Ellee Seymour: a timeline of lies and libel

This entry was posted on
Wednesday, November 7th, 2007
12:50 pm and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

[The following introduction has been presented without relevant hyperlinks in order to keep this post focused on the recent actions of Ellee Seymour. Those wishing to see background to any of the text in the introduction should check this recent post for a shedload of related evidence.]

Many moons ago, in the lead-up to the 2005 general election, the then Conservative candidate Anne Milton lied to me, and tried to fob me off about it. I began a blog that subjected her campaign, and then tenure as my MP, to scrutiny. Milton and her activists responded by smearing me while declaring Milton to be the victim of smears.

As it turns out, I was on the right track almost from Day One; the very first ringer I identified in her pamphlets later went on to use an anonymous weblog to smear his direct political opponent and put him in considerable danger by publishing his name, a photo, his whereabouts… and a claim that he was a paedophile.

I took clear evidence if this to the perpetrator’s employer (the Learning & Skills Council), Milton’s office, the Guildford Conservatives Association, and Conservative Central Office, but to no avail.

I also brought it to the attention of the two leading bloggers from the right at the time, Iain Dale and Paul Staines (aka Guido Fawkes). Both refused to condemn the action or even acknowledge publicly that it had taken place.

Shortly after this, I spent a few months watching how Iain Dale, Paul Staines and others from their overlapping posse conducted themselves online, and then later spoke up about it.

A familiar pattern soon emerged:

Dale, Staines and their activists responded by smearing me while declaring Dale and Staines to be the victim of smears.

Common themes included false claims about my political orientation, my sexual orientation, and my state of mind.

It was at this time that Ellee Seymour got involved.

The facts were right there in front of her face, but instead she chose to endorse and promote Dale’s absurd claim that he was the victim of a political/personal vendetta.

I had her filed under ‘ignore/sheep’ until she published and failed to delete this anonymous smear that was clearly designed to undermine my credibility and boost Dale’s:

Teri says:
February 3rd, 2007 at 11:48 am

Whos is this crazy Manic/Guido 2.0/Tim Ireland. He seems to have more personalitys that cybil. After reading that ranting nonsense over at Iains blog, I’m not sure if it’s me or manic many that needs the prozac.

It was always going to cause some kick back but thankfully Iain is thick skinned enough to deal with it.

I watched and waited for a fair period of time, but Ellee did not challenge or delete an obvious smear under a post defending a man falsely claiming to be the victim of smears. She could no longer be classified as an unwitting victim of propaganda; rather, she had shown that she was clearly willing to play the same reindeer games that – sooner or later – lead to the type of anonymous claims that go beyond putting reputations at risk.

And *that* is what earned her this slap.

I posted text and a link under that post that challenged the body of her post, and her conduct as a blogger.

Ellee then deleted that comment and went on to lie about it on other weblogs.

Now we fast-forward a few months to Nadine Dorries making an absurd and unsustainable claim about the conduct of Guardian columnist Ben Goldacre and then suddenly deciding – when she gets called on her false claims – that she will no longer be publishing comments on her ‘weblog’.

[Important Bit To Remember: Both myself and Garry Smith have been blogging about this and following developments.]

OK, here comes the timeline. Some posts/comments have been truncated for focus and brevity, but a link to the source or a screengrab of same appears before each quote under the time/date stamp. Please note that all of Ellee’s time-stamps have had to be corrected here by minus one hour (either her system is set at the wrong time zone, or it missed the clocks going back a week or so ago):

November 5th, 2007 at 12:57 pm – Ellee Seymour expresses her disappointment:

Nadine’s blog is very amusing and a great read. However, in my opinion, it has stopped being a blog as it no longer accepts comments. It is now an online daily diary. A blog must allow readers to comment and be interactive, it facilitates two-way communication which is crucial for MPs.

November 5th, 2007 at 9:40 pm – Nadine Dorries amusingly uses the comments facility on someone else’s website to defend the closure of comments on hers. In her comment, she repeats a claim she has yet to back up with evidence; that she did so because of multiple abusive comments:

The fact is I was getting hundreds of comments. Many, as a result of what I have been doing with regard to abortion, some of which were absolutely vile. There are some lovely people out there, but there are also some serious low life – and when you put your head above the parapet, as I have, the low life take aim. I may, when my work regarding abortion takes a slower pace, re-introduce comments. However, in the meantime, having to deal with people who think it’s cool to re- post their comments 40 times a night, and there are dozens of them, so that it takes over an hour to sort out the email account in the morning is no joke… I did take comments on my BB but I am afraid I had to stop that also when I started to receive some very weird posts late at night, which frankly scared me.

