Damian Green: careful teasing adds volume

BBC – Row over Green ‘grooming’ claims: Senior Tories are furious that police who arrested MP Damian Green accused him of “grooming” a Home Office mole to leak him information… When police questioned Mr Green – the shadow immigration minister – they are said to have suggested to him that he had not “simply received leaked” information but “groomed” a civil servant who had allegedly passed him 20 confidential documents. The man, who has been named in newspapers, was a Conservative activist who is believed to have previously applied for jobs in Mr Green’s office. There was Tory anger over the police’s use of the controversial term “groomed” because it is usually used in relation to child sex offences.

Oh, spare me.

What possible reason could the police have to avoid using this word? I mean, apart from the selective hypersensitivity of Conservatives looking to gain recently-lost ground. (Oh, and perhaps mask a bit of misconduct, eh gents?)

FFS, they’re charging about all over the place like hysterical pepperpots; there are causes for concern in this case, but this isn’t one of them.

Don’t wave a six of clubs in my face if you’re trying to convince me that you’re holding a royal flush.

Footnote about a footnote: the following was said about Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes’) recently in relation to another matter, but it certainly applies here;

“Footnote: it’s always enjoyable to catch Guido Fawkes in a tizz, the insouciant mask of worldly, non-partisan cynicism dropping as the Tories get into difficulty.” – Michael White

See also: One of the shoutier wannabes from the Paul Staines stable declaring that the alleged mole had been somehow ‘disappeared’ as part of this “audatious” act.

MINI-UPDATE – Another example, and this time we are spelled for spoiling errors. Are these the “window liquors lickers” that Paul Staines speaks of when lamenting the sorry sewer-like state of his comments?

Related Bloggage:
Justin McKeating – That poor oppressed ruling class again
Jim Bliss – Tories living in Stalinist Britain
Septicisle – Green and a very suddenly established police state
This and more in a blogging round-up at Liberal Conspiracy

Teh (Alleged) Mole:
The Daily Pundit – Home Office mole, Chris Galley, claims Damian Green offered him inducements
Telegraph – Damian Green arrest: Chris Galley profile

[Psst! It may be a quiet one this week. A new animation is on the way. That, and I’m being paid by a Stalinist state to keep schtum.]

UPDATE (3:30pm) – Proof, if you need it, that the grooming ‘smear’ is only in the public domain because the Tories brought it into the open and presented it as a smear:

The Times – Damian Green is accused of orchestrating up to 20 leaks: In a welter of briefings from police, ministers, civil servants and Commons officials, the most incendiary came from a senior Conservative who said that Mr Green was accused of “grooming his contact” during his nine-hour detention on Thursday. “Damian was very angry at this clear attempt to provoke him and did not reply. As a party we want to make it clear that this was grossly inappropriate but symptomatic of the cack-handed way the police have conducted this investigation.”

Independent – Arrested MP accused of ‘grooming’ mole: The Conservative MP Damian Green was accused by police of “grooming” a Home Office mole. The accusation came during nine hours of questioning by police investigating at least 20 leaks of secret documents from the department. As details of the investigation emerged, the shadow Immigration minister told friends he was livid that detectives resorted to “provocative” language used to describe sex offenders and suicide bombers.

Somehow, this became a Telegraph headline “Damian Green accused of ‘grooming’ Whitehall mole, claim police” when there is, in fact, no such claim from the police in that article or in any other that I can find; everything comes back to what unnamed sources close to Green have been saying.

The (alleged) accusation of Damian Green ‘grooming’ Chris Galley (for any purpose) is only in the public domain because Green and his supporters chose to bring it into the public domain, and they made damn sure that they and associated it with sex offenders and/or suicide bombers when they did so.

Either the police are devilishly clever in the way they go about smearing someone (and in the habit of leaving a lot to chance when they do so) or this ‘outrage’ has been feigned and fabricated by the Conservatives in order to draw attention away from some or all of the police investigation.

[Psst! Peek in comments for a link to Iain Dale’s contribution.]

UPDATE – Or click here, I suppose.

Posted in Tories! Tories! Tories! | 11 Comments

Martin Wiesner (aka ‘Pogsurf’, aka ‘Lobster Blogster’, aka ‘Tory Dipper’, aka…)

You might initially think that this issue pales into insignificance next to the million assumptions that simply must be made immediately about matters in Mumbai today, but I for one believe that the reliability of information is important across the political spectrum, and identity is often key to this online.

