The Political Weblog Movement

Let’s All Pick on Vulnerable Right-Wing Chicks Week: Part Two

Congratulations to Sim-O, who has let the side down admirably by badgering poor Rachel Joyce into making this statement:

Hi
I have met Nadine and I know she is a woman of the utmost integrity. She believes very strongly in her stand on abortion – worth reading her blog on her views etc.
I am not going to get involved in the submissions to this committee and who said what etc.

Now this may seem, on the face of it, as a totally unreasonable refusal to acknowledge the matter at all, but you’d be wrong to think that for two reasons:

For starters, Sim-O’s request-for-comment contains Too Many Words and, as we all know, women are not capable of reading and retaining anything longer than your average baking recipe… and even then they have to take it one step at a time.

Also, women are (and have been since cavemen times) excellent judges of character. Rachel Joyce, having met Nadine Dorries and sized her up as “a woman of the utmost integrity” with a unique radar capability that only women possess, is again well within her rights to ignore any evidence to the contrary.

But we’re not here to be fair to these ‘people’, are we? We’re here to pick on right-wing representatives of the weaker sex.

So extra credit will be awarded to the first person who successfully (and quite unfairly) challenges Rachel Joyce on her refusal to comment on the issue at all.

(Please remember that Rachel has comment moderation enabled, so any attempt to get a comment past this barrier could be interpreted as a penetrative/invasive act. In other words; go for it!)

UPDATE (5:30pm) – OK, folks…. those who have been watching will already know how horribly this has backfired; Rachel Joyce has amazed everyone by proving that a woman can stand up for herself without resorting to personal attacks while claiming victim status. Sim-O has complicated matters further by stupidly denying a woman the last word. More on this unmitigated disaster tomorrow.

Let’s All Pick on Vulnerable Right-Wing Chicks Week: Part One

Today, I request that a few regular readers (if you’re thinking “Who, me?”, then “Yes, you.”) each choose one poor, vulnerable, politically-minded and right-leaning woman with a website or weblog (commentator, journalist, activist, etc.) and invade her space in the following manner:

a) By sending her a polite email

or

b) By making a polite comment on her blog (with any required apology for it being off-topic)

Basically, I want you to ask that woman what they make of the Nadine Dorries affair.

Make sure that you use the usual intimidating phrases (such as ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘would you mind awfully’) that are certain to send a chill up her spine when she logs on and is unexpectedly confronted with a polite request (possibly late at night, when it’s all dark and spooky outside).

And then report back with any responses and/or failures to reply.

Simple, yes?

Like clockwork

Just a quick note for everyone who is watching what’s going on with the developing spin and censorship storm that started with Nadine Dorries:

Praguetory has just turned up with this comment over at Ellee Seymour’s, and this comment over at Iain Dale’s.

Take a look at the narrative he’s building.

Observe how neatly it’s stitched into the Tory ‘rape conviction’ push and the ‘NuLab trolls’ conspiracy theory.

There’s only one way to deal with something like this:

Yes, starting tomorrow, it’s Let’s All Pick on Vulnerable Right-Wing Chicks Week.

I guarantee you fun, laughter, and some special surprises.

Who’s with me? Who’s bloody with me?

(calls Brown’s office)
(arranges funding)

Dizzy thinks (or hopes) that his readers are morons

[Note - You may at some stage need to right-click on any links to Dizzy's website and paste them in a new browser tab or window, as he has a track record of not only hampering open debate by refusing to use outbound links, but also by fouling inbound links. Clicking on links via bloggerheads.com rather than using the navigational information in those links could result in you being redirected to a NSFW website.]

Background

Dizzy is a remarkably close associate of Iain Dale’s. Until recently (i.e. until I mentioned it as a relevant aspect in a recent exchange), Dizzy was listed as a contributor to Iain’s website. As noted above, Dizzy also helped Iain enact a code that deliberately fouled page/target-specific inbound links from this website. Iain has also been caught attempting to BCC Dizzy on our email conversations. Finally, in a vote hosted and conducted by Iain Dale, Dizzy has been ranked as the 3rd-best blogger in all of Britain, which is nice.

Dizzy also has a track record of issuing vague and/or veiled threats and – a point crucial to this particular post – engaging in dishonest and misleading attacks in order to misrepresent the argument given, undermine the evidence provided, undermine the reputation of the person making the argument or producing the evidence, and/or undertaking attacks on tangential matters in order to draw attention away from the core issue and related evidence.

Finally, Dizzy is a self-confessed and unapologetic user of sock-puppets.

Late on Friday night, Dizzy returned to the comment thread under this post (happily, using his main ID for once), spoiling for a fight. You can see him charging in on another tangent in the comments under this post.

He was not there to engage in honest debate. He certainly wasn’t there to address the core issue of what had happened on Ellee Seymour’s website.

No, he was there to waste my time (at a time when I had little time/capacity to spare) and even said so at the time.

As was noted when I slapped a well-earned 12-hour ban on him, he was clearly taking the piss in a thread about unfair use of comment moderation, because he thought that I wouldn’t dare to edit or ban him for fear of being called a hypocrite (and/or that he could goad me into a position that would allow him convincingly scream “Hypocrite!”).

Now Dizzy has decided that he is ready to discuss the Ellee Seymour issue, but on his own blog and on terms that are far from honest.

And that’s the only thing that has me blogging today, as what we have here is another common tactic used by dishonest bloggers (Paul Staines and Iain Dale have used it repeatedly), and this textbook example warrants documentation:

How To Misrepresent Your Opponent’s Position More Effectively via the Simple Omission of Hyperlinks

Dizzy Thinks – It’s all so trivial really!

Now, as you can see, I’ve started out by linking to the specific post I’m talking about.

