Sorry to interrupt the eerie silence, but Iain’s latest CiF article comparing David Cameron to Barack Obama prompted this comment from me and I wanted to share.
[Yes, I'm aware of the multiple absurdities of Iain's article, but I'm trying to stay focused.]
UPDATE (04 Mar) – Ahahahahahahaha! Iain responds to criticism of his article by claiming that he sold the Guardian a surplus article with the specific intention of winding up their readers. I suppose they’ll be wanting their fee back, then. I also enjoyed Iain predicting a “torrent of abuse” in the same comment where he describes CiF contributors as having “even fewer braincells than the LibDem front bench”.
UPDATE (05 Mar) Two bits of related bloggage for you:
The Register – How Phorm plans to tap your internet connection: Internal BT documents obtained by The Register for the first time provide solid technical information on how data from millions of BT, Virgin Media and Carphone Warehouse customers will be pumped into a new advertising system.
Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes) – Sunday Sleaze Special : Tom Watson: Last year Watson pocketed his £60,000 salary and his parliamentary expenses amounted to £150,000-plus – bringing his total package to £211,000 – making him the 73rd highest claiming MP out of 646 MPs. Quite an achievement for an MP not claiming for travel to and from Scotland. He of course employs his wife Siobhan at the public’s expense, his brother, Dan, is constituency director to Euro MP Michael Cashman, Dan Watson’s wife, Joanna, has no fewer than three jobs. Like her husband, she also works for Mr Cashman and for Wolverhampton Labour MP Pat McFadden, yet still finds time to be a Labour councillor in Sandwell. Amy Watson, cousin of Tom and Dan, works for Birmingham Northfield Labour MP Richard Burden. The West Midlands constituency Labour Party offices are packed with Watsons… The total annual cost to the taxpayer of the Watson family’s five not-so-little piggies is in excess of £300,000. Far more than the disgraced Derek Conway fiddled…
2. That story appeared on Staines’ pseudo-blog just before 10:30pm last night. The only link to any source was to this irrelevant article in the Sunday Times. Just after midnight, this very similar article by Mark Lister appeared on the Daily Express website. So did Lister lift from Staines? Or did Lister or someone else leak to Staines? Or is there a mystery article that we’re unaware of that Staines is using as his (uncredited) source?
3. So much for bread and sources… here’s the meat;
The comparison to Derek Conway is totally out of order unless one *only* addresses the money Tom Watson paid to his wife Siobhan and *if* there appears to be some irregularity and/or difficulty proving that she has done this work. (Lister in the Express also works Conway into his article, but is far more careful about it.)
The crux of the Conway matter was that Derek Conway had paid his son Freddie Conway £40,000 (over a three year period) and no record was found of any work done by this ‘researcher’.
If a fair comparison were to be made, it would involve an estimated £60,000 paid to Siobhan Watson (i.e. over the same period) and there would have to be some indication that she didn’t actually do any work during this period.
But instead, Staines (followed by Lister) has grouped the money paid by Tom Watson to his wife with Tom’s own pay and expenses, *and* tacked on money paid to members of his extended family by people and organisations that have *SFA* to do with that MP.
[All of the other members of Tom Watson's family work for other people and Tom's responsibilities to the taxpayer start and finish at his offices. There might be cause for investigation or comparison if, for example, Tom was funnelling his own money through family members for some reason (*cough*)... but he isn't.]
So when Staines describes that figure of £300,000 as “Far more than the disgraced Derek Conway fiddled…” he is implying:
a) That Siobhan Watson did no work for her salary.
b) That Tom Watson did no work for his salary – and that none of his expenses can be properly accounted for.
c) That Tom Watson is directly responsible for the employment of these other members of his extended family.
It’s almost as if Paul Staines is baiting Tom Watson and waiting for a letter from Tom’s lawyer so he make yet another comparison of chalk to cheese in order to overcome or overshadow his recent PR difficulties.
No doubt there will also be accusations of personal/political favouritism if certain blogs don’t repeat this non-story, when Staines himself is guilty of ignoring many genuine Tory stories (including this item about Anne Milton).
