Blessings to you and all the other peasants of Mid-Narnia!
And now, here is your annual message of hope. Chew it slowly.
Blessings to you and all the other peasants of Mid-Narnia!
And now, here is your annual message of hope. Chew it slowly.
There’s a new character on Conservative Change Channel by the name of Dougal Blimey. I hope you enjoy meeting him as much as I enjoyed creating him.
Incidentally, I was working on Dougal’s back story last night and was delighted to learn that there is already a firm using the name ‘Godwins Law’.
This scandal of dumped toxic waste brought down a government, but the Swiss-based multinational Trafigura struggles on in the hope of burying the truth along with the bodies. What a bunch of shameless bastards.
If you have a blog, please take the time to do this today with a post of your own. They can’t gag us all.
If you’ve been following the Jenvey/Mercer/Wightman saga, you’re probably aware of Glen Jenvey’s habit of releasing emails, PDFs, Word DOCs and the like in group emails or via comments on other people’s websites (or both) as evidence of this or that.
This weekend, it was both, so the following data has already been in the public domain for a couple of days, and it appears here couched in the following disclaimer: the source is Glen Jenvey, and I have yet to verify authenticity.
Previous to this, I established that Patrick Mercer, Chairman of the House of Commons Sub-Committee on Counter-Terrorism, had continued to endorse and work with Glen Jenvey (more), for quite some time after I published evidence that Jenvey had been fabricating evidence of extremism in online forums.
A vague yet comforting notion had been put forward that Mercer only relied on Jenvey for hard-to-fake intelligence such as voice recordings during this period, but if either of the following emails are genuine and from Mercer, then what we’re looking at is that MP (or someone from his office) taking evidence of extremism in online forums supplied by Jenvey* (almost a month after I published evidence that he had been fabricating evidence of extremism in online forums) and having an immediate full-on terror alert boner over it**, which some might regard to be a bit of a risky thing to do, if not en error in judgement:
Rt Hon Michael Martin MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA 3 February 2009
Al-Firdaws English Forum Website (www.alfirdaws.net)
One of my security sources has approached me with information relating to possible terrorist attacks targeted at train carriages carrying Members of Parliament. It is my view that discussions of this nature on website forums are clearly contrary to Section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006 (on encouragement of terrorism and glorification of terrorism).
I would be very grateful if you could ensure that this matter is investigated expeditiously by the relevant authorities as I am concerned for the safety of Members of Parliament when they travel to and from their constituencies each week.
I have enclosed a copy of the relevant discussions and look forward to hearing from you.
Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF 3 February 2009
Al-Firdaws English Forum Website (www.alfirdaws.net)
One of my security sources has approached me with information relating to possible terrorist attacks targeted at train carriages carrying Members of Parliament. Discussions of this nature on website forums are clearly contrary to Section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006 (on encouragement of terrorism and glorification of terrorism).
First, I would be very grateful if you could provide me with some reassurance that this matter will be investigated expeditiously by the relevant authorities as I am concerned for the safety of Members of Parliament when they travel to and from their constituencies each week.
Second, I would like to know when the individual responsible for posting these entries under the alias of ‘Resistance’ will be arrested or charged under the encouragement and glorification provisions found in Section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006.
I have enclosed a copy of the relevant discussions and look forward to hearing from you.
(*Jenvey is not named as the source, but is presumed to be the source on the basis that he was privy to the subsequent calls to action.)
(**If the correspondence is genuine and from Mercer or his staff as has been implied by Jenvey, we can only hope that Mercer also saw fit to inform the police.)
Normally I’d contact the alleged sender and seek to verify authenticity of something like this, but Patrick Mercer has sought to portray such efforts as a form of electronic stalking.
Therefore, he leaves me with little choice but to contact the recipients (and/or the relevant staff/offices) and be as transparent as possible about the whole process (i.e. so my questions to these people aren’t addressed with a further private accusation of stalking).
I’ll let you know how I get on.
Obviously, if the letters are genuine and from Mercer, he’ll have some serious questions to answer about what effort (if any) went into authentication of the evidence before he issued such a strong call to action to the Speaker and the Home Secretary; we can’t have a Chairman of the House of Commons Sub-Committee on Counter-Terrorism who echoes cries of ‘wolf’, now can we?
This year, I’ve been subjected to a series of personal attacks as a result of one story:
One of the most surprising/disappointing attacks came from Private Eye, a magazine I’d previously trusted to be fair, if not always accurate.
The attack followed Private Eye reading that story on my site, emailing me for more information about it, and then publishing it as if it were their own discovery.
A writer called Adam Macqueen admitted that it was he who had scrubbed any mention of my contribution, then (eventually) threw £50 my way and expected that to be the end of the matter… and it probably would have been if he hadn’t gone on to describe my correspondence about this as the rantings of a “nutter on a bus” on the website of another Private Eye writer.
