The relevance of Paul Staines’ bankruptcy

Posted by Tim Ireland at March 31, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

This entry was posted on
Monday, March 31st, 2008
4:28 pm and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

[MessageSpace: I still can’t comment on MS for fear of getting sued over some technicality, which I find very frustrating. Suffice it to say it will be a cold day in hell before MessageSpace ads appear on any site of mine. Still, I promised to move on from that quickly anyway, so let’s get cracking…]

I come not to bury Paul Staines, but to knock that silly looking crown off his head.

Not everybody sees the relevance of Paul Staines’ bankruptcy, so allow me to show you a few things that look different now we know that Paul Staines didn’t emerge from the City with armloads of cash:

1. Wikipedia looks a bit out of date

This passage in Paul Staines’ Wikipedia entry (first started here) needs to be corrected:

He then spent several years in finance, which, along with his stake in the MessageSpace blog advertising network, provides him with the means to dedicate time to his blog…

2. This clip is now much funnier

Little wonder that Paul Staines choked on this question from Michael White. In fact, I’m surprised he didn’t spit cornflakes.

[Full clip here. Transcript here.]

Poor Paul. On live television, too:

Michael White: Well, because you’re not worth suing, unlike Private Eye. You haven’t got any money, I take it?

‘Guido Fawkes’: Er, that’s for you to know… me to know, and you to wonder.


3. A question exists where previously there was no question

Of course, that’s not to say that Paul hasn’t got any money at all… but he was certainly short a few bob for a while there.

Have a look at the timeline…

After hitting the wall at 90 per, Paul ‘re-orients‘ his life, tries to set the world alight with Global Growth (1, 2, 3) but doesn’t get far with it.

What does eventually pay off is the ‘Guido Fawkes’ character that he creates in late 2004. Paul used to “smear Labour MPs and left-leaning lawyers and writers” for a living back in the day, so he’s got the skills; he hops aboard with’s free blogging service at and hammers away.

But as great is (It’s free, you know), the service does not provide you with food, shelter, and copious quantities of alcohol.

MessageSpace was only an idea in mid-2006, which is about the same time that this pricey flat was sold.

Before then, for a good year at least, Paul appears to have operated with no visible means of support/income.

If everyone’s somehow under the impression that he came to the table with a few quid, the following question doesn’t even occur to most people:

“Where did the money come from?”

4. Paul looks a lot less scary to his victims

I grew considerably less impressed with Staines’ muscle when he finally brought a lawyer to the table and it turned out to be a bunch of empty threats from a right-wing mate.

I’m even less impressed now.

It would be wrong to simply assume that Paul Staines has the reserves to tackle a serious legal challenge.

Yes, the reserves remain an unknown quantity (some of it in the hands of other people also named ‘Staines’) but Paul didn’t go after me with a big-name lawyer and ‘the choke’ is worth remembering here, too:

Michael White: Well, because you’re not worth suing, unlike Private Eye. You haven’t got any money, I take it?

‘Guido Fawkes’: Er, that’s for you to know… me to know, and you to wonder.

Way to go, Man of Mystery.

5. Having detective skills does not make you Batman

Wealthy layabout by day, champion for justice by night… that’s Bruce Wayne.

A carpet-bagger in pursuit of a buck… that’s Paul Staines.

See the difference?

Sure, he’s got his agendas, but money is the main priority if not the motivation.

And Paul’s background (see extract from Page 117 of Altered State) suggests that he’ll most likely give up on his ‘crusade’ when there’s no money in it.

Something to think about. I’m certainly not spending any time or effort lining his pockets, and I seriously doubt that the people he redirects to his CafePress store stick around to buy his t-shirts.

6. Guido’s a bit of a joke, it turns out

[I’m cheating a wee bit here. This aspect of Paul’s bullshit appears different after a series of responses to a number of different matters including the recent ‘reveal’ of the bankruptcy.]

What Paul Staines wants – and already enjoys to a modest extent – is power without accountability.

The best way to curb his power is to treat him as he treats others.

No, with not the abuse, the threats, the secret whispers and the outright bullshit of a small gang of right-wing bloggers and sock-puppets… but the stone wall of silence one normally enjoys from Staines himself when there are questions to be answered.

If ‘Guido Fawkes’ calls, there’s no need to think “Oh shit, it’s Guido!”, because – for starters – it’s not Guido! It’s some guy called Paul Staines, he’s a bit of a chancer, and you shouldn’t feel that you owe him any answers.

Give him nothing*. Not one word.

Well, maybe two. ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Paul’ should do nicely.

After all, he’s not nearly as important or as invulnerable as he makes himself out to be.

(*You shouldn’t feed him dirt on others, either… not least because you might end up getting outed/screwed yourself.)


  1. Professor Paul says

    How to put this?We all knew Guido was a windbag;now he's a windbag with less cash.All I've learned is not to touch him for a fiver!But I did enjoy reading it!

  2. mikkimoose says

    Interesting…..It was previously apparent, methinks, that Staines was not exactly Rupert Murdoch, in wealth terms at least. As soon as his lawyer turned out to be a fellow blogger who didn't have anything to do with defamation actions, I think the mirage (if it ever existed) that he could conjure up £2000/hour barristers to crush people was shattered. In terms of libellous stuff that he publishes, his attitude has been more 'I'm in a jurisdiction outside of your reach, you can't catch me' than 'My cock is much bigger than yours, come on let's get our lawyers out'That being so, I'm not sure if the wikipedia article is inaccurate. On the one hand you are saying that it's odd that he supported himself without any apparent job for a year (the implication, one presumes, being that he is being supported by shadowy figures), and on the other, the best legal counsel he can muster is his mate. So the idea that he is being propped up some how is a little far-fetched.I'm not entirely sure that his finances affect his image that much, I doubt that many people are aware of his wikipedia page, I think he gets more from the cocksure arrogance that he projects. Certainly 'Paul Staines' is rather less convincing a figure than 'Guido Fawkes' the cartoon bomber, but you don't really need to know anything about either identity to realise that.All in all, I really don't think this as big a deal as you made of it.Because we've already seen(a) when he didn't do anything substantial about The Guardian/Humberside story(b) when he threatened legal action and didn't follow through.I am personally quite surprised you tread with quite so much caution around his legal claims given the above.

