[MINI-UPDATE (03 Jun) – THE object to my use of the word ‘dishonest’ in this headline. I stand by my use of the word, but as a courtesy, I have placed this prominent and immediate link to the relevant correspondence so readers might better judge for themselves.]
Regulars of Bloggerheads will be aware that my family and I been through some difficult times recently. During the rolling crisis, several two-bit operations have sought to hijack the ‘bloggerheads’ name that I created, but my priority has been those attempting to associate this unique name (and mine) with paedophilia, stalking and what have you.
Recently, I complained to staff at the magazine Times Higher Education about their use of ‘bloggerheads’ – a unique name that I created to title my blog about blogs – to title a web round-up feature (i.e. their blog about blogs). I repeatedly made it clear that I wanted them to come up with their own name, especially when they clearly planned to use it to blog about other weblogs. They pretended there was no room for confusion, offered to put ‘the’ in front of it as a “concession” and left it at that. Almost immediately references to their magazine started turning up in Twitter and Google in searches for my unique name.
I complained again. They gave me the very clear impression that, were the name protected as a trade mark, they would immediately comply with my wishes.
Several times I pointed out to them that I had a significant and demonstrable moral claim to the name dating back many years, but they dismissed this notion in the most patronising way possible. I also pointed out that if they seek to market themselves on the via web/blogs, then there are far better ways of going about it than hijacking an existing name, which is one good reason why the expense of a trade mark has never been necessary before now in the decade I have been using the name ‘bloggerheads’.
I also pointed out that I was busy battling an ongoing campaign of harassment, and their position compelled me to spend money we could ill-afford at the moment, but they stood firm on their position (along with the ridiculous implication that they had searched the trade mark database but not Google when they decided on using this name as their own).
Ultimately, Times Higher Education Editor Ann Mroz left me with no choice but to trade mark the name so I might call their bluff and take further steps to protect it from recent misuse and/or appropriation by their organisation and others.
But now I have begun the trade mark registration process, they have changed their position, and plan to continue using the name as they have before!
That’s a class act, all the way. After compelling me to trade mark the name, now they’re going to compel me to await the completion of the registration process (and then, presumably, take them to court) before they will be in any way reasonable about this.
Their Deputy Editor can’t even name the sub-editor they claim ‘invented’ the word, but Times Higher Education staff are unwilling to admit that they made a mistake by using this unique name without first researching it. They even have the audacity to minimise the significance of its use from their point of view (e.g. it’s ‘only’ on page 24 of their magazine), but surely if it’s no big deal to them and a bloody big deal to me, then that’s even more reason for them to back off and do what they should have done in the first place; come up with a unique name of their own invention.
[Other, smaller, organisations who have recently sought to appropriate this name have also been contacted about this matter today. I am hoping that they will be more reasonable. I certainly can’t see how they can top this response from Times Higher Education. I realise THE are in the education sector, but surely they’ve grown out of playground games by now.]
UPDATE – Check the comments for a contribution by ‘Malcolm Kent’. It was submitted using false details, and is an obvious sock-puppet.
[Background/details for those who are new to this; the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health (Anne Milton) has surprised many (including me) by inviting a religious pro-abstinence, anti-abortion group (LIFE) to take part in “a new sexual health forum set up to replace the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV” (source). A leading abortion provider that places heavy emphasis on contraception (bpas) was displaced as a result (more). Nadine Dorries is a Tory back-bencher anti-abortion campaigner with a relaxed attitude to facts, science and what have you (example) with a history of broadcasting dark accusations/implications about ‘pro abortion’ forces, who she claims/implies are so motivated by profit, that they are likely to convince women to have an abortion when it is not the best solution for them example). All emphasis in bold (below) is mine.]
Yesterday, Nadine Dorries published this claim on her site:
The news that the Government has ejected BPAS from the new sexual health forum and replaced them with the charity LIFE is pleasing… – Nadine Dorries
But later, when she was invited on Newsnight to discuss the matter, she put this to Ann Furedi, who appeared on behalf of bpas:
Unfortunately, bpas has taken its bat and ball home and decided that because it can’t sit as well as Marie Stopes that it won’t be involved. Both organisations were offered alternate week sittings and bpas have decided not to be part of the debate. – Nadine Dorries on Newsnight (segment starts 21:49, comment appears at 25:12 onwards)
I sought a statement from bpas in response, and got the following from Clare Murphy:
We note Nadine Dorries’ blog from yesterday stating that bpas was “ejected” from the group and her pleasure at this development. She went on subsequently however to suggest that we had left of our own volition. This is not true.
bpas and Marie Stopes International (MSI) were both invited to the first meeting in January of the Sexual Health Forum but were asked to share membership, alternating attendance. At the meeting the MSI Vice President and the chief executive of bpas both said that this arrangement was problematic: bpas and MSI have quite different structures, values, objectives and approaches, and that the discontinuity inherent in such an arrangement would make it unworkable. The Department of Health seemed sympathetic and said they would reconsider.
On Thursday of last week, Ann Furedi was told by a Department of Health official that the invitation to bpas was withdrawn and that MSI were being asked to represent the independent sector. The justification was that the Minister had insisted that, in the interests of balance, only one abortion provider could attend and that as Ann Furedi had attended the previous sexual health group, SHIAG (a group made up of personal appointments rather than from representatives from each organisation) it was ‘MSI’s turn’. It was also confirmed that, since the founding meeting, the Minister had insisted that Life be invited to join the Sexual Health Forum.