Watch carefully as I do it again:

Dizzy Thinks – It’s all so trivial really!

However, in his post (the one that I link to above; here, watch as I link to it a third time), Dizzy provides two general links to the websites of the people involved, but has not linked to any of the specific posts or comments (at Ellee’s site or mine) that he’s talking about and/or basing his accusations on.

Why? Because much of what he says in that post is addressed, refuted or directly contradicted at both locations (I say “much of” because this new post of his includes some brand new nonsense, as well as the material that he has already tried and failed to gain ground with here under comments or via email).

Basically, specific hyperlinks would lead his readers to material that fatally undermines his argument and/or the claims that form the foundation of his argument, and we can’t have that, now can we?

Let me show you what I mean with a quick fisk of the guts of this post, which represents the core of his argument:

In recent days the female blogger Ellee Seymour has found herself the latest target of the ever so tenacious Tim Ireland. This attack has followed the now standard modus operandi of any of Tim’s targeted onslaughts. (source)

Anyone reading the relevant exchange (or even what’s left of it) should be able to see that even if my response could be classified as an attack, that it all kicked off with this anonymous comment, which is clearly an attack on my reputation and that of Ben Goldacre, that Ellee subsequently refused to address, challenge, moderate or investigate.

But Dizzy’s readers are not given ready access to this information, only his version of events.

However, putting aside the content of the comment which Tim considers a libelous smear, it’s worth noting what happened next. (source)

See here how Dizzy frames his narrative in a way that suggests that the comment (that he does not share with his readers) was not specifically designed to damage my reputation and that of Ben Goldacre. He even edits the Goldacre aspect out before neatly putting the whole matter to one side.

But Dizzy’s readers are not given ready access to this information, only his version of events.

He started to email Ellee demanding the IP address of the person that posted. (source)

This is not what happened at all. Every scrap of data emailed to Ellee was published in this post that Dizzy is talking about but not linking to, and at no time was I “demanding the IP address of the person that posted.”

But Dizzy’s readers are not given ready access to this information, only his version of events.

When Ellee refused, quite rightly, to disclose the data belonging to her users the attack took on a more aggressive edge with veiled legal threats relating, bizarrely, to EU laws and commercial astroturfing. (source)

As was made clear in this post, warnings of legal implications also took into account the (unknown) reaction Ben Goldacre might have to the smear. But Dizzy has already edited this bit out of the equation. And neatly put it to one side.

But Dizzy’s readers are not given ready access to this information, only his version of events.

Dizzy is also claiming, as part of my “veiled legal threats,” that I referred to “EU laws and commercial astroturfing.”

This clearly isn’t the case, as the relevant URL provided to Ellee via email can be seen in the post that Dizzy is talking about but not linking to.

Have a quick peek and see what the article is about for yourselves:

The Register – Judge orders football website to name ‘libellous’ posters: A UK judge has ordered a football fans’ website to hand over details of posters who made potentially defamatory remarks about directors of Sheffield Wednesday… Judge Parkes [also] said that some of the postings, although arguably defamatory, bordered on the trivial. The identity of posters who made remarks that were trivial or likely to be understood as jokes ought to remain under wraps. “The postings which I regard as more serious are those which may reasonably be understood to allege greed, selfishness, untrustworthiness and dishonest behaviour on the part of the claimants,” Judge Parkes said.

With access to that link and a link to the comment that Ellee published (and allowed to stand unmolested), a reader would be well-informed enough to make their own judgement as to whether or not that comment could be viewed as deliberately or “potentially defamatory” (i.e. injurious to reputation) and therefore likely to be subject to a legal outing or “trivial or likely to be understood as jokes” and not subject to a legal outing.

But Dizzy’s readers are not given ready access to this information, only his version of events.

Now watch this one, as it’s the almighty whopper, and it will appear in an upcoming test:

At this point a reference to a recent legal precedent on this very subject is required I think. A case has just closed about postings on Sheffield Wednesday message boards where the unfounded suggestion was made that the Wednesday CEO “blew money on hookers”. The judge, Richard Parkes QC, refused to force the bulletin board owners to disclose the IP address details of posters saying, “I do not think that it would be right to make an order for the disclosure of the identities of users who have posted messages which are barely defamatory or little more than abusive, or likely to be understood as jokes.” The judge also said that the messages “border on the trivial” and were “no more than saloon bar moanings”. (source)

[You there! At the back! Pick your jaw up off the floor and get back to your desk!]

Yes, Dizzy has used the *same* case to back his argument, but has failed to mention the part where the judge *did* order disclosure of details of posters who made comments that were somewhat less-than-trivial… which he can only do successfully for as long as his readers are kept away from this or any other reliable article about the case and the comment that he would have them think is trivial.

And, amazingly, he’s doing it while claiming that I had referenced an entirely different/meaningless case.

But Dizzy’s readers are not given ready access to this information, only his version of events.

Fascinating, isn’t it?

Oh, no, sorry… my mistake. It’s clearly a personal attack that I’ve undertaken for strategic political purposes.

Upcoming Lessons

Speaking of which, Dizzy also took the time to send me the following via email when he was relentlessly venting this weekend:

“What will happen when I start to talk about the other aliases that you’ve used online in the past few years?”

I asked him to give me an example or two, and he replied:

“You don’t honestly think I’m going to tell you that yet do you?”… “I’ll put up at a time of my choosing.”

Now, do correct me if I’m wrong, but if it’s pertinent to the debate, he should have brought it up during that debate, yes?

Otherwise, it’s just (*audible gasp*) a threat; an attempt to intimidate me into silence over his sock-puppeting shenanigans that – unfortunately for him – clearly telegraphs the purpose of his actions should he ever – somehow – make good on his threat.

