Dominic Wightman*, Glen Jenvey and Michael Starkey used to be the core members of a team of amateur ‘terror experts’ operating under the name Vigil and working hand-in-hand with Conservative MP – and then Shadow Minister for Homeland Security – Patrick Mercer. (example)
(*aka Dominic Whiteman, aka Richard Walker, etc. etc. etc.)
The group had a falling out in 2007, resulting in Dominic Wightman being disgraced and discredited in the eyes of Patrick Mercer. At the centre of this falling out was a series of accusations and counter-accusations involving an email from Dominic Wightman’s account proposing the fabrication of evidence to suggest that Muslims were planning to plant a bomb in an elderly woman’s wheeled shopping-basket and explode it in a supermarket. (more)
Wightman claims to have then ‘moved on’, but it’s evident that he invested a great deal of time and effort in discrediting his former partners. The best example of these efforts was his recruiting an unknown associate to pose as a reporter and conduct an audio-recorded interview with Glen Jenvey at his home in Wiltshire in February 2008.
While Jenvey willingly took hold of the rope fed to him by Wightman’s fake reporter, there was nothing conclusively damning in the resulting audio (yet) and these and other efforts did little to disrupt the ongoing relationship between Glen Jenvey and Patrick Mercer (though by this stage, Starkey had retreated even further into the background and stayed there).
By late 2008, the relationship between Glen Jenvey and Patrick Mercer had settled into the routine of Jenvey presenting Mercer’s office with what he claimed to be evidence of extremism, planned terrorist atrocities and what have you, whereupon that MP’s staffers Heather Millican and/or Edward Barker would help peddle the stories to tabloid newspapers with promises of quotes from Patrick Mercer (often condemning the Labour government for their inaction over this and other alleged evidence).
Sadly, by this time, Jenvey’s use of false identities and sock-puppet accounts in Muslim forums was generating more ‘evidence’ of extremism than he uncovered. (examples)
It was only a matter of time before Jenvey crossed the line from entrapment to fabrication, the very same thing he had accused his former partner Dominic Wightman of plotting.
Wightman was about to get his chance to settle an old score, and the audio of Jenvey casually admitting to the use of the alias ‘Richard Tims’ was about to become the ‘killer blow’ he had waited so long for. It did little to undermine Starkey, but there were ways around that.
End of Part One. Go and have a sandwich or something if you’re in for the long haul. (Actually, perhaps you’d best not; the next bit gets a bit stomach-churning in places.)
In early 2009 I caught Glen Jenvey posting fake evidence of extremism to a website (using the name ‘abu islam’) and then selling that story to The Sun, a tabloid newspaper with a widely-recognised anti-Muslim agenda. (more)
Via a letter from The Sun to the Press Complaints Commission, Jenvey issued a firm denial of any involvement with the ‘Richard Tims’, the name used on the account that linked him to the fraudulent postings under the name ‘abu islam’. Public denials were rarer and far less firm, but eventually Jenvey issued a very similar denial via an interview with a Christian activist/writer by the name of Jeremy Reynalds. (Though he used a series of sock-puppet accounts to deliver range of absurd counter-accusations, Reynalds’ writing was the only channel through which Jenvey issued any public statements under his own name until well after this story had moved on to other matters.)
Relevant posts on Bloggerheads eventually drew the attention of Dominic Wightman, who at first suggested clandestine delivery of audio in his possession, and then instead initiated a meeting in a nearby pub, where that same audio was transferred from a USB stick in his possession to my laptop.
(Currently, Dominic Wightman portrays me as a vain and greedy man taking credit for his work, but at the time he insisted that he remain anonymous and that every effort be made to avoid revealing him as the source.)
While there is no question regarding the authenticity of this audio, it is now clear that Dominic sought to shape the information that was released on my website, with Starkey being a key target regardless of any involvement in Jenvey’s present use of false identities to plant false evidence of extremism on Ummah.com and other Muslim community websites.
Jenvey was refusing to answer questions directly and, at the same time, giving Starkey only very limited information about what was unfolding, despite his associate’s name emerging on my website.
Similarly, it was proving impossible to get any meaningful response from the office of Patrick Mercer, even after Jenvey responded by posing as a Daily Mail reporter and repeatedly posting false accusations about me being a convicted paedophile to dozens of websites.
Jenvey now claims that Dominic Wightman not only provided him with my (ex-directory) home address prior to this, but also briefed him by phone with claims that I was a mentally unstable paedophile who needed ‘sorting out’.