But, even though Tom is not my MP, I recognise that there are political realities to deal with here (mostly involving a gang of right wing bloggers who delight in misrepresenting my position and even falsely suggesting that *I’m* employed by Tom Watson) so I’m going to ask Tom 3 of the 5 questions put to Anne Milton (i.e. the 3 questions that are relevant to this situation):
Q1. Where did Siobhan Watson carry out this work you describe? In your parliamentary office, your constituency office, from home…?
Q2. What evidence can you show your constituents of the work you claim was done by Siobhan Watson?
Q5. Have any other members of your family been employed in this or any other way by your office?
[Please note that Tom Watson does not have advance notice of these questions and that they've been presented to him in exactly the same manner as they were presented to Milton; bloggage first, followed by an immediate heads-up via email. To better Milton's response time, Tom only has to come up with a single and totally unsatisfactory answer within two weeks... but I'm willing to bet that he can do a little bit better than that.]
UPDATE (1:10pm) – The article on the Daily Express website appears to have been removed.
UPDATE (2:10pm) – This appears to be the original article (Sunday Mercury – March 2, 2008), and the source for both Staines and Lister. It’s a curious item full of friendly smiles and wild stabs, but – crucially – it makes no mention of Derek Conway.
UPDATE (5:20pm) – Garry Smith expands on the maths.
Via Richard Bartholomew (<---- worth a read):
Oliver Kamm – Not a parody: Yesterday morning I got a telephone call from a bewildered gentleman at Abingdon Police Station saying he had received a complaint from a Mr Neil Clark… I learned from my interlocutor at Abingdon Police Station that Mr Clark was upset about disobliging references to him on the World Wide Web…
Blessings upon the cotton socks of the hardworking copper who seeks to keep the peace… and a hearty ‘good luck’ to Oliver in his mission to “abstain from interest in Clark’s pronouncements” in order to “make life easier for the Abingdon constabulary than it has been in the very recent past.”
OMFG! EXCLUSIVE!!: New Idea blows Prince Harry’s cover while Matt Drudge claims the exclusive and compounds the error
By now you’re all aware that Prince Harry has been fighting in Afghanistan (gunning down other human beings in much the same way that most normal people do) and that there was an agreement for it not be reported by the media. You are probably also aware that the carrot that was dangled to ensure the integrity of the embargo was
an appeal to media owners and editors not to complicate military operations by needlessly endangering Harry’s life and those of his fellow soldiers a steady feed of photos and interviews that they would be allowed to use at a later date.
This morning, there is an undignified rush to use that material in almost every newspaper. Classy.
The Independent, by contrast, uses a single image on page 3 alongside this article:
Independent – Prince’s cover in Afghanistan blown by Drudge Report: An American website, the Drudge Report, broke a news blackout yesterday by revealing that Prince Harry has been serving in Afghanistan for more than two months. To the fury of the Ministry of Defence and condemnation from the head of the British Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, the website announced a “world exclusive” and proclaimed: “They’re calling him ‘Harry the Hero!”… It is thought the source for the Drudge Report article was a story printed last month in an Australian women’s magazine, New Idea.
Back-pats to the Indy for this, and for not falsely describing Drudge as a ‘blogger’.
Brick-bats to New Idea and Matt Drudge… oh, and well-known Drudge-wannabe Paul Staines*.
What Drudge did was take something that had been previously reported by regional ragsters who claimed to be unaware of the embargo, and used that to knowingly break the embargo… while screaming ‘EXCLUSIVE’.
And now the eyes of the world are upon him, Matt Drudge is getting greedy. Below is the article published by Drudge yesterday. The text in bold is the paragraph that he has since deleted:
PRINCE HARRY FIGHTS ON FRONTLINES IN AFGHANISTAN; 3 MONTH TOUR
Thu Feb 28 2008 11:37:52 ET
They’re calling him “Harry the Hero!”
British Royal Prince Harry has been fighting in Afghanistan since late December–and has been directly involved in battle.
Australian magazine NEW IDEA and the German daily BILD have broken world embargoes on the development. CNN has debated internally on the merits of reporting Harry at war.
The prince, a junior officer in the Blues and Royals, and third in line to the throne, has been a “magnificent soldier” and an “inspiration to all of Briton.”