I bring this up only to alert you to the possibility of a further lesson in How Not To Blog that is most likely to involve:

a) the same as above; Dizzy providing his version of events minus any relevant context or pesky evidence

and/or

b) completely falsified evidence that will allow Dizzy to enjoy the benefit of undermining my reputation with an ‘accidental’ right-wing blog explosion (involving many sites that will refuse me the right of reply when they joyfully repeat his claims) *and* the escape-route of claiming that he falsified the evidence ‘merely’ to prove how easy it is to do so.

Homework

Read this post and try to determine for yourselves why it is an excellent example of when it IS acceptable (and advisable) to not include links to what you are discussing. Extra credit will be given to those students who can work out where Garry’s example and Dizzy’s efforts might intersect, why some people might be upset that I didn’t follow the clear trail of breadcrumbs they left for me, and why you should not bother wasting time with that trail yourself.

Homework without paperwork? I do spoil you sometimes.

Ellee Seymour: Little Miss Conduct

[For those who came in late: Ellee Seymour: a timeline of lies and libel]

After spending most of yesterday afternoon denying that she had deleted any comments, last night – just before leaving for a two-day freebie in Spain – Ellee Seymour reinstated some (but not all) of my comments that previously appeared in the comments thread under this post.

This, in theory, allows her to avoid any tricky questions asking – if no comments have been deleted – why people are talking to a ‘Tim’ that isn’t there.

Well, here’s a little treat for you:

This is a full and unaltered* mirror of that page before Ellee deleted my comments:
Mirror 1 – Captured 21:58 06/11/2007

This is the same thread after she deleted comments:
Mirror 2 – Captured 22:17 06/11/2007

This is the same thread after she reinstated some comments in order to convince people that she hadn’t deleted any comments at all:
Mirror 3 – Captured 08:43 08/11/2007

[*In each file, the Statcounter code has been removed to avoid corrupting Ellee's tracking data and a 'noindex,nofollow' tag has been added to avoid Ellee being stung with any 'mirroring' penalties.]

You may note that the main comment that Ellee has failed to reinstate links to the kind of evidence (1, 2) that she’d rather not take into account. Presumably because this allows her to continue to insist that Nadine Dorries hasn’t done anything wrong.

She has also failed to reinstate another comment from me that originally appeared right above this comment from Welshcakes Limoncello. It’s possible that this is a courtesy extended to one of her regulars who later in the *same* thread seems to have trouble difficulty recalling data that has since disappeared down the Memory Hole:

Well, I’m not sure I understand all the above comments but I do understand that if Ellee says she hasn’t deleted any, she hasn’t!

Strangely, Nadine has yet to reinstate the single comment from me in the thread where she is being pressed hardest about missing comments.

1. Semantics

Ellee Seymour has been insisting until she is blue in the face that no comments of mine have been deleted (see #3 below). She could very well be aiming for a future claim (once she gets back from her jolly holiday) that these comments were not ‘deleted’, but instead ‘filtered’ (i.e. withdrawn from publication after being classified as spam). She may even have the audacity to suggest or claim that it was all a bit of an accident and she didn’t know what was going on, because she’s a PR blogging expert who doesn’t know her way around her own back-end.

Bunnies to that.

The purpose of the filtering is and was to remove comments that don’t fit into her narrative. It’s censorship, pure and simple. Even if the comments have not been so totally destroyed that they are irretrievable, they have still been removed from the thread. This counts as ‘deletion’, even if Ellee later decides to click the ‘undo’ button in order to cause confusion and/or avoid further embarrassment.

Well, I wish her luck with that, because now – in front of many credible witnesses – she has not only deleted comments, but denied doing so and then later reinstated them without any indication or admission that she has done so.

2. Selective Moderation

In theory, bunging off on holiday provides her with a good excuse for taking this next measure, but it’s become clear that Ellee engaged general moderation again well before leaving, effectively queuing comments that contained awkward questions about her conduct, but publishing a series of happy comments wishing her well.

Garry has an excellent example in this updated post.

[Psst! Do recall before this next bit that Ellee's timestamps are one hour out of whack.]

This comment submitted by Garry at 8:35 pm last night aims to present a potentially awkward predicament to Welshcakes Limoncello. It is – at the time of writing – still being held in the moderation queue and does not appear in the thread it was submitted to.

It could be argued/claimed that the happier and less problematic comments cleared for publication at 8:31 pm, 9:06 pm, 10:16pm, 10:17 pm were automatically cleared because these people are ‘trusted’ commenters (WordPress and Movable Type allow you to hold comments prior to publication if they come from people who are not regular contributors; I use this system myself), but there are two anomalies that complicate this excuse:

a) ‘Quasar9′ makes a comment here (at 1:30am) where he appears to be confused about a previous comment. The two previous comments visible… are his. An interim comment submitted and published between 10:17 pm and 1:30am appears to have been deleted.

b) Take another look at the comment submitted by Garry at 8:35 pm. Welshcakes Limoncello is insisting that if Ellee says she hasn’t deleted any comments, then she hasn’t deleted any comments, but – if Garry’s comment were cleared for publication at that time – it would clearly show that Welshcakes Limoncello was there to witness the missing comments.

At some time after 10 pm, Ellee responded to this difficult problem by altering the evidence (i.e. by reinstating comments that are suddenly awkward for Ellee if they are *not* there).

Here’s another mirror for you… this was saved to disk on my computer at 10:04 pm last night:

Mirror 4 – Captured 22:04 07/11/2007

Essentially, Garry’s comment was held back (and is *still* being held back) while a clear effort was made to undermine it a few hours later.

Dirty tricks, and yet more censorship.

