What goes on in Google’s wasteland (and why you should care)

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?

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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.

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UPDATE – I’m reminded that Google’s commitment to free speech has its limits.

An open letter to Lord (Michael) Ashcroft

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.

Regards,

Tim Ireland
www.bloggerheads.com

Graham Dudman plays the man

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).

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The Sun
1 Virginia Street
London
E98 1SN
Telephone: 020 7782 4117
Fax: 020 7782 4029
Email: graham.dudman@the-sun.co.uk

FROM THE MANAGING EDITOR

January 27 2009

Will Gore Esq
Press Complaints Commission
Halton House
20/23 High Holborn
London
EC1N 2JD

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.

Accuracy

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.

Public Interest

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.

Glen Jenvey

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.

Summary

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.

Yours sincerely

[signed]

GRAHAM DUDMAN

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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.

YouTube’s priorities

Amount of time YouTube take to remove a video containing a glimpse of nudity from their servers after a possible/arguable violation of their Community Guidelines:

Less than 6 hours.

Amount of time YouTube take to remove my ex-directory home address from their servers (after it is posted as part of an ongoing campagn of harassment) after a clear and unquestionable violation of their Community Guidelines:

47 days (and counting… it’s still there)

Seriously, WTF is with that?

YouTube Community Guidelines on nudity:

“There are exceptions for some educational, documentary and scientific content, but only if that is the sole purpose of the video and it is not gratuitously graphic.”

YouTube Community Guidelines on harassment:

“There is zero tolerance for predatory behaviour, stalking, threats, harassment, invading privacy or the revealing of other members’ personal information.”

Me on YouTube:

Get your priorities straight, you dimwits. Age restriction would have been a more appropriate measure on this video that would have no cause to exist without an educational/documentary purpose. I’m staggered that you would rush to remove nipples within hours, but wait for well over a month before acting on the repeated/reported use of your servers for harassment.

Page 3 propaganda

Not a lot of people know, understand or appreciate what’s been happening on Page 3 since 2003, so I made a video that explains it and includes all the evidence anyone could want that The Sun have been royally taking the piss and brainwashing their readers with boobage for well over 6 years now. Enjoy:

[MINI-UPDATE: Video now re-hosted at Vimeo. Please read this new post about YouTube's odd priorities if you have a mo... but check out the video first.]

Page 3 :: Girls + Words from Tim Ireland on Vimeo.

Apologies that it took so long to collect and collate this evidence (in between unconscionable attacks by right-wing thugs), but I would hope this video has been well worth the wait, and is successful in showing both the individual outrage and the cumulative impact of the propaganda on Page 3.

The video is, of course, an ART and is therefore designed to speak for itself, but it will also be playing part of a wider campaign to address this issue, just in time for 40th anniversary of the reinvention of The Sun, and the introduction of Page 3.

[A Page 3 girl first appeared on Nov 17, 1969. A Page 3 girl first appeared topless on that tabloid's first 'birthday'(Nov 17, 1970) wearing her.... hold on to your sides... birthday suit. They got away with that, so repeated the stunt the next year with a run of four topless models over four days (Nov 17-20, 1971), but it wasn't until later (1972-1973) that almost every Page 3 girl was topless. The Sun probably celebrate their Page 3 anniversary a year after their main anniversary so they get two hits from each major milestone, but in truth Page 3 has been with us since Nov 17, 1969. Pardon my pedantry.]

What follows is a draft of a long-overdue A4 insert for the media watch site The Sun: Tabloid Lies. It is designed to be left inside copies of The Sun, and its call to action is the core of the campaign that starts here:

FREE TITS

Since 2003, the Page 3 feature in The Sun has carried an item called ‘News in Briefs’ instead of the usual pun-filled caption of days of yore.

Even the title itself is a lie; this ‘news’ item rarely carries news, and instead carries an editorial/opinion (an important distinction to make, especially when dealing with media owner Rupert Murdoch, the father of FOX News).

We are not saying that a young woman with her tits out is not allowed to have an opinion; far from it. We are instead asking, if Page 3 is as ‘empowering’ as some people claim, then why aren’t these women allowed to choose which issue(s) they discuss and/or express their own opinion about that when appearing on Page 3?