Macqueen went on to misrepresent my being upset about this as justification for his outburst and gave several misleading responses to queries about it. A typical deceit can be seen by comparing an earlier private message from Macqueen to a later public comment:
There’s obviously been a failure of communication here, and it’s my fault: I was tipped off to look into this story by a contact of mine, I handed it on to [name snipped] to check out. I didn’t know she’d been in contact with you, so didn’t realize there was any need to credit your blog (I think she intended to, and I swiped through it in red pen). – [Adam Macqueen, Feb 2009, via email]
I didn’t write the Private Eye article that Tim Ireland is so upset about. I did, however, email him as soon as I found out he’d been involved in it, apologising for any confusion and telling him the Eye would be sending him a standard freelance payment, which I assume is why he’s attached my name to it. – [Adam Macqueen, May 2009 (source)]
Here’s another example, just to show you the first one wasn’t an accident. Macqueen can only be referring to our private/professional email correspondence in the earlier comment, but he later sought to place his remarks in an entirely different context by claiming he was talking about something entirely different and not-at-all-connected-to-his-employer:
Oh my god! You made eye contact with the nutter on the bus! You should never, ever do this. I found this out the hard way a few months back… – [Adam Macqueen, May 2009 (source)]
I compared Tim Ireland’s behaviour on someone else’s blog to that of a “nutter on the bus”… [Adam Macqueen, June/July 2009 (source)]
On the subject of context, the circumstances in which Macqueen’s remarks were made is also important; I am not so thin-skinned that I can’t take an insult or a bit of banter; rather, I have been the victim of an ongoing campaign of smears and harassment orchestrated by two distinct camps of Conservatives (each with something to hide) and Macqueen’s outburst contributed to that.
[DETAIL: At the time Macqueen accused me of being a nutter, Glen Jenvey had just falsely distributed hundreds of false claims that I was convicted paedophile, Iain Dale (a former colleague of Macqueen’s) was making matters worse with his political game play and a false accusation of stalking, and Dominic Wightman (a former colleague of Jenvey’s) was anonymously jumbling the results, with a claim that I was such a nutter that I may have faked the Jenvey attacks, if not the entire story. While making it clear that there’s NO connection between the worlds of Jenvey/Wightman and Dale/Macqueen, there’s little doubt that Wightman was then (and is now) knowingly using the smears from Dale’s corner to his advantage. Wittingly, willingly or otherwise, Macqueen made himself part of this smear storm, and could have backed out at any time with a simple apology. Regrettably, he chose to stand by his remarks and/or lie his way around them, and sees no cause to withdraw his remarks today, even though I still have to deal with the fallout, months later.]
Seeking an explanation or apology for his outburst, I emailed Macqueen, who used the fact that I objected to being called a nutter as proof of his claims that I was a nutter. In light of Maqueen’s now repeated attempts to misrepresent private communication I felt I had no choice but to write an open letter to his editor. He later used this as proof of his claims that I was a nutter, and even misrepresented my attempts to put this into context as evidence of a bizarre conspiracy theory.
Tellingly, he felt unable to back up his claim by simply referring to our earlier correspondence. This was the main issue for me, and what made it a matter for the editor;
I maintained that Private Eye had stolen my scoop, and their only public response to this, through the main writer involved, was that I my objection to this amounted to nothing more than the rantings of a nutter on a bus. Further, I was being smeared as a direct result of the same story that they had taken credit for, and their writer sought to join the pile-on (which was the height of rudeness if nothing else).
I was somewhat taken aback when editor Ian Hislop then sought to dodge this issue, but I was even more surprised when our email conversation was brought to an abrupt end by someone at Private Eye setting the email system to classify any further email from me as ‘spam’.
Yes, you read that right and, yes, I double-checked. I tried from both accounts I had previously successfully used to communicate with Private Eye, and both returned the same error message, rejecting it as spam.
That’s where I had to leave it for months while I dealt with the extraordinary attack by Dominic Wightman that caused so much disruption, but when I recently got back to Private Eye (seeking credit for my story and an apology from Macqueen), they would not shift from a vague claim that they had actually sourced the story from somewhere else.
The main problem with this contention is that anyone doing the necessary web-based research would have found my research, conclusions and story as a top search result for any of the names involved, even if they’d cottoned onto the ‘Alan Sugar terror target’ con immediately.
After I pointed this out, Private Eye sought to clarify their position by pointing out that I was “just a blogger”.
Yes, you read that right and, yes, I double-checked. While they were careful to stress that this was not a formal policy (just a prejudice), Private Eye did make it clear that they are not in the habit of crediting websites “with only a few hundred hits*” and that’s the end of it, as far as they’re concerned.
(This, after years of mocking/castigating other print titles for lifting material from websites without permission or credit; the hypocrisy is breathtaking.)
So when I publish something and stake my reputation (if not my house) on it, that counts for nothing; it’s not until a professional journalist reads it and then passes it on that it becomes real. I’m welcome to think otherwise, but they stand by their writer who maintains that I am a nutter. That’s the current position of Private Eye, and they see no reason to discuss the matter any further.
