A few days ago, a Conservative campaign site titled ‘Cash Gordon’ emerged. It was a continuation of their tellingly empty, negative and dishonest response to their difficulties with Lord Ashcroft (recent example of this titanic struggle with the truth here), and it was found to be even less impressive when it turned out to be a not-inexpensive but hastily carved ‘cookie cutter’ job done by designers in the US who mostly stick to issues/views the Conservatives are somewhat divided on and would rather not mention this side of an election.
Sam Coates (more), acting in his role as co-ordinater of Tory online campaigning, was busy countering this with some spin, while at the same time hailing any negative publicity as a win for his campaign; it mattered not that his campaign was being criticised and ridiculed, so long as his magical, mind-altering hashtag ‘#cashgordon’ was reaching eyeballs.
Coates continued to maintain this position beyond the point most of us would consider credible… or wise:
I can’t possibly improve on the remaining documentation by Meg Pickard, and I shan’t try.
It wasn’t long before someone cried ‘hacker’… and one of the people who did that was Lua Cooper.
Lua Cooper looked up the details of one of the people who had published one of these redirects (this one, to their own site) and called their employer, claiming to be acting on behalf of CCHQ, while falsely accusing this person of being associated with some of the redirects to more colourful locations (i.e. ‘shock sites’ which she described as “porn sites”) and threatening legal action.
You should read the following Twitter-based exchange knowing that Lua Cooper is Sam Coates’ girlfriend… it’s far more illuminating that way:
JimmySparkle: conservative party phoned my workplace claiming they may sue me for supposedly hacking their website… tweeting != hacking. lol #cashgordon
SamuelCoates: @jimmysparkle er, no we didn’t… #cashgordon
SamuelCoates: One of the guys behind the #CashGordon hacks (@jimmysparkle) is now falsely claiming that we’ve rang him about it. More evidence of malice?
Niall Paterson (SKY News): @jimmysparkle Any chance you could clear this up? Who called, when, what did they say? Cheers.
Chris Mou: @niallpaterson Girl called claiming to be from Tory party. Threatened to sue for “hacking” and redirecting to “horrific” pictures. (lie)
Chris Mou: Boss told her to call back tomorrow if she wanted to speak to him. Assume if it *was* real they won’t be calling back now.
Chris Mou: Incidently, she said her name was “Laura Cooper”.
JimmySparkle: Apparently the woman who phoned was a Laura Cooper, no idea if she was genuine. Claimed I hacked their site. Fail fail fail #cashgordon
Niall Paterson (SKY News): Cheers @chrismou. So @samuelcoates, anyone called Laura Cooper at CCHQ?
SamuelCoates: @niallpaterson @chrismou nope! Anything like that would have come through our team as it’s our thing – and I can guarantee that it hasn’t.
Niall Paterson (SKY News): @samuelcoates Just checking – there’s absolutely nothing in @jimmysparkle’s comments?
SamuelCoates: @niallpaterson no – why would we do that?!
JimmySparkle: so do you know Laura Cooper?
SamuelCoates: @jimmysparkle no, do you?
Note – it is at this stage that JimmySparkle is tipped off by an anonymous ‘single purpose’ account, and the jig is up.
yeppyfd: @jimmysparkle It may be conicidence but Sam Coates has a gf called LUA Cooper….. or it may not
JimmySparkle: wow @SamuelCoates did you get your girl friend to call up threatening legal action? #cashgordon
JimmySparkle: #cashgordon @SamuelCoates where did Lua Cooper’s twitter account go? http://bit.ly/bZG2j2
We’ll get to Lua Cooper’s hurriedly-removed Twitter account in a moment. First, this follow-up tweetage from Niall Paterson and the CCHQ Press release that followed:
Niall Paterson (SKY News): But even in the cab home, i’m working – Tories confirm tonight that Lua Cooper DID contact @jimmysparkle but is not a member of staff
Niall Paterson (SKY News): Ms Cooper is a “friend” of party worker, her actions were neither authorised nor condoned by CCHQ. She “felt strongly” abt hijacking of site
A [Conservative] Party spokesman said:
“This person is not a member of staff and her actions were not authorised by the Party. She is a friend of a party worker and felt strongly about the way this website had been hijacked and took it upon herself to make comments on the issue. She did this without our knowledge and we do not condone her actions.”
She did a little more than make comments on the issue; she attempted to bully someone through their employer with false accusations and baseless legal threats.
CCHQ also fails to claim anything about the call coming from outside their offices, but I guess we’ll find out more about that if/when the relevant call logs become available
In the meantime, feel free to browse for remnants of the Twitter/Facebook/etc. accounts for Lua Cooper that were cleaned out so suddenly late yesterday afternoon; this cache dating back to 5 March reveals that Lua Cooper is indeed very close to Samuel Coates, and worthy of (and excited about) front-row seats to David Cameron speeches.
As has been pointed out by Unity, she also appears in a CCHQ instruction/recruitment video. (That it’s for telephone canvassing is not only funny, but one good reason to suspect that when Lua Cooper made that call, she did so from a HQ-provided phone.)
There are also old tweets from Lua Cooper where she messages The Conservatives’ ‘Communities Editor’ Craig Elder about his concerns he may have packed too lightly for an away day; “if you need anything I can bring some of sam’s thing for you and drop it to cchq?”
In short, Lua Cooper appears to be very close not only to Samuel Coates, but to the campaign and the cause and many key people at CCHQ.