On Newsnight, Dorries claimed that she had spoken to the Department of Health that very afternoon, and (steel yourselves) this does appear to be a carefully spun briefing against bpas from an unnamed source at the Department of Health (i.e. instead of the more frequent occurrence; a lie or distortion devised by Dorries herself).
So far, no-one in the Department for Health is willing to stand behind any assertion that a bpas decision to exclude their organisation from the debate resulted in LIFE being invited in their place.
There is also this, which I will repeat. It’s a matter of interest to anyone surprised by Anne Milton’s stance on this:
It was also confirmed that, since the founding meeting, the Minister had insisted that Life be invited to join the Sexual Health Forum.
On what grounds did Anne Milton specify LIFE for inclusion (or does she perhaps dispute what bpas claim)?
Either way, I think the public have a right to call Milton on this; to ask her to properly explain her thinking/actions, and to take a clear position on what Dorries has claimed on her department’s behalf.
That said, I am not used to straight answers from Anne Milton, and I fear a sense of disappointment looms.
Let’s begin with this recent outburst from Nadine Dorries (using an absurdly OTT claim she later reworded in a way that gave a false impression that I was issued with a caution):
For anyone who cares to know, blogger, Tim Ireland, who chooses to write blogs which are malicious, un-founded and for the most part totally untrue, has been warned by Police not to enter Bedfordshire. However, this doesn’t stop him from wasting tax payers money via freedom of information requests and then letters of complaint to the information commissioner when they don’t work. Stopping that comes next! My poor staff :( – (Nadine Dorries)
Facts are not her strong point, so I should begin by pointing out that I have not been banned from entering Bedfordshire or warned about entering Bedfordshire in anything like the way Dorries implies, she has yet to specify anything on my site that is “malicious” or “un-founded” in her view, plus my request to her office was made under the Freedom of Information Act and the Data Protection Act.
Nadine Dorries didn’t think it a waste of taxpayer’s money when Iain Dale submitted a poorly defined information request to Downing Street that was honoured under the DPA, even when it completely failed to uncover the document titled “How to Get (Iain) Dale” that he and Staines alleged existed in an hilarious explosion of paranoia and self-importance. Neither did she complain when her friend and neighbour Phil Hendren submitted an FOI request to find out what had been sold in the Downing Street gift shop.
However, she seeks to portray my information request to her office as a waste of time, and even openly defies requests from the Information Commissioner’s Office that she cooperate.
There are several reasons why she might choose to do this. I offer three possibilities in this post.
1. The subject access request under the DPA would compel Dorries to reveal, among other things, all emails/letters sent to her office in my name. Dorries has made repeated claims and implications that there are hundreds of these, and that they are “vile and abusive”. The evidence I’m aware of proves otherwise (and any evidence that I am not aware of would result from someone impersonating me).
2. Below is a sample of what Dorries’ mate Dale got back from Downing Street; these are extracts from emails involving both Downing St staff and those not connected to that office, and Dale complains that “(this) detail is still lacking in some areas”. My subject access request compels Dorries to reveal any similar emails she or her staff have sent or received that mention me or my site by name. That includes emails/letters/etc. from and/or to Iain Dale, Phil Hendren, Patrick Mercer, Anne Milton, Dominic Wightman, and anybody else involved in this ongoing smear campaign. If Dorries has attempted to delete any of these after receipt of the original request (or any make any other amendment with the intention of preventing its disclosure), she risks finding herself on the wrong side of the law. Of course, Dorries may only reveal the emails she suspects I can audit (i.e. those from people supporting me), but this would greatly undermine any pretence of popular support for her position.
As you can see, she’s dug herself into another hole, and she’s been at this one so long that she’s risking a cave-in. She’s been defying the information request for so long now (well over a year) that I’ve had to issue a ‘top up’ request that ensures my request covers the period surrounding the alleged complaints to police, and the single, actual complaint to police that is on record.
Which brings us to…
3. My request also compels her to reveal any letter(s) to police about my attendance at the Flitwick hustings (including the single complaint she is reluctant to publish), as well any relevant correspondence with the organisers of that event, and key extracts from the February 2011 letter/email of resignation from Lynn Elson, which has been alleged to reference me specifically and has already been shared with another blogger (Phil Hendren) in any case.
Perhaps soon we will hear another sob story from Dorries about another mysterious door-off-the-hinges burglary that leaves no trace of damage… this time resulting in (Oh Noes!) the mysterious deletion of every reference to me that’s held in her office files and on her office computers.
#Lolitics is a project by Chris Coltrane inviting comedians and campaigner/activists to step out of their comfort zones for a little chat about politics. Stand-ups are invited to engage with more political material, and people like me are invited to bring what they know to a stand-up audience.
It is a nurturing environment. There is cake. I’d been to an earlier event and was blown away by an entire set about Nadine Dorries from Nadia Kamil.
Encouraged by Chris, I brought these good people what I knew about Page 3. The following is an audio recording of the exchange, along with the relevant slides (old-skooled onto cardboard for this event, but pixelled in glorious web colour here for you).