I’ve tangled with some vindictive tabloid scum in my time, but I can honestly say that Private Eye is the only print title to have responded with a personal attack like this. My faith in this magazine and the people behind it is a little shaken, to say the least. Obviously in the past I allowed for the occasional inaccuracy and even the odd agenda, but I always regarded the Private Eye team to be fair-minded as a whole. Not any more. If anything, I see their refusal to sign up to the PCC in an entirely new light.
FFS, at one stage they even tried to defend their writer Adam Macqueen on the basis that at least he didn’t call me paedophile. Now there’s some upstanding standards for you.
*UPDATE – I would maintain that the number of ‘hits’ anyone gets is irrelevant in this argument (I did the work and made the key discovery, which they passed off as their own, end of) but I think it’s worth comparing our current performance in Twitter as a little sign off:
It’s also worth noting that Adam Macqueen has a personal (recently-retired) blog, and also runs a blog for Private Eye. Both of these blogs are, we can assume, cut from a different cloth than most blogs and are therefore of some significance.
UPDATE (9pm) – In the Twitter chatter this afternoon were a few references to An Evening with Private Eye at the National Theatre. The event promised a Q&A session that was open to all comers, so I went along at the last minute (standing room ticket) and managed to get this out of Ian Hislop during that session:
Me: Why does Private Eye take stories from weblogs and pass them off as their own work?
Hislop: We don’t.
[he quickly moves on to the next question.]
Me: Why does Private Eye not credit weblogs?
Hislop: That’s a really good point… that I’m going to ignore.
Lady: What criteria do you have before you publish a story?
Hislop (deeply sarcastic): Well, it depends if it’s been published on a weblog first.
Though Ian Hislop appears to have lied (or perhaps misremembered) in response to the first question and dodged the second, his arrogance is clear from the jest that followed; the editor of Private Eye regards bloggers to be unworthy of credit or acknowledgement.
Perhaps that’s why he regards his response so far to be adequate; Hislop maintains that “I do not accept that my contributors wilfully stole your material as you allege” and that’s fine so long as he continues to ignore the detail of the matter, especially the smear and behaviour from Macqueen that followed (a clear sign of bad faith in itself).
I won’t consider the matter closed until credit is acknowledged in print and Adam Macqueen apologises for his outburst.
MINI-UPDATE – Tut. Where are my manners? I forgot to express my gratitude that Ian Hislop didn’t respond by calling me a paedophile.
The twitterlyverse was quietly minding its own business yesterday when Nadine Dorries suddenly exploded with
fury ‘bemusement’ so great, it could not be contained in a single tweet:
(Hint for n00bs: read from bottom to top)
It soon became clear that what Nadine was talking about was Kerry McCarthy RTing a link to an article by an entirely different person on an entirely different weblog.
1. This is not the first time Nadine has been confused by re-tweets. All these months on Twitter, and Nadine still doesn’t recognise an RT when she sees one
2. The blog article about her is not a personal attack by Kerry McCarthy; it clearly states at the top of the article (and on every other page) that the writing comes to you from “The Blog of Bryony Victoria King”
3. The blogged article about her is not a personal attack, but I can understand how Nadine might see it that way, because everything she ever says is true and reliable, and any contradiction of that is a slur on her good name.
4. Nadine is especially sensitive about any interruptions to her “I was born a poor black child” narrative now that she’s preparing to take part in a bold TV experiment that places her in a council estate for a week.
5. But where does she get off bringing that McCarthy’s mother into it? Regardless of who she thinks wrote the entirely relevant passage about her daughters, there’s simply no call for it. It stinks of the same kind of ‘tit for tat’ outburst (again, focused on McCarthy) that led to her smearing a fellow MP as a sex pest.
Several users of Twitter sought to challenge or question Nadine on the outburst; Nadine Dorries, true to form, blocked them rather than face this. Instead, she sought to explain away the confusion with an accusation of retro-moderation:
Kerry McCarthy does not have a history of quietly editing inconvenient blog content out of existence, but Nadine Dorries does. If I were McCarthy I’d be particularly irked by Dorries judging me by her own crappy values, but the core problem here is that Nadine Dorries has responded to an imagined personal attack by engaging in an actual personal attack (something she does often).
She is so focused on Kerry McCarthy that she doesn’t know what blog she’s on, and is so convinced that what she claims is true that when she visits that MP’s actual blog only to find the article ‘missing’, she makes a wild accusation against the woman she is so certain is attacking her.
Over 12 hours have passed since these false accusations were made. Someone friendly to Dorries must have explained it by now, but there’s no sign of her, or any correction… not that any of us should be holding our breath waiting for any kind of admission of error or (Dog forbid!) an apology from someone as well-meaning, honest and infallible as Nadine Dorries.
SEE ALSO: Nadine Dorries was so certain of a Downing St led conspiracy against her that she libelled both Tom Watson and Gordon Brown on live television.