For CCHQ to pretend otherwise is to be expected. For Sam Coates to pretend that he doesn’t even know her or recognise her name is an insult to our intelligence, and he can’t pretend to have done it out of gallantry given the way he’s cowering under his desk today while his better half is left with her arse hanging out.
Many people are owed an apology here. Will none of these Conservatives step forward and take responsibility for their actions?
Perhaps Lua can start the ball rolling with a simple explanation/apology for her targeting a man through his employer in this extremely dishonest and unfair manner… assuming she’s her own person and not under any pressure from Sam/CCHQ to keep her mouth shut.
Tameside Eye – WHO Smeared Jonny Reynolds?: Labour are well underway in the process for selecting a new candidate to replace Stalybridge & Hyde MP, James Purnell who resigned in February. As with any selection, it wouldn’t be complete without a good old fashioned smear with candidates battling it out with each other for the £64k job…
When I see stuff like this, the first thing i usually do is run the relevant IP(s) through Wikipedia’s back-end, because usually the type of person who’ll attack others from behind a sock-puppet in email and/or on blogs will do the same there, usually with the same target. (I could name names, but I’m trying to discourage onanism this week, to see us through the recent hanky shortage.)
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the IP address referenced in the above post that resulted in a catch today (184.108.40.206) is one that is likely to be used by many people working for Tameside Council. So I am not by any means suggesting that this is the same person, only that it’s an interesting place to look.
Two lightweight but amusing examples from a quick scratch of the surface:
1. This effort, lashing out blindly at James Purnell raised a smile:
He backstabbingly betrayed Gordon Brown and the Labour party in a effort to somehow further his career.
2. This is clearly ‘link spam’. Someone working for Tameside Council spam-linked the website gmpchelp.com and they can’t even spull pripper:
[http://www.gmpchelp.com Computer Reapir Company (Greater Manchester)]
Lots more to find by browsing through past anonymous edits of Wikipedia via the IP 220.127.116.11
There’s also a whole page here with nothing but people talking about the many questionable edits made to Wikipedia using this IP address, but I’m sure the locals will be able to make more sense of this spoor than I will, and anyone in a hurry need only look at this summary from one of the editors in the relevant Blog Logs: “Long-term vandal. has been using this address for a year. registered to a council but no evidence of good-faith users using this IP”
I’m sure any hunt through that lot will be a long and happy one. An unknown number of people have been blundering about for quite some time, and it looks like a gift that’ll keep on giving.
In the past I’ve made my share of videos about Tony Blair (and this one is my very favourite). I’m quite busy at the moment, but I’ll be damned if that’s going to stop me from making a video or two in time for the next General Election.
Hopefully, you can chip in with some much-needed footage featuring you, some mates if you like, and David Cameron’s head on a stick.
1. Make mask(s)
2. Film yourself using mask(s)
3. Send your clips to tim [at] bloggerheads [dot] com
- Only short clips, please (30 seconds, max.)
- No emails/files above 25 megabytes (MB) in size
- AVI, MPG, MP4, MOV, WMV files only
(*Yes, there may be more faces later, but I want to get David Cameron done first. I have to put his Big Giant Head to music, so the circle is complete.)
- Like most of my past projects, this is a music video project, but I’m keeping the soundtrack(s) to myself at the moment.
- Yes, I am serious about compulsory nudity, but ONLY if you film yourself using a webcam. Yes, you may get naked anyway if you don’t own a webcam. Yes, I do plan to use the nude clips, if there’s enough variety to warrant a separate video. No, this one probably won’t be hosted on YouTube.
- If you don’t use a webcam, you don’t have to ne naked, and how/where you film yourself using your mask(s) is entirely up to you.
- Yes, you can send in clips of more than one person using more than one mask. But no real faces if you can avoid it, please. real faces complicate matters and dilute the creepiness. I want to build a virtual world populated with Cameron clones, and set it to music.
- Certain parties are banned from participating on the grounds that they are sock-puppeting gits (and have therefore done more than their fair share of prancing about behind a mask). They know who they are, and 99.9999% of the population can safely ignore this message.
- Yes, you will retain copyright for your raw footage, but by submitting it you give me permission to use it as a component of a larger, transformative work, and once it’s installed/live, there’s no going back.
Updates to follow. Cheers all.
Though Cowards Flinch – We’ll huff and we’ll puff and we’ll blow their house down: It has come to our attention that the magazine ‘Total Politics’ is planning to publish an interview with Nick Griffin, the racist leader of the British National Party. Before we forget, therefore, we thought we should announce that, in the event of the publication of this interview, TCF will withdraw from the annual voting process to rank the popularity of UK blogs, run by Total Politics magazine, which once we welcomed and which made itself relevant to the internet through the annual UK blogging guide (pictured)
Though Cowards Flinch – Boycott; the saga continues: But what really matters is not whether Griffin flounders on Dale’s questions or not. It’s about the long-run effect of having Griffin feature in a mainstream publication. Long after the specific questions that Dale asks are forgotten, people will remember that Griffin was interviewed by an (allegedly) respectable, mainstream publication. It will help to normalise Griffin and his party. It will encourage him to be seen as a legitimate politician with legitimate views to be considered a reasonable political option by reasonable people.
Iain Dale has a clearly stated (and quite notorious) policy of not linking to blogs/bloggers that are critical of him. He has stated quite clearly in the past that he refuses to do so because he does not wish to legitimise them.