Prince Harry is talking part in a new offensive against the Taliban.
Ministry of Defense and Clarence House refuse all comment. Army chiefs have managed to keep the prince away from media and have encourage fellow soldiers in his squadron to stay quiet.
Not that the people at New Idea have any complaints; they themselves are busy rewriting history today…. and here’s why:
The Australian – New Idea, no idea of Harry embargo: New Idea had no idea it was breaking an embargo when it revealed on its website that Prince Harry was fighting in Afghanistan. The weekly magazine has been criticised by a British army chief for leaking the news of the young royal’s frontline deployment, which was subject to a strict media blackout. A German newspaper and then US website the Drudge report picked up the story this week. With the ban broken, the story has received intensive coverage in Britain and around the world. The story was published on New Idea’s website on January 7, said editor-in-chief Robyn Foyster.
SMH – No idea: New Idea in the dark about Harry blackout: An Australian women’s magazine has denied deliberately breaching a media news blackout about Prince Harry’s deployment to Afghanistan. New Idea is at the centre of a storm in Britain, accused of leaking the news the 23-year-old prince is fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and potentially putting his life in danger. The magazine published a story about Harry’s secret tour of duty on its website in January in an apparent breach of a strict media blackout on the story. It appears few noticed the story. It was only after US website the Drudge Report picked up the story and broadcast it around the world, after a German newspaper ran a piece yesterday, that the storm blew up.
[Psst! "Woman's magazine" is putting it kindly; New Idea (nicknamed 'No Idea' long before this debacle) is a trashy supermarket tabloid.]
Now, while everyone else is revelling in their ability to use material that was previously embargoed until April, New Idea has decided to ‘disappear’ the items in question. If you visit either of these URLs, the original teaser and article will not appear; instead, on both pages, you’ll get a bog-standard bio of Prince Harry (that’s been put together so hurriedly that the picture fails to load)…
NEW IDEA: Prince Harry Goes to War in Afghanistan
Originally published by New Idea on Jan 07 at 04:33pm EDT at:
Prince Harry has joined his regiment on a covert mission to Afghanistan and his unit has already seen front line action.
Not seen in public since the middle of December, New Idea can exclusively reveal that despite opposition from senior members of the British government and the royal family itself, Harry now joins his uncle Prince Andrew as a royal who has been to war.
‘At first there was a lot of resistance’ said a friend ‘but Harry threatened to resign his commission and serve as a private if he was kept from the battlefield – and that proved to be the final straw’.
Full details on this breaking story in this week’s New Idea
No idea there was an embargo? What does the word ‘covert’ mean to these people?
Here’s the article that followed that teaser a week later:
NEW IDEA: Prince Harry: War Lord
Originally published by New Idea on Jan 15 at 12:07pm EDT at:
Maverick Prince Harry has joined his regiment on a covert mission to Afghanistan and his unit has already seen front line action.
New Idea can exclusively reveal that despite opposition from senior members of the British government and the royal family itself, Harry flew out with his regiment and joined the troops on the front line. He spent Christmas with his men at the sharp end of the action.
‘Harry found members of his unit were to be posted in Afghanistan for a four-month tour of duty over Christmas and the New Year,’ a close friend tells New Idea.
‘He had already begrudgingly accepted the decision to keep him off the front line in Iraq, but when he heard about the mission in Afghanistan he was insistent he would not stay at home eating Christmas dinner and living it up at the palace while his men were on the front line.
‘At first there was a lot of resistance, but Harry even threatened to resign his commission and serve as a private if he was kept from the battlefield – and that proved to be the final straw,’ the friend says.
‘He wants to be a real soldier who gets the same treatment as any other officer of his rank – and that means going to war just like everybody else.’
Prince Charles was said to be against the idea of Harry seeing active service, but sources say that with the support of his elder brother William, and uncle Prince Andrew, who flew helicopters during the Falklands war, Harry convinced Charles not to take action to prevent him from going.
The Queen is said to have sent Harry a card with her best wishes and a gift with sentimental value that he has kept private.
Before he left, Harry invited William and some of his close friends to a secret ‘godspeed’ party at Boujis nightclub in London.