I’ve been funnelling most of the ‘diverting links’ content through my Twitter channel lately, but it will take a smidgen over 140 characters for me to run you through this so you get the full benefit, so for the first time in a long time…
No, no, no… don’t read this yet. Go up and read that first. Then come back here. I’ll wait.
Done? Good. Onward…
David Thorne’s encounter with Simon Edhouse made me want to know more about the man, so I looked him up in Google. The first thing I noticed was that – within hours of his post – David had already placed third in Google for Simon’s name. Without trying:
The top search result was not Simon’s personal site (edgepolitics.com) or his business site (virtusoft.net), but this listing at naymz.com, which informed me that Simon has the following qualification from the Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre of the University of Adelaide (and no, I’m not making any of this up)
Master of Science and Technology Commercialization
Admittedly, Simon has published over 6 times as many tweets than David, but if you’re going to commercialise, bums on seats is the slightly more vital statistic, and the margin is pretty clearly in David’s favour. Like 36 to 1 in David’s favour.
Now, most of you who know me know that I have very little time for stat-porn and associated willy-waving, but given Simon’s interest in the web and networking thingamajigs I’d say it’s a fair stick to measure him by, so I find this difference in Twitter performance telling, and a reliable indicator of how polite and respectful I might be in Simon’s position if asking someone like David Thorne for a favour… especially when there is a considerable risk of David saying or doing something that might result in many, many people pointing and laughing at me if I muck him about.
On that note we move on to where David Thorne is wrong; it is not Twitter (with a coin slot) that Simon Edhouse has invented, it is BitTorrent (with a coin slot)… and I have discovered on my travels that Simon appears to have gone about building the project in much the same way as he went about commissioning the logo for it:
BotTorrent commercial project, needs help
Simon Edhouse [simon at virtusoft.net]
Sat Jan 15 03:56:27 CST 2005
I am new to this list. So I hope this invitation is OK. I am looking
for people to collaborate on a project to design a commercial
BitTorrent application. Specifically I am looking to find someone with
advanced maths skills who can assist with modelling various scenarios.
All interested parties are welcome to email me to discuss. –
simon at virtusoft.net
Still, Simon Edhouse has played a vital role in some pretty high-flying high-tech successes in the past (and you can be the 266th person to hear all about them here on YouTube), so who knows? We may yet live to see David Thorne begging to be a part of his success as Simon rocks with laughter on the deck of his
yaght yacht… especially now that David has foolishly awarded him all this free publicity and I’ve unwittingly fallen into his trap as well.
In fact, if Simon is half the man I think he is, then he’s already worked out eight ways to make mockery shit money.
All he needs now is someone to build the gubbins… maybe fashion a logo… knock together a few pie charts… and paint his fucking house.
UPDATE – I was in two minds about publishing what I had found, but this removes any doubts I may have had about how much this guy deserves to be mocked. Most of you who know me will also know that I have NO time for this kind of crap:
Don’t feel at all bad for laughing at this guy… he is clearly a dick.
*UPDATE: 1.5 year course, I’ve found. Pardon the inaccuracy. All other updates have unfolded in comments.
UPDATE (27 Nov) – Lots of words down there. Here is a picture summary, issued after much discussion, and a complete failure by Simon Edhouse to follow through on any of his sound and fury about the exchange being faked:
BBC – Michelle Obama racist image sparks Google apology: Google has apologised over a racially offensive picture of Michelle Obama which appears when users search for images of the US first lady. The image comes top of the Google Images results for “Michelle Obama”. Google placed a notice over the picture titled “Offensive Search Results”, saying: “Sometimes our search results can be offensive. We agree.” But it refused to remove the image from its search. The White House has declined to comment.
Pardon me for jumping in on this debate (involving hahaha an African American hahaha portrayed hahahaha as a monkey hahaha), but I do believe I have something to add beyond a simple thought experiment:
1. The picture is no longer live at the page Google returns as the top result, therefore it fails the relevance test. All Google have to do is update their image database a little faster than glaciers move, and the problem goes away. Of course, the image may pop up again elsewhere, and the sites/pages that host it will have to be judged on their relevance, but at the moment they are defending a result without relevance, suggesting they haven’t really put much thought into the matter.
2. Google are at present refusing to remove some 50+ false claims that I’m a convicted paedophile from their servers, using free speech as an argument (when they can be bothered to reply), but I doubt they’ve put much thought into this, either.
In January 2009, I published on this website compelling evidence that a ‘terrorism expert’ had been falsifying evidence of extremism while selling related stories to tabloid newspapers. In March 2009, that same ‘terrorism expert’, posing as a Daily Mail reporter, falsely claimed that I was a convicted paedophile when posting comments to somewhere between 50-100 Blogger.com-hosted websites.
Despite police involvement, plus repeated emails and phone calls over the space of many months, I have never received anything other than a stock email from Google in response to my many requests that they remove this material, posted in contravention of their Content Policy and Terms of Service.