3. Outright Lies

Below are the comments made by Ellee Seymour yesterday in response to repeated questions about her deletion of comments. Now, you have to remember here that Ellee is making these comments knowing that I’ve published a fully documented account of the deletions and the surrounding circumstances here on my weblog, and that the gaps are there for all to see on her own.

Ellee Seymour at 10:22 pm Nov 6 (just after comment deletion):

Tim, Sorry, but no, and please don’t send me any more threatening emails. Don’t expect me to respond, or to phone you. And I’m not going to divulge confidential information to you about people who leave comments on my site. I regard Nadine as a superb woman, a superb MP and a superb blogger. Nothing you say will change that.

Ellee Seymour at 5:17 am Nov 7:

Clive, no comments have been deleted. I’m afraid I can’t answer your question as I don’t know the answer. I admire Nadine and respect her judgement on this.

Ellee Seymour at 3:57 pm Nov 7:

Jherad, I haven’t censored one word of Tim Ireland. Maybe he censored himself.

[Note - Ellee is running on a WordPress platform. Unlike platforms such as Blogger, it does *not* allow me to delete comments that I have submitted to another website.]

Ellee Seymour at 5:01 pm Nov 7:

David, the fact is that no comment has been deleted. One was held up in comment moderation while I was out and later published. That seemed to upset him, and the same with his trolls when it happened to them too because I was out. Also because I refused to give him the IP address of a blogger who criticised him, he has turned against me in this way. I shall always protect the confidential information of people who post comments here. My credibility is firmly in tact. I shall not give in to any intimidation and threats.

A pack of lies. This is not what happened at all.

The comment she refers to here was published last night for the first time after 10pm.

It was not held up in comment moderation, but instead was cast into the spam pit, along with a series of previously published comments. The message I received after I submitted it read:

Sorry, but your comment has been flagged by the spam filter running on this blog: this might be an error, in which case all apologies. Your comment will be presented to the blog admin who will be able to restore it immediately. You may want to contact the blog admin via e-mail to notify him.

The classification of my recent comments as spam – that I now regard to be deliberate because no-one with the capacity to use a keyboard could possibly be as ignorant as Ellee is pretending to be – neatly removed all of my recent comments from two discussion threads.

Ellee also has the audacity to repeat a tactic that I grow tired of; suggesting that I am easily upset and that this is the reason for any objection I may have to her conduct. As with her blunt refusal to admit that any comments have been deleted, this is an attempt to rewrite history. It’s also a bit of a smear.

Speaking of which, to suggest that the contributions from people supporting me are in any way troll-like really is taking the biscuit. The comments that she published here and here that are so central to this issue (and still live!!!) are the only troll-like comments anywhere in recent exchanges. Everything else is a clear attempt to call her to account for her publication of these comments, her refusal to investigate or delete them, a completely valid question about her censorship/deletion of comments, and/or her inexplicable refusal to consider the facts surrounding the removal of comments from Nadine Dorries’ site.

This is yet another example of something that keeps cropping up when I’m forced to confront dishonest bloggers; Rovian projection (the deliberate projection of one’s own misconduct onto one’s opponent). There are echoes of this in Ellee’s laughable claim that I have somehow deleted these comments myself.

[Note to self: Attempt to 'hack' Ellee's website while she is away. Her password might very well be '1234'.]

(ahem)

Moving on…

And Ellee was indeed in at the time she claims she was out, because she made this comment at almost exactly the same time as I submitted the one she claims was held up by moderation while she was ‘out’.

She was also busy deleting my comments at the time. Let’s not forget that.

What has also been made clear by my publication of evidence – including every email I sent to her – is that at no threats were made and that at no time was I insisting that she share sensitive data with me. Some might argue that I have a right to that data given the nature of the comments involved, but I’m a man of experience, me. I’ve dealt with dishonest bloggers before, and I know that they like to scream about ‘rights’ this and ‘freedom’ that when they have no respect for the rights and freedom of others. I made it clear to Ellee *repeatedly* that I wanted to and was able to – at the very least – help her to identify the culprit without being privy to details myself.

Yet, strangely, Ellee appears desperate to arrange her narrative in such a way that she will never be compelled to investigate the source of those comments.

And I think I know why….

At any stage, Ellee may choose to throw a spanner in the works and suggest that her technical adviser Geoff Jones or someone else within her immediate circle was involved in a key/admin capacity at some stage, but let’s operate on the fair assumption that it’s Ellee’s site and she’s the one behind the driving wheel.

What we already have from the evidence still on Ellee’s site (and documented in detail on this site) is the undeniable fact that Ellee Seymour allowed libellous comments to be published, and acted irresponsibly as a moderator by allowing them to stand and not challenging, addressing or deleting them herself.

But I’m going to go a little further than that:

It is my contention that it was Ellee Seymour who wrote, contributed to or otherwise called this comment into being:

Is this the same Tim Ireland who stalks people on their blogs? Maybe you are the low life Nadine is referring to? Read the stuff about the Guardian – seems she was right to me. You wouldn’t be trying to create a storm in a teacup would you so that people will hit your blog via the links you have put on Ellee’s site and put your hit rate up? if I were Nadine I would write to the editor of the Guardian, this guy seems pretty un-profesional to me. Ellee, you should put a block on the name Tim Ireland – he is the reason many MPs don’t blog. He makes their life a misery with his obsessive comments and stalking.

It is my contention that it was Ellee Seymour who wrote, contributed to or otherwise called this comment into being:

Really Tim, funny that, because on the other blog you and this Garry guy blogged straight after one another.So is Tim Garry and Garry Tim? A certain Anne Milton MP has had some very bad experiences with you hasn’t she Tim?

And here, finally, I’m going to get a little bit emotional on you….

