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Monday, March 5th, 2012 at
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The following is for the attention of John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, in reply to his initial response to the allegation that I will repeat in summary form here:
It was my understanding after direct conversations and correspondence with John Bercow’s wife, Sally Bercow, that a ‘peace deal’ had been brokered between that couple and Nadine Dorries to the effect that she would not act in an aggressive manner towards them if they did not act in an aggressive manner towards her. (If you are not familiar with Nadine Dorries, the laughingly absurd inequities of such an agreement may not be immediately clear to you. Read on.)
John Bercow has now denied that any kind of ‘peace deal’ had been brokered, and described my allegations as “defamatory remarks made against a named Member of Parliament” in an email that – now I look closely at it – does not make it entirely clear if this refers to himself, or Nadine Dorries, or both. Whatever the case may be, it was clearly important that he speak with his wife, and I said so in my reply. I then sent a Direct Message to Sally Bercow via Twitter to suggest that she speak with her husband.
That was on Friday. I’ve allowed them the grace of an entire weekend to formulate a response, and have heard nothing.
So this morning I invite Sally Bercow to explain the following exchange of private messages on Twitter (in response to an RT in my public stream). I further challenge John Bercow to answer any of the points raised in the open letter that forms the bulk of this post.
bloggerheads Tim Ireland
RT @Gaijinsan21: This new Bercow/Dorries love-in is doing nothing to abate my contempt for @Nadine_MP alas, it’s just damaging my faith in @SallyBercow.
01/18/2011 Reply Retweet Favorite
18/01/2011 21:45 SallyBercow
bloggerheads @bloggerheads Hi Tim – I’m sure you think I’m a sell-out but I just had to win Nadine over – she was on air abt J & I every week! Xxx
18/01/2011 21:48 bloggerheads
SallyBercow I figured that was your motive, but did not want to say so and thereby undermine it… even if I do think you are wasting your time
18/01/2011 21:49 bloggerheads
SallyBercow I predict she’ll be at your throat(s) the first time either of you take a reasonable position against something she really, really wants.
18/01/2011 21:50 SallyBercow
bloggerheads Well she hasn’t sounded off about us for at least 6 weeks! I hear what you say though x
18/01/2011 21:52 bloggerheads
SallyBercow You’re sweeping the ocean back with a broom. She’ll rush in like the tide when she wants something, just you wait and see.
18/01/2011 21:53 SallyBercow
bloggerheads Yes maybe…
[Unaltered extract of a private exchange between myself and Sally Bercow, conducted using Direct Messages on the Twitter platform, in response to my public RT (top) that prompts the conversation. All messages are verifiable, should the matter go to court. Sally Bercow has an equal level of access to these DMs through her own account, and I will be delighted to explain to her how to access them independently so she may verify the accuracy of the text and the wider context of our conversation. I would also be delighted to discuss any further Direct Messages she may wish to disclose if she feels that they undermine my point or contradict my position in any way.]
My prediction that Dorries would lash out if challenged has yet to be tested, because – to my great surprise and disappointment – John Bercow has yet to challenge Nadine Dorries on anything of substance. In fact, 6 weeks after this exchange took place, John Bercow nominated Nadine Dorries for a position on the Panel of Chairs:
The Speaker has nominated Nadine Dorries to be a member of the Panel of Chairs during the present Parliament (Standing Order No. 4(1)). (source: Votes and Proceedings: 31 March 2011)
The Panel of Chairs comprises the Chairman and two Deputy Chairmen of Ways and Means, and not fewer than ten Members nominated at the beginning of each session by the Speaker. Members of the Panel are appointed by the Speaker to chair Public Bill Committees and other general committees. They may also chair debates in Westminster Hall and act as temporary chairs of Committees of the whole House. (source)
This position by the Speaker is only part-defensible if Nadine Dorries’ behaviour had improved markedly in the 12 week period between her last public attacks on the Bercows and her appointment to the Panel of Chairs. If some form of improvement were apparent to the Speaker, I would dare to suggest that he was operating from a limited if not entirely self-centred perspective.
This brings us rushing headlong to the point where I accuse John Bercow of allowing corruption to once again infect Parliament.
John Bercow may claim his wife did not understand the situation, or that he was unaware of the situation with his wife and Nadine Dorries. Sally Bercow may claim that I have failed to understand the situation; she may even admit some small amount of fault to the extent that she has described the situation carelessly or inaccurately. But if you read on, you will see that his recommendation of Nadine Dorries to a position of responsibility puts John Bercow in a very precarious position, whatever the situation:
Dear Mr Speaker,
I am about to explain to you the grounds on which I accuse you of allowing corruption to infect Parliament.