If you would like to share this video with others in Twitter, please use the http://bit.ly/page-3 link (because it will send sweet, sweet link-love to the main project page, where this video will headline from today).
The following is an extract from a talk I have just given at OpenTech. I’ll put some audio and vision of the complete talk together shortly. The tag for discussion on twitter is #outpost.
… Some MPs get up to a lot of questionable stuff that simply isn’t recorded or reported anywhere. In fact, a significant information vacuum exists around many serving members of Parliament.
In the current Parliament there are 650 MPs, many of them are not adequately covered in the Information Universe, and some of them are actually sources of poor if not entirely false information.
I propose that a group of like-minded publishers research, evaluate and then selectively populate this information vacuum using a series of purpose-built MP-specific websites – or “space stations” – supported by a loosely networked group of independent publishers, in small teams of two or more.
I further propose that we use as a foundation for each project a bi-monthly report on that MP’s expenses; data that is available through the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority website, but not widely or reliably visible in the Information Universe. These screen captures display how this published expenses data is invisible to search engines; a search for one MP by name on the one site that IS partly indexable only turns up single passing mention, and no expenses data.
It would be foolish to expect anything but a handful of visitors to most sites of this type, but once you publish this particular data and make it more visible, the website only really needs an audience of one person to be of any relevance; the MP themselves.
There will be no need to chase or capture a constant audience by populating the sites with churnalism and/or mere opinion, but they can easily expand into some occasional fact-checking about what is reported about or published by that MP; crucially, only when there is a need. In this way, the demands of the individual sites are kept to a minimum, and speciality skills (writing, analysis, research, data crunching) can be shared across the network according to demand.
And, ultimately, you will be competing for relevance for a single name, not a series of names or a party name or politics generally. For most backbenchers, the only time you are likely to be crowded out of the top ten is when your adopted MP is finally getting some mainstream coverage. Here, we see The Nadine Dorries Project displaced to 8th place by all of the fuss about her latest poorly disguised campaign on behalf of religious fundamentalists. Normally it ticks along in third place, just as it is doing in Yahoo today.
Also, over time, because each publishing body attracts traffic specific to a single MP, people with an interest in this MP will eventually begin to feed it new information based on their own experiences, research etc., and this process remains entirely sustainable long before you approach anything like some of the sillier visitor claims that people have been throwing around. So long as that site is accumulating sufficient relevance to command high search results for that MP’s name and associated queries, starting with expenses, it is playing a valuable role, and requires minimum upkeep.
That said, if you do plan to confront your own MP with anything of substance, please be warned that it can lead to a situation where you are effectively cut off from local politics as a result, and not in a position where you can lobby your MP. The project I describe shouldn’t cost any money, but this can be a hell of a price to pay. I’m not just talking about myself here; the organisers of a certain hustings at Flit-ick were accused by Dorries of being part of a conspiracy against her, and she refused to engage with their group as a result.
For this reason I think potential participants should seriously consider targeting an MP other than their own, even if it does leads to cries of “they’re not even a CONSTITUENT!’
On that note, I would wish to remind you good people that taking on liars is not for the faint-hearted. You often get lied about as a result. You may even get smeared as a stalker. I Am Not A Lawyer, but I can tell you from experience that the law does not regard scrutinising an MP to be stalking or even harassment. However, you will appreciate having team-mates and a wider support network should this false accusation or any other be used against you in response to valid and fair scrutiny.
Also, if you have any interest in media watching at all, you will have noticed by now that MPs with an agenda often serve as hot spots for bullshit, as they are often the origin of lies, if not the source of ill-informed opinions used to sell or perpetuate them.
This information vacuum is a largely unexplored and poorly exploited region on the frontier, it is in the public interest that we have someone manning it, and it has a glorious sweet spot for those in the know; a place where many small publishers can have a significant impact on politics with very little effort, without surrendering their independence, and without falling into the old pattern of surrendering to gas giants and the passing garbage they attract.
In my opinion, pursuit of a mass audience is a fallacy, a false ideal for bloggers that discourages many talented publishers from fulfilling their true potential. If you are reaching any of your target audience, you shouldn’t have to worry about your audience size any more than boys should worry about penis size, PLUS I have just given you a short manual on knowing how to use it.
There it is. That’s my thought. It’s for you to determine how relevant it is.
If you’d like to chat about it on Twitter in coming days, the call to action from this talk will be live on my blog shortly and the tag for discussion is #outpost.
I look forward to manning the frontier with you. Thanks for your time.
Related link: Dave Cross – Watching the Press – Notes
No names, but at about the time I was passing through one of a series of lessons in sex education, we had a teacher with a conservative outlook who not only choked on simple words associated with the act of sex, but also had an annoying habit of not-quite-answering one question before swiftly moving on to the next; just as his answer got to the tricky part with the ‘dirty’ bits, he would trail off and then pretend to be distracted by another child with their hand raised, only to half-answer their query and so on.
One day, the girls departed for a gender-specific film and associated lesson on topics that are easy enough to guess at, and the boys were left unsupervised, with a generic film about hygiene to serve as the only distraction.
Collusion was afoot. When the teacher returned to check up on us at the end of the film, he was faced with a question he was not expecting:
Student #1: “Mr _____, do you have a bone in your dick?”
