You may have noticed some minor damage control going on this past week as the Conservatives took some limited measures to bring Nadine Dorries to heel while ignoring the wider problem of the smear campaign she has involved herself in.
The main problem with Nadine Dorries as far as Tories are concerned is that she is woefully indiscreet; a mean-spirited clot who is far too certain of her ability in the Machiavellian arts.
Last week, her primary indiscretion was her announcement that she had a one-to-one meeting with the PM, and the stunted Machiavellian component was her repeated assurance that it must have gone very well indeed, because it is widely-understood (she says) that the absence of coffee is bad news, and (she claims) coffee was present:
Days after this one-to-one and really-quite-good-because-it-had-coffee meeting with David Cameron, Dorries had closed her Twitter account without a word of explanation, and her best friend Lynn Elson had resigned from the very same highly-paid and vaguely-defined position that was recently examined on this blog:
However, it is as obvious as a wet turd on a windshield that the Tories are perfectly comfortable with the wider smear campaign and have no wish to bring that to an end, because Dorries was left free to excuse/explain the resignation (and to a lesser extent the closure of the Twitter account) by again resorting to the same damn ‘stalker’ smear that the Conservatives continue to pretend is none of their business.
It is on this note that we turn our attention to Bedfordshire on Sunday, a local newspaper distributed within Nadine’s constituency, and their take on these matters:
Chris Gill, editor of Bedfordshire on Sunday, has for near to a month avoided printing any mention of the matter of Nadine Dorries’ expenses that has not only been investigated by police, but subsequently referred to the CPS. The referral was rumoured/reported by one national newspaper then confirmed by another, and even the fact that this was leaked at all is a potential story, but Gill dismisses the matter as ‘unsubstantiated’ and thereby avoids any mention of it (or any reason to look too closely at it, lest he accidentally confirm it to himself).
Meanwhile, he and his staff brag that they present the facts to their readers and allow them to decide…
… but that is not what is going on here at all. In reality, relevant, pertinent facts being kept from the readers of this newspaper, while other facts are being presented selectively and distorted willingly.
Meanwhile, they help to smear me as a stalker to draw attention away from what I have uncovered, instead of doing their damn job… which is to properly examine this same material and raise the obvious questions raised by an extraordinary level of expenditure on a poorly-defined role filled by a close, personal friend of an MP. What they assert to be intrusion is the bare minimum that their readers should expect from them!
Lynn Elson called Bedfordshire police to complain about my conduct (which amounts to analysis of facts and figures in the public domain… how very dare I), was rightly advised that she should instead take the matter up with her local police force, and subsequently called Gloucestershire police, to no discernable effect. Gill could barely confirm the initial call to Bedfordshire, and yet rested his newspaper’s assertion of “intrusion” on the mere fact that maybe a phone call had been made.
My calling police to accuse Chris Gill of rape does not make him a rapist. Chris Gill understands this, and any person in his position should understand the significance of Elson being referred by one force to another in these circumstances, but Gill somehow thought it appropriate to pretend that this was some form of ‘dual’ report (i.e. a matter so serious that it involves two police forces). The article he subsequently granted a quarter page to (above) also implied that the web-published material prompting Lynn Elson’s complaint/resignation was somehow personal in nature, and fabricated to boot.
Even though I am hilariously castigated in Gill’s paper for not attempting contact with a person who appears to be accusing me of stalking her (!), Chris Gill did not contact me prior to publication of this article. Even after publication, when challenged to identify the “fabricated” material or support his assertion of “intrusion”, Chris Gill has repeatedly refused to respond.
I suspect he will go on pretend that I should have informed him before publishing all of these points that I have already put to him, but even if he did have a valid complaint of this type (he doesn’t) his defence is no better than ‘tit for tat’, and in any case he is bound by PCC guidelines and I am not.
Currently, Chris Gill moans that I am being unfair to him personally, and uses further unsubstantiated accusations of ‘mud slinging’ to support his position (of making claims he cannot substantiate) before declining any further response:
from: Chris Gill
to: Tim Ireland
date: Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 9:41 AM
Can I email you privately , not for publication
from: Tim Ireland
to: Chris Gill
date: Tue, Feb 15, 2001 at 10:03AM
You should know my answer to that. I don’t negotiate privately with the unprincipled any more.
By your recent actions, you mean to shield Dorries from scrutiny and smear me as a stalker. I’ll not stand for it, and I intend to not only challenge you on it, but to bring your poor conduct to the attention of the readers whose trust you betray so readily.
from: Chris Gill
to: Tim Ireland
date: Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 11:13 AM
I wasn’t planning to negotiate, just wanted some info.
I notice you are good at mud slinging but first to cry when there is something you do not like.
Some of your assumptions are very, very wide of the mark and offensive.