November 5th, 2007 at 10:07 pm – Your humble author, who has just watched Iain Dale delete an inconvenient comment exchange while falsely claiming that he did so because it contained ‘vitriol’, counters:

So, Nadine, your argument is that you have refused all valid challenges to your abortion-related posts because of a series of invalid ones that we’re not allowed to see. I could say something about throwing the baby out with the bathwater here, but instead I’ll suggest that you get a more robust blogging platform, which will make moderation of the alleged abuse easier to handle. Oh, and I would seriously consider doing this before the difficulties of the abortion debate (some of which are nothing to do with the contentious issue of abortion, and of your own making) have passed you by… otherwise people might get the idea that you’re the kind of person who makes spurious/baseless accusations and then runs away when called on them.

November 5th, 2007 at 10:46 pm – Ellee has a sudden change of heart. It is unclear at this stage if it is because she has taken Nadine’s most recent claims at face value, or if she has allowed her personal dislike of me to cloud her judgement, or if it is because she knows that I once caught her doing much the same thing Nadine has done, albeit on a smaller scale. Or perhaps a little of all three:

Nadine, thanks for this clarification. I really had no idea you were getting hundreds of comments. It’s a compliment in many ways, so please don’t give in to the low-life, don’t let them win. However, I sympathise with how you must have felt getting vile comments too, especially with such intensity… I can understand why you need a breathing space right now, I look forward to when your comments are reinstated. I love your blog too.

November 5th, 2007 at 10:59 pm – Your humble author highlights some aspects of Nadine’s most recent claims that may have passed Ellee by and suggests that Ellee take a look at the evidence:

Erm, Ellee… Nadine is also claiming that many of those “hundreds of comments” have been coming from one individual. I’d also invite you to read what she broadcast just before closing down comments. The need for ‘space’ is spin at best.

November 6th, 2007 at 9:03 am – The next morning, I post an item to the new weblog I created that *would* allow people to comment on Nadine’s output:

Nadine Dorries uses comments to challenge article about her refusal to allow comments:

No, it’s not irony… it’s *hypocrisy*.

Nadine Dorries says: The fact is I was getting hundreds of comments. Many, as a result of what I have been doing with regard to abortion, some of which were absolutely vile.

Ah, the ‘secret evidence’ ploy, mixed with a heady dose of alleged vitriol. I did tell you that she’d learned a lot from Iain Dale. And, happily, it allows Nadine to refuse all comments (valid or otherwise). Nadine also seeks to assure us that she may reinstate comments “when… work regarding abortion takes a slower pace.” In other words, when the fuss has died down over the false claims she made before bravely running away.

[Psst! If you’re wondering why Ellee suddenly becomes a lot more generous toward Nadine during the comment exchange, it’s probably because my presence reminded her of this minor event. Despite this past failing, Ellee deserves the usual courtesies, so please don’t all go piling into her comments just because it’s a rare opportunity to engage with Nadine Dorries.]

November 6th, 2007 at 2:22 pm – Ellee expresses her new-found sympathy for Nadine in a dedicated post:

I lay in bed last night thinking about Nadine’s dilemma. I expressed my disappointment yesterday that she had switched off her comment facility, which I feel is crucial to a blog. Nadine indicated it was a time-issue, without mentioning that she had been targeted by hundreds of merciless “low-life” bloggers. I’m sure I would do the same in her shoes… Nadine left a comment last night in response to my post. I do send her my sympathies, particularly being sent “scary” messages too late at night. It is unfair that her loyal following should be deprived of the chance to debate a very serious topic, that it should be hijacked in such a forceful way, leaving her no choice but to ban comments altogether. I share Nadine’s hopes that she will re-open her comment facility when she feels comfortable about it. We want Nadine to continue writing her great posts without being under duress from cyber stalkers.

November 6th, 2007 at 2:48 pm – Your humble author points out that Ellee’s trust might be misplaced and – again – invites her to view the evidence. This time, hyperlinks are provided to ensure this evidence is readily available:

No, Nadine *claims* to have been targeted by hundreds of merciless low-life bloggers – and/or targeted by a few low-life bloggers submitting hundreds of entries (she has yet to make this clear). But the reality of it is that Nadine made a claim that was totally unfair and totally without foundation in reality, and she is now unwilling to retract the claim or even have it subjected to scrutiny on her website.

Again, I invite you to have a closer look at the background:

November 6th, 2007 at 3:43 pm – Garry Smith also expresses concern about misplaced trust on Ellee’s part:

I’m afraid you’ve been sold a lemon, Elle. Nadine closed her comments because she wasn’t able to defend her position. The links Tim has provided explain but here’s the short version: [snip] That’s the nub of Nadine’s problem right there. Rather than dealing with the evidence which demonstrates that she has made a spurious accusation, she censored all mention of Goldacre’s response in the comments to her blog. The next day, she closed comments. She has not withdrawn the accusation or apologised for making it.