The writer was clearly engaging in a campaign of harassment, and clearly guilty of outright impersonation, but the stock reply I received did not address either of these points:
Thank you for your note. Please note that Blogger is a provider of content
creation tools, not a mediator of that content. We allow our users to
create blogs, but we don’t make any claims about the content of these
pages. We strongly believe in freedom of expression, even if a blog
contains unappealing or distasteful content or presents unpopular
viewpoints. We realize this may be frustrating and we regret any
inconvenience this may cause you. In cases where contact information for
the author is listed on the page, we recommend you working directly with
this person to have the content in question removed or changed.
(Unpopular viewpoints? Inconvenience? Fuck you, Google.)
Basically, what they are saying is that they don’t own the content on Blogger.com weblogs, but even if I were to accept this answer (that refuses to acknowledge the dual violation of their Content Policy and Terms of Service following the use of their servers for harassment and impersonation) many of these comments are on abandoned websites and were posted anonymously; there is no way to reach the (absent) site owner and the comments cannot be deleted by the man who wrote them, no matter how much he might want to undo what he’s done.
In short, the only visible owner (and potential beneficiary) of this content is Google Inc. who insist on maintaining vast swathes of wasteland for some reason.
Google is the only reason much of this information is still live…. and they refuse to even discuss the matter.
Is the content in keeping with the terms under which they host it? No.
Has anyone (other than Google) expressed a wish to maintain or defend the content? No.
Is it even relevant content? No.
So what the hell are Google playing at by continuing to host it, and how does this fit in with their ‘do no evil’ mantra?
UPDATE – Some good news… for Michelle Obama:
Guardian – Michelle Obama ‘racist’ picture that is topping Google Images removed: A blog hosting an offensive image of Michelle Obama with monkey features has removed it and posted an apology. The image, which has been appearing at the top of search results when the words “Michelle Obama” are put into Google Images, was posted on a blog called Hot Girls, which is hosted by the Google-owned blog service, Blogger. Hot Girls’ owner has today removed the image, which appears to have originally been put up with a blog post on 21 October, and displayed an apology in Chinese with a very loose English translation. Google had refused to remove the offensive image from its picture search listings, despite complaints that it is racist, instead opting to run an ad next to it explaining its policy on how search engine results work. A spokesman for Google said that the Hot Girls blog and image may still temporarily appear when some users make Google Images searches but that it was coming out of the search engine’s indexing system.
UPDATE – I’m reminded that Google’s commitment to free speech has its limits.
Dear Lord Ashcroft,
Apologies for the open letter, but the better part of two months has been wasted going through the ‘proper channels’ on this matter, and your staff only appeared to show mild interest (at best) when there was a whiff of negative publicity in the air. I might have attempted to pass an email on through fellow blogger Iain Dale, but that man has proved to be thoroughly petty and untrustworthy in recent times (to the extent that he can’t even be trusted to pass on a simple message, no matter how serious the matter might be).
So here I am, airing these rather sensitive questions in public. I regret if it causes you any embarrassment, but I humbly submit that if you have any issues with that, then you should take it up with the people you have manning the ramparts.
I am writing to ask about a man by the name of Dominic Wightman (aka Dominic Whiteman, aka Richard Walker) who claims to have conducted a meeting with you and gained funding for VIGIL, a “private intelligence-gathering network” focusing on “extreme Islamism,” with an investigative/publicity remit including “Muslim faith schools, infiltration of police forces, immigration departments and local government by extreme Islamists… FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and Muslim honour violence across the continent” (source).
Rather than waste any more time, I’ll take us straight to the questions that need answering:
1 – Wightman claimed in July 2006 that he was in contact with your PA at the time to arrange a meeting with you personally in London*. Is this claim true?
[*If your diaries and records let you down, you can always check your passport, as you may have been out of the country at the time.]
2 – Wightman also claimed that this meeting was arranged specifically to discuss funding for VIGIL. Is this claim true?
3 – Wightman went on to claim that the meeting took place, as scheduled, on Thursday 20 July, 2006. Is this claim true?
4 – Wightman also maintained that he left that meeting with a generous promise of funding. (He described the result as being beyond his expectations**.) Is this claim true?
[**The exceeded expectations he told others of may have referred to some small amount of funding where none was expected, or funding on a faster timetable than expected, rather than any amount beyond his known expectations (which were, early in VIGIL’s history, as high as £250,000) if, indeed, there was any truth to this claim at all.]
5 – Wightman then claimed that he went on to collect a cheque within 10 days of that meeting, implying heavily that it had come from you or your organisation. Is this claim true?
6 – Wightman went on to claim that subsequent delays in accessing the funds were the result of his/your wish to handle these funds discreetly through offshore trusts. Is this claim true?
Personally, I doubt that any of what Wightman claimed was true, but speaking as someone who has been taken in by Wightman, it would not surprise me if the meeting took place and he misrepresented the nature of that meeting and/or made false/misleading claims/implications about successfully obtaining funding from you.