I wish to begin with your use of the word ‘antediluvian’ in pre-Speaker days that drove Nadine Dorries first to a dictionary, and then into a rage. Even if this incident does not accurately indicate your awareness of the fundamentalist claptrap that Nadine Dorries peddles in the House, it reliably informs us that you know from experience how Nadine Dorries can explode at mere criticism.
Further, having subsequently been on the receiving end of her attacks, you are in a unique if unenviable position; you know that Nadine Dorries is capable of attacking someone’s reputation in a way that is clearly unwarranted, using material that is grossly distorted where not wholly invented.
This knowledge alone should have prevented you from trusting Nadine Dorries with any role crucial to the integrity of Parliament; you have witnessed her acting without integrity.
But my challenge to you today goes beyond this; I seek to establish that Nadine Dorries falls so far short of the demands of Parliament and society generally that she does not even rate the description ‘reasonable person’.
A child acting in this way would be excluded from school, not made prefect.
I will open my evidence by formally bringing to your attention to the contradiction between what Nadine Dorries told the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, and what she told the public after the relevant Standards and Privileges Committee report was published…
Nadine Dorries was claiming expenses on a constituency property on the basis that it was her second home. However, many entries on her website indicated that it was in fact her first home. A core ruling of the Standards and Privileges Committee report was that they accepted Nadine Dorries’ story about entries on her website giving the wrong idea about how much time she spent in the constituency for entirely political reasons:
“I often posted comments on my blog relating to [name of town] in my constituency. Since I first rented in the constituency, I made a song and dance about being at the property. I have mentioned it on my blog a number of times. This was done to comfort my Association. The previous MP only visited the constituency occasionally—sometimes only as often as once every six weeks—and they were keen that I reversed that impression. His lack of time in the constituency contributed to his de-selection. – Letter to the Commissioner from Ms Nadine Dorries MP, 25 January 2010
The MP you nominated for the Panel of Chairs confessed to misleading her constituents and association about the amount of time she spent in the constituency.
When the public confronted her about her “70% fiction” moment, Dorries claimed that she had been the subject of physical stalking to such an extent that police had advised her to fictionalise her movements on her blog for her own protection.
If Nadine Dorries had done the same thing with a court judgement, she would be found in contempt; it was a complete misrepresentation of the investigation, and of a major basis for the ruling.
The MP you nominated for the Panel of Chairs knowingly misrepresented the position of two police forces in her efforts to distort the public’s understanding of a ruling by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.
DCI Christopher Lee, stationed in the Houses of Parliament, can tell you if Nadine Dorries has faced any genuine threat of physical or even electronic stalking, and if it is true that, in light of the risk she describes, Nadine Dorries was issued with instructions to falsify details of her whereabouts as described. He won’t tell me, which I find odd, because according to Dorries, I’m supposed to be that stalker
Bedfordshire Police will be sure to contradict me if I am wrong in my understanding of their position that Nadine Dorries says ‘stalker’ when she means ‘critic with a web presence’, though we are at present in dispute over my understanding of assurances they gave me about what would happen if it emerged that Nadine Dorries had been lying to them.
On the subject of lies that Nadine Dorries told police, here come some demonstrables that also concern you and the credibility of Parliament:
“I shall finish by mentioning a book which is to be launched this month. It is published by the charity Forsaken, which is neither pro-life nor pro-choice: it is pro-women. For two years, the charity has put together the stories of women suffering from post-abortion syndrome… One woman in the book describes how even when she told the anaesthetist that she was changing her mind and was having doubts, he pushed her to go ahead. He did so because, if she changed her mind, he would not have been paid. There is the same process as for the counselling. If the woman does not go ahead with the abortion, the clinics are not paid for the counselling, and therefore they need to know that she is going ahead before she is given the counselling-and we can imagine the process that ensues.” – Nadine Dorries, House of Commons, 2 Nov 2010 (source)
The group that Nadine Dorries spoke of here was ‘Forsaken in Taunton’; they were not the mature and unbiased charity that Dorries described. They were clearly very new. They were so new, they had not yet registered as a charity, but had made the mistake of printing the words ‘Registered Charity’ on their literature ahead of any paperwork going through. They also had a deeply religious agenda, which calls into question Dorries’ assurances to the House about the source of the anecdotal evidence she sought to air in Parliament, and later in public.