I. Am. Sick. To. Death. Of. This. Bullshit.

Weblogs should allow us the capacity to finally discuss political issues openly and honestly, and one thing above all is currently holding us back:

The general population is constantly assured by mainstream media owners and representatives who clearly can’t be trusted themselves that weblogs are not to be trusted. We are essentially at odds with a machine that is still much larger than our collective strength, and the only weapon that gives us the edge is integrity.

But the credibility of all weblogs is undermined when the self-proclaimed ‘leading’ political bloggers cannot conduct themselves with integrity.

It is undermined even further if it becomes clear that ‘leading’ political bloggers will lie outright to their readers, even when they have been caught bang to rights compromising their integrity for the sake of personal or political gain.

We cannot call for accountability if we ourselves refuse to be held accountable.

We betray our readers if we unfairly moderate their input or secretly alter our own to give the impression that we are always right.

We can and we must do better than this, or every scrap of potential is going to be pissed away.

Ellee Seymour: a timeline of lies and libel

[The following introduction has been presented without relevant hyperlinks in order to keep this post focused on the recent actions of Ellee Seymour. Those wishing to see background to any of the text in the introduction should check this recent post for a shedload of related evidence.]

Many moons ago, in the lead-up to the 2005 general election, the then Conservative candidate Anne Milton lied to me, and tried to fob me off about it. I began a blog that subjected her campaign, and then tenure as my MP, to scrutiny. Milton and her activists responded by smearing me while declaring Milton to be the victim of smears.

As it turns out, I was on the right track almost from Day One; the very first ringer I identified in her pamphlets later went on to use an anonymous weblog to smear his direct political opponent and put him in considerable danger by publishing his name, a photo, his whereabouts… and a claim that he was a paedophile.

I took clear evidence if this to the perpetrator’s employer (the Learning & Skills Council), Milton’s office, the Guildford Conservatives Association, and Conservative Central Office, but to no avail.

I also brought it to the attention of the two leading bloggers from the right at the time, Iain Dale and Paul Staines (aka Guido Fawkes). Both refused to condemn the action or even acknowledge publicly that it had taken place.

Shortly after this, I spent a few months watching how Iain Dale, Paul Staines and others from their overlapping posse conducted themselves online, and then later spoke up about it.

A familiar pattern soon emerged:

Dale, Staines and their activists responded by smearing me while declaring Dale and Staines to be the victim of smears.

Common themes included false claims about my political orientation, my sexual orientation, and my state of mind.

It was at this time that Ellee Seymour got involved.

The facts were right there in front of her face, but instead she chose to endorse and promote Dale’s absurd claim that he was the victim of a political/personal vendetta.

I had her filed under ‘ignore/sheep’ until she published and failed to delete this anonymous smear that was clearly designed to undermine my credibility and boost Dale’s:

Teri says:
February 3rd, 2007 at 11:48 am

Whos is this crazy Manic/Guido 2.0/Tim Ireland. He seems to have more personalitys that cybil. After reading that ranting nonsense over at Iains blog, I’m not sure if it’s me or manic many that needs the prozac.

It was always going to cause some kick back but thankfully Iain is thick skinned enough to deal with it.

I watched and waited for a fair period of time, but Ellee did not challenge or delete an obvious smear under a post defending a man falsely claiming to be the victim of smears. She could no longer be classified as an unwitting victim of propaganda; rather, she had shown that she was clearly willing to play the same reindeer games that – sooner or later – lead to the type of anonymous claims that go beyond putting reputations at risk.

And *that* is what earned her this slap.

I posted text and a link under that post that challenged the body of her post, and her conduct as a blogger.

Ellee then deleted that comment and went on to lie about it on other weblogs.

Now we fast-forward a few months to Nadine Dorries making an absurd and unsustainable claim about the conduct of Guardian columnist Ben Goldacre and then suddenly deciding – when she gets called on her false claims – that she will no longer be publishing comments on her ‘weblog’.

[Important Bit To Remember: Both myself and Garry Smith have been blogging about this and following developments.]

OK, here comes the timeline. Some posts/comments have been truncated for focus and brevity, but a link to the source or a screengrab of same appears before each quote under the time/date stamp. Please note that all of Ellee’s time-stamps have had to be corrected here by minus one hour (either her system is set at the wrong time zone, or it missed the clocks going back a week or so ago):

November 5th, 2007 at 12:57 pm – Ellee Seymour expresses her disappointment:

Nadine’s blog is very amusing and a great read. However, in my opinion, it has stopped being a blog as it no longer accepts comments. It is now an online daily diary. A blog must allow readers to comment and be interactive, it facilitates two-way communication which is crucial for MPs.

November 5th, 2007 at 9:40 pm – Nadine Dorries amusingly uses the comments facility on someone else’s website to defend the closure of comments on hers. In her comment, she repeats a claim she has yet to back up with evidence; that she did so because of multiple abusive comments:

The fact is I was getting hundreds of comments. Many, as a result of what I have been doing with regard to abortion, some of which were absolutely vile. There are some lovely people out there, but there are also some serious low life – and when you put your head above the parapet, as I have, the low life take aim. I may, when my work regarding abortion takes a slower pace, re-introduce comments. However, in the meantime, having to deal with people who think it’s cool to re- post their comments 40 times a night, and there are dozens of them, so that it takes over an hour to sort out the email account in the morning is no joke… I did take comments on my BB but I am afraid I had to stop that also when I started to receive some very weird posts late at night, which frankly scared me.