But he will give a platform to Nick Griffin, a known racist and fascist, and now appears to be claiming that this doesn’t legitimise him or his party.
(Nick Griffin may hate people who are coloured/foreign/different, but at least he hasn’t criticised Iain; that would be beyond the pale!)
All we’re left with is the depressing situation of Iain Dale doing this for political reasons, or (far more likely in my honestly-held opinion) to sell more copies of Total Politics, because shoving it down the throats of elected representatives as junk mail and counting this as ‘circulation’ isn’t making enough money or shifting enough units to please advertisers.
UPDATE – I should point out that I already boycott the Total Politics poll of weblogs, because it is flawed from the ground up (the two main points being it is rigged in favour of Iain Dale and his mates to begin with, and the votes are counted by a known cheat).
A number of people spoke on the panel, including Jeremy Hunt.
Jeremy Hunt is the Conservative MP for South West Surrey (which will become my constituency after boundary changes) and, more importantly in light of the subject matter, he is Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. If the Tories scrape through at the next election, he will, in effect, become the Minister for Teh Internets.
Hunt also puts himself about as a bit of a blogger, and a believer in social media.
At last night’s event, Hunt declared that social media has led to MPs being more accountable.
There was a loud cough/splutter from the audience. That was me. Sorry.
In 2006, two Conservative activists closely associated with neighbouring Conservative MP Anne Milton anonymously smeared a political rival as a paedophile. I emailed Hunt about this at the time. The wannabe Minister for Teh Internets decided that this behaviour was not only a seedy and unseemly political tactic, but a wholly unacceptable use of the medium, and a general risk to the online community he wanted to represent.
Just kidding. In fact, Jeremy Hunt decided to say and do precisely nothing about it then, and he avoids any straightforward discussion of his decision to put party ahead of principle to this day.
We did have a discussion (of sorts*) about it on his ‘blog’ once, and I would link to that right now, but I can’t, for the same reason I’ve put the word ‘blog’ in scare-quotes; it’s gone.
Not only is that conversation gone, but the post above it is gone, too. In fact, everything Jeremy Hunt blogged about in 2008 and 2009 (along with every comment entrusted to him) has been disappeared into the ether.
The way Jeremy Hunt puts it; he only maintains a recent/immediate ‘archive’, which appears to amount to the last 30-odd posts. Everything else just… disappears. I’m not sure at this stage if a date-stamp kills them, or if they’re pushed into the void by each new post (like new facts in Homer Simpson’s brain) but either way, sooner or later, down the memory hole it goes. Bye-bye!
Even if you’re aware of the URL of an old entry (or work it out from the naming convention) you won’t be able to access it. Here’s entry 229; it’s the earliest live entry visible (from Jan 2010). Try entry 228 or anything earlier, and you’ll either get an error page or be bounced back to the front page.
Hunt gave me some waffle about “immediacy” to explain it, but this is not in keeping with his approach to his press release archive (which goes all the way back to 2004) and it completely dodges the issue of accountability.
Every other blogger on the scene understands the importance of maintaining an archive (with the possible exception of Iain Dale, who has a bad habit of editing/deleting old entries without notation)… but Jeremy Hunt regards it to be unimportant.
How does Jeremy Hunt’s ‘blog’ make him any more accountable, if he’s not willing to simply stand by his previous utterances?
What does this say about his attitude toward those who take the time to contribute comments and participate in conversations on his site? Do they know their contributions will soon be deleted as an irrelevance?
Also, Jeremy Hunt is an MP, familiar with a little thing called Hansard, and one hopes he’s not blind to the importance of (and the principles behind) that archive. Would he have that only go back 2-3 months as well? How about the LexisNexis and/or the British Newspaper Library? Will Jeremy Hunt be proposing we make those archives more ‘immediate’ if the Tories get in?
Finally, as I mentioned, this is the guy who wants to be Minister for Teh Internets… and he doesn’t appear to have the slightest appreciation of or respect for one of the core principles of online publishing.
(Oh, and – as I mentioned – he’ll also turn a blind eye when local sock-puppeting Conservative activists wish to smear an opponent as a paedophile. Which is nice.)
As he was racing off to something that was – I assume – far more important than my question about archives and accountability, I showed him a copy of a page he had ‘disappeared’ (I have trust issues with some of the local Tories, so I saved a copy of our paedo-smear conversation to my hard drive).
Hunt actually had the audacity to claim that he was accountable for material he had ‘blogged’ in the past, because someone else had bothered to archive a single page of content for their own records.
Unfortunately, this only begins to approach ‘near enough’ (if not ‘good enough’) if all of the past content is archived by a third party, and then published in a navigable/indexable form. So that’s what I’m going to do, starting with whatever I can gather from these scraps in the WayBack Machine. Obviously, I’m going to need to be a top search result for ‘Jeremy Hunt’ for this to be sufficiently visible, but this shouldn’t be a problem; it’s what I do best, and my version of his blog will offer a wealth of relevance (that he clearly regards to be irrelevant).
I doubt Jeremy will be happy that my version of his blog will allow additional comments that are beyond his control, but that’s the price you pay for outsourcing simple accountability.
[*Jeremy Hunt also cheats at comment moderation, but I'll leave that for a later post.]
[NOTE - Gmail is a free email service provided by Google. Pyra Labs (Blogger.com) was acquired by Google in 2003, YouTube in 2006.]