(The allegation that the abortion counselling process had been corrupted by a profit motive has been repeated many times since by Nadine Dorries, but she has yet to produce any evidence of the corruption she describes above in what she refers to as ‘the abortion industry’.)
I published evidence supporting my contention that Parliament had been misled in this instance. Nadine Dorries reacted by making entirely false allegations about my behaving inappropriately toward ‘Forsaken’, who to their credit saw fit to immediately contradict her claims about emails (few in number, and entirely appropriate) and phone calls (never happened at all, entirely invented detail from the ever-inventive Dorries).
When subsequently under pressure from the public to produce evidence of a police investigation that never existed, Nadine Dorries prompted an investigation into my attending a public meeting to which I was invited by giving Bedfordshire Police a grossly distorted account of events.
(Psst! Even if it could be successfully argued that I had committed a crime or maybe risked coming near to committing a crime by attending that event, this would not go anywhere near establishing a pattern of harassment as required for Dorries’ story to hold, and even if it did it would still require a time machine to work. I’m supposed to be her worst stalker out of a group of people who are supposedly physically stalking her, and I’ve been in her presence once, for entirely legitimate reasons, after the period where she claims to have been physically stalked.)
As part of a ‘report’ to Mid Bedfordshire Police, Nadine Dorries repeated to their detectives the claim about the calls to Forsaken, after she had been contradicted by the alleged recipients. She also told Bedfordshire Police that I was a “notorious computer hacker”, making the crucial error of telling a demonstrable lie in the name of the law firm Carter-Ruck.
The MP you nominated for the Panel of Chairs makes false accusations of criminality to police on behalf of well known law firms.
I invite you to ask Carter-Ruck if they told Nadine Dorries or anyone else if I were a “notorious computer hacker”. They won’t say anything to me. Maybe it’s because I’m so scary with my computer hacking and what have you.
Bedfordshire Police, while doing very little to discourage Dorries’ repeated attempts to politicise their investigation, were kind enough to point out that they held the position both before and after the investigation that I had committed no crime. Nadine Dorries’ own lawyers are quoted in the resulting report (that you’re welcome to inspect) as having exactly the same position.
And yet the MP you nominated for the Panel of Chairs seeks to misrepresent Bedfordshire Police to the extent of falsely declaring that their investigation ended with my being issued with a caution, which is an outright lie, and not the result of any mere confusion (as she has repeatedly been allowed to pretend):
“One particularly obsessive man recently followed me round with a camera, whipped up online hysteria against me and eventually had to accept a police caution for harassment.”
Nadine Dorries, September 2011
(source: Self-penned article in Daily Mail)
Note in this more recent example, Dorries is using the same phantom stalkers to discourage and poison any scrutiny of a demonstrably false prospectus. And after a week of being contradicted by evidence from the people she sought to discredit in this way, she brought her original package to the House as if none of that had happened.
The MP you nominated for the Panel of Chairs brings discredited evidence to Parliament as if it has not been challenged.
Dorries was then soundly defeated in the vote that followed, but subsequently rewarded (what?) by having her soundly rejected concerns about counselling taken seriously to the extent that an all-too-opaque panel process is now discussing potential changes to the abortion counselling process on the basis of an entirely false prospectus.
One member found the whole process so inequitable that she resigned from the panel. Dorries responded by claiming that this person was sleeping through meetings. Much of this rested on Dorries’ word, which carries a certain authority in matters of Parliamentary process, and that’s entirely thanks to your patronage, Mr Speaker.
After all, why would Nadine Dorries lie about what happens in meetings when the Speaker puts her in charge of meetings?
Well, I will tell you my best guess: She would mostly likely lie about what goes on in meetings even though the Speaker puts her in charge of meetings, because the Speaker has allowed himself to be compromised by a vindictive liar (even if it is as he claims and the compromise was not one of his intention/design).
A Parliamentary Standards Authority report doesn’t go the way she wants it to, so Nadine Dorries tells a lie to excuse/cover a damaging admission that was crucial to the ruling.
That lie requires her to prove that a police investigation took place when she cannot even provide evidence of having made a complaint, so Nadine Dorries lies to police to get an investigation going.
The investigation does not turn out the way she wants it to, so Nadine Dorries lies about the outcome.
She then uses the same lies to discredit and intimidate critics while discouraging any scrutiny into her expenses and/or an ongoing attempt by anti-abortion fundamentalists to influence Parliament without making their interests and intentions known. It is here I remind you that when you campaigned for the position of speaker, you claimed that you would act in a way that would prevent “fertile ground on which extremists feed”.