At present, they are clearly often (if not always) compelled to echo/repeat the opinions of Rupert Murdoch, Rebekah Wade, Dominic Mohan, Graham Dudman, or whoever else is calling the shots that day. This is not empowerment; rather, it is exploitation.

We challenge The Sun to allow Page 3 girls to use their paid appearance(s) in that tabloid as a personal/political platform, just as they do for columnists such as Jeremy Clarkson, Jon Gaunt, Lorraine Kelly and Jane Moore.

If there is to be editorial content on Page 3, then it should be clearly labelled as opinion (not news) and it should always be the heartfelt, unprompted opinion of the woman whose name, face and tits are being used to sell the idea. End of.

Any standard less than this exploits these women and cheats the readers.

If you agree with that, simply talk to someone about it, or even better write/blog/email/tweet something about it… and then leave this insert inside another copy of The Sun for someone else to find.

Cheers

Tim Ireland
13 November, 2009

PS – I do realise that my headline is potentially misleading, but if you read The Sun, then you should be well used to that by now.

More information (and downloadable copies of this pamphlet) available via:
http://bit.ly/page3 | http://www.bloggerheads.com | http://the-sun-lies.blogspot.com

NOTE – Even if I reach a million people with this message, The Sun will reach more people on a single day (with a single pair of tits) so please share a link to the video and this page with as many people as possible.

I’ll be back shortly with more bloggage on this issue. Bring tissues.

The return of NAD-LIBS

NAD-LIBS work just like Mad-Libs, only they focus on the adventures of everyone’s favourite Conservative MP, Nadine Dorries. (It’s hard to think of a more fitting tribute, given her tendency to imagine or invent stuff that happens to her, often at random, if not according to her specific publicity needs at the time.)

nadlibs

Here are the story-sheets that are available so far. Simply click on the version you would like to play, print it onto an A4 sheet of dead tree, grab a pencil, and then find someone to play with*:

NAD-LIBS: Sheet# 1 – Nadine Dorries wins the day [DOWNLOAD]

NAD-LIBS: Sheet# 2 – Nadine Dorries claims sexual harassment [DOWNLOAD]

The BIG HINTS for playing this game successfully include:
a) never try to play online, because it rarely works as well as it does ‘live’
c) choose an audience that’s at least dimly aware of our dimmest MP
d) alternatively, just find some children (or some people who think like children)
e) do not show or share any of the story to your audience until it is finished
f) specifically point out that you are publishing the output of a NAD-LIBS game when repeating any of the results online, or hot-shot lawyer Donal Blaney may serve you with a ‘writ’ or some other form of quasi-legal document written in official blue crayon.

(*Ooooh, Matron!)

Guy Fawkes Night 2009 [UPDATED with bonfire and fireworks footage]

Previously, I’ve burned Tony Blair and Rebekah Wade in effigy. Last year, ‘Bob’ went up in flames and you got to join him (you lucky devils).

This year, I’d like to introduce you to ‘Johnson’:

johnson

As you can see, Johnson really hasn’t got a leg to stand on, and all that’s keeping him aloft is his over-inflated sense of importance.

There’s more to come, so watch this space for updates. Have a happy Guy Fawkes Day, (almost) everyone!

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UPDATE (06 Nov) – See this? This camera (plus carriage that I built last night) weighs 346 grams:

camera

The two lightweight tether wires that go with it each weigh 25g. Using MATHS and SCIENCE (in the pursuit or ART) I have determined that I will require roughly 50 helium-filled latex ballons (with short kite-string ties) to lift it all; perhaps a little more to get the tether(s) nice and taut.

Happily, the good people from Party Ark have kindly donated the helium and balloons required for this project (and there’s a strip-down plan for the camera/carriage should it prove to be overweight; this backup plan is entirely foolproof, because it involves the use of duct-tape).

If you take a look at what happened last year, you can probably work out the rest for yourself… and if you can’t, then you haven’t got long to wait.

More updates to follow. Watch this space.

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UPDATE (07 Nov) – Yes, after capturing video footage inside the bonfire last year, this year we are attempting to capture video footage from ABOVE the bonfire.