‘Teacher’: “Oh! Erm, the PENIS, I think you will find, has absolutely no bones, but rather a mass of… erm.. erectile tissue that… when engorg…* (to Student #2) yes, you had a question?”
Student #2: “Then why is mine hard right now?”
All Students: (laughter)
That’s how we mucked up in my day, by the way. Totally rock’n’roll. I was lucky I turned my life around before I ended up on the streets. Anyway, the point is; some mockery from boys attending ex education class may arise from their frustration with the prudishness of the teacher, and possibly the curriculum.
I can’t pretend this applies in every instance, obviously. It would be wrong of me to do this based on a single anecdote populated by unnamed people.
[Boys! You may not have a bone in your penis, but lots of mammals do. An erection in humans is the result of blood pumping into two cylindrical sponge-like regions running along its length. And riding on buses.]
Let’s begin by giving Nadine Dorries the benefit of the doubt to the extent of assuming (a) at some stage she actually believed material published by me amounted to harassment, and (b) she was foolish enough to believe anything said by Iain Dale or Dominic Wightman on this subject.
Bedfordshire Police have looked at everything I have blogged and tweeted and videoed about Nadine Dorries. There’s quite a lot more of it now than there was back when blogging ‘expert’ Iain Dale first described it as my “stalking” the woman, but Bedfordshire Police have looked at it even at its current level and they do not regard it to be stalking (especially as it involves no form of physical pursuit), and they do not regard it to be harassment, plus they have not seen anything in it that I might need to be warned about. Iain Dale dares to imply otherwise, for reasons that are easily guessed at.
I’m likely to go into the specifics of Dorries’ complaint about the Flitwick event in a later post (especially if she attempts to rest a charge of stalking on her interpretation of that event), but for this post it is mainly relevant that Dorries followed up on an initial July 2010 letter about the Flitwick event by presenting to police a series of passages from articles by Dominic Wightman. My position on Wightman is clear; he is a liar and a conman, and he has sought to interfere with my personal life by portraying me as a paedophile, an ally of religious extremists, and a stalker. I am none of these things.
So, going back to May 2010, assuming that Dorries initially acts with no malice and is merely operating on bad intel/advice (most likely from her ill-informed mates at this stage), she sees me at the Flitwick event, thinking whatever it is that she’s thinking, and she becomes understandably upset. Those few remaining supporters of Dorries’ position may not understand that I totally get this. However, Dorries loses all sympathy and surrenders any moral authority from the moment she claims a police investigation is in progress, especially if she does so knowing that she hasn’t even filed a valid complaint with police yet. Even if she had called any police force at any stage before the Flitwick event (there’s no evidence of it), it would have been explained to her each time she tried that the material she complained about did not constitute harassment. Yet she continued to pretend otherwise (or, worse, claimed to have made a complaint when no complaint was made).
In any case, Dorries refused to retract this entirely false claim and instead went on to build on it. Most often when asked about allegations published on my website, Dorries has repeatedly put it about in that I have a past record for stalking MPs, that I had been following her around to some extent, and that police subsequently regarded me to be a genuine threat to her safety. There are variations between what she specifically claims in what political/media circles and when, but the primary accusation/implication remains the same, and it’s a barren and unforgivable lie.
Worse, Dorries was advised that someone had been publishing my home address alongside the claim that I stalked her. She was also informed that when challenged at a public event this person claimed to be acting in this way on her behalf. Dorries responded by heavily implying that she had forwarded relevant email(s) from this man to police. She later claimed that what she really meant was she had forwarded email from me to police (i.e. and complained about my conduct instead), but there’s no record of her having done this, either.
Nadine Dorries has been assured by police that I represent no threat to her. So why does she continue to stand by what she has published/broadcast, especially when she knows about the people out there who use her allegations to intimidate me and scare the crap out of my family?
Further, why does she continue to pretend that she was advised by police to disguise her movements from me and the three other stalkers she claims are out there? She cannot now claim she was talking about these other stalkers, because even if I couldn’t identify the people she refers to in this vague accusation (I can) she has obviously positioned me as the ‘lead’ stalker, which reveals the entire claim to be a sham. Dorries portrays me as the very worst of her perceived stalkers, but Bedfordshire Police have no complaint to make about my treatment of Dorries, and I could find no record of any similar complaint about me to the London Metropolitan Police, not even through officers stationed in the House of Commons.
I am often accused of being wordy, so I wish to be as succinct as possible about the following central point:
Nadine Dorries has been making most if not all of this ‘stalking’ nonsense up, and it is well past time for her to stop.
She can’t produce any evidence to support it, and the truth behind these deliberately vague allegations about me and others is that she cannot handle criticism or even a fair debate, and instead immediately walls these dangers off as “abuse”, “harassment” or even “stalking”, possibly not just as an excuse for avoiding things like contradictory evidence, but also in instinctive defence of her own beliefs, which she has invested a LOT in by this stage.
Dorries may find it a hard reality to accept, but this is the reality of it:
Bedfordshire Police have looked at what I’ve published about her, and were provided with a copy of every email I’d ever sent to her. It’s not harassment. It doesn’t even rate a warning. I could keep it up for years and never fall on the wrong side of the law. I could also be a lot more unfair about it than most of her mates are, but that’s not the way I do things.
