Old Media

News of the World: how Surrey Police responded to the ‘hacking’ of Milly Dowler

Yesterday I featured some fresh evidence on Bloggerheads that suggested News of the World had accessed Robert Thompson’s mobile phone/records in violation of a court order.

Today will be a little bit different in that (a) it is not news that Milly Dowler’s phone was ‘hacked’, and (b) I’m going to be a little more conventional about this post for reasons that should be obvious.

I’m publishing the following – a full scan of the original/relevant article as it appeared in News of the World and some analysis – so you might judge for yourself how likely it is that then-editor (Rebekah Wade, now Rebekah Brooks) and then-deputy-editor (Andy Coulson) did not know about any of it.

Why am I doing this? Because someone should have been arrested or at least cautioned in April 2002, but police declined to act, and it is only public opinion that is driving this forward. Surrey Police, London Metropolitan Police, certain Members of Parliament and even the serving Prime Minister all have (or perhaps in some cases had) a vested interest in letting Rupert Murdoch and his underlings sweep much of this under the carpet. Rebekah Wade/Brooks especially needs to be compelled to face the authorities, but we are, incredibly, still left in a position where her guilt needs to be established in the court of public opinion to some extent before any serious preliminary/investigative action is taken against her by the criminal justice system.

(Whatabouters and Murdoch Apologists: Please keep in mind that this position is entirely distinct from that of Rebekah Wade/Brooks, who in 2002 openly defied police because paedophiles were not punished/”caged” sufficiently in her view, mostly after the criminal justice system had already dealt with them.)

And so, on to the specific article in News of the World that has caused the most outrage. As far as I know, this is the first time it has appeared in the public domain since its original publication:

News of the World's Milly Dowler exclusive of April 14 2002

While it has already been reported that staff from News of the World told Surrey Police about the illegal method(s) used to obtain the material that led to this article (link), it is not until you read a key revelation in that recent report and the article itself that you are likely to realise how much police contributed to the article, and judge how much this action might be interpreted as tacit approval of the methods of the tabloid staff who had broken the law in pursuit of this lead:

It was Surrey detectives who established that the call was not intended for Milly Dowler. – Guardian, 4 July 2011

Police believe the sick hoaxer called into a recruitment agency… It is thought the hoaxer even gave the agency Milly’s real phone number. Police believe she may have got it by gaining the trust of people who knew the schoolgirl… The twisted creature also contacted TV’s Crimewatch programme, claiming to be Milly. Police say the hoaxer has hampered the investigation and previous high-profile enquiries… A senior officer involved in the hunt said last night: “Our inquiries and those of other forces have been plagued by a professional hoaxer who has much experience of the practices of police and investigation methods. The chances are extremely high that the individual concerned is a rather disturbed lady who needs care. – News of the World, 14 April 2002

I’m sensing some past history here, and some frustration that more couldn’t be done to control this reckless fantasist (hey, I can relate). That might explain some of this content offered up by police. Then again, perhaps it was more a case of police deciding to address matters with a coded message to the editor of News of the World or (more likely, in my view) much of the lecture above was aimed at the unnamed hoaxer and Rebekah Wade, and only half of it made it to print in the form of an attack on the hoaxer. (This is what tabloid scum do; they selectively edit reality, attempting to shape it to their will, and act in monstrous ways while screaming; “Look out! Behind you! MONSTER!!!!”)

Whatever the reason(s) for this material being offered to the newspaper, News of the World were in no position to publish a lecture about anybody hampering this investigation or any other. This same newspaper openly defied police in the pursuit of dozens of alleged paedophiles, complicating all sorts of police procedures and potential prosecutions (more). Later, they also hired the man who deleted messages sent to Milly Dowler’s phone (in pursuit of more ‘scoops’, i.e. money), thereby leading us to the tipping point in this scandal; the public realisation that this gave the family false hope that the then-missing girl was alive (more).

Here I will draw your attention to the heart-breaking appeal under the article, featuring Milly Dowler’s mother desperately clinging to the hope that her daughter was still alive and had perhaps run away. News of the World went on to repeatedly exploit Milly Dowler’s family in a similar fashion for weeks on the back of false hope that they themselves had generated:

The Dowler family then granted an exclusive interview to the News of the World in which they talked about their hope, quite unaware that it had been falsely kindled by the newspaper’s own intervention. Sally Dowler told the paper: “If Milly walked through the door, I don’t think we’d be able to speak. We’d just weep tears of joy and give her a great big hug.” – Guardian, 4 July 2011

While this article and the appeal underneath it may have appeared all the way back on Page 30, it should not have escaped the attention of a worthy editor, because it is a big part of the editor’s job to protect the newspaper, staff and owners by ensuring that all claims (of criminality especially) are properly sourced. However, this is a Murdoch newspaper and I have learned from personal experience that Murdoch journalists and editors do not see a problem in a poorly-sourced claim if they don’t name the target.

(SIDEBAR: Take a bow, Camilla Long of the Sunday Times, who stated as fact that Conservative MP Nadine Dorries had a stalker and rather bravely backed this up with an assertion that police were involved… without actually checking any of the detail with police, who would have told her that Dorries does not have a stalker, or even a harasser. Camilla Long and her editor later defended themselves on the basis that no name was published alongside the accusation, and it appears that the thoroughly useless PCC are prepared to side with them.)

With libel law and press regulation being in the sorry state it’s in, it is entirely feasible that a lazy editor would look at a story like this and not care about the source, because the paper was effectively shielded against any complaint the subject/target could hope to make about it.