Having done some further measurements this morning, I’ve decided to attempt video capture in two stages; initially some 9-10m above the ground (2-3m above the flames) and then 13m above the ground (which should capture the entire circumference of the bonfire). The 7m tether wire will be attached to the camera by a weak-point that is designed to burn or melt away once flames build to their expected peak. The camera and balloons are then expected to shoot up pretty quickly, so I have a double tether wire set to take this initial shock and keep it at the 13m height until the wire or fasteners finally give out (giving us a shot from the camera as it floats up, up, up away from the bonfire), or the balloons melt or burst in the thermal updraft (giving us a shot of the camera falling to its doom).

bonfire

Our main enemy will most likely be wind (which will buffer the camera and/or put it off-centre), but nothing strong is predicted, and we’re relatively shielded in a valley position.

Keep your fingers crossed, and watch this space for further updates.

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UPDATE (08 Nov) – Gah! Even with all that lovely helium (from the good people at Party Ark), we barely got off the ground. Even if we did manage to do more than knock helplessly against the bonfire, the winds and the thermal updraft from the bonfire would have finished us in seconds, but we did salvage some footage:

Guy Fawkes Night Bonfire Camera II (2009)

We have a developing plan for next year that doesn’t involving battling gravity. Until then, we return to our regular programming. Cheers all.

Glen Jenvey arrested? Patrick Mercer: “No comment”

The following is a transcript from a telephone interview conducted recently with Patrick Mercer:

Tim Ireland: Do you have any comment on your Parliamentary Question of February 2009, made in response to evidence produced by Glen Jenvey?

Patrick Mercer: I’m afraid I have no comment.

Tim Ireland: Do you have any comment on your staff using that same Parliamentary Question as collateral when peddling an ‘exclusive’ story to the Times and Dennis Rice Media?

Patrick Mercer: I’m afraid I have no comment.

Tim Ireland: Do you have any comment on reports that Glen Jenvey was recently arrested, and had his computers seized?

Patrick Mercer: I’m afraid I have no comment.

Tim Ireland: Are you in any way concerned about what police might find on those computers?

Patrick Mercer: I’m afraid I have no comment.

Tim Ireland: When did you last hear from Dominic Wightman?

Patrick Mercer: I’m afraid I have no comment.

Tim Ireland: OK, thank you. This re….*

(line goes dead)

1. At present we only have Glen Jenvey’s claim that he was arrested to go on, and no specifics on what charges there are (if any). But if he was arrested, it would be fair to speculate that it relates to some of what Glen Jenvey published around June/July/August of this year and how that changed in the eyes of the law when he later confessed that he wasn’t really a Muslim when he published it.

2. Neither the Times nor Dennis Rice Media saw fit to run with the story referenced above (even though – gawrsh! – it was fleshed out with a genuine Parliamentary Question).

3. This transcript is 100% accurate but, personally, I think that every answer could be improved with a little punctuation:

Patrick Mercer: I’m afraid. I have no comment.

Please be careful of your phrasing if mentioning Jenvey’s claims of an arrest, and please remember that the story here is Patrick Mercer being taken in by not one but two ‘amateur terrors experts’ (more) during his tenure as Shadow Minister for Homeland Security, and then Chairman of the House of Commons Sub-Committee on Counter-Terrorism.

Inexplicably, he still holds the latter position, and seeks to shape the government’s response to extremism and terrorism, when in my view he lacks sufficient wisdom or judgement to shape their response to party games and balloon animals.

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UPDATE (01 Jan 2010) – News of Jenvey’s arrest was finally confirmed in yesterday’s Guardian. Details here.

To: John Rubinstein (of Rubinstein Phillips LLP)

Hi folks. Pardon the housekeeping, but a certain dark corner needs a sweep and some daylight. On with the open letter:

Dear Mr Rubinstein,

I completely reject any notion that I have harassed or stalked your client in any legal sense that you can hope to establish, or that I intend to do anything that is not my legal and moral right.

