One of the main issues I have always had with Iain Dale is his ‘style’ of comment moderation.
In his post on ‘rules’, he says that he will not allow comments that could be “construed as libellous” and reserves the right to remove comments that are “insulting to me or other people posting in the thread”.
However, the sad truth is that Iain Dale has allowed this kind of content many times when it has suited him.
What follows are some choice extracts from a comment thread in which Iain Dale resorted to his all-too-common tactic of actively exploiting or engaging in exactly the kind of behaviour he says he won’t allow on his site… and on this occasion, I copped the sharp end of it when I dared to complain about this very thing.
Please note that Iain Dale may suddenly delete any or all of these examples (and pretend that he is trying to do me a favour when doing so, when he knows I seek a retraction over deletion). If this happens, I will add a screen capture and/or link to the archived version of this same page. To be clear; I would really prefer at this stage that Iain Dale try to defend his position and what he allowed in this thread, or issue a full and sincere retraction. I would regard the sudden deletion of the offending comments in this thread, without discussion or retraction, to be no more than a further attempt to retro-moderate his site (see: Jeremy Hunt) and pretend that none of this ever happened and/or did not happen in the way I describe(d) it.
For those wondering what relevance a thread from 2008 has here in the far-flung future world of 2010, it is this; Dale denies that he played any significant role in popularising and publishing the accusation that I am a stalker generally, and denies that what he has said in the past is in any way relevant to my being accused by others of stalking Nadine Dorries and Anne Milton specifically. This thread proves otherwise.
“Why should he answer any questions from someone who has clear mental problems.”
Comment by ‘Curbishlyauto’, directed at me, published by Iain Dale
“Tim, you have a blog which nobody reads, and your only significance in the blogging world is when you stalk successful blogs and try to blow up something with them.” Anonymous comment published by Iain Dale
“Iain, why is it that you insist on publishing anonymous comments that rubbish what I’ve done for the [political] blogosphere and/or call me a stalker or troll with mental problems?” – Comment by me (shortly before I was banned from making further comments by Iain Dale)
“Erm…. and Stalker Tim, as Iain has one of the most widely-read and influential blogs in the country (as does Guido) that does in fact make them experts, and you an amateur.” – Anonymous comment published by Iain Dale
“Excuse me Tim, you useless little stalker, I don’t see you answering MY questions…” – Anonymous comment published by Iain Dale
“Overnight Tim Ireland has sent two emails making non specific threats. Either I obey his rules and dikats or I should face the consequences. As a result he is now banned from making further comments on this blog if he persists in his campaign of vilification I shall be placing the matter of m’learned friend. Ask Anne Milton or Nadine Dorries what it is liked to be stalked by this idiot. I was so stupid to reverse the previous ban. It won’t be happening again. This time it’s permanent.” – Comment by Iain Dale himself
Before we proceed, I am happy to repeat Iain Dale’s denials that he submitted these anonymous comments himself; I don’t see how this stands in his favour when he has knowingly exploited them in violation of his own comment moderation policy, but he seems to think that the distinction is important, so I’m happy to make it.
My position is that Iain Dale has knowingly and repeatedly allowed his website to be used as a platform for anonymous abuse and false accusations designed to damage his critics, and that he has done it so often that it’s neither here nor there if he typed these comments himself; he created an environment that encouraged sock-puppetry in his favour, and used this consistently to gain advantage in online debates that he hosted. I regard this to be an abuse of his readers trust, and an abuse of his wider responsibilities as a publisher.
Iain Dale currently regards the publication of the above accusations on his website to be ‘irrelevant’. He has since offered to delete them, but refuses to retract them. He is now upset because I may have to resort to civil action (as if this is a certainty, and aimed primarily at him for personal reasons).
I also question his use of the word ‘threat’ here, and not for the first time. Like ‘stalker’, it is a word he is all-too-willing to throw about like candy, and he has often given the false impression that a threat of attention, exposure or confrontation has been a threat of physcial violence, but he’ll throw a full-on wobbly if anyone dares call him a ‘liar’ when he is caught lying, and will classify an charge of ‘hypocrisy’ as ‘abuse’ while thinking nothing of calling someone a “sack of shit” and/or telling them to “piss off”.
(Psst! If you have the stomach/patience to read the entire thread, you may note that Iain Dale calls me a ‘liar’, too, basing this on the possibility that I might have been half-wrong about something. In his opinion. He also publishes comments that imply that I have defrauded my clients/employer.)
Currently, it is not going to cost Iain Dale anything but his pride to retract these claims that he defends as opinion, when he knows that they are being passed off as fact in an ongoing harassment campaign.
But, despite knowing of the dangers to me and my family (and even a lot of the background that I dare not publish), he won’t even discuss the evidence on which he bases his judgement… so it can’t even be said that he can defend it as opinion, because he has so far refused to do this.
So, basically, I’m to be branded a stalker on the basis of Iain Dale’s “because I say so”.
I can, theoretically, step past Dale and the barrier of bullshit he knowingly maintains despite the risks to me (and my children), but even that will take money.
If I am to attempt prosecution of Dominic Wightman, the man most instrumental in the 18 month campaign of harassment against me (and now my family), I will need expert representation, and that takes money. Please donate today.
(Or maybe have a quiet word with Iain Dale and point out that he looks a bit silly pretending that he’s gone out of his way to help when he won’t issue a simple retraction or defend this opinion of his. He’ll most likely pretend he’s already dealt with this. He hasn’t. He knows his site has been used as a source of ‘dirt’ against me by the same people repeating his published opinion as fact. If he will not and cannot defend his opinion, on what basis does he refuse a retraction? Oh, and a relevant statement to police; he seriously wants me to provide him with their phone number and/or have police call him so he can wing it over the phone and ‘reassure’ them based on his current illogical and unsupported stance. I won’t be agreeing to this in a hurry. Retraction on site and written statement to police, or I will be forced to go around him, or over him. That’s the reality of it, and no ‘threat’.)
NEXT: The MPs who knowingly shun due scrutiny with false and hysterical cries of ‘stalker’… including one cabinet minister who has lied about doing so, and another who has given an entirely false account of what they claim to have by way of supporting evidence.