However, I do not think it reasonable to believe that police were made aware of this illegal act involving News of the World staff and did not at least alert/warn the editor about this activity, the illegality of same and the potential impact on the investigation into Milly Dowler’s disappearance. That’s why I asked Surrey Police if they had discussed this matter with editors of that newspaper. Here’s my question, and their response:

My question:

Did the investigating officers discuss this hacking matter with editors at News of the World in an effort to at least warn them on the potential consequences of this kind of behaviour? Are you able to name which editors were warned, if any?

The ‘answer’ from Surrey Police:

The Metropolitan Police are currently investigating allegations of phone hacking and therefore it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time.

From this point on, the argument is entirely circular; police will not comment on evidence that might implicate Rebekah Wade/Brooks, but neither will they act against her with any conviction (pun intended) while the public remain in doubt about the extent of her awareness/involvement. It has taken a week of extraordinary outrage to bring us to the point where she might be willing to take part in a police interview, but only as a witness, and not a suspect. It is blindingly obvious to all concerned that she enjoys this privilege because she remains under the protection of Rupert Murdoch.

The only way to break the circle is go public with the available evidence in an effort to convince public servants to finally serve the public (i.e. rather than cower before a powerful foreign media owner).

Tomorrow, I will publish a further scan of an article obviously involving intercepted text messages that cannot have escaped the attention of the police, or the editor(s) of News of the World.

-

UPDATE (14 Oct 2011) – Police were given evidence in 2002 that News of the World had access to illegally obtained messages from Milly Dowler’s phone – but did nothing about it

-

UPDATE (24 Jan 2012) – Phone hacking: News of the World journalists lied to Milly Dowler police

-

NEW POST (26 Jan 2012) – News of the World: 110% certainty, the remainder fact

-

CSI: #NotW (UPDATED: the hacking of Robert Thompson)

There’s a lot of coverage about and fresh revelations are emerging left, right and centre, so I wanted to make this article about Robert Thompson, News of the World, and Murdochian antics a bit different. That’s why I turned it into a comic strip starring some pretend scientists from Miami. Enjoy.

csi: notw - Robert Thompson

In other news, Nadine Dorries is making some wild claims in an effort to convince us that she’s part of the story, while Andy Hayman has been issuing some theatrical denials to convince us that he’s not.

Apropos of nothing, here are two articles from my vaults about Andy Coulson, the former tabloid editor who dreamed of greater power, and Andy Hayman, the former police officer who dreamed of one day being a journalist:

Andy Coulson and Andy Hayman: Friends
Andy Coulson: innocent until proven guilty

Oh, and if you’re looking for news that doesn’t even remotely involve the implosion of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, then I can recommend this post about Christopher McGrath and sock puppetry and/or this post about ‘David Rose’ and sock puppetry. Back soon(ish) with some more that I’ve found by browsing through News of the World archives at Colindale.

-

UPDATE (28 Aug, 2011) – Metro – James Bulger’s killer Robert Thompson ‘had phone hacked by NOTW’: Metropolitan Police officers working on Operation Weeting have contacted Thompson to let him know his details were found in documents they examined as part of the phone hacking investigation. Detectives believe Thompson and people close to him may have had their voicemail intercepted by an investigator working for the tabloid, reports the Sunday Times.

-

UPDATE (20 Feb, 2012) – Telegraph – Bulger killer could be in line for compensation from News of the WorldLawyers acting for Robert Thompson, 29, have informed Scotland Yard that they plan to take legal action that could see the killer paid tens of thousands of pounds in compensation. The action was started after the team from Operation Weeting informed Thomson that his voice mails had been targeted between 2002 and 2007… It is thought that Thompson was informed by the Operation Weeting team in August last year that they had uncovered evidence that his phone had been hacked on several occasions after 2002. References to him were found in notebooks seized from Glenn Mulcaire, 41, a private investigator working for the News of the World who was jailed in January 2007 for intercepting the phone calls of royal aides.

Outrage about compensation going to a convicted killer appears to be overshadowing the really important questions here (including ‘When will we see someone charged with contempt of court?’):

Hacked Off – If a Bulger killer was hacked, how did Mulcaire get his top secret number?: Robert Thompson was living under a secret and protected identity when Glenn Mulcaire acquired his mobile number, apparently in 2002. He had been released from detention only months earlier and, after many threats to his life, was one of the handful of people in the whole country most at risk from violent attack. How did the News of the World penetrate the official security around him? Very few people can have known both his phone number and his real identity, and all of them must have been in positions of trust. The Mirror and the Telegraph don’t seem to be interested in whether one of these people betrayed that trust, or indeed in whether money changed hands. And there are other questions, which may be more alarming still. If Mulcaire could get through that protective barrier, who else could, was anybody else hacked, and were people placed in danger?

-

Page 3 message to police

See if you can detect any hidden meaning in today’s Page 3.

From what I can see, it makes oblique reference to tonight’s 2011 Police Bravery Awards (“Hosted in partnership with The Sun”) and may or may not have some bearing on the embattled position of the former Sun and News of the World editor Rebekah Wade/Brooks. Or am I reading too much into it?

Is Rebekah Brooks really the right person to investigate Rebekah Wade?

I’m sure I don’t need to bring you up to speed and explain what this scandal is about, so let’s just open with Rupert Murdoch’s position, as stated yesterday:

“I have made clear that our company must fully and proactively co-operate with the police in all investigations and that is exactly what News International has been doing and will continue to do under Rebekah Brooks’s leadership.” – Rupert Murdoch, from a statement released 6 July 2011

I’m sure you can think of one or two reasons why Rebekah Brooks (formerly Rebekah Wade) is the wrong person to be in overall charge of this investigation into her own editorship, but I invite you to consider one other; her attitude toward police/co-operation.