November 6th, 2007 at 4:15 pm – At this stage I had growing suspicions about personal prejudice clouding Elle’s judgement. She herself says nothing about those prejudices, but happily an anonymous contributor (‘Matt’) does it for her. This comment is clearly designed to undermine my credibility and that of Ben Goldacre. It is a smear that is completely without foundation that I find deeply insulting given all of the time and effort I have given freely to MPs wishing to engage honestly and openly with their constituents and the wider electorate:

Is this the same Tim Ireland who stalks people on their blogs? Maybe you are the low life Nadine is referring to? Read the stuff about the Guardian – seems she was right to me. You wouldn’t be trying to create a storm in a teacup would you so that people will hit your blog via the links you have put on Ellee’s site and put your hit rate up? if I were Nadine I would write to the editor of the Guardian, this guy seems pretty un-profesional to me. Ellee, you should put a block on the name Tim Ireland – he is the reason many MPs don’t blog. He makes their life a misery with his obsessive comments and stalking.

November 6th, 2007 at 4:30 pm (approx.) – I call Ellee on one of the numbers published on her website. She claims to be rushing out the door to pick up her children, so I get to the point; I make it clear to her that it would be in her interests to find out who submitted the above libel to her website, but – even though I would very much like to know who is behind it – it is up to her to decide what information she shares with me. At this stage, it is unclear if her back-end keeps a permanent record of the relevant IP address, or if we are reliant on Statcounter data. If it’s the latter, then time is off the essence. It is made clear to Ellee that the opportunity to identify the relevant IP address could pass us by if we do not act quickly enough. She claims to be unable to work the back-end of her website to the extent of being able to identify the culprit by IP address, so I quickly offer to talk her through the process and leave her to be on her way with a request that she call or email me as soon as she is able to do so.

Two hours pass, and she has not returned my call. In the meantime, Garry and I nearly trip over each other as he and I respond to the comment above and others.

November 6th, 2007 at 7:20 pm – I try calling Ellee on her main number and her mobile, but there is no answer. Instead, I send the following email:

—– Original Message —–
From: Tim Ireland
To: Ellee Seymour
Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2007 7:27 PM
Subject: smear/troll published on your website

Dear Ellee,

Please call me this evening regarding this comment left at your website:

I would hate for you to be a situation where you were unable to trace the source of the comment because you did not act quickly enough.

Tim Ireland
[home number snipped]

PS – You were wrong in what you said here, as the attached file should prove:

It could very well be that your inexperience caused us to bump heads needlessly. Let’s not have that happen here.

Nearly another two hours pass without a response. But Ellee is clearly online, as she has just left a comment in another thread on her website.

November 6th, 2007 at 8:59 pm – I leave a comment under her most recent one letting her know that I’m awaiting a response, just in case she’s using the web but not checking her email:

Ah, good; you’re up…. When you have a moment to deal with that rather more serious matter that we discussed earlier…

November 6th, 2007 at 9:12 pm – I then send another email:

—– Original Message —–
From: Tim Ireland
To: Ellee Seymour
Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2007 9:12 PM
Subject: Re: smear/troll published on your website


Please call me before 10pm this evening. Details are scant because I needed to let you go this afternoon, but time could be of the essence.

[home number snipped]

November 6th, 2007 at 9:12 pm – Ellee chooses to respond not via email, but under comments at her website:

Tim, Regarding your request, I regard it as confidential information and am not prepared to pass it on.

At the same time, she engages comment moderation. All comments submitted to the site from this point on have to be cleared by Ellee prior to publication.

November 6th, 2007 at 9:14 pm – Another anonymous smear appears, very much like the first. This one comes from an anonymous contributor using the name ‘Dave’. It suggests that Garry Smith and I are the same person and also that my disapproval of the actions of Nadine Dorries has something to do with a personal or political agenda:

Really Tim, funny that, because on the other blog you and this Garry guy blogged straight after one another. So is Tim Garry and Garry Tim? A certain Anne Milton MP has had some very bad experiences with you hasn’t she Tim?

November 6th, 2007 9:29 pm – Now, it would be very easy for me to assume that Ellee is making these comments herself, but instead I continue to give her the benefit of the doubt, reiterate my offer to help her identify the culprit without being privy to details myself, and remind her of the possible consequences of her actions. On that last point I should remind you that the libel published on Ellee’s website targets not just myself, but also Guardian columnist Ben Goldacre. Without making any assumptions about what actions Dr Goldacre and/or the Guardian might take, I feel that Ellee deserves fair warning about what she might be letting herself in for. The following email is sent:

—– Original Message —–
From: Tim Ireland
To: Ellee Seymour
Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2007 9:29 PM
Subject: Re: smear/troll published on your website

I’ve just read your latest comment, and have noticed that you’ve suddenly switched comment moderation on.