Regarding language, you are wasting your breath on this tired old chestnut. It has taken months of harassment and threats of violence at the hands of people using your client’s false accusations against me to bring me to the point where I use swear words to describe him. I would add to this that I take offence at some of the language your client uses (and the tone you took with me over my nationality).

Your client made accusations of stalking and harassment quite publicly and very dishonestly. Those public accusations are the primary reason I seek to make contact with him, as he refuses to stand by them on his site, but at the same time he will not withdraw them or issue any kind of correction, even though he knows they are being used against me in a wholly inappropriate manner. (This, I regard to be quite deliberate, especially in light of how he knowingly used a very similar tactic to libel the MP Tom Watson.)

Further, your client went on to spread these accusations privately, by his own admission.

At the time of the Tory Party Conference, my (ex-directory) home address was being widely published alongside your client’s false accusations of stalking. I will assume you are not implying that my decision to contact him at this particular time was politically motivated, as this is beneath you (if not your client).

Contrary to what you claim, your client appears to have at the very least received communications from Dominic Wightman (in the form of comments) and, I suspect from his previous carefully-phrased denials, Glen Jenvey also.

I will give you the benefit of the doubt regarding what you report about your staff and assume that they have trouble telling the difference between aggression and frustration. I asked yesterday that you simply confirm receipt of my email, and your staff were insisting that this involve a phone call with you. I have no desire to be subjected to further patronising/xenophobic comments from you, and nor do I wish to open myself to accusations that I am somehow needlessly burdening your client with billable activities.

Getting away from the alleged discomfort of your staff and back to online ‘toughs’ repeatedly publishing my home address alongside your client’s obviously false and quite strategic accusations of stalking:

I will continue to pursue this regardless of my limited time and resources until your client moves either way. I have little choice, and I will not tolerate him leaving an untested accusation out there, especially when he is aware that it is being used in this way.

Knowing what is happening and how it is disrupting my personal and professional life, your client is, in effect, using thugs in place of the courts. If he weren’t, surely he would withdraw the accusation that he made publicly or test it in court. (Or, at a stretch, engage in a further ‘trial by new media’ that doesn’t involve him engaging in lies of omission and/or hiding behind anonymous comments on his own website.)

You have asked me to stop calling/emailing your client. I have repeatedly asked your client to stand by his claims or withdraw them.

As for your repeated insistence that I use legal muscle to deal with this, your client has, by his past behaviour, left me in little doubt that he would only use this to imply that I am somehow guilty and/or a hypocrite and enemy of free speech:

http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2009/05/telegraph-takes-down-nadines-blog.html

http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2009/04/draper-watson-call-in-lawyers-to-put.html

In short, your client is a liar, and he has been lying since the beginning of this sorry affair, when he agreed to call Patrick Mercer, then didn’t, then lied about that, then lied to his readers about his being ‘stalked’ to mask his own shameful conduct after he put politics (or some personal beef) ahead of principle.

I was being falsely accused of *paedophilia*, Mr Rubinstein. I do not take such accusations lightly, and I know exactly what is going on when your client, a self-proclaimed community leader, can’t be bothered to make a single phone call to address that, and then almost immediately afterwards pulls out all the stops to play-act as a warrior against smears, refusing my calls and emails while knowingly libelling a political enemy and blogging rival as a smear-merchant.

That he would then (through you) go on to describe my concerns about being smeared as a convicted sex criminal as a “pre-occupation with accusations… of paedophilia” is the icing on the cake.

I contend that Iain Dale’s accusation of stalking is nothing more than a political weapon. He uses it without shame, knowing that it led to attacks and threats directed at me from the very first day he first made it, and eventually escalated to a point that he (only privately) recognises is beyond the pale.

In light of this, I make no apologies for any attempt to contact him, or for calling him a ‘bastard’, because he’s certainly been acting like one.

Cheers

Tim Ireland
www.bloggerheads.com

PS – You object to me contacting you, while insisting that I am free to publish what I please (within the law) on my website. So I have replied with this open letter on my website, and not burdened you with any emails or calls about it, lest I unwittingly distress you or your staff. Hope that’s OK.

Right, now that’s out of the way, I have some ART to attend to. Back soon.