The following is an excerpt from an editorial by Rebekah Wade at a peak in her 2000 campaign to ‘name and shame’ paedophiles:

“Now, because we have suspended our naming of sex offenders, our opponents are trying to suggest that we have backed down. They are wrong. We took the decision to suspend naming of paedophiles on FRIDAY – when the authorities agreed to back our fight for Sarah’s Law.” – Rebekah Wade, News of the World editorial, 6 August 2000

Note that her clearly stated position is that she is only co-operating because/while the police back her politically.

After this editorial, she proceeded to name and shame paedophiles intermittently anyway, and the following is from a relevant editorial anticipating a poor reaction from the police.

“Now the police may bleat that by naming the sinister Santa of Hull we have hindered their job. That is not our intention and again we beg readers not to take the laws into their own hands.” – Rebekah Wade, News of the World editorial, 3 December 2000

Note how respectfully she treats police and their concerns. Note also how confident she is that she is in control of her mob. (Psst!)

A similar attitude is shown to privacy orders applying to the killers of James Bulger:

“While forbidden from seeking information about them, this newspaper will not be alone in receiving such information. Last week, for example, we were able to disclose how the youths were being prepared for re-entry into society at a cost of £1.5 million to the taxpayer.” – Rebekah Wade, News of the World editorial, 24 June 2001

This is the Rebekah Brooke/Wade version of co-operation with police.

Rebekah Brooks/Wade acted in the way she did back then because she was certain she was in the right and confident that her readers would behave responsibly… just as she is today* certain of her own innocence and confident about the integrity of her old newsroom team.

So, to close, let’s have another look at Murdoch’s position, and see how it stacks up now:

“I have made clear that our company must fully and proactively co-operate with the police in all investigations and that is exactly what News International has been doing and will continue to do under Rebekah Brooks’s leadership.” – Rupert Murdoch, from a statement released 6 July 2011

-

[*If we are to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she is not lying.]

Boycott Murdoch: #NOTW

I can’t imagine there’ll be much to be proud of in the upcoming issue of News of the World (see: ‘Missing Milly Dowler’s voicemail was hacked’), especially if Rebekah Brooks/Wade is allowed to continue as chief executive at News International, an organisation that has pledged to investigate illegal acts undertaken under her editorship… illegal acts undertaken by a man who was paid the kind of money most editors make it their business to know about.

So I have been going through this list of recent NotW advertisers and making a personal short list based on my own shopping habits. Where I am a customer, I ask the company the following question via the email address for their press or customer relations office (which is typically one of the few in the public domain):

Simple question: Will you be advertising in the next issue of News of the World (10 July 2011)?

If they do intend to advertise or won’t say, I will go on to advise them of my intentions (and reasons) regarding a boycott of their company (for a period that will be influenced substantially by their attitude to the query).

Mine is a short list, but my intention to boycott any brand that subsequently advertises in the 10 July issue is sincere, and I think realistic and reasonable.

It should be abundantly clear that no good can come of any commercial association with this upcoming issue of News of the World when News International refuse to even acknowledge Rebekah Brooks’ ultimate responsibility (i.e. according to standards she demands from others). There can be no genuine contrition without Brooks meeting up to her own damn standards.

John Elmes and why you can’t trust Times Higher Education

Recently, staff at Times Higher Education surprised a lot of their readers and supporters by seeking to promote themselves in blogs with the name ‘bloggerheads’, and acting both arrogantly and dishonestly when it was pointed out to them that someone (namely, me) had already been using the name for 10 years:

Ann Mroz: patronising, unpleasant and dishonest
The Times Higher Education correspondence
THE tank on my lawn (and how/when it got there)

John Elmes claimed that editors senior to him came up with the ‘bloggerheads’ name for his “round-up of the scholarly web”. Editors senior to Elmes then claimed it was the work of editors junior to them.

Me, I dare to assume that because it was John’s baby, he at least had some say in naming it. He certainly sought to retain the use of ‘bloggerheads’ in a thoroughly unreasonable fashion; it was Elmes who initially asked me if I had “copyrighted” the name (i.e. before I was passed on to senior editors who asked if I had trademarked the name) and it was Elmes who, at a peak in our dispute, took to naming the feature ‘The Bloggerheads’.

That said, the arrogance and dishonesty I encountered went right to the top; Editor Ann Mroz initially pretended that I had no rights under law because I had not trademarked the name, and then changed her position when I called her bluff. The Deputy Editor (Phil Baty) claimed that Times Higher Education were not aware of my site before using the name ‘bloggerheads’, but my site tracking says otherwise, and a week after I confronted their lawyer with this finding, no-one at Times Higher Education has offered any kind of answer to this.

While I am pleased that THE have finally removed all references to ‘bloggerheads’ from their site, I am greatly disappointed by their refusal to investigate/explain this discrepancy, their general dishonesty, and their apparent last-ditch effort to pass the following off as a condition of that removal:

“I must ask you to please remove your blog post header describing our editor as “dishonest” and the picture of our employee from your website immediately.”

I was even more disappointed to later discover that no explanation or apology of any kind was in the offing (especially after I had produced evidence suggesting that it was not quite the innocent mistake Times Higher Education had made it out to be).