What Dorries calls ‘harassment’ is not harassment. Also, when she says ‘stalking’ she often means ‘harassment’, but that is not to say that she hasn’t also been deliberately claiming/implying that she has been followed around; she’s been doing plenty of that, but the only material I have seen that comes anywhere near maybe justifying it involves her story about a newspaper person who took a picture once, and some claim about a burglary where a door was taken off the hinges and some files were got at. Allegedly.
It doesn’t amount to much. It certainly doesn’t support what she’s been putting about locally and in political/media circles. Keeping this in mind, Nadine Dorries will also want to reflect on the entirely fabricated evidence that emerged during the investigation, and the courtesy I show her by not implying that she was behind it when I decline to share any further detail on the grounds of personal privacy.
When reflecting on this, she might want to stop and think seriously about the role she plays in a climate where such extraordinary falsehoods are peddled. After ‘smeargate’ especially she cannot afford to do anything but take a strong line against the tactic of using damaging falsehoods, especially the kind of mud that is designed to stick, or otherwise cause anguish or humiliation, even if it is demonstrably untrue.
In the past two years, entirely baseless and damaging claims have been made about me, and even about my children. Again, I do not wish to play Dorries’ game and imply that she is involved in the latter attempt at fabrication, but it is this element she is playing to and engaging with when she peddles damaging falsehoods of her own, especially knowing as she does how they are later used by others, including/especially Dominic Wightman.
If Nadine Dorries would like to object to anything that I have published about her, she is welcome (as she has always been) to specify anything that she regards to be incorrect or even unfair. Similarly, I challenge her to back what she has claimed about my being the worst of four stalkers with some specific evidence, or finally retract the claim.
Specifics take time, so I invite Nadine Dorries to take a couple of days to think about everything she has published on her website declaring me to be a stalker and/or otherwise guilty of harassment, and all of the stories she has spread privately about me being a danger to her or others, and how she might begin to correct the damage she has done. She might also wish to have a quiet word with Iain Dale, Anne Milton and Patrick Mercer, as she appears to have been making some extraordinary and unsupported claims on their behalf.
Finally, she might want to consider avoiding any future contact with Dominic Wightman, or any further endorsement of what he publishes under any name. If she has any doubts, I’m sure that Milton and Mercer will be delighted to explain why privately (i.e. without giving away too much about their own part in this; tribalism does have its limits).
MAJOR UPDATE (22 Nov 2011) – Nadine Dorries misled police in her complaint against four alleged ‘stalkers’. Here’s the evidence and here’s a summary of revelations to date. Next up: evidence that Dorries lied about the outcome of the investigation she prompted in the desperate hope it would disguise her lies about an investigation that never took place.
Today I had a meeting with Bedfordshire Police. They informed me that under caution and recorded on tape at Guldford Police station, Tim Ireland, of bloggerheads, has been issued with a warning under section two of the harassment act.
Nadine Dorries (source)
This is Dorries’ way of saying the investigation following her belated complaint to Bedfordshire Police has closed without action. There was nothing in it; she was thrown a bone that offers only some reassurance that I have agreed not to act in a way that I have never acted before, and that’s all. I doubt that Dorries actually needs this reassurance, especially when she so clearly intends to use it to continue her attempts to smear me (because nothing makes more sense than poking your alleged stalker with a stick).
At one stage, I was given advice from police about the wisdom of attending any future events with the intention of trying to get close to Nadine Dorries, but it would be wrong to assume or imply that I ever held such creepy intentions in the first place, and it would be dishonest to pretend that the investigation closed with police establishing any inappropriate behaviour on my part; this conversation that Dorries clings to took place before I was able to produce evidence supporting my contention that (a) I had been invited to a public meeting, and (b) secured permission to both film *and* broadcast, and it should be appreciated in that context.
Police cannot dispute that I was there at that meeting with permission from organisers, and even granted leave to stay by the majority of those attending after Dorries made her first entirely false accusation about stalking. I was only asked to stop what I was doing after a further false allegation about my not informing organisers of the broadcast (see below). Even any potential breach of the peace was mainly the result of Dorries going off on one, and she can’t produce a scrap of evidence to support the circular argument behind her outburst.
Police may have had more cause to speak to me about inappropriate behaviour if I had behaved in a way that was inappropriate. As it was, the conversation/point focused a lot on how my past/future actions might be construed by some, and police had so little to support even this line of argument that the relevant shortlist of accusers and critics included Dominic Wightman.
Dorries’ claim that I had lied to organisers about my intentions was one of the main reasons why police had initial concerns about my presence at Flitwick, but the truth was that I had gone out of my way to secure permission and be clear about my intentions. In fact, I was not only able to produce emails backing this up, but also (surprise evidence!) audio of my explaining it to the Chair and getting her approval prior to broadcast! The broadcast webcam was online with ustream.tv’s server before the event went live to the public, and it was recording at the time… so while the audio is extremely muddy, a camera did capture a crucial conversation with the Chair of the Flitwick event, including the part where I explain to her that “I’m just about to start broadcasting”.