Guests were under strict instruction that there was to be no mention of the real reason for the party and no toasts or public discussion of Harry’s imminent departure.
The British government is said to strongly oppose Harry’s deployment to Afghanistan. Their official reason is that his presence may put his fellow soldiers at risk, but defence commentators have been quick to suggest it may be more to do with their fear that Harry could be killed or injured fighting George Bush’s ‘war on terror’. This would doom Gordon Brown’s Labour government in the next election.
But Harry has always been insistent that he wanted to see active duty and he hated the idea of being wrapped in cotton wool while his men put their lives on the line.
He famously said: ‘There’s no way I’m going to put myself through Sandhurst and then sit on my a*** back home while my boys are out fighting for their country.’
For more Royal Watch, check out the latest issue of New Idea – on sale now!
Again, reading what has been published (and since ‘disappeared’), one might get the impression that – even if New Idea didn’t know of the embargo – they certainly should have noticed the alarm bells in their own damn article!
Which might be why that article and the teaser have been removed; New Idea’s statement on the matter reads as follows:
“New Idea was not issued with a press embargo and was unaware of the existence of one… The story was published on Monday, January 7. Since then New Idea has received no comment from the British Ministry of Defence. We take these matters very seriously and would never knowingly break an embargo. We regret any issues the revelation of this story in America has caused today.”
Scroll up and read the article again. Try to work out how it was planned for at least a week, researched, penned and published without anyone involved becoming aware of the merest possibility of a hint of an embargo.
And, if you’re of the opinion that New Idea knowingly breached the embargo and find yourself wondering why, there’s a subtle hint in the closing line of each item…
Full details on this breaking story in this week’s New Idea
For more Royal Watch, check out the latest issue of New Idea – on sale now!
So now it’s New Idea with a secret they’d rather the media didn’t report.
Share at will.
[*Paul Staines happily ran with the outing and there are suggestions from anonymous readers (or from Staines himself; sometimes it’s hard to tell) that Staines knew all about it, and even dropped hints. What a guy. He inspires me to drop hints myself from time to time because, as Staines notes here, if you dish it out…]
UPDATE – Hahahahahaha! Great input from Anorak.
UPDATE – That programme tracked the earliest press mention back to the ever-reliable News Of The World (on June 3, 2007 IIRC). Indigo Red has documented some of the reports that followed that, and it would appear that The Observer also carried an item on that same day. I don’t have confirmation on this, but my gut is telling me that this early coverage (published long before Harry went to Afghanistan) is pre-embargo, and may even have triggered the embargo.
Yesterday (27 Feb), Joseph Chikelue Obi uploaded these nude(!) photos of himself on Flickr [sfw], presenting them as a slide show via one of his many, many domain names.
One can only assume that this is part of the PR push for… his new Hollywood movie!
We are exceedingly pleased to announce that previous pages of particular blog have just been sold to a Budding Hollywood Movie Producer .
Please kindly visit us during the latter part of the year 2012 to view the Film Trailer.
In the interim , all future pages will be solely used for the Public Awareness Purposes ; for serious matters relating to Institutional Racism at the General Medical Council.
Thank You for all your wonderful support.
Joseph Chikelue Obi
General Medical Council Opposition Leader
Every other entry from the ‘Abolish the GMC’ blog has been deleted (but I did what I could to preserve some of the wonderful hat-standery via Google’s cache and you can do the same if you’re quick).
He’s like a gift from heaven, this man; a perfect example of shameless blogging fraud in action, and much more fun than Iain Dale.
You may also care to spend a cuppa pondering on this post by Richard Bartholomew on the subject of the UK Libertarian Right.
[Psst! Sorry I haven't been around lately. I'm off the fags, and for good this time. My body's not sure what to do with all the extra oxygen it's getting, so for most of the last couple of days my brain has been a bit... thingy. Email backlog will be dealt with tomorrow.]
I had a question about an outgoing fella with a colourful past who lived and worked in Britain, but based his business in Ireland; I wanted to ask if this person undermining his critics with sock-puppetry and/or intimidating them with baseless legal threats amounted to an attack on free speech…
… but I’m not entirely sure how Paul would take such a question, so I think I’ll leave it alone.
[If you attend, please consider recording the event. I’d love to hear Paul’s side of this story.]