I was, however, entirely unsurprised to see that the new name Elmes/THE had chosen was entirely lacking in invention; John Elmes’ round-up of the scholarly web is now named… ‘THE Scholarly Web’:

John Elmes: genius

(slow hand clap)

Unlike certain MPs, I am not sniffy about those who have been educated at university, but I reserve the right to point and laugh when it is clear that such an education has been wasted.

To close, for those who have some degree of faith in Times Higher Education, it is my sad duty to inform you that the magazine is staffed by the type of people who do not admit to mistakes, and instead seek to erase them, while bullying anyone who dares to make a noise about it; i.e. in one very important respect, they are no better than your average tabloid. I am sure that media-watchers especially understand what this means about taking anything THE claim at face value; they will know what a veneer of perfection usually hides.

Regrettable, but there it is. There is no getting away from the fact that Times Higher Education were entirely dishonest in their dealings with me, and then sought to erase their mistake rather than admit to any of that. They certainly don’t have any intention of acknowledging their error in print. How can you trust anything they commit to print if that’s their attitude?

THE tank on my lawn (and how/when it got there)

The following is a copy of a letter I have just sent to the lawyer that Times Higher Education referred me to earlier this afternoon. I did not hear from this gentleman before close of business today, so I did what I normally do in these situations… I continued to dig around in an effort to find out just what the hell these people were playing at.

The letter will reveal what I found about an hour ago. Monday may reveal if it is of any significance of not.

Until then, I leave you with this…

Dear Mr [lawyer's name snipped],

I think it only fair to warn you that I have just isolated the Service Provider for Times Higher Education (THE) in my site tracking, and have found evidence that contradicts their claim not to have known about my site before May 13 (i.e. when I first emailed them, taking issue with their use of my name).

We were not aware of your blog and I assure you that there is no attempt to hi-jack.
(Phil Baty, May 13, via email)

As you can see here, their first mention of the name on their site (as an upcoming feature) was on May 5:

“Starting next week, Bloggerheads – what the blogs are saying”
http://www.freezepage.com/1307137423LHYVOYNNTI

This, BTW, makes it clear that the feature was originally meant to be a blog about blogs from the beginning, which is something Baty et al later tried to downplay/deny (a lot), but I digress.

My point is that I am detecting a visit from before May 13. From before May 5, even.

This is an important issue, as I still have every right to be upset about how THE reacted after the fact if they had merely blundered in initially without looking, but it strikes me as a strong indication of bad faith if THE were indeed aware of my site before using the Bloggerheads name. In fact, it might be taken by some as an indication of outright dishonesty.

I shan’t tell you the exact date/details just yet. Why not have their IT people have a peek at the relevant http records first, and find out what this reveals from their end? This simple investigation should take a few minutes and may reveal someone from a different department, or perhaps even a different office in the same building accessing my site, which would leave us mainly with the reaction after the fact to deal with. Of course, I’d probably have to take your/their word for some of what they say they have found, but right now I have the added insurance of withheld details (i.e. not only the date) so in the unlikely event that THE are foolish enough to pull a fast one, there is a good chance that any fiction will be found out, if you’ll pardon my alliteration.

By the way, this is an open letter, and it has been published on my site (minus your name/details, as you’ve shown no sign of requiring exposure so far). I hope that does not strike you as too confrontational, but the fact of the matter is that THE parked a tank on my lawn and tried to claim ownership of my humble board with a nail in it.

So, please, I beg of you; don’t be moaning about my board with a nail in it until you get that bloody tank off my lawn and repair the damage to my grass.

Cheers

The Tim Ireland
www.bloggerheads.com

The Times Higher Education correspondence

(Psst! If you are new to this issue, please read this first.)

The following is the guts of my correspondence with staff from Times Higher Education after they tried to claim ownership of the name ‘bloggerheads’, the name I created in 2001 (see screen capture below).

John Elmes and 'THE BLOGGERHEADS'

The correspondence clearly shows that their argument switches from a question of copyright to one of trade mark, and that they begin to seriously stonewall from the moment I called the latter bluff and registered the name as a trade mark. These key points have been highlighted (by me) in bold.

The overall exchange has been edited for brevity, and one individual email has been subject to a minor edit to remove details that should remain private for personal security reasons. As usual, any such edits (and/or corrections of minor typos etc.) are marked [like so]. The exchange up until the point they accuse me of bad manners is complete and unedited so you might make a judgement about my manners for yourself.

I’d like to think I showed considerable restraint when they offered to re-label it ‘THE Bloggerheads’. I made the mistake of assuming good faith, and I was confident the issue would make itself apparent almost immediately. I was wrong, obviously. John Elmes made a particular point of switching his use of the name to ‘The Bloggerheads’ at a key point in this dispute.

-

From: Tim Ireland
To: john.elmes@tsleducation.com
Date: Fri, May 13, 2011 at 11:38 AM
Subject: ‘bloggerheads’

Please consider a [using] new name. This one’s taken.

Cheers

Tim

-

From: John.Elmes@tsleducation.com
To: Tim Ireland
Date: Fri, May 13, 2011 at 3:08 PM
Subject: ‘bloggerheads’

Dear Tim,

Thanks for your email, I appreciate your concern.

I just wanted to know if you had any copyright to the name. I only ask because my column is a small addition to a specialist higher education magazine, and the subject areas tend to differ drastically from yours.

I was having a look around the net and found this:

http://www.abeano.com/bloggerheads-new-for-2011-transparent-dummy-mag-tropical-waste/

It seems as though we aren’t the only ones to have utilised the expression ‘Bloggerheads’.