I should stress that some of Wightman’s claims and implications reach into a vague area involving a number of wealthy Conservatives who he blames in part for the collapse of VIGIL (alongside those who were ‘greedy’ enough to expect to be paid when a wage was promised) but yours is the only name that emerged alongside any specific claim of a meeting or funding.
You are therefore in a unique position to prove or disprove the veracity of claims that are central to Dominic Wightman’s assertions about his past and present actions and intentions with regards to VIGIL and those involved (and/or his influence within the Conservative ranks, then or now).
Again, I recognise the potential for embarrassment and regret having to put you in this position, but there is a clear difference between being innocently taken in by someone like Wightman to any extent and (knowingly or otherwise) providing a conman with vital cover in order to avoid a few blushes, and I wanted to be sure that you were given a clear opportunity to do what is right.
I would, obviously, prefer that this matter were cleared up quickly with no remaining doubts or shadows, but if there are any confidential aspects to your answer(s), any fair and relevant request for confidentiality will be respected and honoured.
The following is the full, unedited and uncensored text of a letter from Graham Dudman (Managing Editor of The Sun) to the PCC, written in relation to the ‘Alan Sugar terror target’ story that was first revealed here at Bloggerheads to be based on fabricated evidence, a fact that was later confirmed by Jenvey himself in September 2009, after a hell of a lot of needless fuss.
I’m publishing the letter here after repeated appeals to Graham Dudman for an apology have met with nothing but silence, so the public might have a shot at (again) dealing with something the PCC refuse to address.
The short version is that Dudman turned a blind eye to evidence and instead attacked those presenting it (a tactic that regular readers of this blog will be quite familiar with given past adventures with various tabloid wannabes).
– | -
1 Virginia Street
Telephone: 020 7782 4117
Fax: 020 7782 4029
FROM THE MANAGING EDITOR
January 27 2009
Will Gore Esq
Press Complaints Commission
20/23 High Holborn
Dear Mr Gore
Thank you for you letter of 13 January addressed to the Editor regarding an online complaint from the administrator of a website (www.ummah.com) (“the Website”) concerning an article published by The Sun on 7 January. We have investigated the complaint and are now in a position to respond.
In his complaint, the complainant makes a number of claims suggesting that the article published in The Sun on January 7 is inaccurate. Most notably, he claims that the Website was accused by The Sun “of compiling a list of well known Jewish people to be targeted with a campaign of violence”. In fact, what the article actually said was that:
“… Sir Alan Sugar is among the top British Jews feared [our emphasis] targeted by Islamic extremists …”. Additionally, the article also made clear as early as the second paragraph that the list does not exist but that “fanatics called for a list… to be drawn up”.
We believe that this inaccuracy suggests a mis-reading of what was published and the basis for it. The facts of the matter are that a posting was made on the Website by someone using the avatar ‘Saladin 1970′ asking fellow users to help in order compile a list of individuals who support Israel. In response to a posting asking for a list of “top Jews we can target”, ‘Saladin1970′ provided a link to another website (www.thejc.com) which referred to a number of prominent British Jews including Sir Alan Sugar, Foreign Secretary David Milliband and the musician Mark Ronson, amongst many others. ‘Saladin1970′ is not an avatar for either a journalist or an agent for The Sun, nor is he connected in some way to Glen Jenvey (the terrorism expert quoted in the article).
The complaint suggests that “the intent of the thread was to start a polite letter writing campaign to persuade the influential Jewish people that what Israel is doing in Gaza is wrong”. With respect, we do not agree that the intent of the thread was simply to start a “polite letter writing campaign”. It is clear from even just a cursory review that the Website carries numerous extreme views and is widely used by Islamic extremists to discuss radical and/or extremist subjects. We have reviewed both the thread which prompted the article and other threads on the Website and we have no doubt that it was reasonable for The Sun to describe the Website as a “fanatics website”. For example, the Website contains one message board entitled “Does anyone here recognise Israel’s right to exist” which contains threads that include quotes such as “Muslims are a patient people. Jews are a greedy people. Who will win in the end?” (posted by ‘AbuMusaab’ at 7:56am on 4 January 2009); “you are a fool if you think that the Muslims will let you live in peace” (posted by ‘SunniHammer’ at 8:39am on 4 January 2009); and “you won’t find any peace until all of you thieves were kicked out from the Palestine inshallah” (posted by ‘Ammarcool’ at 9:56am on 4 January 2009). These are just three examples.
In light of this, in our view, to regard Islamic extremists as being in the business of sending “polite letters” is naive and extreme. This is based on the expert opinion of Glen Jenvey, an expert in radical Islam. In any event, as a matter of common knowledge, we are unaware of a single incident of Islamic extremists writing polite letters. It is quite obviously a euphemism which almost does not require expert opinion to establish.
The matters raised in the article are plainly matters of public interest. Exposing, even at the earliest of stages, a proposed conspiracy to cause harm to prominent British Jews is a matter that The Sun is and should be free to report. It is not the case that public interest is and can only be served by reporting such matters to the police.