Police were furnished with this audio, along with all other unedited footage of the event from my main camera, plus my every email communication with Dorries and/or her office for good measure. Dorries claims to have received hundreds of “vile and abusive” messages from me, but nothing like this turned up during the investigation that I’m aware of, and Dorries has so far refused to honour a legitimate DPA request from me that would require her to (at least) provide a copy of every email and letter sent to her in my name. Did she make this detail up, or was she merely mistaken? Dorries isn’t saying; she is instead implying that this investigation supports her argument, when it does nothing of the sort. No evidence has emerged of my behaving in the way that Dorries has described and implied; not at the Flitwick event, not before the Flitwick event, and not after the Flitwick event.
Since this investigation began, Dorries has been repeatedly leaking incorrect and distorted versions of privileged information in an attempt to politicise it. The antics included an entirely false claim that I was arrested that Dorries (the source if not the author) has yet to explain or apologise for. Dorries’ presentation of this conversation with police during a voluntary interview as if it supports anything she has alleged about me is no different.
Bedfordshire Police recognise that the public have a right to go to public meetings, and should be free to conduct filming and broadcasts when they’ve got permission from organisers. If Dorries could support her claim that I had actually stalked her or anyone else previous to this event, I can see where police might have the beginnings of a case, but Dorries offers no evidence to support this contention. None.
Further, previous to this complaint, Nadine Dorries claimed a police investigation was already in progress. At Flitwick, she specifically declared that I was already a notorious stalker (i.e. with a string of victims and a ‘police aware’ sticker on my forehead). When challenged to back this hysterical if not calculated cycle of bullshit with evidence, instead of producing a crime reference number as she promised to, Dorries sought to generate one.
She didn’t even get that far; no crime reference number was assigned to this investigation. Even when operating on the basis of what Dorries claimed about the Flitwick event, police took the position that “no crime (was) involved”.
Dorries (a lawmaker) has yet to explain why she made then maintained an entirely false, damaging and downright dangerous claim about a police investigation that never took place.
Dorries has also failed to produce any evidence to support her claim that she has been genuinely, physically stalked and subsequently advised by police to lie about her whereabouts on her website (i.e. the desperate claim she clung to in the wake of the disastrous “70% fiction” admission).
Given the shrill and indiscreet manner in which Dorries has conducted herself during this investigation, I seriously doubt that any other investigation has taken place without us knowing about it, and if my actions were likely to cause Dorries distress because of anyone else acting in the way she describes, I am confident that police would have brought that up at the stage when they were expressing concern about my turning up to a public meeting that I was invited to.
Besides, Dorries has repeatedly claimed/implied that it was *me* who was such a concern to police that they advised her to disguise her movements, and Bedfordshire Police made no mention of any evidence or allegation about my behaving in this way toward anyone, and no other police force in the land has been in touch in TWO YEARS since these dastardly (if vaguely defined ) deeds were allegedly done.
Further, it cannot be stressed enough that Dorries needs a time machine for this latest deception to hold. She claims she was advised by police to lie about where she lived because someone was taking an unhealthy interest in her movements. The Flitwick event happened almost a year after she claims to have been given this advice. Where is the evidence of the events she claims led to this police advice? Where is the confirmation from police that they issued the advice she spoke of?
Dorries is making most of this stuff up, if not all of it. She cannot produce any evidence of my harassing her electronically, and she cannot produce any evidence of my stalking her physically. If by some miracle she turns out to have a genuine stalker (she claims there are four), there is no sign of there ever being an investigation into any of it, and Dorries has no business pretending it’s anything to do with me in any case.
UPDATE (15 May) – To be clear: I wish to bring you the actual position of police, not the interpretation by Dorries or even an interpretation by me. This warning that Dorries pretends is the end result of the investigation was not given in response to anything she has claimed about physical or electronic stalking; none of that is true, and I am greatly disappointed that police have allowed for confusion on this front, especially considering their awareness of Dorries’ behaviour prior to this.
Police said what they did in light of Dorries’ complaint about the Flitwick event specifically. I have asked them for their position in writing. I would also like to see a copy of Nadine’s original complaint if she would care to publish it.
If Dorries wants to declare that police gave me a warning in response to her complaint, I would really much rather that she specified what that complaint was, rather than pretend it is for hundreds of “vile and abusive” emails that never existed, or physical stalking that never took place. Dorries being what she is, I expect she will instead pretend that all she alleges stands unchallenged if not confirmed.
UPDATE (16 May, 10am) – I have been in contact with Bedfordshire police. They have agreed to put their position in writing and plan to do so later today. I will say more when they have done so. In the interim, to avoid any confusion throughout the day:
We are in a situation where Dorries is (once again) the source of damaging inaccuracies. No caution has been issued against me, and police have seen no evidence of my stalking or even harassing Nadine Dorries.
She implies otherwise, but Dorries’ complaint to police amounts ONLY to a complaint about my presence at the Flitwick event.
As I understand it, that she has made a complaint makes any further attempt to be in the same room as her a potential offence under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.* It was a warning about any future attempt to be in her presence, and it was and is entirely surplus to requirements. Nadine’s mate Iain Dale running a ‘Tim Ireland warned under Harassment law’ headline in response to what she had claimed in recent months is entirely misleading in that gives a false summary of events.; it implies that I was given a warning in response to allegations she still cannot substantiate. A technicality under law involving potential acts I am unlikely to commit in the future should not be used to imply (as Dorries has) that it is a judgement on my conduct at Flitwick, or generally, or that I have any history of behaving like this… because the single event that made the complaint possible involved my being invited to a public meeting, and arranging to record and broadcast that meeting in good faith.