Google today vowed to appeal, saying in a statement: “We are deeply troubled by this conviction, it attacks the very principles of freedom on which the internet is built.”
Two executives, David Drummond and Peter Fleischer, and former employee George Reyes were accused of negligence. Prosecutors said the video remained online for two months even though some web users had posted comments asking for it to be taken down.
Judge Oscar Magi absolved the three of defamation and acquitted a fourth defendant altogether.
Mr Drummond, who is Google’s chief legal officer, vowed to fight his conviction. He said: “I am outraged by the decision … If individuals like myself and my Google colleagues who had nothing to do with the harassing incident, its filming or its uploading onto Google Video can be held criminally liable solely by virtue of our positions at Google every employee of any internet hosting service faces similar liability.”
The case stems from an incident in 2006 when four boys in Turin filmed and uploaded a 191-second clip of them bullying a schoolmate with Down’s syndrome. It shows the youths making fun of the boy, before punching and kicking him. One of the attackers then makes a mocking call to Viva Down, an advocacy group for people with Down’s syndrome. The complaint was brought by the charity and the boy’s father. “The video was totally reprehensible and we took it down within hours of being notified by the Italian police,” Google said.
And there’s your weak spot, hiding in that sentence right there; it took the involvement of police to get the video removed, after months of people complaining about it. The core deceit here is that Google is talking about the things they are not responsible for under a flag of internets freedom, while neatly brushing over what they are responsible for.
Google failed in their duty to this individual and the public in general because their facilities for reporting abuse of their publishing/communications facilities are inadequate. Further, I am about to show you that they are aware of this but do not care.
Over the past year, I’ve been subjected to a planned campaign of harassment that has involved the repeated publication of my ex-directory home address, directed at people thought to be hostile towards me. The purpose of this is to cause me fear of violence if not actual harm.
The following is a claim from an executive who works for Google about their response time for things like this:
“Regarding the removal of confidential data: once it’s brought to our attention, we make every attempt to respond right away, and in no event longer than 48 hours.”
Now, let’s take a look at their actual response times:
My home address was submitted as a comment under a series of YouTube videos on 27 September, 2009. When these comments were deleted, the address was instead posted on the profile page for the relevant account (which was in turn promoted by the good people at Kooba Radio and Redwire Design). Despite immediate then repeated complaints to YouTube through their ‘support’ systems, then by email and fax, the account stayed live for days that stretched into weeks and then months. It wasn’t until I got in touch at an executive level (and believe me, these contact details are NOT easy to find) that anything was done about it. Even then, Google claimed the account was suspended immediately on January 15, 2009 when it was still live on the morning of January 21, 2010… even the delay after the delay was longer than 48 hours.
In total, I was left waiting 3 months and 26 days… just short of 4 months.
Further, the page ‘removed’ by Blogger.com/Google staff is still visible in Google’s search database today (25 February, 2010), which brings our total response time for Google as a whole to 4 months and 29 days… and counting. More on this point in a moment.
On 30 September, 2009 my home address was published on a Blogger.com-hosted account under the headline “Tim Ireland the internet stalker” with a claim that I had “smeared, picked fights with or stalked” a long list of people including Nadine Dorries, Iain Dale and Paul Staines. Again, immediate then repeated complaints were ignored for days that stretched into weeks and then months. Cleverly, Blogger.com refuse to tell me exactly when this account was suspended, suggesting it’s a matter of privacy (what?!), so I would be unable to give you a complete response time if it weren’t for the fact that this ‘removed’ page also remained live in Google’s search database until sometime after January 17, 2010
Total response time for Google: a minimum of 3 months, 21 days
In both cases, content was removed by one arm of Google while it remained live under the auspices of another. There does not appear to be any kind of synergy or alert system in place that ensures removal of inappropriate content from Google’s search database after it has been removed (by Google staff) from Blogger.com or YouTube; it’s like some bizarre parody of Communist Russia that forces me to join one queue for bread and another for butter. Why is there no standard channel of communication between abuse teams that addresses this issue?
(Incidentally, Blogger.com continue to host ~50 false claims that I’m a convicted paedophile and refuse to remove them, citing freedom of speech. They do not recognise the danger a public accusation of paedophilia represents in this nation of tabloid ‘justice’, and now refuse to discuss the matter.)
On 20 November, 2009 a threat was issued that someone planned to use a Gmail account to pass my personal data onto Nigerian/Russian scammers. The threat alone was a clear violation of their Terms of Service, so this was reported to Gmail immediately . No action was taken, even after December 26, 2009 when multiple emails began from this account clearly impersonating me while forwarding sensitive/confidential data such as my home address.
On January 15, 2010 this matter was raised with Rick Klau, Business Product Manager at Blogger (yes, the same person who refused to tell me when that Blogger account was disabled). Initially, Rick was kind enough to pass my concerns on to YouTube, but the Gmail matter took a little longer. In fact, it wasn’t addressed until February 10, 2010 (almost a month later) when Rick was busy giving me the brush-off. Instead of passing my concerns on to Gmail, he directed me to this generic support portal.
See what I mean about queues for bread and butter? He knew I had to wait months for a response from Blogger and YouTube and Gmail, it was within his power to move/pass things along to Gmail just as he did with YouTube, but instead he directed me to join the queue and start again!
The relevant account was still live on 20 February, 2010 (and is probably still live today).