I will readily note that the key elements of this claim are impossible to prove and that Jenvey has lied in the past, but he has made these claims in light of a full confession to police, with no apparent attempt to minimise what he has done, and it is now clear that Dominic was at the time also privately over-stating to me what Jenvey might be capable of when pushed to the edge (though he was kind enough to point out that Jenvey would probably pull up short of burning my house down).
However, my real issue is with with what Dominic did next, and I can prove every scrap of what follows the following introduction and speculation (the latter mostly made necessary by Wightman’s vague and nonsensical claim to have ‘brought me down’ as a public service, accidentally-on-purpose).
The disagreement with Iain Dale that followed will be detailed in coming days, but to summarise, Dale responded to my repeated attempts to discuss his failure to call Mercer and his refusal to contribute to a police statement (despite his involvement) by publicly accusing me of harassment. This resulted in a seres of anonymous attacks against me, and Adam Macqueen (a writer for Private Eye and friend of Iain Dale) likening me to a “nutter on a bus”.
I suspect that by the stage I had written an open letter to Ian Hislop on May 11, asking him to address this “nutter on a bus” smear (which stands as the only public response from anyone at his magazine about their taking credit for my Jenvey scoop), Dominic Wightman was concerned that I had ‘lost focus’, and that I showed far too much caution in use of the information he was repeatedly feeding me about Starkey.
On May 19, Dominic Wightman emailed me with a claim that he had chanced upon a document hosted at scribd.com that purported to be a genuine interview with Glen Jenvey, conducted and published by Jeremy Reynalds. He even asked me if I had written it, before listing a series of likely suspects (culminating, inevitably, with Starkey).
Reynalds immediately denied any involvement, but even after it was clearly established as a fake, this ‘interview’ presented me and/or up to half a dozen people with a potential problem that could not be addressed with simple exposure.
I will explain this position in detail in a moment, but first I need to make clear that is has only recently been established beyond a shadow of a doubt that Dominic Wightman published it by submitting personally it to both scribd.com and articles-heaven.com
Wightman denies actually writing the fake interview, as if that makes any difference. He claims to have ‘found’ it elsewhere before uploading it in document form to scribd.com and as text to articles-heaven.com (though this claim is somewhat undermined by document properties that show 71 minutes of editing time, which is a long time to spend on a simple ‘copy and paste’ by anyone’s standards).
Regardless of authorship, Wightman clearly published both versions, and brought the first version to my attention.
I was as determined then as I am today to keep the full contents of that document out of the public domain, because even though the document contains very little in the way of truth, it still had and has the potential to cause great damage or embarrasment to a long list of people (including the man we can now safely describe as his primary target; Michael Starkey).
For this reason, I am only going to include passages that refer to little old me:
Obviously all of this is presented as if it’s from Glen Jenvey’s point of view, but you also need to keep in mind that Dominic Wightman still regards this content to be among the most harmless in the forged interview:
GJ: Basically they are friends with other extremists from the political left including a stupid blogger Tim Ireland and they together have tried to smear me. But they have failed miserably to smear me because the press in Britain has continually ignored them and their story about me while continuing to accept the validity of my stories.
JR: So Tim Ireland is someone who smears those who expose the wrongdoings of Islamic extremists?
GJ: Yes. Basically he is just a small-time carping Australian blogger and self-confessed alcoholic who lives in a council house in the South of England who likes to hassle people who go about their daily business so he can make a name for himself. He is someone who will get into bed with anyone for any small story even people who carried out 7/7. He has upset a lot of people and has lots of enemies after him including the cops and some members of the press.
JR: Is it true that you posted material on the Internet suggesting Tim Ireland was a paedophile?
GJ: No there is no proof of that. Tim Ireland has a history of being unstable and he probably posted that sort of material himself. He even calls himself Manic. Manic by name – manic by nature. The man is a loser. If he didn’t post the material himself it was [snip] who is well known to the police and has a history of criminal activity as well as a dysfunctional family.
Again, I will stress that Wightman himself regards this to be the lighter material.
I should also point out that Dominic Wightman is even today still trying to justify his use of the description “self confessed alcoholic” in this context, despite my being teetotal.
I had just recently declared my complete incompatibility with alcohol in support of a friend with a far worse problem than mine (who later lost his battle with drink and depression and subsequently took his own life); to have this used against me in this way was a real kick in the guts, but if Wightman was expecting the flurry of rage followed by an ‘outing’ of the document, he was to be sorely disappointed. Instead, what he got was more caution.