As you’re probably aware from watching the latest WMD and torture developments, the Brown government is becoming increasingly convinced of its ability to sweep some outstanding matters under the rug after a perfunctory dusting.
In fact, they appear to think that they can also let the small matter of Iraqi employees slip by without anyone at home making too much fuss…
Dan Hardie – Iraqi Employees: Fine words, shabby deeds: A small number of Iraqis – fewer than a dozen, according to people close to the operation who are in contact with me- were removed from Iraq in the early autumn of 2007. Since the Prime Minister’s admirable declaration of October, how many Iraqi ex-employees have been evacuated from Iraq? According to all the Iraqis that I am in contact with: none.
I’ve tried to get something more than words out of my MP, with little luck.
You may do better:
Please try. Then please share.
Joseph Chikelue Obi (aka The Obi One) continues to delight us with fantastic testimonials (via) and even more fantastic stat-porn, but this morning I’d like to focus on another main player in this battle for justice; Tanja Suessenbach.
She is billed as a former student of King’s College London here and here and you can see a photo of this feisty fighter for freedom in action here. As you can see, she is a very presentable young lady (and no doubt a very charismatic one also).
This might be why she took on the case of this most controversial of doctors; they have similar edu-entrepreneurial instincts (The Obi One used to run a language school).
Tanja Suessenbach makes it clear on her website that she is NOT a solicitor, but rather a legal consultant (who can “provide cost-effective legal assistance to all those who cannot afford the often very high legal costs”).
Primary URL: http://www.lexcity.org/
WHOIS: lexcity.org is registered in the name of Andre Alexander Gottshalk, Flat 9, Beaumont Court, 5 Streatham Place, SW2 4PY
Company details: According to main website Lexcity.org; Lexcity.org Ltd, registered in England and Wales, No. 6064790 – registered address: 147 B Knights Hill, London, SE27 0SP
[Psst! I want to make it clear that – since the authorities moved in on a dodgy builder at the Beaumont Court address – the property appears to have changed hands (it was sold on 26/09/2005 for 150k).]
I wanted to find out more about this Andre chap, so by using his telephone number (also provided by the WHOIS) I quickly managed to find out that he was also the man behind ‘Accent Softening’. Remember what I was saying about language schools?
Primary URLs: http://accentsoftening.lexcity.org/, http://www.accentsoftening.com/, http://www.accentsoftening.co.uk/
WHOIS: accentsoftening.co.uk is registered in the name of Andre Alexander Gottshalk, Flat 3, 44 Oakdale Road, Streatham, SW16 2HL
Business listings: According to this local business listing, the company is/was based at Knights Hill, London, SE27 0SP
As you can see, Tanja Suessenbach and Andre Alexander Gottshalk appear to intersect at two common addresses (just over a mile apart).
They also intersect at this Blogger-hosted weblog, which carries promotional links to lexcity.org and accentsoftening.com
Both that blog and Lexcity.org offer useful descriptions of the services provided by Tanja Suessenbach (yes, ‘civil litigation’ is listed), but with all of this confusion over past/present addresses and what not, I thought I’d try to find the very latest details, just in case any of these sites were outdated in any way… and I found them in this recent submission to CraigsList:
Affordable Employment Law Advice and Cheap Represenattion
Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 2008-02-22, 4:36PM GMT
We are legal consultants, who specialise in Employment Law.
We provide advice to employees and companies in claims for race or sex discrimination, unfair dismissal, disability, redundancy, unpaid wages and equal pay and provide cheap representation at Employment Tribunals.
We also advise companies on a wide range of employment issues.
Our rates are extremely competitive.
Or visit our webpage at www.lexcity.org
So, what have we learned from all this?
Well, we’ve learned that if you’re poor and vulnerable – and even if you struggle with English – then Tanja Suessenbach stands ready to offer you legal consultation and even some forms of representation at bargain-basement prices (when she’s not busy working on her new fashion school).
Warms the heart, doesn’t it?
What an angel of mercy she is.
And I’m especially impressed that Netcetera caved so readily to her. This, surely, is a testament to her great skill as a
solicitor provider of limited forms of legal consultation and fashion tuition.