Kind regards,

John

John Elmes
Editorial Assistant
Times Higher Education
26 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4HQ
Tel: +44 (0)203 194 3315
www.timeshighereducation.co.uk

-

From: Tim Ireland
To: John.Elmes@tsleducation.com
Date: Fri, May 13, 2011 at 3:27 PM
Subject: ‘bloggerheads’

I raise the issue as a matter of manners. I am aware that others have shown poor manners, thanks.

Will you consider using your own, unique name?

T

-

From: John.Elmes@tsleducation.com
To: Tim Ireland
Date: Fri, May 13, 2011 at 4:55 PM
Subject: ‘bloggerheads’

Dear Tim,

I will raise it with my editors, but their view (they are the ones that came up with the name) was your site is distinctive enough to my column to remove any conflict. It is certainly different in terms of aesthetics, font and motivation, so we believe it won’t be an issue

Best,

John

John Elmes
Editorial Assistant
Times Higher Education
26 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4HQ
Tel: +44 (0)203 194 3315
www.timeshighereducation.co.uk

-

From: Tim Ireland
To: John.Elmes@tsleducation.com
Sent: 13 May 2011 15:27
Subject: Re: ‘bloggerheads’

Please advise your editors that if you intend to promote yourself through Twitter, any hashtag you use will be the same as my username. We will most definitely intersect in a way that is an issue for me, and I will ask you again if you (or your editors) will seriously consider using a unique name of your/their own invention instead of hijacking the one I have been using since 2001.

T

-

From: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
To: Tim Ireland
Date: Tue, May 17, 2011 at 3:44 PM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Dear Tim,

Thanks for your emails to John Elmes.

We were not aware of your blog and I assure you that there is no attempt to hi-jack.

Times Higher Education (THE) is a specialist higher education magazine, and our “bloggerheads” is dedicated entirely to scholarly/higher education policy debates on line, covering blogs and social media. It is quite clearly distinct from your blog, with a clearly separate audience.

It is clearly labeled with the strap: “A weekly round up of the best on the scholarly web”.

We have no intention to promote this column on Twitter using the “bloggerheads” hashtag.

As a courtesy to you, we have also added the THE logo to the name, which is now: “THE BloggerHeads”

Kind regards,

Phil Baty

Deputy Editor, Times Higher Education
Editor, Times Higher Education World University Rankings
26 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4HQ
Tel: 0203 194 3298

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/THEWorldUniRank
Twitter: http://twitter.com/TimesHigherEd

-

From: Tim Ireland
To: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Date: Tue, May 17, 2011 at 4:07 PM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Thank you for that at least. I would prefer there is no room for confusion, and I reserve the right to protect the name ‘bloggerheads’ should it become an issue. I really would prefer that you consider changing the name to a unique name of your own invention, though, and think it would be wisest in the long run.

Tim

-

From: Tim Ireland
To: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Cc: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Date: Tue, May 31, 2011 at 7:26 PM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Phil, despite your assurances, the predictable has happened and users in Twitter are referring to you as ‘bloggerheads’ and not ‘THEbloggerheads’ as promised. I also note that you continue to bill yourself as ‘bloggerheads’ on your site, and this is turning up in the top ten for searches for my website, crowding out other web presence[s] in my name:

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=416093

I once again request that you create your own unique name instead of using the name I have been using for over 10 years.

(Please don’t embarrass yourself by citing others’ use of the name; this use emerged in the middle of a campaign of harassment, and I fully intend to take the issue up with this other web user, as soon as I am able.)

Bloggerheads is a unique name of my own invention. You have no business using it. I ask you again to stop using it.

Instead, try inventing your own name. Like I did.

-

From: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
To: Tim Ireland
Cc: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 9:12 AM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Dear Mr Ireland

Please forward me your trademarking documentation and I’m sure we will be happy to comply.

Kind regards

Ann

Ann Mroz
Editor
Times Higher Education
26 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4HQ
Tel: 0203 194 3326

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/

Follow THE on Twitter: http://twitter.com/timeshighered
Follow Ann Mroz on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AnnMroz

-

From: Tim Ireland
To: “Mroz, Ann”
Cc: “Baty, Phil”
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 9:31 AM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Why not say what you mean? You are happy to trade off a name that I invented if I cannot defend myself with costly legal muscle, and you care nothing for the inconvenience it will cause or the lack of respect it shows.

I can easily prove that I created the name and have been using it on the web for 10 years. That has until recently been good enough for others and it should be good enough for you… unless of course, you are the type of organisation that likes to stamp on the little guy.

Even the New York Times had the good sense to modify their use of the name to ‘bloggINGheads’. They understand that marketing yourself on the web requires some sensitivity to others inhabiting the relevant community.

I will ask you one more time to show me a modicum of respect and engage your mind(s) just long enough to come up with a unique name of your own invention.

Please, show me the respect I am due. You would not like it if someone seized control of your name.

Tim Ireland

-

From: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
To: Tim Ireland
Cc: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 9:33 AM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Dear Mr Ireland

No, I would not like it if someone seized control of our name which is why I took the trouble to protect it by legal means.

I always show respect to people who are polite.

Kind regards

Ann

Ann Mroz
Editor
Times Higher Education
26 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4HQ
Tel: 0203 194 3326

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/

Follow THE on Twitter: http://twitter.com/timeshighered
Follow Ann Mroz on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AnnMroz

-

From: Tim Ireland
To: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Cc: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 9:37 AM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Please do not pretend that everyone is in a position to defend themselves in this way, and please do not insult me further by calling my manners into question after the way you have treated me.

Do you intend to continue using the unique name that I created, despite my very clear objections?