November 5th, 2007 at 10:07 pm – Your humble author, who has just watched Iain Dale delete an inconvenient comment exchange while falsely claiming that he did so because it contained ‘vitriol’, counters:

So, Nadine, your argument is that you have refused all valid challenges to your abortion-related posts because of a series of invalid ones that we’re not allowed to see. I could say something about throwing the baby out with the bathwater here, but instead I’ll suggest that you get a more robust blogging platform, which will make moderation of the alleged abuse easier to handle. Oh, and I would seriously consider doing this before the difficulties of the abortion debate (some of which are nothing to do with the contentious issue of abortion, and of your own making) have passed you by… otherwise people might get the idea that you’re the kind of person who makes spurious/baseless accusations and then runs away when called on them.

November 5th, 2007 at 10:46 pm – Ellee has a sudden change of heart. It is unclear at this stage if it is because she has taken Nadine’s most recent claims at face value, or if she has allowed her personal dislike of me to cloud her judgement, or if it is because she knows that I once caught her doing much the same thing Nadine has done, albeit on a smaller scale. Or perhaps a little of all three:

Nadine, thanks for this clarification. I really had no idea you were getting hundreds of comments. It’s a compliment in many ways, so please don’t give in to the low-life, don’t let them win. However, I sympathise with how you must have felt getting vile comments too, especially with such intensity… I can understand why you need a breathing space right now, I look forward to when your comments are reinstated. I love your blog too.

November 5th, 2007 at 10:59 pm – Your humble author highlights some aspects of Nadine’s most recent claims that may have passed Ellee by and suggests that Ellee take a look at the evidence:

Erm, Ellee… Nadine is also claiming that many of those “hundreds of comments” have been coming from one individual. I’d also invite you to read what she broadcast just before closing down comments. The need for ‘space’ is spin at best.

November 6th, 2007 at 9:03 am – The next morning, I post an item to the new weblog I created that *would* allow people to comment on Nadine’s output:

Nadine Dorries uses comments to challenge article about her refusal to allow comments:

No, it’s not irony… it’s *hypocrisy*.

Nadine Dorries says: The fact is I was getting hundreds of comments. Many, as a result of what I have been doing with regard to abortion, some of which were absolutely vile.

Ah, the ‘secret evidence’ ploy, mixed with a heady dose of alleged vitriol. I did tell you that she’d learned a lot from Iain Dale. And, happily, it allows Nadine to refuse all comments (valid or otherwise). Nadine also seeks to assure us that she may reinstate comments “when… work regarding abortion takes a slower pace.” In other words, when the fuss has died down over the false claims she made before bravely running away.

[Psst! If you're wondering why Ellee suddenly becomes a lot more generous toward Nadine during the comment exchange, it's probably because my presence reminded her of this minor event. Despite this past failing, Ellee deserves the usual courtesies, so please don't all go piling into her comments just because it's a rare opportunity to engage with Nadine Dorries.]

November 6th, 2007 at 2:22 pm – Ellee expresses her new-found sympathy for Nadine in a dedicated post:

I lay in bed last night thinking about Nadine’s dilemma. I expressed my disappointment yesterday that she had switched off her comment facility, which I feel is crucial to a blog. Nadine indicated it was a time-issue, without mentioning that she had been targeted by hundreds of merciless “low-life” bloggers. I’m sure I would do the same in her shoes… Nadine left a comment last night in response to my post. I do send her my sympathies, particularly being sent “scary” messages too late at night. It is unfair that her loyal following should be deprived of the chance to debate a very serious topic, that it should be hijacked in such a forceful way, leaving her no choice but to ban comments altogether. I share Nadine’s hopes that she will re-open her comment facility when she feels comfortable about it. We want Nadine to continue writing her great posts without being under duress from cyber stalkers.

November 6th, 2007 at 2:48 pm – Your humble author points out that Ellee’s trust might be misplaced and – again – invites her to view the evidence. This time, hyperlinks are provided to ensure this evidence is readily available:

No, Nadine *claims* to have been targeted by hundreds of merciless low-life bloggers – and/or targeted by a few low-life bloggers submitting hundreds of entries (she has yet to make this clear). But the reality of it is that Nadine made a claim that was totally unfair and totally without foundation in reality, and she is now unwilling to retract the claim or even have it subjected to scrutiny on her website.

Again, I invite you to have a closer look at the background:
http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2007/11/nadine_dorries_iain_dale.asp
http://www.sticksandcarrots.net/2007/11/01/the-nad-gambit/

November 6th, 2007 at 3:43 pm – Garry Smith also expresses concern about misplaced trust on Ellee’s part:

I’m afraid you’ve been sold a lemon, Elle. Nadine closed her comments because she wasn’t able to defend her position. The links Tim has provided explain but here’s the short version: [snip] That’s the nub of Nadine’s problem right there. Rather than dealing with the evidence which demonstrates that she has made a spurious accusation, she censored all mention of Goldacre’s response in the comments to her blog. The next day, she closed comments. She has not withdrawn the accusation or apologised for making it.

November 6th, 2007 at 4:15 pm – At this stage I had growing suspicions about personal prejudice clouding Elle’s judgement. She herself says nothing about those prejudices, but happily an anonymous contributor (‘Matt’) does it for her. This comment is clearly designed to undermine my credibility and that of Ben Goldacre. It is a smear that is completely without foundation that I find deeply insulting given all of the time and effort I have given freely to MPs wishing to engage honestly and openly with their constituents and the wider electorate:

Is this the same Tim Ireland who stalks people on their blogs? Maybe you are the low life Nadine is referring to? Read the stuff about the Guardian – seems she was right to me. You wouldn’t be trying to create a storm in a teacup would you so that people will hit your blog via the links you have put on Ellee’s site and put your hit rate up? if I were Nadine I would write to the editor of the Guardian, this guy seems pretty un-profesional to me. Ellee, you should put a block on the name Tim Ireland – he is the reason many MPs don’t blog. He makes their life a misery with his obsessive comments and stalking.