Central to the complaint is the suggestion that Glen Jenvey, the terrorism expert quoted by The Sun in the article is connected to (or in fact may possibly be) a freelance journalist called ‘Richard Tims’. Additionally the complaint suggests that it was ‘Richard Tims’ who posted the thread on the Website using the avatar ‘Abuislam’ which is referred to in the article. We have spoken to Mr Jenvey regarding the complaint, particularly in relation to the allegation that he is in some way connected to ‘Richard Tims’. Mr Jenvey has categorically denied that he is, or that he uses the name, ‘Richard Tims’ or, indeed, that he ever met anyone by that name. Mr Jenvey also denies that he ever posted any threads on the Website.
I can also confirm that The Sun has no association with any person called ‘Richard Tims’ and that this person (if he indeed exists) was in no way connected with the publication of the article on 7 January.
We should add that Mr Jenvey is an extremely well respected expert on terrorism who has contributed to various radio and television programmes in this country. In this respect, we make the following points:
1. As recently as November 2008 Mr Jenvey was interviewed by BBC Radio 4’s File on Four programme on the subject of “Violent Extremism”. Mr Jenvey was introduced on air during that programme as “an investigator who has been monitoring extremist websites for years”. Mr Jenvey has also contributed to articles for The Sunday Times and CNN amongst others.
2. The Sun has used Mr Jenvey as an expert on terror-related matters previously and has had no reason to doubt the veracity of his views.
3. John Coles (the journalist responsible for the article) was also assured by the South West News Service (“SWNS”), the news organisation which originally supplied the story to The Sun , that Mr Jenvey was a reliable expert. SWNS had dealt with Mr Jenvey on an earlier terror-related story and, in this respect, SWNS had been reassured by Conservative MP Patrick Mercer (Chairman of the House of Commons Counter-Terrorism sub-committee) that “Glen Jenvey is an extremely capable and knowledgeable analyst of fundamentalist matters and ought to be listened to. If he says that this is a risk worth looking at, then we must take it seriously. He and I have done quite a lot of work together, and he is a source of reference for me”.
4. After speaking to Mr Jenvey, John Coles contacted the Community Sceurity Trust, the charity which oversees security for Britain’s Jewish community, and was given the contact number for its security spokesman, Mark Gardiner (who is also quoted in the article). M Coles subsequently briefed Mr Gardiner about the story and specifically mentioned Mr Jenvey by name. At no point during this conversation, did Mr Gardiner suggest that Mr Jenvey was someone not to be trusted.
5. To confirm, Mr Jenvey was not paid for his contribution to the article.
The complainant would also be trying to discredit Mr Jenvey (and by implication the article published in The Sun on 7 January) without any foundation. In this respect, the complaint includes a link to a website (http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2009/01/glen_jenvey_has.asp) which contains a number of extremely serious allegations against Mr Jenvey. As well as the allegation that Mr Jenvey, ‘Richard Tims’ and ‘Abuislam’ are all one and the same, which I deal with above, the website also makes a number of personal attacks on Mr Jenvey. Those attacks include allegations, amongst many others, regarding Mr Jenvey’s sexuality as well as claims that he is a paedophile (eg “or is it that he likes young muslin boys around?”). Mr Jenvey categorically denies that he is a paedophile. In this respect, we understand that Mr Jenvey has been in a stable relationship for the past 16 years. The website also contains a purported interview with an individual claiming to be Mr Jenvey’s daughter. This interview is manifestly false. Mr Jenvey does not have a daughter.
Mr Jenvey informs us that when he has been critical of the Website in the past, he has been subjected to similar personal attacks. The allegations concerning Mr Jenvey on www.bloggerheads.com is again a tactic we understand that the Website has chosen to use before and, as before, they are based on false claims.
It is our view, from what I set out above, that the complainant has not been full and frank with the PCC, both as to the nature of the information discussed on the Website and the implication that Mr Jenvey was in some way responsible for posting one of the threads referred to in the article. This is a further matter which should be taken into consideration.
Without withdrawing any what I have set out above, I have arranged for the article to be removed from The Suns’ website and I trust that this is now the end of the matter.
If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me. Indeed, if there are specific issues that you want me to address, then plea\se let me know.
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If others wish to reproduce and/or fisk this letter, then feel free (but please ensure than you link back to this post, just in case there are any updates or corrections).
I offer the following observations in no particular order:
– Dudman can take that potential ‘mis-reading’ and “feared targeted” dodge and stick it right up his fundamental orifice.
– Note how it is taken as a given that Ummah.com is a hotbed of extremism, thereby rendering “polite letters” an “obvious euphemism” for something more sinister. This rampant bigotry alone blows apart any notion The Sun may wish to put about they were innocents duped by Jenvey. While The Sun may have apologised for ‘inaccuracy’ (while blaming Jenvey) they have failed/refused to withdraw or correct their description of Ummah.com as a “fanatics website”, even though the only evidence produced to back this up was also provided by Jenvey and is extraordinarily thin, even if taken at face value.