T

-

From: Tim Ireland
To: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Cc: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 9:52 AM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Allow me to explain the situation to you:

I will repeat that I have been subjected to an extended campaign of harassment, targeting myself and my family, causing great distress and considerable financial difficulty. I have never had cause to invest in a trade mark before, as for many years previous to this, simple respect within the web community was enough. I am certainly not in a strong position to rush out and do it now.

You risk compelling me to undertake this expense, and I do not think I am giving anything away by revealing that you may be able to swoop in an register it in your own name, despite your knowledge of my moral claim to it.

Neither move casts you in a good light, and I fully intend to make this dispute public if you refuse to be reasonable. I would remind you that you are seeking a brand to promote yourself in the blogging community, not distance yourself from it by charging in with a steamroller.

I will ask again: Do you intend to continue using the unique name that I created, despite my very clear objections?

T

-

From: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
To: Tim Ireland
Cc: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 10:19 AM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Tim,

We adopted the name “Bloggerheads” for a small column on page 24 of our magazine, without any awareness of your blog.

We note that the name is not protected by you, and is indeed used by others on the Internet.

We note that the content of the THE column is entirely unrelated to your blog – we look exclusively at social media on higher education issues, a very narrow field.

Our distinct content is clearly marked in a sub-heading to the column: “A weekly round-up of the best on the scholarly web”.

When you alerted us to your blog, as a courtesy, we immediately agreed to re-design the column masthead and change the name of the column to “THE Bloggerheads”, incorporating our protected brand “THE” (Times Higher Education”), to make the clear differences even more explicit.

The website now displays the column as “THE Bloggerheads”: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=416254&c=1

We have also agreed, again purely as a courtesy, that we will only promote the column as “THE Bloggerheads” on Twitter and other social media.

We have been courteous and considerate throughout, and have made these clear concessions as a matter of good will, without any obligation on our part at all.

We feel these concessions are quite sufficient and entirely reasonable.

I trust that in the event that you decide to make this “dispute” public, you will reproduce this response in full.

Thank you for your correspondence,

Phil Baty

Deputy Editor, Times Higher Education
Editor, Times Higher Education World University Rankings
26 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4HQ
Tel: 0203 194 3298

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/THEWorldUniRank
Twitter: http://twitter.com/TimesHigherEd

-

And, as you will note, that is exactly what I have done. I have reproduced their response in full. In fact the full exchange above is entirely unedited, and I am really pissed off about being compelled to have to take it to this step because it necessitates a public acknowledgement of specific difficulty my stalker has caused me. Normally, this is something to be avoided with people engaging in this type of harassment, as it tends to encourage them.

Unfortunately, to protect my sole source of income, a site I have invested 10 years of my life in, the point must be made publicly that both Ann Mroz and Phil Baty were made aware of the issues surrounding an immediate investment in a trade mark registration.

Back to the correspondence:

-

From: Tim Ireland
To: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Cc: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 10:41 AM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

How am I back talking to you now, Phil? Is it because you were the person who claimed to have invented the name, thereby causing this dispute?

I have already explained that I was in no position to protect myself from the small number of two-bit operations who also sought to capitalise on my name. I have been in contact with these other parties since you sought to capitalise on my name yourself and use their hijacking as an excuse. Please don’t embarrass yourself further by using these people as cover (or by excusing your ‘mere’ use of it in the back pages of your magazine). You already admit that you chose to use the name to promote your web initiative without first determining if someone else in the web community was using the name (a simple search in Google would have alerted you to my blog and the various other web presences in my name using this same name) so you cannot now defend its continued use by pretending that you were always aware of this.

I am bloggerheads. It is my creation, I use the name to blog about blogging, and I have done so for 10 years.

Specialised arena or not, you seek to blog about blogging, and despite your assurances/concessions, people are already using my name to refer to your web round-up.

Oh, and we are most certainly in dispute, despite what your scare quotes might imply, and I would welcome the opportunity to air this matter in full, as well as your earlier correspondence and the arrogance it reveals:

I trust that in the event that you decide to make this “dispute” public, you will reproduce this response in full.

Despite your tangential defence about what may appear in page 24 of your magazine, you are using my name, you are using it on the web as well as in print, you did not even have enough regard for the web community to check if someone was using the name ‘bloggerheads’ before committing to it, and you have been stubborn, evasive and unreasonable since I called you on it.

I have repeatedly stated that I would much prefer it if you created your own name. This challenge appears to be beyond you, or perhaps you are the type of person who refuses to back down even when they know they have made a mistake.

I will ask you again:

Do you intend to continue using the unique name that I created, despite my very clear objections?

T

-

From: Tim Ireland
To: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Cc: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 10:56 AM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

I might also add this [snipped for security reasons]

In short, you compel me to commit to considerable expense and inconvenience at a time of great difficulty.

I would really rather that you were reasonable about the matter. Why not use a name of your own invention? Where is the problem here? Have you foolishly invested money in use of the name without doing so much as a Google search for any other instances of it? Is that why you compel me to commit to considerable expense and inconvenience? Or are you merely being stubborn because of the arrogance this suggests?

T

-

It was at this stage I considered the only way to end the matter without wasting days/weeks of my time was to meet the trade mark challenge. We had a lonnnng discussion about it in this house. We couldn’t really afford the expense, but Bloggerheads was a vital source of income. How could we not protect this asset from someone who was so obviously hostile in their seizure of it?

After the trade mark registration process was completed and relevant documentation secured, I called their bluff:

-
From: Tim Ireland
To: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Cc: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 12:28 PM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Congratulations. You have compelled me to undergo the expense or registering my unique name as a trademark at a time when we can ill-afford it.