Total response time for Google: a minimum of 3 months… and counting. I’ve not heard a word back from Gmail about any of it.
(There is also an account that may have been used to impersonate me from 06 October, 2009 onwards. Verifying if this account exists myself involves engaging with the people harassing me, which the police have advised me not to do, so on Jan 15 I asked Rick Klau to ask Gmail about it. So far, I’ve heard nothing back about this, either.)
Rick Klau is not the only person at Google who is aware of this. The wider matter (including many specifics) has also been brought to the attention of Oliver Rickman, Manager of Google UK Communications and Public Affairs, and Rachel Whetstone, Vice President of Communications for Google (Europe).
I have tried to alert Google to an entirely insufficient approach to abuse of their facilities and have been given the brush-off at an executive level.
In other words, Google know that their response time for abuse is far from adequate, they have repeatedly turned a blind eye to this problem, and I can prove it.
To close, here is the last letter I sent to Rick Klau:
from Tim Ireland
to Rick Klau
date Thu, Feb 18, 2010 at 4:28 PM
subject Re: Blogger and comments mentioning you
Rick, let me explain where your perspective may be letting you down:
You don’t think any people/police have had issues reaching you because 100% of the people who’ve made contact with you managed to … make contact with you. Do I actually have to point out that this isn’t an entirely representative sample? You appear to be turning a blind eye to the possibility that there are people who have failed to make contact with your department and you may not know about this because…. they haven’t made contact with your department.
I can tell you now for a fact that anyone submitting a police complaint involving anonymous online harassment has to do a lot of legwork themselves or risk letting their tormentor(s) off the hook. It was certainly the case in the investigation relevant to the attacks on me (many of which you inexplicably continue to host).
In fact, police would have been unaware of the role played by another man if I’d not pursued a number of providers personally. I found it was up to the victim to gather most of the evidence; mainly what the police brought to the table was the authority to reveal names behind IP/email addresses. I stand by my criticism of Google and their failure/refusal to cooperate with my efforts to halt this harassment and I reject your attempt to suggest that it all would’ve gone much smoother had the police simply contacted you through the usual channels, thought it important, etc. In fact, I take offence at this or any other attempt to belittle me or downplay what I have been through.
You assure me that Google’s response time for ‘sensitive data’ matters is measured in hours, when I have shown you that it has been – across the board, in my experience – more a matter of weeks and months. Well over 3 months in one example you are aware of.
(On this note, I’m disappointed you would assure me of the adequacy of your response time on Blogger.com but refuse to go on the record about the specific date you actually managed to get around to deleting the blog in question.)
Then, rather than take my concerns seriously, you seek to give me the brush off, pretend that it’s none of your concern, and direct me back to the automated channels that let me down so badly in the first place.
I am trying to tell you that that Google is failing to protect vulnerable people. I am trying to alert you to a widespread failure of your system to address harassment in a timely manner.
Are you seriously going to ignore those warnings and file it under ‘not my problem’?
If you genuinely don’t feel you are qualified/authorised to speak on the wider matter of Google failing victims of harassment, then please pass me on to someone who is.
Immediately, please. Google has kept me waiting long enough.
I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear that a week has passed since I sent this, and there’s been no response from anyone at Google.
During the filming of Tower Block of Commons (in December last year), one of two sisters Nadine Dorries was staying with was so incensed by the MP’s conduct that she began broadcasting on Twitter. The two tweets from that account that are most relevant to this post are highlighted below:
After the first episodes were broadcast (in February of this year) those same sisters went on to accuse Nadine Dorries of not only offering to share the extra £50 she had stashed in her bra, but also a share of a secret stash of temazepam, an addictive sleeping pill with a reputation for recreational use:
A pair of single mums have told how Tory MP Nadine Dorries offered them the prescription drug temazepam when she lived with them for a reality TV show.
Sisters Rena Spain and Nisha Young… (say) she waited until the cameras were off, and then offered the tranquillisers around. Mum-of-five Rena, 40, said: “She went into her suitcase and pulled out this big plastic bag with all different types of pills in it. She asked, ‘Does anyone want one of these?’ She said they were temazepam and were really good to help you sleep. I said, ‘You can’t just hand them out like Smarties’.”
The sisters say mum-of-three Dorries, 52, offered them the pills on the first night of her stay on the South Acton estate in West London. The controversial Mid-Beds MP was there as part of the C4 show Tower Block of Commons, and last week we revealed how she stuffed £50 into her bra when she was supposed to be living on benefits. Yesterday the MP denied the allegations. (source)
Yes, Nadine Dorries denied the allegations. But not the possession. Dorries even went on to reinforce the matter of possession by making this vague accusation against her accusers on her Twitter account:
The tweets by ‘ihatemp’ (above) are the only visible record in the public domain that match this description. What this leaves us with is Nadine Dorries going into a council estate to face the ‘reality’ of poverty with £50 stashed in her bra, her tummy tucked into £120 worth of denim, and an unknown quantity of prescription-only medication hidden in her washbag.
(Nadine spoke of a thorough search of participants before going in, so it is unlikely that the drugs were initially hidden in her washbag. It is more likely they were hidden somewhere on her person and/or in her intimates… like the £50 was.)
It is at this point that today’s thought experiment begins.
Imagine for a moment that I have a single unnamed source claiming that Nadine was also carrying illegal drugs at the time. This hypothetical source didn’t get close to Dorries at the time, and doesn’t even live on the estate, but they have an accusation that suits my agenda so I rush forward with it anyway.