I have also noticed that you have since *knowingly* cleared the following comment, of a similar tone and purpose to #3 in the same thread:

I still need you to call me before 10pm, and now must also remind you that – should push come to shove – you will be legally obliged to reveal those details:

I would much prefer that I at least helped you to determine where this comment came from, without being privy to the details myself.

The process should take no more than 10 minutes, and I’m happy to talk you through it.

[home number snipped]

November 6th, 2007 9:55 pm – The deadline looms. Ellee needs to know that if she makes it clear that she is not only willing to continue to host these smears, but also unwilling to take any action to identify the individual(s) behind them, then I’ll be forced to defend my reputation on my own weblog and make it clear why I have been forced to do so. The following email is sent:

—– Original Message —–
From: Tim Ireland
To: Ellee Seymour
Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2007 9:56 PM
Subject: Re: smear/troll published on your website

Ellee, if you force my hand, I will have no choice but to make it clear – in a very public fashion – that you have done so… and you’ve painted yourself into a very tight corner here.

Contrary to the propaganda some people are fond of spreading, I do not relish these types of confrontations… but when people make or publish claims that are totally false and then try to fob me off instead of removing or backing them up with evidence, I don’t shy away from them, either.

Please call me before 10pm.

[home number snipped]

November 6th, 2007 at 10:12 pm – Ellee responds by removing all comments made by me in this thread and this thread. My side of our exchange of that afternoon and evening has been entirely deleted – while the baseless smears that have caused me concern are left in place!

Further, I find when attempting a response to the latest anonymous smear that I have been blocked as ‘a potential source of spam’. It is at this time that Ellee also deactivates general comment moderation.

November 6th, 2007 at 10:22 pm – Then (again) Ellee chooses to respond in the comments of this unrelated thread rather than answer my emails. In this comment, she airs a claim of ‘threats’ in front of her readers, without giving any details to back up her claim. Here, I should point out that this post that you’re reading right now contains every* scrap of information sent to Ellee via email as part of this exchange.

[Added Nov 8 – *Minus my home phone number, which I now regret trusting her with.]

Tim, Sorry, but no, and please don’t send me any more threatening emails. Don’t expect me to respond, or to phone you. And I’m not going to divulge confidential information to you about people who leave comments on my site. I regard Nadine as a superb woman, a superb MP and a superb blogger. Nothing you say will change that.

Well, finally, she has said it. The evidence is right there in front of her face, but she is allowing personal prejudice to cloud her judgement. She has also taken to smearing me personally while claiming to be the victim of the piece. A familiar tactic.

The anonymous smears that she has published, and her and her readers’ reactions to them, currently give the impression that I am in the habit of cyber-stalking female Tory MPs, and so am the most likely culprit behind the ‘vile’ messages Nadine Dorries claims to have received. Not on. Not on at all.

Also, despite repeated offers (from the get-go) to help Ellee identify the culprit without being privy to the details myself, she also falsely states to her readers here that I am asking her to part with ‘confidential information’. Not so. Not so at all.

But here comes the real money shot…

November 6th, 2007 at 10:41 pm – Clive Summerfield chips in and asks Ellee why the discussion thread now appears to have dirty great gaps in it:

What a weird comment thread. Have some comments been deleted or are Dave and Matt externalising some inner conversation with “Tim”?

November 7th, 2007 at 5:17 am – Ellee denies that any comments have been deleted!

Clive, no comments have been deleted. I’m afraid I can’t answer your question as I don’t know the answer. I admire Nadine and respect her judgement on this.

Did you get that?

It. Never. Happened.

Ellee Seymour is refusing to take published evidence into account with regards to Nadine Dorries’ conduct, but she has willingly accepted Dorries’ claims when she has provided no evidence to back them up

Further, Ellee is publishing anonymous smears that are completely without basis, and publishing smears under her own name without a single scrap of evidence while deleting my responses (and the related evidence), denying me a right of reply – and denying that she has done so!

And guess what? Her readers are buying it and congratulating her for her bravery!

November 7th, 2007 at 9:19 am – Here’s blogger Liz and her two cents:

I’m sorry to read your comments to Tim. How sad that someone should resort to threats. Well done you on standing firm.

Appalling. And quite scary.

If you’d like to have a quiet word about it with Ellee Seymour, the best place to start is right here… but do tread carefully. You might suddenly find yourself under personal attack on her website and banned from responding to those attacks. Not a happy place to be.

UPDATE – Ellee Seymour was ranked by Iain Dale as the 10th-best blogger in the UK.

UPDATE (08 Nov) – Documentation continues in this follow-up post, but do take the time to read some interim follow-ups in the comments here, and one contribution from a person who has gone to great lengths to disguise their identity and then have a go at me for using the word ‘sock-puppet’ when I actually see one.

About Tim Ireland

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