Now, are you going to be so difficult that you continue to use the name in the ~6 months it will take to process the application, or are you going to finally decide to play-act at being reasonable now you’ve put us through this major inconvenience?

Tim

-

From: Tim Ireland
To: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Cc: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 1:09 PM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Well? I’ve called your bluff. What’s your response?

T

-

From: Tim Ireland
To: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Cc: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 1:27 PM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

To be clear; I expect a response this afternoon.

Putting aside the patronising way you dismiss my moral claim to this name, you gave me the impression that if the name was protected as a trade mark you would comply with my wishes. I have today begun the registration process, and now you refuse to budge from your existing position, even though you appear to have NO CLUE about the circumstances in which the name came to be used in your magazine and on your website. You can’t even name the sub-editor you imply presented the name as an original piece of work.

Did you mean what you said about trade mark, or was it merely a bluff? I have cause to be upset with you either way, but I will be especially upset if it is the latter, after I explained my circumstances to you.

Do you intend to continue using the unique name that I created, despite my very clear objections?

Tim

-

From: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
To: Tim Ireland
Cc: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 2:18 PM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Dear Tim,

Can you please direct all further correspondence (and phone calls) on this matter to our Information Assurance Officer, Arshid Bashir.

He is on arshid.bashir@tsleducation.com
Or 020 3194 3384

Thank you.

Phil Baty

Deputy Editor, Times Higher Education
Editor, Times Higher Education World University Rankings
26 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4HQ
Tel: 0203 194 3298

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/THEWorldUniRank
Twitter: http://twitter.com/TimesHigherEd

-

After offering a summary of the issue that was complete bollocks, Arshid Bashir refused to engage on the matter of trade mark (and tort, as raised in the email that followed his summary):

-
Bashir, Arshid Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 4:36 PM
To: Tim Ireland

Dear Mr Ireland,

If I can first of all very briefly introduce myself: I am responsible for independently assuring to the TSL board that all functions and activities comply with all legal and regularity requirements and obligations.

Looking at your concerns expressed over the exchange of emails, can I suggest that we limit ourselves to the core issue and not become embroiled or distracted by side-issues or assumptions and conjecture.

If I can summarise your position:

1. It is your contention that you have prior rights on the title ‘Bloggerheads’ which you have used on your website for a number of years, but which had not been registered as a trademark.

2. And, although an accommodation was mutually and informally agreed a few weeks back by prefixing our use of the word ‘Bloggerheads’ with the word ‘THE’, you have subsequently became dissatisfied based on search engines results ranking our content too highly, relative to yours.

3. You are also unhappy we may use ‘Bloggerheads’ as a Twitter hashtag as this is your Twitter user name. We have clarified this is not our intent.

Whilst I can appreciate your views on ‘ownership’ of this word and subsequent discontent that your web presence may have been impacted; it is clear that TSL is not, and has not been in breach of any trademarks or any other proprietary rights.

I am sorry that our position may not be one that you would like, however TSL has neither sought nor would wish to seek to undermine the rights of others. In my opinion I also think it is highly unlikely that consumers or visitors to our respective content would confuse either web site with the other and therefore unlikely to be detrimental to you or us.

Can I also advise you that all future communication from within TSL will be by myself.

Yours sincerely

Arshid Bashir

-

From: Tim Ireland
To: Arshid.Bashir@tsleducation.com
Cc: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com, Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 4:50 PM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Your summary of my position is rife with assumption and conjecture, but happily I do not have to explain myself any further to protect my rights.

I have now approached an experienced intellectual property lawyer and I have been informed that it appears that the THE is committing the tort of “passing off” in respect of “Bloggerheads” and that it appears you would not have a sensible defence to a claim. I have a substantial and prior trading reputation in respect of my expertise of blogging and web-related matters that pre-dates your entire website by many years.

Accordingly, please remove the references to “Bloggerheads” from your site immediately.

Tim Ireland
www.bloggerheads.com

PS – Both the Editor and Deputy Editor have been CCed, because it was they who (a) gave me the false impression that I needed a registered trade mark to protect my rights, and (b) gave me the false impression that they would cooperate were such a trade mark registered. With all due respect, this matter has been needlessly complicated by these organ grinders playing lawyer, and I have every right to inform them of their error and expect an apology to go with their immediate cooperation.

-

Arshid Bashir answered this challenge… by refusing to address it in any way. In a phone call (that I recorded) I asked Bashir if he had a response to the tort issue. He replied; “we do not have to answer every email you send us”. I pressed him further, and he responded; “I do not think it would be productive for us to debate the matter”. Then he hung up on me.

Arshid Bashir now refuses to answer my emails or take my calls. Any attempt to reach Ann Mroz, Phil Baty or John Elmes results in my being referred to Arshid Bashir (who now refuses to answer my emails or take my calls).

I think it’s safe to interpret not only the copyright and trade mark challenges as a bluff, but the ‘concessions’ also. Here I will remind you that the ‘concession’ of referring to themselves as ‘THE Bloggerheads’ (i.e. T.H.E. Bloggerheads) quickly changed to their use of the name as ‘The Bloggerheads’ (i.e. the one, only and original accept-no-substitutes bloggerheads) at a peak moment in this dispute.

As for some of what they claim in mitigation, most of it is laughable and contradictory in places (e.g. senior editors blamed an un-named junior editor for the decision to use the name, the junior editor I spoke to blamed senior editors), plus it clearly paints a picture where the matter is mainly insignificant from their point of view. If this were the case, then it would be an insignificant matter for them to stop using my name.