Imagine also that I am not a campaigner against tabloid scum, but that I am tabloid scum, and, at this stage, so far up the arse of certain right wing newspapers that I can see through their blowhole. This being the case, I have no trouble getting my claim into print, and it’s a whopper; a killer ‘fact’ with added stickiness. For the purposes of effective illustration, I have chosen possession of crack cocaine; it is a ‘dirty’ drug with mostly negative associations, it is the more plausible choice in Dorries’ case (because a lot of the time she carries on as if she’s off her head on the stuff), and it permits the tabloid-friendly jest that Nadine Dorries hid fifty pounds of cash in her bra and eighty pounds of crack in her knickers.
(See what I mean? Sticky!)
Finally, instead of running my blog responsibly (with comment registration and pre-vetting for new users) let’s assume that I host my main site on Blogger.com, and run comments like an open sewer when it suits me. Most days the moderation wall is up, but today I have chosen to leave comments wide open for some reason; anyone can come in and submit anything they please, and I have no method/will for tracking the author(s). Further, even if I delete ‘offending’ comments immediately, what has been submitted will still be visible to an unknown number of subscribers.
Later, I’ll broadcast contradictory accounts about why I withdrew the claim and when, but for now what matters is that I have informed the newspaper of my 180-degree turn too late to avoid my claim going to print, and by the next day it’s in front of over 2 million people.
Thousands of those people descend on my website, doubling my audience overnight. I have since withdrawn the main part of the claim from my website, but I leave in place a sentence that gives the impression that my claim stands. There is certainly no hint that the claim of illegal drugs made in the newspaper has since been withdrawn. In fact, it is in this climate, among these thousands of people, that I speak of Nadine definitely being in possession of ‘the drugs’ or ‘those drugs’. Of course, I’m referring to the prescription drugs when I say this, but what everyone hears is “crack cocaine”
I’m not stupid enough to allow any comment repeating the specific claim I have withdrawn, but instead of correcting anyone who repeats it publicly, I have the claim withdrawn quietly. Privately.
Similarly, comments declaring the crack cocaine claims to be false are swiftly deleted. (Comments accusing that author of being a mental-case on par with and/or in league with Dorries, and possibly a drug addict themselves, I will allow.)
Eventually I huffily issue a correction within my post, but in the days that pass before that happens I will have repeatedly used the means at my disposal to maintain the illusion that Nadine Dorries went into the council estate carrying crack cocaine.
What I am describing here, ladies and gentlemen, is the exact same method that Iain Dale used to libel Tom Watson, and he can’t deny it, because I have dated copies of the relevant thread as it unfolded, and there are still remnants of his libel live in that thread.
Nadine Dorries isn’t* on crack cocaine. End of thought experiment.
Iain Dale is a lying bastard. End of story.
(*For the record, the only evidence of Nadine Dorries taking crack cocaine is the counter-clockwise rotation of her eyeballs, but she has yet to issue any denial about her alleged possession of slimming/’amphetamine’ pills and temazepam and has instead moaned about people going through her stuff.)
Finally, it’s out in the open and established beyond any doubt:
Charlie Flowers, when confronted in public about the online attacks on me…
More comments have been received regarding my posts on Charlie Flowers and the “Cheerleaders”. As any regular readers will know, this is the gang of semi-anonymous cyber-vigilantes who last year decided to post Tim Ireland’s home address all over the internet, without regard for his family’s safety, in the stated hope that he would be forced to flee the country. Threats of violence were also received, including “machete to your throat”.
… claims that he is knowingly acting outside of the law not on behalf of Dominic Wightman, but instead on behalf of Iain Dale, Nadine Dorries and Paul Staines:
So I ran into “Charlie Flowers” today and asked him why he was stalking Tim Ireland.
Here is some hilarious stuff that came out.
CF claims Tim Ireland was harassing me at one point! When I pointed out this wasn’t the case at all, he just flustered and tried to pretend he had a story straight on the issue
He also claims he’s not a “vigilante” because “they uphold the law”. In other words he fully admits he’s not doing it lawfully.
Thirdly, he claimed he was doing it on behalf on Nadine Dorries and had informed her and Paul Staines and Iain Dale about it.
Iain Dale, Nadine Dorries and Paul Staines; all three of these people have repeatedly (and I would contend dishonestly) characterised my criticism of them as ‘stalking’ (both directly and by proxy, the latter most often with the assistance of Phil Hendren*), but only Iain Dale was foolish enough to go any further than a series of vague insinuations, most recently in a post that he has since deleted.
(Not withdrawn or retracted or apologised for… just deleted. As if the false accusation never happened and it’s not being used against me to this day. Right now Iain Dale is taking David Wright MP to task for deleting comments he published and pretending that they never happened, but I am assured that this is not hypocrisy because Iain Dale is not yet an MP.)
Their defence for doing this is that they are expressing an honestly-held opinion. This is very easy trick with claims of harassment against yourself (if you say you feel harassed, who’s to tell you any different?) but Iain Dale, for example, has also made quite specific accusations about my treatment of Conservative MP Anne Milton (even though he certainly didn’t get this from Milton herself and he admits that he has not read any of the detail of the weblog he presents as his ‘evidence’)
Tellingly, these three refuse to back this ‘honestly-held opinion’ with any evidence and refuse to acknowledge how easily their ‘honestly-held opinions’ might be interpreted (and are at present being used/abused) as statements of fact.