I am not guilty of any ‘poor conduct’ in any walk of life and your assessment that I betray readers is a stain on my character. You do not know me, have not met me and you cast slurs which are unsubstantiated.
I should also point out one thing I ain’t mate, is soft in the head. Believe me
from: Tim Ireland
to: Chris Gill
date: Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 11:28 AM
Oh, spare me.
Identify this ‘mud’ you speak of, and tell me how it justifies your publishing material that you know to be a gross distortion (at best).
While you’re at it, show me the fabricated evidence your article refers to and the deeply personal component you imply I published, and produce evidence of the intrusion your headline declares to be a certainty.
Chris Gill was unable to offer anything in his defence other than what one hopes is a pretence that he is offended. (He doesn’t have to answer any questions I raise about his apparent corruption because I have dared to raise questions about his apparent corruption! Brilliant!)
Speaking of pretence; having an open thread at all under an article of this type is unacceptable to begin with, but Gill took it a step further and pretended to be offline and unavailable when comments carrying damaging and entirely false allegations about me were published on his site using the free-for-all comments facility. Meanwhile, he and/or his staff busied themselves deleting comments that contradicted their position or dared to mention the matter of the CPS referral.
For those who are left wondering how Dorries has got away with being a corrupt liar for so long, this is part of the answer.
As Dorries’ attempts to involve the police in her lies have become more pathetic and transparent, the editor of this local newspaper has shared and indulged her indiscretions to a degree that is now undeniable, and easily demonstrable:
Chris Gill will not report the matter about the local MP and an expenses investigation being referred to the Crown Prosecution Service, but he will target a lesser-known figure, a critic of that MP, using nothing but a half-confirmed claim that someone made some phone calls to police that may or may not have got past the switchboard.
Prior to this, Gill was so indiscreet about his treatment of Dorries’ belated ‘stalker’ complaint to police that he allowed Dorries to a ‘no comment’ on a story when it should have been clear to him or anyone else in his position that she was the only possible* source.
(*If we are to assume Gill is not implying that the police are the source of this leak. I’m sure he is not.)
It is now so obvious it is embarrassing; Chris Gill is the kind of person who will pretend that he serves the interests of the local people, when in fact he will willingly enter into collusion with the local MP and her supporters (including those on his staff) instead of holding her to account as he should.
That is a disgrace, and it is something that every reader of Bedfordshire on Sunday should care about.
And, should the point escape some of the more dogmatic supporters of Dorries; I say this because of adherence to a principle, not fixation on a person.
We each should have a right to hold those in power to account, and we should have the right to challenge such people when we suspect them of dishonesty.
This applies to politicians, and it applies to publishers, and it is especially important that this principle is adhered to when the latter only pretends to hold the former to account.
If Chris Gill is going to abuse power in this way, I make no apologies for my attempts to bring it to the attention of the people who grant him that power.
If he has any objection to that, it should begin with a clear explanation about his recent editorial choices.
(Psst! Gill’s staff have begun a bit of a PR push in Twitter, while pretending they do so in a purely personal capacity. In their rush to build a following, one of them has repeatedly linked to the account of a person who has previously published my homes address online in what they part-defend as a revenge attack on behalf of Nadine Dorries. This does not look good when Beds on Sunday staff are being painfully indiscreet in their cheery exchanges with other supporters of Dorries while accusing me of intrusion.)
Back soon with the next round of evidence about widespread collusion in Tory smear campaigns, folks. Have a nice weekend!
UPDATE (19 Feb) – There are moans from within the Dorries camp that Lynn Elson resigned on the 7th of February, i.e. before the coffee-means-good meeting. Assuming this claim to be true/well-informed, there is no published record of this anywhere (Bedfordshire on Sunday do not mention it), and the news came near to a full week after that date, so there was no way I could have known/expected this without communicating with Dorries or her staff, and it is clear from Dorries’ past conduct that attempting this was futile and likely to lead to a damaging and dangerous outburst. And it changes little, as pressure/expectations from the party are likely to have compelled Dorries to take action prior to her appointment with Cameron, and Elson herself contends that she resigned as a result of web articles about her, which is the core of what I dare to suggest here. Elson may claim she resigned due to “intrusion”, but the only visible articles about Lynn Elson immediately preceding her resignation concern themselves specifically with her professional conduct, not her personal life as she implies. If she seriously claims any of that material is fabricated, she has yet to specify it and her moaners have yet to bitch about it. And if we must play this game of Chinese whispers, perhaps one* of them can get back to me with the answer to a simple question: does Lynn Elson claim to have resigned before or after the ‘Go Compare’ article was published?
(*But send a different thug or maybe a cuddly carrier pigeon this time please, Dorries peeps. The person you keep using is everything Dorries accuses me of being, and he’s been warned very clearly and politely that I do not want to hear from him any further.)