How Iain Dale libelled Tom Watson (and me)

“I didn’t libel Tom Watson. if I had done, he would have sued me.” – Iain Dale (source)

Today, in the High Court, The Sun issued an apology to Tom Watson (more) and agreed to pay a “substantial sum in damages” (plus costs) for the “acute distress, humiliation and embarrassment” caused.

Take a look at what The Sun have apologised for specifically:

The Claimant was not copied in on, nor did he know about any of the emails between McBride and Draper until Friday 10 April, when the matter was first drawn by the media to the attention of Downing Street. He did not have any involvement in or knowledge of the “Red Rag” website. Accordingly, the Claimant did not lie when he publicly denied involvement by way of press releases issued first by him on 12 April and then on 14 April by Carter-Ruck solicitors on his behalf. (source)

The origin of the false claim that Tom Watson was CCed on the Draper/McBride emails is officially unknown; the person who first aired it via a mainstream channel was the Conservative blogger Iain Dale.

Iain Dale included the ‘CC’ claim in an article published by the Mail on Sunday on Sunday 12 April 2009. Iain’s story has changed a few times, but let’s take this recent version as gospel, just for laughs:

In the original text submitted to the Mail on Sunday I alleged that Tom had been copied in on the Damian McBride emails. I did so because I was told that by a senior Labour source that this was the case. I also published it on my blog in THIS post at 5.45 on the evening of 11 April. At 6.20pm I received a call from Guido Fawkes who told me that Tom Watson had not in fact been cc’d on the emails he had seen, although he was referred to. I immediately reworded the blogpost and wrote a replacement paragraph for the Mail on Sunday column, which was sent to them at 6.30pm. In retrospect, instead of amending the blogpost I should have written an Update at the bottom. However, I needed to get the Mail on Sunday piece corrected. Unfortunately, despite me sending it in what I assumed to be good time, the change wasn’t made so the wrong paragraph was printed. This was cockup, not conspiracy.” – Iain Dale (source)

If we’re to believe Iain, then the urgent need to send a single email on early Saturday evening led to his failure to issue a correction on the original post for the rest of the night and all of the following Sunday and Monday (no correction was posted there until 11.30am on Tuesday 14 April, even though Iain managed to post a small ‘clarification’ elsewhere at 4.15pm on Monday 13 April) but the fact is that Iain had plenty of opportunities to issue a correction and chose not to.

In fact, at the time, he was knowingly deleting comments (mostly from me) asking him to post a correction, but I’ll get back to that and more right after we look at the libel left standing:

1. The libel that remained (and is still present on his website)

Initially, Iain removed from the offending post the text that read; “Tom Watson, who sat next to McBride in the Downing Street bunker and was copied on on all the emails to Derek Draper” but left in place the following:

“Tom Watson is Minister for the Civil Service. What did he do when he received these emails? Did he berate Damian McBride and tell him to stop abusing his position? No. Instead, he either tacitly or overtly encouraged McBride to send more.”

There was (and is) NO proof that Tom Watson received these emails at all, so it is false to assert that he was in a position to object and conclude that he “tacitly or overtly encouraged McBride to send more”. The evidence simply doesn’t support the premise. This passage was/is libel. End of.

This text was NOT removed from the body of the post until days later, and (in a classic indication of how careless Dale is with comments) remains live on his website even today:

screen capture of comment

One of Iain Dale’s favourite tricks is to deny that something is libel on the basis that it is an honestly-held opinion (e.g. in his mind, this applies when he publishes claims that I am “clearly psychotic”). Here, he has taken it that one step further and based a (false) assertion of fact on that opinion, and he still doesn’t recognise that it’s libel. Extraordinary.

Further, this text (especially minus any correction) clearly gave the impression that the ‘CC’ claim stood, when instead it was based on nothing more than Iain Dale’s certainty that Tom Watson must have known what was happening at a nearby desk on a colleague’s computer, and here we come to the lie of omission:

2. The false ‘CC’ claim, and the lie of omission that followed

According to Iain’s own account, the ‘CC’ claim was also live on his website for a short period on Saturday 11 April 2009 before Iain removed it…. but remove it is all he did. At the time he published no correction about his false ‘CC’ claim and (crucially) continued to publish comments (his own and others’) that asserted Tom Watson’s involvement as a matter of fact, not opinion.