Sometimes, they even go so far as to characterise any objection I may have to their accusations/’opinions’ as sufficient evidence in itself; they accuse me of stalking, I confront them about the accusation, they yell ‘stalker’. This is the same game the Cheerleaders have been playing, as it happens.
More recently, any complaint to these people by me that Dominic Wightman, Charlie Flowers et al have been using these ‘honestly-held opinions’ as statements of fact has been dismissed as evidence of paranoia that they claim supports their case and justifies their published opinion(s).
Now, unprompted by me in any way, Sunny Hundal confronts one of the ringleaders when he happens across him at a public event and – surprise, surprise – that person turns out to be behaving exactly as described, and puts his case forward as if he is attacking me on behalf of a series of ‘top bloggers’, hilariously including Sunny in his list of targets.
Once again, Iain Dale, Nadine Dorries and Paul Staines are in a position to either cripple these attacks against me, or allow them to go on without impediment:
- Would any or all of these people care to comment on any communication they may have had with Charlie Flowers (or any other person claiming to be attacking me on their behalf, including Dominic Wightman/Whiteman, aka Richard Walker)?
- Knowing how certain uncertainties are being exploited, would any or all of these people care to clarify their position on any past ‘honestly-held opinions’ about stalking (including those that have since been deleted, but not retracted)?
(When doing the latter, Iain Dale will also need to provide supporting evidence for his quite specific claims that I have stalked both Nadine Dorries and Anne Milton, or withdraw the claims as publicly as he made them.)
If Iain Dale, Nadine Dorries and/or Paul Staines continue to remain silent instead of disowning and discrediting Charlie Flowers today, well, we’ll know what they’re all about, won’t we?
[*Phil Hendren ('Dizzy Thinks') is the only person outside of this gang of 'Cheerleaders' who has published my private data online in an effort to intimidate me into silence. His close chum Iain Dale didn't act or speak out against this at the time, either, though he did take the time to deny being the source of the data. Hendren now claims that he never published my unlisted home phone number because publishing it in two parts - or in 'code', or with one number missing from the end - doesn't count. Phil Hendren also continues to host specific claims about me that he knows not to be true, even though he knows they are being repeated by the likes of Dominic Wightman to justify their attacks. His stated justification for allowing this to go on amounts to this and this alone; he doesn't like me. Harry Cole ('Tory Bear') has been equally helpful in kicking the 'stalker' claims along, and has a similarly undeniable alliance with Paul Staines. The pattern is very similar; both Hendren and Cole attack targets on behalf of the 'bigger'/Daddy blogger, and are rewarded with ongoing linky-love and other forms of patronage. What Charlie Flowers and the 'Cheerleaders' get out of a very similar relationship with Dominic Wightman - who also claims to have been 'stalked' by me while attacking me directly and by proxy - is not yet clear.]
UPDATE (18 Feb) – Iain Dale and Paul Staines have both been contacted directly, and both have made it crystal clear that they do not wish to intervene or even comment in any way. If Charlie Flowers is lying, they could expose him in seconds with minimal effort, but they choose to remain silent. Nadine Dorries (who is an MP and therefore maginally more accountable) has made a vague claim about having forwarded some emails to police, but she does not specify who those emails were from, who she reported them to, or when she reported them (my money’s on yesterday, if at all). Her claim means nothing until she provides some specifics that allow for confirmation.
UPDATE (18 Feb) – Nadine Dorries has decided against clarifying her vague statement about a police report and has instead jetted off on a 4-day holiday. Isn’t that nice?
Unlike some of Nadine Dorries’ nearest and dearest blog-chums, I don’t go around attacking people from behind a shield of anonymity or a range of sock-puppets. In fact, I’ll usually seek to intervene if I see someone engaging in unfair/anonymous political gameplay, so as amused as I was by Nadine’s recent Twitter witlessness…
… I still took the time to politely ask the person who grabbed her old username to play the game fairly and squarely:
By morning, Nadine Dorries had published a false claim that I was behind the hijacking (details), claiming that I was anonymously taking control of this username and other variations of her name. She was also carrying on with some needless hysterics about my being some sort of “sick” cyber-transvestite. While I don’t expect Nadine Dorries to be entirely happy about what I have done quite openly with this single account, her claim that I have repeatedly (and secretly) hijacked her name in an effort to somehow restrict her access to Twitter is a damaging (and, I suspect, malicious) falsehood that I reject entirely.
So I was none-to-impressed when the person who had grabbed Nadine Dorries’ old username retweeted Nadine’s false claim without counter or comment, and I asked them to address the matter:
Sadly, it soon became clear that the anonymous web user was determined to remain anonymous in order to protect their reputation while not giving a damn about mine.
I took a more active interest and quickly established the IP address of the web user who had taken control of the username ‘nadinedorriesmp’ (18.104.22.168). I also discovered that, days earlier, the same IP address had been used to make this edit to the Wikipedia page for the Tory Reform Group:
What you’re looking at there is a classic no-no in Wikipedia; when someone asks for a citation to support any given claim about an organisation, a link to a repeat of the claim on the organisation’s website (in this case, word-for-word) doesn’t quite cut the mustard. Typically, this kind of muppetry involves someone who is at the very least closely associated to that organisation (by profession or friendship); it is not what one would expect from a passing stranger who has yet to develop a taste for the Kool-Aid.