I’ll be out with more later, when police have issued their position in writing and Dorries and her mates have had a chance to issue a proper retraction. If they do, it’ll be a first. But I’ll wait all the same.
UPDATE (16 May 1:45pm) – The letter from police is here. The full text from the body of the letter appears below:
I write to inform you that the harassment complaint made against you by Nadine Dorries, MP, on 12th July 2010 is now concluded.
This was in relation to you attending the Flitwick Hall Hustings, Bedfordshire on 4th May 2010, knowing that Nadine Dorries was in attendance. As advised, others could construe this type of behaviour as harassment or stalking. There is no action against you concerning this matter, apart from the verbal warning given by me to you during the Voluntary Interview in January 2011.
Nadine Dorries has been informed of this result.
The above Non Crime Report has been generated today, Monday 16th May 2011, as the paperwork for this complaint now needs to be referenced and filed.
There is the risk of quote-mining that concerns me, but I can say with confidence that the warning mentioned in this letter amounts only to the officer’s duty under law to advise me of the potential consequences of being in the same room as Dorries at a further event in light of the fact that a complaint was made about the first. I can also say without fear of contradicting the police or distorting their position that it is not a judgement on my conduct at that event or in any other respect, because it is not a warning about any past behaviour, much less any pattern of behaviour. Police do not themselves regard my actions to date to be harassment or stalking, but they would not be doing their jobs if they did not advise me of the risks of being in Dorries presence once a formal complaint has been made, because it is from the moment that a second event takes place that the law might apply.
It is entirely unacceptable to pretend that this warning is the main outcome of an investigation into Dorries’ wider/wilder allegations, a formal caution or variation of same, or any kind of recognition under law supporting anything Dorries has alleged.
It would also be wrong to assign any significance to the matter being filed, as it was filed by my request, in the hope that this measure would reduce the potential for distortion of the outcome.
This investigation has done nothing to support anything Dorries has claimed about being stalked. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Back soon with more on that front.
UPDATE – *This was not the case at all. The “warning” issued by police carries a legal weight of zero. It amounted to informal advice, and that’s all. It is regrettable that when pressed for specifics, Bedfordshire Police failed to be clear on this crucial point, especially when people who seek to exploit the situation continue to base some quite damaging headlines/claims on continued misuse of the word ‘warning’ (e.g. Iain Dale, who refuses to amend his claim that I was “issued with a harassment warning”, when he knows this is not true).
UPDATE – I patiently dug around for evidence, as is my habit. Find out the truth about the substance of Nadine Dorries’ complaint against me. I committed no criminal act; even Dorries’ own lawyers agree on this.
I’d like to begin by insisting that you read Unity’s long post about what 10 Yetis have been unleashing on the public for a long time now; the scale of their pathetic avarice should not be underestimated:
10 Yetis came to my attention in the middle of Nadine Dorries’ widely-mocked abstinence ‘education’ campaign when they released the results of an absurdly unprofessional and leading survey about parents’ attitudes to sex education. 10 Yetis refuse to say what prompted them to conduct and release this poll, but (a) I don’t think I am wrong to suspect that they saw a little media storm brewing and sought to exploit it, and (b) their refusal to answer this question and others honestly – or at all – is the reason for this post, so they may want to re-think their current ‘stonewall’ strategy.
(In fact, the good people at 10 Yetis should also be advised that if they are going to claim expertise in search engine optimisation, they will want to at least pretend to be dimly aware of the capacity your average blogger has for repeating questions in public when these questions are ignored and/or dealt with dishonestly in private.)
To be fair to Charlotte Horsfall (“Consumer PR Exec @10Yetis PR Agency”), not all of the following deceits are hers and hers alone. Some belong in no small part to her boss Andy Barr and anyone else who had a hand in conceiving/executing their bottom-feeding business model, but there’ll be time enough to address these people later.
Charlotte Horsfall was asked who commissioned this survey/poll. Her answer:
BabyChild commissioned the survey of British parents of children age between 5 – 11 years.
‘BabyChild’ is the name of a white label store owned by the same people who own and operate 10 Yetis. To pretend distance by presenting them as a client is entirely dishonest; the poll was. in truth, self-commissioned; a PR company sought to promote their own web store through a survey.
This one may not be entirely on Charlotte (it depends on who wrote/approved the press release) but the information was released in a way that risks giving a false impression that the survey was conducted by a company that had a relationship with a relevant customer base and/or some associated experience/expertise. White label stores do not work in this way, and in any case there is no evidence that the survey was conducted among customers of that store (see #3):
A survey has been conducted by a leading independent baby product review website in the UK to ask parents how they feel about their children learning about the subject in a school environment. www.babychild.org.uk polled 1,732 parents in the UK, with children aged between 5 and 11 years old. – source)
(Psst! 10 Yetis boss Andy Barr cannot pretend that this happened without his knowledge/approval, as he publicly gloated about the success of the PR stunt in which he is quoted as the co-founder of BabyChild.)
Given what the press release claimed/implied, Charlotte Horsfall was asked; “Was the site conducted on your site, or among your customers in some other way?”