November 6th, 2007 at 4:30 pm (approx.) – I call Ellee on one of the numbers published on her website. She claims to be rushing out the door to pick up her children, so I get to the point; I make it clear to her that it would be in her interests to find out who submitted the above libel to her website, but – even though I would very much like to know who is behind it – it is up to her to decide what information she shares with me. At this stage, it is unclear if her back-end keeps a permanent record of the relevant IP address, or if we are reliant on Statcounter data. If it’s the latter, then time is off the essence. It is made clear to Ellee that the opportunity to identify the relevant IP address could pass us by if we do not act quickly enough. She claims to be unable to work the back-end of her website to the extent of being able to identify the culprit by IP address, so I quickly offer to talk her through the process and leave her to be on her way with a request that she call or email me as soon as she is able to do so.

Two hours pass, and she has not returned my call. In the meantime, Garry and I nearly trip over each other as he and I respond to the comment above and others.

November 6th, 2007 at 7:20 pm – I try calling Ellee on her main number and her mobile, but there is no answer. Instead, I send the following email:

—– Original Message —–
From: Tim Ireland
To: Ellee Seymour
Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2007 7:27 PM
Subject: smear/troll published on your website

Dear Ellee,

Please call me this evening regarding this comment left at your website:

http://elleeseymour.com/2007/11/06/my-sympathies-for-nadine/#comment-48488

I would hate for you to be a situation where you were unable to trace the source of the comment because you did not act quickly enough.

Tim Ireland
[home number snipped]

PS – You were wrong in what you said here, as the attached file should prove:

http://cityunslicker.blogspot.com/2007/02/pyrrhic-victory-in-cash-for-honours.html#c980260700873753361

It could very well be that your inexperience caused us to bump heads needlessly. Let’s not have that happen here.

Nearly another two hours pass without a response. But Ellee is clearly online, as she has just left a comment in another thread on her website.

November 6th, 2007 at 8:59 pm – I leave a comment under her most recent one letting her know that I’m awaiting a response, just in case she’s using the web but not checking her email:

Ah, good; you’re up…. When you have a moment to deal with that rather more serious matter that we discussed earlier…

November 6th, 2007 at 9:12 pm – I then send another email:

—– Original Message —–
From: Tim Ireland
To: Ellee Seymour
Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2007 9:12 PM
Subject: Re: smear/troll published on your website

Ellee,

Please call me before 10pm this evening. Details are scant because I needed to let you go this afternoon, but time could be of the essence.

Tim
[home number snipped]

November 6th, 2007 at 9:12 pm – Ellee chooses to respond not via email, but under comments at her website:

Tim, Regarding your request, I regard it as confidential information and am not prepared to pass it on.

At the same time, she engages comment moderation. All comments submitted to the site from this point on have to be cleared by Ellee prior to publication.

November 6th, 2007 at 9:14 pm – Another anonymous smear appears, very much like the first. This one comes from an anonymous contributor using the name ‘Dave’. It suggests that Garry Smith and I are the same person and also that my disapproval of the actions of Nadine Dorries has something to do with a personal or political agenda:

Really Tim, funny that, because on the other blog you and this Garry guy blogged straight after one another. So is Tim Garry and Garry Tim? A certain Anne Milton MP has had some very bad experiences with you hasn’t she Tim?

November 6th, 2007 9:29 pm – Now, it would be very easy for me to assume that Ellee is making these comments herself, but instead I continue to give her the benefit of the doubt, reiterate my offer to help her identify the culprit without being privy to details myself, and remind her of the possible consequences of her actions. On that last point I should remind you that the libel published on Ellee’s website targets not just myself, but also Guardian columnist Ben Goldacre. Without making any assumptions about what actions Dr Goldacre and/or the Guardian might take, I feel that Ellee deserves fair warning about what she might be letting herself in for. The following email is sent:

—– Original Message —–
From: Tim Ireland
To: Ellee Seymour
Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2007 9:29 PM
Subject: Re: smear/troll published on your website

I’ve just read your latest comment, and have noticed that you’ve suddenly switched comment moderation on.

I have also noticed that you have since *knowingly* cleared the following comment, of a similar tone and purpose to #3 in the same thread:

http://elleeseymour.com/2007/11/06/my-sympathies-for-nadine/#comment-48527

I still need you to call me before 10pm, and now must also remind you that – should push come to shove – you will be legally obliged to reveal those details:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/10/19/swfc_net_libel_case/

I would much prefer that I at least helped you to determine where this comment came from, without being privy to the details myself.

The process should take no more than 10 minutes, and I’m happy to talk you through it.

Tim
[home number snipped]

November 6th, 2007 9:55 pm – The deadline looms. Ellee needs to know that if she makes it clear that she is not only willing to continue to host these smears, but also unwilling to take any action to identify the individual(s) behind them, then I’ll be forced to defend my reputation on my own weblog and make it clear why I have been forced to do so. The following email is sent:

—– Original Message —–
From: Tim Ireland
To: Ellee Seymour
Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2007 9:56 PM
Subject: Re: smear/troll published on your website

Ellee, if you force my hand, I will have no choice but to make it clear – in a very public fashion – that you have done so… and you’ve painted yourself into a very tight corner here.

Contrary to the propaganda some people are fond of spreading, I do not relish these types of confrontations… but when people make or publish claims that are totally false and then try to fob me off instead of removing or backing them up with evidence, I don’t shy away from them, either.

Please call me before 10pm.

Tim
[home number snipped]

November 6th, 2007 at 10:12 pm – Ellee responds by removing all comments made by me in this thread and this thread. My side of our exchange of that afternoon and evening has been entirely deleted – while the baseless smears that have caused me concern are left in place!