Life is full of infinite uncertainties, but I thought it warranted a polite question. I asked Nadine’s anonymous tormentor what their connection was to the Tory Reform Group:
I didn’t get an answer. In fact, shortly after this question was sent, the nadinedorriesmp username was abandoned.
Meanwhile, Nadine Dorries continues to maintain a claim she cannot possibly prove, despite my emphatic denials, and has even ignored all offers to help her identify the real culprit.
The good people at the Telegraph have just reported the following:
Telegraph – MPs’ expenses: Nadine Dorries paid £35,000 to close friend in PR: Between September 2008 and June 2009, Mrs Dorries claimed £34,059.75 for the services of the company Marketing Management (Midlands) Ltd. Miss Dorries claimed under her office allowance, her staffing expenditure and her communications allowance to pay the public relations company. The first fund is used by MPs to pay for the running costs of their constituency and Commons bases; the second to pay the wages of permanent and temporary workers; and the third to run websites or produce adverts and leaflets. The invoices show it was paid for “PR, research and media services”. Companies House documents disclose that one of the two directors of Marketing Management is Lynn Elson, who lives near the Cotswolds town of Moreton-in-Marsh. In the past year, Mrs Dorries has written on her personal blog and her Twitter page about visiting the town and a nearby country pub. Her website is illustrated with a selection of six photographs, some showing her as a young girl and as an MP speaking in the House of Commons. Two of the pictures show the Tory MP with Mrs Elson: one in a group shot with two other women holding glasses of wine, and one with Mrs Dorries and her daughters dressed in evening wear.
Just to reinforce that last point, here is a specific entry on Nadine’s ‘blog’ that includes a mention and photo of Lynn.
Now, don’t be thrown off by the fact that this next item is also on the Telegraph site; that in itself is of no significance and this whole post should probably be filed under ‘added colour’ anyway… I just wanted to show you this response from Lynn Elson to a review of the restaurant in the ‘Horse & Groom’. This pub is referenced on Dorries’ blog as her ‘local’, and the two friends obviously enjoy the odd party/drink together, so I want to make it clear that I’m not implying that this is what Lynn classifies as ‘PR*’, rather I merely wish to invite those who have experienced or witnessed a Dorries ‘rebuttal’ to gaze in wonder at this intervention by her friend Elson and count the many boxes it ticks.
(NOTE – You may spot a subtle indication of her own personal politics as you evaluate Elson’s style of engagement.)
I would like to respond to Mark Palmer’s review of the Horse and Groom, Bourton on the Hill, Gloucestershire, which happens to be my ‘local’. Firstly, they do not wrap the cutlery in napkins, but lay knives and forks on top of the napkin at the table – this is a pub not a restaurant. I reply to Palmer’s comments about the Horse and Groom straining to be ‘a little bit of everything but not quite managing to be anything in particular’; in actuality it manages to be a very good ‘local’ pub which serves excellent food, wine and beer and is very popular amongst discerning diners who live locally. Mark Palmer’s haughty tone showed him to be a pompous, pretentious Londoner, and frankly we don’t want his type spoiling the agreeable ambience of our lovely Cotswold pubs. The staff is always welcoming and friendly; no they didn’t all train at Butler School, but they are charming and chatty which is perfect for a relaxed lunch or informal dinner. Perhaps Mark Palmer should stick to eating in fancy London restaurants if it’s silver service and forelock tugging he’s after. In eco-friendly times, what’s wrong with having the menu on the blackboard therefore saving a few trees? – It’s a common practice throughout a lot of Cotswolds pubs. What did he expect – a gold leaf menu? I say again – this is a pub! His mocking comments on ‘the wall poem about village life by John Betjeman, a print of a gentleman cricketer and notices on the back of the door that you might find inside the porch of a lively parish church that runs Alpha courses on Monday nights’ is because the pub is at the heart of village life and not a theme park for self-important Londoners. As for his condescending comments about ‘a group of thirtysomethings having a black-tie celebration’ which he felt inappropriate just shows how anal he really is. How dare he sit and judge a group of people who for their own personal reasons have chosen to add a bit of fun to an outing – we are easy going enough in the countryside to break the rules of the conceited liberal elite who dictate to the affected likes of Mark Palmer what he should wear and when. He has obviously reviewed McDonald’s at some point as he made a comparison to their chips – who would have thought he’d lower himself to enter such an establishment? He was clearly dining in matching caustic company, as his companion Joanna added her own sneering comment about the red cabbage – what is she a red cabbage connoisseur? It’s a shame her life is not more interesting. Mark Palmer would do better sticking to ostentatious London restaurants, filling his face with showy food and deferential silvers service waiters at his beck and call. That way, he will satisfy his appetite for his high opinion of himself as a food aficionado and keep our lovely local Cotswold pub free of anal Londoners.
Bloody glorious, isn’t it? I challenge anyone to spot the difference between this and your typical full-frontal outburst from Dorries. It even manages to blame Teh Left in correspondence about a restaurant review.
[*If I were to speculate on the possibility that this was part of a formal PR exercise, I would further speculate that the party of black tie diners may have been part of a pathetic attempt to fill/class the joint up a bit for the expected visit from the restaurant reviewer... and that Lynn may have had good cause to take the reviewer's comment about this group personally after going to all that effort to show off for the townies.]
UPDATE for readers in 2011 and beyond; some related links about all the lovely money Nadine has paid to her friend Lynn…