Take, for example, the comments about Andrew Gilligan and/or his articles that would look very different once confirmed to be from Andrew Gilligan or one of his close associates.

Take, as another example, the many newspapers desperate to belittle blogs and bloggers while simultaneously scrambling to get in on the action, and their typical approach to comment moderation; (refuse substantial criticism no matter where it comes from, and publish almost any damn thing that doesn’t harm them specifically… no matter where it comes from).

Most bloggers who have been talking about the Andrew Gilligan matter recently may have noticed a number of trolls seemingly designed to confuse the issue and mock concerns about the use of multiple false identities in the political arena.

Most if not all of these are the work of one man – Martin Wiesner – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.


Martin Wiesner is billed here as the man who looks after communications for the Watford Area Green Party. Martin also ran as a Green candidate in 2004 Watford Borough Council Elections.

You most likely know him as ‘Lobster Blogster’ (CiF), one identity he carried on with for an extended period before adopting ‘Tory Dipper’ and then semi-outing himself as ‘Martin’ or ‘Pogsurf’ (CiF)… i.e. he somewhat belatedly declared a connection between some of his sock puppets, using an old nickname that – with research – might someday lead you to his real identity and some information about his political affiliations that he really should have declared in any number of instances in the first place.

As Lobster Blogster, Martin sought to involve himself with the whole Paul Staines thing and even earned a blogroll link on ‘Guido 2.0′. Eventually it emerged that we disagreed on the crucial matter of identity and accountability (i.e. the issue at the heart of my problems with Paul Staines, aka ‘Guido Fawkes’) but it wasn’t clear just how fundamental our differences were until I had cause to explore the edit history of a few entries at Wikipedia, most notably the entry for Paul Staines.

And on that note…


Months ago, I asked Martin how many anonymous edits he had made to Paul Staines’ Wikipedia entry. His response can best be described as acidic distortion:

Hang on Ireland! You want my help now? Maybe you should have thought about that before you started slagging me off on the internet. (Tory Dipper stands accused of the most hideous of internet crimes, sock-puppetry. Tim has yet to present his case, but of course he has already been found guilty by Justice Ireland.)

Just for the record, Tory Dipper is completely unaware of any way to make anonymous edits on Wikipedia. The Dipper has edited Wikipedia in the past, but only ever using the methods described at Pseudonymity, so the correct answer to his e-mail is “none”.

Even with this ‘pseudonymity’ distortion in place (a pseudonym is often chosen for purposes of anonymity; only in some contexts are they separate concepts), Martin can easily be proved to be stupefyingly ignorant, forgetful, or a liar:

Most, if not all, of these anonymous edits were made by Martin Wiesner, who is clearly aware of how one might make anonymous edits on Wikipedia, but not wily enough, it appears, to avoid detection. I have evidence of my own that’s quite distinct from the assertions of experienced Wikipedia editors, and I’m willing to have it tested in court (not that Martin will want to do anything other than cast doubt upon that evidence, or me personally).

There’s more for those who care to poke around, but this response to his being indefinitely blocked from editing Wikipedia should be enough:

Please feel free to ban me again if you feel that is the right thing to do. There are many more names and IP addresses I could adopt, should the need arise.

Martin Wiesner is an unapologetic user of sock puppets (multiple false identities). This confirms it.

Sock-puppeting is regarded to be a harmless practice in some quarters, but not when sock-puppets are used in a way that impacts significantly on someone’s reputation, and certainly not when the democratic process is involved…

Haltemprice and Howden by-election, 2008

In the showcase by-election prompted by the resignation of David Davis, the Greens were significant players (in fact, their candidate came second).

Though he failed on the follow-through, Martin Weisner sought to involve himself in that by-election with a website that mocked David Davis. Most importantly, he did so without declaring his association with the Green Party. Especially in a field with so many players and the two main players bowing out, saying something like “It should be obvious I’m not a Tory” just isn’t good enough.

While the law has yet to catch up with reality (example), such antics are just as unacceptable as anonymous pamphlets in my view, and I suspect I’ll be just as busy dealing with this issue at the next general election as I have been during recent council elections and by-elections.

Martin’s current position on all of this is that I should be willing to live and let live… but this runs contrary to his actions that I’m objecting to in the first place, and even if I were to accept his reasoning on this front, we would still be left with the very real fact that I often get blamed for a lot of the crap that he does, which impacts on my reputation.

(Psst! Annoyingly, I even get blamed for a lot of the crap he does by a man who is himself an unapologetic user of sock-puppets; Phil ‘Dizzy’ Hendren.)