(I recognise the anti-Semitic aspects of some of the quoted comments, but have seen worse hosted on YouTube, Twitter, Blogger, etc. – I haven’t seen any of these described as a “fanatics website” in The Sun and I doubt I ever will… unless of course it’s a result of this Murdoch-owned paper having another go at Facebook or any other social media provider it regards to be a direct threat to the Murdoch-owned MySpace.)
– In the paragraph citing what he sees as evidence justifying the description of Ummah.com as a “fanatics website” Dudman misuses the term ‘avatar’ and clearly confuses a ‘message board’ with a post/thread and describes responses within a thread as new ‘threads’, suggesting that he doesn’t even have the basic understanding of a forum one might require to make a valid judgement of any online community of this type (that, or he’s deliberately giving a false impression that this type of content is far more widespread on Ummah.com than the evidence suggests). Further, none of this evidence proves it is warranted to suggest that a “letter writing campaign” is anything but a threat of further lip-flapping, if it is to be regarded as a threat at all.
– The Sun claim that Jenvey was not paid for the story, but this is contradicted by the claim published on the SWNS website that they had sold this specific story of Jenvey’s to The Sun. Perhaps what Dudman meant to say is that they paid SWNS, who then paid Mr Jenvey.
– Unlike other ‘leading’ bloggers, I take responsibility for the comments that appear on my website, but it cannot be stressed enough that the ‘daughter’ content did not originate on my site, and was instead repeated under comments as part of a background information dump by a well-meaning comment contributor. It was irrelevant to the body of the post, and was publicly dismissed as irrelevant the time. In this letter, Dudman only makes passing mention of the body of the post (i.e. the part containing key evidence showing their expert to be a fraud) and instead focuses on the comments underneath, greatly misrepresenting their content and context in many ways, not the least of which being:
– The ‘paedophile’ text (as with the other text about Jenvey’s daughter) was mirrored information from another website posted to my website as a comment, and allowed as background only. It did not originate from me, nor was it highlighted, encouraged or expanded upon in any way. The Sun imply otherwise. Further, the text The Sun claim was published by me ‘to discredit Glen Jenvey’ does not accuse Glen Jenvey of being a paedophile, as a wider quote from that passage reveals (“‘is bin laden a gay? or is it that he just likes young muslin boys around? is jihad a form of child sex?”). The comment is about Osama Bin Laden, and was originally posted to ummah.com under the name ‘saddam01′, which according to Ummah.com is yet another alias of… Glen Jenvey! Yes, the ‘paedophile’ text wasn’t *about* Glen Jenvey, and it was most likely written *by* Glen Jenvey!
(As many of you are aware, Glen Jenvey later went on to falsely accuse me of being a paedophile. Repeatedly. On hundreds of websites. What role this letter/accusation played in that decision and if Jenvey was confused enough to believe that I had done anything like that to him is unknown at this time.)
– It has been put to me by the PCC that the accusation that I called Jenvey a paedophile may have been an honest mistake resulting from an unfortunately-placed line-break in a print-out/fax, but my response to this is that – if this is the case – then The Sun appear to have taken no care before making this very serious accusation. Further to this, if it were an error in reading a print-out/fax, then it is clear that they did not look at the website itself. Therefore, they did not even look at the evidence I presented on my website in any depth before banking so much on their ‘expert’ and rejecting any notion he may have used the alias ‘Richard Tims’ (which he did) or posed as ‘Abuislam’ (which he also did).
– The Sun, who had a go at Gordon Brown for misspelling a name, cannot spell ‘Muslim’.
– Note the sleight of hand (or unfortunate error) in the use of “the Website” in the final paragraph under ‘Glen Jenvey'; the majority of people I’ve shown this to take to be a reference to Bloggerheads.com and not Ummah.com
– That they then go on to complain that “the complainant has not been full and frank with the PCC” is the height of chutzpah. If Graham Dudman suddenly drops dead from audacity, I recommend that he be immediately replaced by Iain Dale, who shares with him an equal if not greater capacity for (a) playing the man while playing the victim, and (b) taking bullshit to new and dizzying levels.
– The removal of the article from their website was far from the end of the matter. The Sun did not admit error or publish any form of correction until months afterwards, and even then it was nothing to write home about.
Graham Dudman has, since writing this letter, repeatedly refused to withdraw the false allegations he made about me in a clear attempt to draw attention away from his publication’s failure(s) to act reasonably and responsibly. (Surprisingly, I find myself in a very similar dispute with Private Eye, and I look forward to addressing that properly soon after giving them more than ample time to reply.)
The PCC – the body currently speaking of the potential to ‘regulate’ blogs (more) – has at every stage refused to investigate or even publicly acknowledge the attempt by the Managing Editor of the The Sun to attack me instead of addressing the evidence I presented.