  3. Manic says

    Oh, that's easy to explain, mikkimoose… I have even less money than he does!About implications of shady support and Paul's current reserves, I can only say that one hopes that his days of taking coin for smears are behind him.

  4. Jherad says

    Other than the obvious schadenfreude, I'm *very* happy about the wind this should take from Paul's kneejerk 'I'll sue you!!11!!ONE1!' sails.I'd like to think maybe he'd be prompted to write something on how libel laws only work for the rich, but I'm struggling to imagine how he'd tabloidise it.

  5. irritant says

    Nice piece of work Tim. One's personal life is usually no-one else's business. And most would normally be sympathetic to the bankruptcy but all things considered he has really taken the piss. I have always perceived him to be an anarchocapitalist but there is something utterly gutless and hypocritical in using legal devices to such an intense degree yet use it as a weapon against others.Paul's Linkedin: "Am involved in some new media ventures. Web 2.0 without the hype".I would like to see what he means by that.Presumably he means using to power his blog.

  6. irritant says

    Ouch! Just watched the Newsnight clip. Michael White must have already known about Paul's financial situation. Oh the pain, the pain!

  7. Manic says

    "Without the hype" is what makes me laugh most about that.As for Staines' personal life… his claims to its sanctity decrease the more this or that is officially under the name of Someone Else Called Staines.I don't think that Michael White knew about Paul's bankruptcy when he put that question to him. Sure is funny, though… especially because Paul then goes on to make the "Lord Levy's trial" gaff.

  8. Bartholomew says

    Well done for standing your ground against Staines & Blaney. I wonder why Staines wasn't able to rope in a solicitor with more clout: after all, half his generation from the FCS and the Libertarian Alliance belong to the legal profession, all the better to warn off over-curious bloggers from digging into 1980s news reports (a subject I know a bit about).Usually when a libel threat is raised over a trivial matter, the obvious question is: "what are they really trying to discourage me from finding out about?" I wonder if this brankrupty is it, or whether there is something else?Anyone up for a trip to Namibia?

  9. tory boys never grow says

    I think that you may be jumping to conclusions about the extent of GuF's wealth. It was debtor's petition for bankruptcy and quite often these are entered into so that the petitioner has some protection from a potential claim or so as to negotiate down such a claim. Of course if that were the case then Guido might be a won't pay rather than a cannot pay – which might reflect even more poorly on his standing.It would be more interesting to know more details about the bankruptcy petition – and who his creditors were at the time. Also has he been discharged from his bankruptcy. The ownership history of his property might also be of interest – it does look to have been an extremely poor investment by Central London standards – so I do wonder whether it was sold on an arms length basis. The bankruptcy may also shed some light on why he moved to Ireland.

  10. Paul Linford says

    "Where did the money come from?"Okay, so it's now clear what you're driving at Tim, but there are 101 completely plausible answers to that question before we get to: "The Tory Party."

  11. Manic says

    Then let's hear just one from Staines.More numbers that don't add up shortly…

  12. mikkimoose says

    tbngu: Staines got involved in some protracted and expensive (High Court) legal disputes about money he claimed was owed to him from his offshore trading. His bankruptcy occurred at this time, it seems extremely likely that the legal dispute caused it. The money was fairly large but the legal fees assuredly larger. I guess the former caused the latter.The property is now owned by someone with a Turkish name, I don't think there's anything suspicious about the price of the sale, the other properties also sold similarly – it's just what you get from buying a new-build.

  13. charlieman says

    Past bankruptcy should not be taken to indicate lack of wealth. Staines' mentor, David Hart, also went broke, but thanks to his inheritance and a few wise investments, Hart regained his wealth very quickly.For all of his libertarian bluster, Staines associated with some pretty authoritarian people in the past, who may or may not be contemporary information sources. The one organisation that I wouldn't connect him with is the Tory party.Correction to various blog reports elsewhere about Staines: he worked with Herb Meyer (not Mayer) on World Briefing for Hart. Does anyone know if Charles Elwell was a contemporary on British Briefing?

  14. Paul Linford says

    Incidentally I'd be very surprised if "Sir" Michael White knows anything about Paul Staines' finances and even more surprised if he cared.The reason Staines choked on this and other questions in that interview was because, as we have seen both then and subsequently, telly really isn't his preferred medium.

  15. Manic says

    I don't think that Michael White knew, either… but if I were a former bankrupt and that wasn't widely known, that's exactly the kind of question that would make me trip over my tongue if it were put to me on live television.It's the biggest verbal hiccup during the interview, and it's immediately followed by one of his biggest strategic errors ("Lord levy's trial"… the other blurting "Well, my source for that was Nick Robinson").No, I don't think Michael White knew.But I do think that for one horrible second Paul Staines wondered how much Michael White knew… and choked.

  16. charlieman says

    mikkimoose: "Because we've already seen(a) when he didn't do anything substantial about The Guardian/Humberside story"Alas, he did get a result. The Paul Delaire Staines/Humberside story has been deleted from the Nexis database. The only way to access the story from an authoritative source is at a newspaper library, which probably means you get a photocopy from a microfiche reader. You can't search for Staines/Humberside/alliance online and get an answer from a quotable resource.

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