Here you need to take into account the size and nature of the audience Iain was playing to at the time. Let’s take the single day of Sunday 12 April; Iain’s audience has jumped from average of 5,000 to 8,000 visitors on a Sunday to somewhere near 18,000 that particular Sunday (source). The following diagram – which is to scale – compares his enlarged circulation for that day to the approximate daily circulation of the Mail on Sunday on the same day (source), and The Sun on the next (source).

comparison of circulation figures

Exactly how these audiences overlap and where Iain’s extra ~10K visitors came from on that day remains uncertain, but it’s fair to assume that a good portion of them are likely to have arrived after being exposed to the false ‘CC’ claim, and it’s fair to say that only a handful of them left corrected on that point for all of Sunday the 12th and most of Monday the 13th; indeed, according to Iain’s own account, if you wanted to learn the truth before Tuesday, you needed to be (a) a journalist, (b) who asked about the ‘CC’ claim specifically

(Psst! This same diagram may also provide clues about Tom Watson’s decision to sue over what was published in The Mail on Sunday and The Sun but not on Iain Dale’s Diary, regardless of how influential Dale himself may have been in sharing/publishing the central falsehood.)

3. Deliberately careless comment moderation

Iain Dale did all of this with Blogger.com-hosted comment moderation turned OFF; this meant that comments would be published immediately, without being checked by Iain first.

If someone went too far in what they claimed about Tom Watson (or anyone else), then Iain Dale would allow them to run free for however long he was away from his screen, before erasing (some) comments without so much as an ‘oops’ for the record. This is not something he allows on his site when there are serious accusations levelled against him or his friends, but for some reason he thinks it’s fair to subject political enemies to this risk when it suits him.

There were repeated instances of people taking advantage of the shoddy moderation over the long weekend, using the platform to launch attacks on Tom Watson, and even to imply that I was somehow involved with Draper/McBride. Iain Dale was repeatedly (and quite dishonestly) using ‘sloppy’ moderation to his advantage in this way while efficiently deleting all of my submitted responses, and refusing to acknowledge my emails or answer my calls.

(Further, this was happening at a time when someone was actively publishing false claims about me being a convicted paedophile, a valid concern that Iain charmingly describes as a “preoccupation” of mine.)

Iain Dale knows that – in blogging especially – deleting data after the fact is not the same as not allowing it to be published in the first place, especially when you have a choice to engage moderation controls and decide against it (for selfish if not downright malicious reasons). While the deleted comments may (eventually) be removed from Iain’s website, they will have been read and retained by anyone subscribing to the relevant thread, and automatically syndicated on external websites beyond Iain’s control within minutes of their publication. (I am sure that Iain knows all of these things and more because he is soon to appear as an expert witness, speaking on the subject of responsible comment moderation.)

But when the mob was at its height and calling for blood, Iain Dale not only maintained a major lie of omission but did so while playing it fast and loose in comments; he refused to address or correct false accusations levelled at Tom Watson (and myself) in his posts and under comments, he deleted comments calling for a correction of his earlier post, and he refused to engage comment moderation… until the moment he stood accused of libel and instead accused me of harassment. Then Iain engaged comment moderation (and re-introduced anonymous comments) before publishing dozens of comments alleging my involvement in criminal activity and making false statements about my mental health.

I cannot link to the relevant post, because Iain has since deleted it. But as with the CC claim, in the minds of many of his readers, the accusation stands and will continue to stand until he issues a correction.

Conclusion

Iain Dale not only libelled Tom Watson, he knowingly misled his readers about it.

Iain also libelled me in the process, and he refuses to issue a correction of the since-deleted post/ comments, even though he knows that his accusations are being used against me.

These are just two examples of Iain Dale knowingly using lies against his political enemies… and according to Iain’s own standards, what I say must be true if Iain doesn’t sue me, right?

“I didn’t libel Tom Watson. if I had done, he would have sued me.” – Iain Dale (source)

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UPDATE – See also:
David Cameron: also putting political agenda ahead of principle