Martin is also prone to the use of outright distortion in his defence, and/or when throwing accusations in the face of his accusers (typically, just before retiring from the conversation).

One of the more worrying examples was his publishing a naked picture of himself (NSFW* link posted here) as ‘proof’ of his commitment to being more open about his identity in future or some such nonsense. When I referred to this bizarre action in a later email, the one-word reply from Martin was “Pervert!”

(*Link is also Not Safe For Lunch. You have been warned.)

Martin Weisner is currently dashing from website to website making a variety of attempts to confuse the Gilligan issue and/or mock Gilligan’s accusers, without declaring (never mind discussing or defending) his own position regarding the use of multiple false identities.

There’s more (so much more that the variety of attacks and the amount of time spent on these deceptions is alarming enough in itself), but this should be enough for most people who are considering the merits of banning Martin Weisner and his many sock-puppets from their weblogs.

Martin has 24 hours in which to respond under comments if he wishes to enjoy a right of reply, after which time he will be banned from this website.

If he persists with the use of distortions, diversions and groundless/irrelevant accusations, he will be banned immediately.

It is widely regarded as acceptable to blog on the subject of politics from behind a pseudonym, so long as your nicknames/accounts somehow clearly resolve to a single identity, you make it clear what your political allegiances are, and/or you avoid undeclared conflicts of interest.

It is widely regarded as totally unacceptable to use multiple/false identities in any act likely to impact on another person’s reputation, not least because you will have done so without banking your own reputation on what you have to say.

That is the act of a coward and a bully.

Where I come from, there is a clear difference between standing up to someone and punching them in the back of the head and running away.

There is no place for Martin Weisner’s antics in our community of political weblogs, and as long as he remains determined to continue with his antics, I would argue that there’s no place for Martin Weisner, either.

[This post will also be submitted to the Green Party as the body of my complaint about the conduct of this member.]

UPDATE (2pm) – A few typos and a minor omission corrected; I’d best note this just in case any changes are leapt upon and presented/distorted as ‘evidence’ of something or other. I am also announcing here an exception to my general privacy policy; email responses from Martin Wiesner are likely to be published in whole or in part, depending on how educational I feel they might be.

UPDATE (3pm) – Name fixed. It is Weisner, and not Wiesman, as some later sentences suggested before that fix. The variation resulted from my typing much of this on the train, and therefore going from memory on the name.

Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 6 Comments

Andrew Gilligan: Ailing Standards

Ailing StandardsAfter giving Andrew Gilligan puh-lenty of chances to either deny or defend the use of multiple false identities to praise/defend his own articles and/or undermine critics of Boris Johnson, I finally ran out of patience with the bloke and took the fight to his doorstep.

This morning I dropped by Northcliffe House, home of Associated Newspapers (publishers of the Evening Standard and the Daily Mail, as well as the freesheets Metro and London Lite) and handed out roughly 180 copies of my own A4 freesheet Ailing Standards… most of them to Mr Gilligan’s colleagues as they entered the building.

Thanks to D-Notice for handling the camera work, Matt Buck for this ‘gift to the world’, and to security at Associated Newspapers Ltd, who acted like true gentlemen (knowing, as they must have done, that I had every right to stand on the pavement and hand out free newspapers).

Until further notice, I urge all of my readers to:-

– Download their own copy of Ailing Standards, print out as many versions as they can afford, and distribute them via any legal means they regard to be fair and proper

– Link to this post, so I may hope to one day soon be a top search result for ‘andrew gilligan’

Text from the main article in Ailing Standards appears below, as does a video of my morning adventure. Apologies for the crudity of the cut and the traffic noise.

In separate instances months apart, bloggers have detected multiple visits to their sites originating from searches for ‘andrew gilligan’ and resulting in anonymous comments about Andrew Gilligan. It now appears that these comments may have come *from* Andrew Gilligan, but those seeking confirmation of their own suspicions should beware; Andrew bites!

When it emerged that suspicious comments had also appeared on the Guardian’s ‘Comment Is Free’ (some of them containing specific phrases & claims that later appeared in articles by Gilligan), the journalist responded to the accusations of using multiple false identities (or ‘sock-puppets’) to praise/defend his own work and undermine critics by launching an attack on his accusers in the Evening Standard… without mentioning the accusations! In fact, the only denials from Gilligan so far involve:

– A vague claim about a marketing arm of the newspaper conducting “automated” research. (The Evening Standard denies that any such arm of their operation exists.)