However, they refuse to stop using my name, and I think this correspondence includes several instances revealing bad faith on their part. Key to this was the stark bluff from Ann Mroz that she would respect my rights if I went through with the trade mark paperwork.

After compelling me to reinforce my ownership with trade mark, they now appear to be waiting for me to engage lawyers, at further expense they know I will have difficulty meeting.

(Instead of using a rude word here, I will let you choose your own, but I ask that you not repeat it under comments. Let’s not do these people any favours.)

-

UPDATE (2pm) – Times Higher Education have just emailed to say that they “can confirm we have decided to change the name of our column in THE”. Unfortunately, they offer very little detail beyond this apart from some apparent conditions (!) so I have responded to the relevant requests, and will let you know of any outcome in due course.

-

UPDATE (damn near 5pm) – Times Higher Education have ignored my response to their conditions/requests, and have instead referred me to their lawyer, who has not yet been in touch. It looks like they mean to leave me hanging all weekend. Charming.

-

UPDATE (11:45pm) – Their lawyer might not have managed to make contact today, but Times Higher Education have late this afternoon removed from sight every page on their site that used the title ‘bloggerheads’. So we’re on our way to a resolution at last.

By the way, you may note in this correspondence that THE claimed to have been unaware of Bloggerheads before May 13 (i.e. when I first emailed them, taking issue with their use of my name). About an hour ago, I looked into my site tracking data and detected a visit from before May 13:

Bloggerheads – THE tank on my lawn (and how/when it got there)

I’m a guy who likes to be positive right down to my blood cells, so I am hoping this is not the indication of bad faith it appears to be.

-

Ann Mroz: patronising, unpleasant and dishonest

[MINI-UPDATE (03 Jun) – THE object to my use of the word ‘dishonest’ in this headline. I stand by my use of the word, but as a courtesy, I have placed this prominent and immediate link to the relevant correspondence so readers might better judge for themselves.]

Regulars of Bloggerheads will be aware that my family and I been through some difficult times recently. During the rolling crisis, several two-bit operations have sought to hijack the ‘bloggerheads’ name that I created, but my priority has been those attempting to associate this unique name (and mine) with paedophilia, stalking and what have you.

Recently, I complained to staff at the magazine Times Higher Education about their use of ‘bloggerheads’ – a unique name that I created to title my blog about blogs – to title a web round-up feature (i.e. their blog about blogs). I repeatedly made it clear that I wanted them to come up with their own name, especially when they clearly planned to use it to blog about other weblogs. They pretended there was no room for confusion, offered to put ‘the’ in front of it as a “concession” and left it at that. Almost immediately references to their magazine started turning up in Twitter and Google in searches for my unique name.

I complained again. They gave me the very clear impression that, were the name protected as a trade mark, they would immediately comply with my wishes.

Several times I pointed out to them that I had a significant and demonstrable moral claim to the name dating back many years, but they dismissed this notion in the most patronising way possible. I also pointed out that if they seek to market themselves on the via web/blogs, then there are far better ways of going about it than hijacking an existing name, which is one good reason why the expense of a trade mark has never been necessary before now in the decade I have been using the name ‘bloggerheads’.

I also pointed out that I was busy battling an ongoing campaign of harassment, and their position compelled me to spend money we could ill-afford at the moment, but they stood firm on their position (along with the ridiculous implication that they had searched the trade mark database but not Google when they decided on using this name as their own).

Ultimately, Times Higher Education Editor Ann Mroz left me with no choice but to trade mark the name so I might call their bluff and take further steps to protect it from recent misuse and/or appropriation by their organisation and others.

But now I have begun the trade mark registration process, they have changed their position, and plan to continue using the name as they have before!

That’s a class act, all the way. After compelling me to trade mark the name, now they’re going to compel me to await the completion of the registration process (and then, presumably, take them to court) before they will be in any way reasonable about this.

Their Deputy Editor can’t even name the sub-editor they claim ‘invented’ the word, but Times Higher Education staff are unwilling to admit that they made a mistake by using this unique name without first researching it. They even have the audacity to minimise the significance of its use from their point of view (e.g. it’s ‘only’ on page 24 of their magazine), but surely if it’s no big deal to them and a bloody big deal to me, then that’s even more reason for them to back off and do what they should have done in the first place; come up with a unique name of their own invention.

-

[Other, smaller, organisations who have recently sought to appropriate this name have also been contacted about this matter today. I am hoping that they will be more reasonable. I certainly can’t see how they can top this response from Times Higher Education. I realise THE are in the education sector, but surely they’ve grown out of playground games by now.]

-

UPDATE – Check the comments for a contribution by ‘Malcolm Kent’. It was submitted using false details, and is an obvious sock-puppet.

-

Page 3 explained at #Lolitics

#Lolitics is a project by Chris Coltrane inviting comedians and campaigner/activists to step out of their comfort zones for a little chat about politics. Stand-ups are invited to engage with more political material, and people like me are invited to bring what they know to a stand-up audience.

It is a nurturing environment. There is cake. I’d been to an earlier event and was blown away by an entire set about Nadine Dorries from Nadia Kamil.

Encouraged by Chris, I brought these good people what I knew about Page 3. The following is an audio recording of the exchange, along with the relevant slides (old-skooled onto cardboard for this event, but pixelled in glorious web colour here for you).

If you would like to share this video with others in Twitter, please use the http://bit.ly/page-3 link (because it will send sweet, sweet link-love to the main project page, where this video will headline from today).

Page 3: Propaganda [sfw] from Tim Ireland on Vimeo.

Go to Top