The boundaries that control you and me and other reasonable people have no meaning to this person; she crosses them with rampant aggression, all while claiming victim status on the basis of her being a woman (a ‘maverick’ with a merely ‘controversial’ outlook doing it her way in a MAN’s world, baby!).
Nadine Dorries also shows a clear pattern of telling lies of behalf of people/groups that she thinks will lend them credibility, which is not only dishonest, but incredibly reckless.
You should know all of this from experience if not mere competence, and this is why I find it so easy to believe that you turn a blind eye to her inappropriate conduct, just like so many others who dare not cross her for fear that she will go off in their face.
Meanwhile, Dorries’ appalling behaviour continues, and it is clearly getting worse as she is allowed to carry on unchecked.
Last week, I was announced as a front row guest in the BBC’s The Big Questions; at some stage between 9:15pm Saturday night and 5:30am on Sunday morning, Nadine Dorries was in contact with producers of that show, by Twitter, email and phone, telling them that police had issued me with a caution for stalking her, and warning them of dire consequences should I be allowed on live television. A further party they won’t name (!) also contacted staff to repeat the lie about computer hacking, once again attributed to Carter-Ruck.
As a result of these outright lies, I was excluded from the front row debate, and deliberately placed in the audience with no microphone. The debate I was invited to but then not allowed to take part in was on journalistic ethics, by the way. The only way Dorries was connected to the event was through the deepest of ironies.
Nadine Dorries had no business calling producers in the way she did, it appears she has since managed to bully them into obscuring actionable evidence, and I cannot help but compare this to what she claimed I did to ‘Forsaken’. Just who is stalking who here? Just which one of us really needs to be cautious about announcing their movements ahead of time?
Dorries engaged in this extraordinary intervention the day before her meeting with BBC director general Mark Thompson. I find myself wondering if this came up during the relevant exchanges but I am worried that we may never know for sure. I specifically instructed production staff on the day to preserve the relevant data because I wished to access it under the Data Protection Act; they later claimed the relevant correspondence had somehow “expired” in the day(s) that followed my request.
Oh, and on this note I almost forgot:
Nadine Dorries claimed I sent her “vile, abusive messages”, but then refused to produce the emails/messages she claims I sent her, even when compelled to by law under the Data Protection Act.
The MP you nominated for the Panel of Chairs clearly does not think the rules apply to her, and openly defies the law when it suits her.
I could go on. For a week.
I have an army of witnesses. Rock solid evidence.
You have a shouty lady who tells lies.
Surely you are aware of Dorries’ now-infamous claim that a “gust of wind” caused her to accidentally cast a rule book out of a window. Rule book. Literally. Out the window. And she blogged that she’d done it. She’s utterly shameless.
Mr Speaker, there is so much more to this that I can show you, but do I really have to go further than this to have you acknowledge the folly of your ways?
Ultimately, do you really dare face the public and tell them that you nominated Nadine Dorries for the Panel of Chairs in good faith and still consider her fit for the role because you genuinely think her to be both capable of balance and worthy of trust?
As disappointing as this would be from someone in your position, part of me is actually looking forward to watching you try.
Typically I’d close by explaining what specific action I’d appreciate in response to my letter , but to be perfectly frank with you, it should be bloody obvious without my having to point it out to you, and if you seek to further shield Dorries from accountability – as you give every indication of doing – then the next move is probably best made by your replacement anyway.
There it is.
Updates to follow, as and when. Cheers all.
UPDATE (7th March) – As Richard Bartholomew notes in his post, Sally Bercow’s only response to all of this is an ill-defined claim that it is “utterly absurd”. The Speaker, meanwhile, has gone from angry charges of “defamation” to stone cold silence. If the correspondence from Sally Bercow were not accurate, she would be able to produce evidence to this effect, but she cannot do this and she does not see fit to articulate any defence of her position; instead she just attempts to discredit mine with vague pejorative terms. Having tracked all relevant messages, I can say with confidence that John Bercow can no longer claim to be unaware of Dorries’ corruption, and there is as of now no doubt about his wilfully turning a blind eye to it. A man of integrity would have followed this up, checked a few things with police and Dorries lawyers’, and sought to determine the accuracy of the allegations laid out in this post. John Bercow shows no sign of having done this, and if he has done this and chosen to remain silent anyway, that only makes it worse.