Further, I find when attempting a response to the latest anonymous smear that I have been blocked as ‘a potential source of spam’. It is at this time that Ellee also deactivates general comment moderation.

November 6th, 2007 at 10:22 pm – Then (again) Ellee chooses to respond in the comments of this unrelated thread rather than answer my emails. In this comment, she airs a claim of ‘threats’ in front of her readers, without giving any details to back up her claim. Here, I should point out that this post that you’re reading right now contains every* scrap of information sent to Ellee via email as part of this exchange.

[Added Nov 8 - *Minus my home phone number, which I now regret trusting her with.]

Tim, Sorry, but no, and please don’t send me any more threatening emails. Don’t expect me to respond, or to phone you. And I’m not going to divulge confidential information to you about people who leave comments on my site. I regard Nadine as a superb woman, a superb MP and a superb blogger. Nothing you say will change that.

Well, finally, she has said it. The evidence is right there in front of her face, but she is allowing personal prejudice to cloud her judgement. She has also taken to smearing me personally while claiming to be the victim of the piece. A familiar tactic.

The anonymous smears that she has published, and her and her readers’ reactions to them, currently give the impression that I am in the habit of cyber-stalking female Tory MPs, and so am the most likely culprit behind the ‘vile’ messages Nadine Dorries claims to have received. Not on. Not on at all.

Also, despite repeated offers (from the get-go) to help Ellee identify the culprit without being privy to the details myself, she also falsely states to her readers here that I am asking her to part with ‘confidential information’. Not so. Not so at all.

But here comes the real money shot…

November 6th, 2007 at 10:41 pm – Clive Summerfield chips in and asks Ellee why the discussion thread now appears to have dirty great gaps in it:

What a weird comment thread. Have some comments been deleted or are Dave and Matt externalising some inner conversation with “Tim”?

November 7th, 2007 at 5:17 am – Ellee denies that any comments have been deleted!

Clive, no comments have been deleted. I’m afraid I can’t answer your question as I don’t know the answer. I admire Nadine and respect her judgement on this.

Did you get that?

It. Never. Happened.

Ellee Seymour is refusing to take published evidence into account with regards to Nadine Dorries’ conduct, but she has willingly accepted Dorries’ claims when she has provided no evidence to back them up

Further, Ellee is publishing anonymous smears that are completely without basis, and publishing smears under her own name without a single scrap of evidence while deleting my responses (and the related evidence), denying me a right of reply – and denying that she has done so!

And guess what? Her readers are buying it and congratulating her for her bravery!

November 7th, 2007 at 9:19 am – Here’s blogger Liz and her two cents:

I’m sorry to read your comments to Tim. How sad that someone should resort to threats. Well done you on standing firm.

Appalling. And quite scary.

If you’d like to have a quiet word about it with Ellee Seymour, the best place to start is right here… but do tread carefully. You might suddenly find yourself under personal attack on her website and banned from responding to those attacks. Not a happy place to be.

UPDATE – Ellee Seymour was ranked by Iain Dale as the 10th-best blogger in the UK.

UPDATE (08 Nov) – Documentation continues in this follow-up post, but do take the time to read some interim follow-ups in the comments here, and one contribution from a person who has gone to great lengths to disguise their identity and then have a go at me for using the word ‘sock-puppet’ when I actually see one.

Bad news for the sock-puppeteers

Via Toby

The Register – EU cracks down on fake blogger astroturfing: Nothing beats word of mouth for getting people to put their hand in their pockets. So it didn’t take long for cheeky marketing departments to cotton on to the power of blogs and pose as consumers praising their own particular widget to the skies to help lift their top line. Sneaky, perhaps, but usually legal. Not for much longer, however, as covert commercial blogging – or flogging – will soon be banned by Brussels. Under laws due to come into force at the beginning of next year, but likely to be delayed until April for the UK, companies posing as consumers on fake blogs, providing fake testimonies on consumer rating websites such as TripAdvisor, or writing fake book reviews on Amazon risk criminal or civil liability.. Those that break the new rules risk both civil proceedings and criminal prosecution. When it comes to catching the guilty in flagrante, the authorities will be allowed to make test purchases and enter premises without a warrant, if necessary. But the crucial word here is “risk” – the government has already indicated that only serious infringements will be prosecuted, although it is probably best to assume that it will prod into action the Office of Fair Trading and Trading Standards, the chief enforcement agencies, should an illegal commercial blog gain a high media profile.

I would dare say that the same law will apply to repeated false-face endorsements of certain political websites that also involve significant commercial interests.

There are some doubts about the effectiveness of the new law when “only serious infringements will be prosecuted”, but the risk of prosecution is sure to, at least, keep mainstream agencies and clients on the straight and narrow.

OK, so I’m an optimist…

Liberal Conspiracy launches

Liberal Conspiracy – We want to be the hub: There is no denying that Liberal Conspiracy is partly born out of the frustration that many organisations who champion liberal-left ideals do not cooperate much with each other. It isn’t just the sectarianism that has traditionally been the preserve of hard-left socialists. As our politics splits up into single-issue groups concerned about the environment, civil liberties, feminism, anti-racism, social justice, alleviating poverty etc – there isn’t much dialogue taking place between them and there is certainly a lack of broad coalition-building to push for political aims together. We want to be the network hub where other organisations sharing our ideals are promoted and their campaigns highlighted.

I’ll be watching with interest.

Spot the inconsistency

Independent – My Life in Media: Guido Fawkes Paul Staines

What is the best thing about your job?

The stalkers I’ve had. Some of them take it all a bit seriously…

Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire:

I’d like to destroy a minister’s career…

Nadine Dorries: no regrets

The first post on Nadine Dorries: Feedback is now live.

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