– An even hazier claim from Gilligan that one suspected account belongs to his ‘partner’. (Life partner? Business partner? Tennis partner? He won’t say.)

No-one appears to be safe from the attentions of the mystery commenter, whose visits have been reliably traced back to Associated Newspapers Ltd; so far bloggers, journalists and even a professor of journalism have enjoyed his (or her!) attention.

So here we are on your doorstep, print media people. We really don’t mind journalists leaving comments under articles by themselves, about themselves or involving themselves… we just really wish they wouldn’t do so while pretending to be somebody *other* than themselves.

Andrew Gilligan – Ailing Standards

(Psst! The latest thread on this subject, containing yet another attempt by Gilligan to pass off a distortion as a denial, can be found here.)

UPDATE – I took some pictures of Northcliffe House while I was there.

Posted in Old Media | 19 Comments

Some anonymous Wikipedia edits by employees of Associated Newspapers Ltd

This afternoon, I used the almighty Wiki Scanner to have a quick browse through some old anonymous edits made from an Associated Newspapers IP address.

(Primarily by the looks of things, and you can browse from the most recent edit backwards starting here if you feel like taking a slightly different path; I’m sure there’s plenty more to be found, especially among the more recent edits.)

I strayed upon someone who has read one of my favourite books.

I discovered that the personal life of Uma Thurman is fair game, but the personal life of Paul Dacre is not.

I saw some external link spamming of the borderline variety… oh, and the outright kind, too.

I spotted a dangerous leftist lurking in the bowels of their organisation.

I chanced upon distaste for “self-promoting articles in national newspapers”.

I encountered someone who disagreed with a claim relating to the evidence in the Livingstone/Finegold matter.

I met a kindred spirit who shares my love for Tony Blair (if not the ability to express it coherently).

But the highlight of my afternoon was seeing this edit in a discussion about a list of animals displaying homosexual behaviour.

Where is real proof in the tiger actually showing homosexual behaivour? Personally I believe tigers would only be prone to show anti-homosexual behaivour, is it because of this people believe they might actually be closet homosexuals? – 14:47, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

I can get past the spelling, but:

– Note the immediate switch from a demand for proof to a reliance on belief.

– Note the fear that the very idea that a tiger could be homosexual might be enough to ‘turn’ people (or at least make them a little bit curious).

– Note above all the deep-set affection for tigers that has been sadly absent from our newspapers since the retirement of Bill Watterson.

Tigers are nimble, and light on their toes. My RE-spect for tigers continually grows!

UPDATE – Meanwhile… Hey, everyone! Andrew’s back!

Posted in Old Media | Comments Off

Fat lot of good it’ll do them in a battery cage, but…

This is the coolest thing you’ll see all day, if not all week:

Chicken Head Tracking

(Loving the new widescreen setting on YouTube, BTW… even if it does date my entire collection.)

Posted in Video | 1 Comment

But he’s got you, dear boy…

Boris Watch has spotted it, and it slipped under the Guardian’s radar at the time, but I’d like to highlight this for regulars at Bloggerheads as a warm-up of sorts.

This is a comment left on the Guardian’s website using the ‘kennite’ account. In other words, it is a comment made by Andrew Gilligan or his mysterious life/business/tennis partner (background).

I invite you to watch ‘kennite’ and marvel at the sheer gall of it all as he belittles Ken Livingstone (author of the article) and Brian Paddick (‘BrianforMayor’):


Mar 23 08, 10:12pm

I’ve never seen this before: an incumbent Mayor, and two of the other candidates, posting on a talkboard. On a public holiday, too. Could they, perhaps, be desperate? Interesting to see that Boris doesn’t feel the need to post.

[ link to single comment | link to entire thread ]

(rolls eyes)

Because what ‘kennite’ was doing – even if he is a ‘partner’ of Gilligan’s and not an invention of Gilligan’s – wasn’t at all pathetic or desperate, was it?

Oh, I’m going to enjoy this…

(prepares stick)

Posted in Old Media | 1 Comment


Iain Dale has introduced compulsory comment registration on his weblog.

It’s on a trial basis, he’s pledged to give it more of a chance than he did last time, he clearly recognises the way in which the all-comers system was open to abuse, and his stated aim is to make his comment threads “more welcoming and less intimidating.”

So hooray.

This measure will, at the very least, make it more difficult for users of sock-puppets (multiple/false identities) to switch between identities. It will also reduce the number of instances where regular users slip behind a new identity or anonymity in order to deliver a swift sucker punch here or there.