And that’s where the recent radio silence came from, folks.
The forged interview was carved using information already in the public domain. It could’ve been the work of just about anyone. But there were too many potential targets (each with their own list of enemies) and too many possible sources, with thanks in no small part to at least two people in the publishing industry who should know better than to exploit their position in the way they did (and there’ll be more about that later this week, assuming this post fails to bring either or both of them around).
What Glen Jenvey did with those paedo-smears was quite extraordinary, but so was the subsequent reaction of Iain Dale and Adam Macqueen. Even if I were able to bank on being a primary or even secondary target of this forged interview, it could have been the work of any one of the tens of thousands of people who read Iain Dale’s weblog, most of whom would have had at the time what they then considered to be good cause to teach me a lesson; there were certainly multiple instances of people lashing out at me following Dale’s grossly misleading claims of harassment, at least one of whom decided that, yes, I deserved to be smeared as a paedophile. And while I considered it highly unlikely that any professional journalist would have attempted something like this, the possibility of a fan of Private Eye crafting this in their ‘defence’ was also there and could not be ignored, especially in light of the timing; there are plenty of people who read and enjoy that magazine who fail to appreciate the importance of walking the walk on matters of integrity.
Again, I’ve only used myself as an example here (it’s all about me, dahling), but I hope you can appreciate from this example alone the potential problem this forged interview presented to half a dozen people, not least because there was some unknown person out there who was willing to smear anyone and everyone in the worst manner possible, just to get what they wanted.
I regarded that person to be dangerous. (I still do to a certain extent, knowing that they are not only capable of this, but more besides. It is clear that Wightman is involved to some degree in a recent anonymous threat to reveal my home address to “everyone (I’ve) ever pissed off”.
However, none of the conditions that made his stunt so effective can be easily replicated (otherwise I’d be a fool to flag the danger to me or anyone else).
In fact, here’s an example of something that would be impossible to replicate (even if you can’t appreciate the rarity of so many intersecting people acting like selfish, unthinking bastards at the same time):
The second version on articles-heaven.com was, it now appears, uploaded on May 13 (like the scribd.com version) but because of a backlog on that site, did not appear until the weekend after Glen Jenvey was interviewed and confessed all to the police. At the time it appeared as if someone was trying to kick things off all over again regardless of a need then – and now – not to savage Jenvey (or even mention him in any way beyond the truths that have since been established well beyond doubt).
At that time, and at every stage since ‘finding’ the document, Dominic Wightman was in regular contact with me, well aware of the anxiety I was feeling, and well aware of his contribution to it (though he still quite inexplicably claims to have been oblivious to being the primary cause of it, while simultaneously having no regrets because he could not have planned it better).
And yet he said and did nothing to alleviate that anxiety… and continued to say and do nothing until the information I provided led police right to his door.
He then insisted that we meet immediately (not likely), then tried to deny and minimise what he had done to varying degrees, then tried to convince me that I was guilty of the same or worse, and then tried to smear me again, this time in such a way that might make people think I was deserving of such treatment.
I’m not. No-one is.
If I thought otherwise, then I would have ‘outed’ the forged interview and brought it into the public domain (as he no doubt expected me to) long before I established the source of the piece and their likely agenda.
Dominic Wightman is now effectively neutralised. He has no credibility to speak of, and his response to being caught using false identities to smear and intimidate his political enemies has been a pathetic attempt to replicate the effort.
Sadly for him, he appears to have no understanding of the many forces that amplified his earlier efforts while hiding him from view, and does not recognise the damage he is doing to his own reputation while seeking to destroy mine.
(And now, if no-one minds, I am going to “borrow” a YouTube video I have “no permission to use” and use it as a final punctuation point on this post.)
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UPDATE (15 Sep) – Dominic Wightman waited until we were all tucked up in bed last night before shoving this through our letterbox (or having some helpful chap do it for him):
a) You may recognise the tactic used recently by Jag Singh and Paul Staines of MessageSpace; using a pointless legal-sounding letter to play the victim while conveying that all-important message; ‘I know where you live’
b) I can’t say that I recognise all of the initials on that CC list. Perhaps the picture will become clearer if the promised email ever arrives.
c) He must have long arms if he delivered this by hand all the way from Venezuela (where he claimed to be based in his recent attack piece; one of the dozens of outright lies and fabrications in that article).
d) This is the second time he’s implied that I might interfere with his family life somehow. Given that his [blood relative] lives less than a few miles from me, perhaps he’s worried that I’ll tell on him.