
It’s you. OK, well thank you very much. I’ve got things to do, so…
So do I, mate; I’ve got a few things to chase up today. I’d like to know where Jag is for a start, and if you could possibly take a message for me…
This is the second time I’ve had difficulty with the MessageSpace network that has resulted in people in their office attacking me in an unprofessional manner; the last time involved Paul Staines going out on a long, liquid lunch and throwing a dubious legal threat at me via not-very-good-lawyer Donal Blaney.
Jag Singh responded to this latest show of unprofessional behaviour by making another false accusation of harassment* against me, and by describing this response by one of his team members as ‘hilarious’.
I didn’t think it at all amusing, because I’m being falsely accused of shady dealings and criminal activities and mental illness by multiple participants in his two-bit banner advertising network, it’s not the first time that something like this has happened, the problem appears to be growing, and it’s happening at the same time as I am genuinely being harassed by an increasing number of people falsely accusing me of sex crimes against children.
1. The last thing I need is some tosspot responding to my concerns by trying to humiliate me with faux-homosexual come-ons.
2. As I’ve said in an earlier post, I don’t regard the timing of these attacks to be a coincidence; I am being kicked while I am down and Iain started the trend with this ‘clever’ stunt that he has yet to explain, but refuses to discuss.
All of this jackal-like action revolves around MessageSpace**, which can now be fairly described as an unprofessional two-bit network of rogue publishers. Those wishing to advertise with them deserve to know that.
Those wanting to work as a publisher with MessageSpace should also be aware that Jag once made assurances to me about the security of my personal data should I join the network (i.e. along the lines of “Paul Staines will never see any of your private details”) and that I no longer place any faith in those assurances, as it’s obvious to me that MessageSpace is being run like a club for boys:
“The firm doesn’t have a closed-network policy and anyone is allowed to do whatever they feel like doing (a bit Google-esque, but we’re a few billion $ off the mark…), as long as they contribute to the firm they’re allowed to do as they please.” – Jag Singh
Finally, its worth noting that anyone wishing to discuss any of this with MessageSpace might have to make do with emailing Jag on a nondescript Gmail address; Jag tried to draw me away from using his main/MessageSpace email addresses in our conversation about the conduct of bloggers in his network because – he claimed – of the risk that his email might be bugged.
I don’t care if that’s a lie or the truth from Jag; my personal data’s not going anywhere near that neighbourhood.
(*If you don’t want me to call you, don’t email me your bloody phone number. If you only want me to call you once, try answering the first call or responding to messages within 24 hours. If you’re seriously feeling harassed, call the police or shut the hell up. Falsely claiming or implying that an offence has been committed or an investigation is underway is a smear in itself. Implying that someone is a stalker, refusing them any right of reply and then yelling ‘stalker’ all over again when they won’t stand for it… well, that’s just taking the piss. Jag should know better than this, especially after Iain Dale revealed he was full of it by today again threatening to file a harassment complaint… that he had earlier claimed to Jag had already been filed as an attempt to justify his refusal to enter into dialogue.)
(**Jag also revealed this afternoon that Shane Greer – who has also published false and malicious claims about me – had called and revealed details of a phone call to Total Politics that was none of his damn business. Essentially the same thing happened with the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics, but this is more likely to do with them sharing office space, something that Jag is keen to deny, even though they share a fax number. This raises questions about how close these three ‘politically neutral’ entities are, and is part of the reason why I’m being so ruthless with revelations here after Jag so kindly gave me the go-ahead to reveal what I damn well please with the glorious words; “publish whatever you have to”. I even called Jag back after he had had some time to think about what he had offered, but he decided not to return that call, so tough.)