I am now much happier with Iain Dale positioning himself as an ambassador for political weblogs, as I can confidently state this issue to be 90% of my problem with that (and with him personally); I did not want MPs and Councillors watching the way Iain used to conduct himself and using that as a model. Take, for example, what Nadine Dorries regards to be acceptable on her not-a-blog.

Also, in a different but equally welcome step toward accountability, Iain Dale’s magazine Total Politics is now signed up to the PCC Code of Conduct.

That’s another ‘hooray’, right there.

I will continue to treat the issue of the use and abuse of anonymous comments and multiple/false identities as a priority, which will rate equally with developing print-watch projects.

Happily, these two issues will overlap from time to time, saving me a great deal of time.

And on that note:

Adam Bienkov – What’s wrong with Andrew Gilligan?

So far, the only defence of Gilligan has been in the form of a time-wasting troll, and the only person likely to defend the alleged actions (an unapologetic user of multiple/false identities) has turned up, but wasted their time attacking Gilligan’s accusers.

Tellingly, evasive comments and attacks on his accusers are all Gilligan himself has had to offer; there’s been no denial beyond his vague claim that one single identity suspected to be under his control is an account held by his ‘partner’.

There hasn’t been a single comment credibly calling the evidence into question or defending the alleged actions. Also, news has emerged of past evidence of sock-puppetry.

Speaking softly hasn’t produced any results; I think the time has finally come for me to start hitting Andrew Gilligan with a stick.

Related bloggage:
Tom Watson – Being Andrew Gilligan
Matt Buck – Being Andrew Gilligan – or not
Liberal Conspiracy – Andrew Gilligan is becoming a laughing stock
Justin McKeating – Andrew Gilligan: sockpuppet and sockpuppeting
Boris Watch – That’s Enough, Gilligan
Five Chinese Crackers – A lesson in how tabloid journalism works from Andrew Gilligan

Posted in Old Media, The Political Weblog Movement | 12 Comments

Awwww… poor George

I meant to blog this on Friday, but that silly Mr Gilligan got in the way.

Here’s a clear indication (if you need it) of Bush’s legacy. Do any of these world leaders see any need to play nice now that he’s not only on the way out, but also widely disgraced and discredited?

CNN: World Leaders Won’t Shake George Bush’s Hand

More here, at Huffington.

(Psst! If you start to feel sorry for him as this reminds you of the last guy getting picked for the team at school, remind yourself why this might be the case, and I’m sure you’ll recover.)

Posted in George W. Bush | Comments Off

All (suitable) hands on deck, please

1. Do you already have a CiF/Guardian account*?
2. Do you think the use of sock-puppetry is pathetic, dishonest and/or damaging?

Then please, if you have a moment, read this article and then check in under comments to let Andrew Gilligan know that it’s not just “anti-Boris forces” wanting an answer to this question:

Do you deny leaving comments underneath your own articles and articles about you, whilst pretending to be a third person?

You know I don’t do this kind of call-out often, so take the time and chip in if you can, please.


(*I ask because newcomers arriving within a conversation like this run the risk of being dismissed as a sock-puppet by a total soft-cock who is trying to divert attention away from his own sock-puppetry.)

UPDATE – Oops… I swore! I am losing my patience. Please forgive the lapse, and try not to swear in the CiF thread; swear-words are a gift to people who wish to portray a serious allegation as mindless abuse.

Posted in Old Media | 4 Comments

Let us give thanks for Sarah Palin…

… the gift that keeps on giving:

(Psst! You may wish to move on to the next item if you’re vegetarian or in any way sensitive about the origin of your Thanksgiving/Christmas/Winterval turkey.)

Palin Enjoys The Levity Of A Turkey Slaughter (via)

Raw Story – Palin pardons turkey as bird bleeds out on camera: In 1963, President Kennedy decided to let the White House turkey live instead of making dinner of it. George Bush Sr. was the first president since to pardon a seasonal fowl, in the waning months of 1993, and his son followed suit through his presidency. Now Alaska Governor and failed Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin has mimed presidential tradition, but her effort at winged mercy was ‘cut’ short. As she staged an impromptu press conference after pardoning one lucky bird, a worker at the Triple D Farm and Hatchery in Wasilla sliced a turkey’s neck, bled it out and twisted its head off behind the governor, directly in the camera’s line of fire. A reporter asked Palin if she was okay with the backdrop. The Alaskan Governor answered, “no worries.”

Posted in US Presidential Election 2008 | Comments Off