Instead of saying ‘no’ (which would have been an honest answer), Charlotte said this:
“BabyChild conducted the study by using an opt-in database that has access to over one million consumers all responses being anonymous.”
Charlotte has refused to elaborate any further on this, but if we’re to go by other amateur surveys they’ve conducted, this is a reference to the third party website SurveyMonkey, and somewhat akin to someone claiming they are part of the Murdoch media empire because they have a MySpace page.
So, not only are 10 Yetis dishonest, but they are the type of low-rent company who do things on the cheap while pretending theirs is a far grander and more professional affair than it really is.
Charlotte Horsfall was asked if her company was a member of the MRS (Market Research Society). Her answer:
BabyChild are not members of the MRS.
The more correct answer is, of course, that 10 Yetis is not a member of the MRS (Market Research Society). This alone should make anyone wary of portraying them (and/or otherwise relying on them) as if they were a serious ‘pollster’; they are not.
In fact, 10 Yetis appear to conduct polls purely for the purposes of generating publicity (and this mainly for what they describe as “internal clients” when they stray anywhere near the truth).
I’m going to close by including the full text of their entirely unscientific poll (below). The leading nature of the questions should be obvious (and this has been addressed by Unity in any case), but I would also like to draw the last three questions and their responses to your attention.
If one is to give this poll any credit, using these last 3 questions, one can use it to argue strongly for sex education in schools; the respondents’ children appear to seek information about sex at a younger age than it is taught in schools, and the majority of parents are ill-equipped to deal with it themselves.
10 Yetis could just as easily have come out against what Dorries proposed, because the ‘findings’ of this poll are a meaningless muddle of mendaciousness. Not that such an effort would be welcomed by anyone supporting an evidence-based position; this is an amateur effort that sought to jump on board a debate about our children’s sex education in the hope that this would generate some cheap publicity.
Well, here we are, 10 Yetis; here’s your publicity. Choke on it.
[Psst! I know times is tough, but if you are working as an employee or 'intern' for these no-hopers, you could do better. You may even wish to seek out PR experience with a charity, or some other organisation that puts the public interest ahead of pathetic profit streams. You're likely to do far less damage that way, and you may sleep better most nights.]
UPDATE – Some related posts:
Cath Elliott – The great 10 Yetis circle jerk
Richard Bartholomew – An Abominable Sex Education Survey
There is a lot to be said about Nadine Dorries’ attempt to pass into law a bill introducing compulsory abstinence ‘education’ for teenage girls (and girls alone). As usual (example), she is using a mainstream
face farce to mask a deeply religious – some might say fundamentalist – agenda, and producing anecdotal, distorted or just plain invented evidence to support it… but, happily, there’s been enough shock and outrage over her blurtings today to pretty much guarantee that every point of her ridiculous premise will be shot down by someone, somewhere.
That leaves me free to make this single observation…
Nadine Dorries claims that Raspberry Beret by Prince is one of her all-time favourite songs. In fact, here’s a touching moment from her not-a-blog where she draws great comfort from this funk ballad:
“I will know I’m feeling happier when I flick onto the next track – Prince and Raspberry Beret – I can’t get there quick enough.”
Nadine Dorries (source)
In case there’s any doubt, it was her first choice when she was asked for her favourite song in the 2005 election:
(What is your favourite music/song?)
“Raspberry Beret by Prince and the second of Goretskis three sorrowful songs.”
Nadine Dorries (source)
If Nadine Dorries actually means it when she claims she wants to teach teens that it’s “cool” to say ‘no’ to sex (i.e. if this isn’t just a further attempt to halve the abortion rate for entirely biblical reasons), she may want to choose a new favourite song…. because Raspberry Beret is a song about a teenage romance that culminates in what is unmistakably a first-time sexual experience.
Raspberry Beret (lyrics excerpt):
They say the first time ain’t the greatest
But I tell ya
If I had the chance 2 do it all again
I wouldn’t change a stroke
Cause baby I’m the most
With a girl as fine as she was then
If there is any room for doubt about this, it is about the female character’s virginity… and this thought process leads us to a situation where she is the more experienced of the two, and possibly the instigator in this sexual adventure (i.e. if we are not reading it as the male character taking advantage of a none-too-bright teenage girl):
Raspberry Beret (lyrics excerpt):
I said now, overcast days never turned me on
But something about the clouds and her mixed
She wasn’t 2 bright
But I could tell when she kissed me
She knew how 2 get her kicks
To be clear, this favourite song of Nadine’s specifically celebrates the opposite of the position she pressed in the House today:
“We need to let young girls know that to say no to sex when you are under pressure is a cool thing to do…”
“My bill was about making boys wait being an empowering and cool thing for girls to do…”
Nadine Dorries (source)
To close, I invite you to make like our society and saturate yourself in sex. Let’s dance!
UPDATE – The post has been edited to add two quotes from Dorries that further support my point.
UPDATE – Related linkage:
Heresy Corner – Boys, girls and Nadine Dorries
Liberal Conspiracy – Abstinence makes Nadine Dorries’ brain go softer
“Um… about that thing you just said…” – Women Who Hate Women: Nadine Dorries
We Mixed Our Drinks – Thoughts on Nadine Dorries’ abstinence crusade
Ministry of Truth – Dorries’ Abstinence Speech – The Fact Check