Posted by Tim Ireland at July 3, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

This entry was posted on
Thursday, July 3rd, 2008
7:08 am and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

1. It was a mistake not to consider John Hirst as a suspect in the Ironed Sardine matter, especially when there’s an obvious reason why he may not have been aware of many of the things that were so wrong about it. Phil Hendren (aka ‘Dizzy’) is well within his rights to give me a hard time about that… to a limited extent. (More in a bit.) Similarly, Iain Dale is pretty much beside himself, but he can’t be blamed for taking this rare chance to cast doubt on clear and established facts (such as the clear and established fact that he was taking the figure for ‘visits’ and presenting it as the number of ‘unique visitors’). Staines can’t be too far behind with a similar game plan.

(Right here is where an apology would normally go, but ‘Dizzy’ can whistle for it. He has a track record of sock-puppeting and so only has himself to blame if eyebrows are raised over sock-puppets that appear when he’s on the warpath. And on that note…)

2. I have no choice but to take John Hirst off my blogroll. If you’re going to fight this corner it is a mistake to think that sock-puppeting and/or creating anonymous attack websites is in any way acceptable, even if one only takes it from a practical point of view. At the time, Dorries was playing the victim, even though she had no visible or credible evidence to back her claims. The Ironed Sardine site was evidence on a platter. Even if it was the type she was unable to promote, it was such a fundamentally stupid and flawed idea, I honestly didn’t consider for more than a moment that anyone on our side of that dispute could be behind it, because it just didn’t make any sense. It’s also worth looking at the way that Iain Dale and even ‘Dizzy’ (a proven sock-puppeteer) are using this to their advantage any time you might be tempted to counter their use and abuse of sock-puppeting with a little sock-puppeting of your own. If you want to be anonymous, generally that’s fine. If you want to pretend to be someone else (or five different people) or attack someone’s reputation anonymously, don’t expect me to be at all happy about it.

3. I’ve blogged about Phil Hendren publishing my unlisted number on his website and calling me at home this March. There’s more to come, but I’ve also blogged about him calling me at home in June of this year, and in that most recent post I also mentioned “calls in recent months involving some anonymous sod who hangs up when my wife answers”. Hendren’s response to this is below:

Fuck all to do with me mate. I don’t expect you to believe that of course, and clearly I cannot prove a negative, but I suggest having your telco provider bar withheld number at their switch for a start. You have my landline number so feel free to have the records checked. I have called you on two occassions with six calls where we have both hung up on the other. That was one day in March and then one day in June. That’s it. You are free to publish this email as well.

Phil Hendren also claims to have erased my number from his mobile/computer/memory/etc., but late yesterday afternoon my wife took a call from a man who did not want to leave his name and instead said he would call me on my mobile. No call came through on the mobile, but even with recent events in mind I’m still feeling reckless enough to assume that this might be because ‘Dizzy’ didn’t find out what my mobile number was when he hacked a database called a friend on the off chance they would have it called around people/companies in “a very small industry” posing as who-knows-what seeking it out happened across my unlisted home phone number, which he now describes as “publicly accessible”.

The thrust of the above is that Hendren has left a trail of changed stories on this front, which is a mistake if he wants or needs me or anyone else to believe his story when he finally decides on one. And, as with his track-record for sock-puppeting, he only has himself to blame if eyebrows are raised over mystery calls that happen when he’s on the warpath.

[Despite recent distractions, you still need to get your story straight, ‘Dizzy’. How did you get that number? Was it six calls to my home or more? What’s your plan for when one of my kids answers the phone? Oh, and if I want advice on how to deal with nuisance calls, I’d just as soon not take it from a nuisance caller, no matter how experienced he might be.]


  1. Paul.Ferrari says

    This is just my view …I know there has been lots of history, and shit-slinging in the past – I know he comes across as a pretty obnoxious individual – I know he sock-puppets and stirs up trouble – even given all that, I think he's due an apology for the accusation.He's probably never apologised over anything he's done – I understand that too. He's certainly crossed the line by publishing your home phone number on-line – personally, I'd be furious over that.It takes a big man to admit when that he was wrong and a bigger man to say "Sorry" for it – I think you're that man Tim – I hope I'm not mistaken.P.

  2. Letters From A Tory says

    Having thoughts and opinions on other bloggers is one thing – publishing your thoughts and opinions on your blog is quite another.I reserve my abuse for events that I can prove happened – like when those losers on LabourHome banned me for humiliating them too much on their site. Always be wary about inferring or concluding anything that you can't prove.

  3. Manic says

    PF:Thanks for that, Paul. There's an unknown factor relating to how he got that number that may or may not prompt an apology later and the input of regulars like your good self will also be taken into account. We'll see.I'm certainly not going to apologise for suspecting him. Especially as he was not "online arguing [on Bloggerheads] a few hours before the site appeared" as he now claims but online deliberately trolling on Bloggerheads and temporarily banned for that *30 minutes* before Ironed Sardine appeared.LFAT:The only thing I stated as a certainty and got wrong was that it was a joe-job/honey-trap, but your point is taken, thank you. With regards to what can or cannot be proven… well, for now all I can say is that's one thing delaying a wrap-up on this. Where I take it depends a lot on how he might have got his hands on that number.Quick note on that and the changing story: First he made a comment hinting that data isn't always as secure as some people might think. (A comment like that from Dizzy is like an aside from me about who may or may not be the top search result for ____ in Google tomorrow and he bloody well knows it.) Then he claimed that he called one person (who he stressed was not Iain Dale) on the off-chance they would have it and they did. Later, he claimed to have made numerous calls to different people in what he described as "a very small industry" asking around for it.I may not be able to discover or prove where he got it from, but I have to eliminate one possibility before I go further with it.

  4. Professor Paul says

    One thing which I find odd is the way that, despite the fact that John Hirst set up a potentially slanderous spoof blog, that Iain & his amigos seem to be praising him for his honesty. Honesty is a good thing but such a blog should never have been created.The way to deal with people like Dorries is to expose their fallacies by reasoned argument, chipping away the veneer of bullshit bit by bit, not by making salacious comments on a blog.Of course there will be an element of gloating as Tim has got a little bit of egg on his face but it rather strikes me that Dale & Dizzy have probably been teaching their grannies to suck those eggs beforehand.And given Phil & Tim's past history it wasn't unreasonable Tim's ideas about who was behind Ironed Sardines weren't unreasonable, merely wrong.

  5. Paul.Ferrari says

    I actually submitted a comment to the entry on Iain's Blog – which didn't pass his moderation – asking if "it takes a big man to admit when you've got something badly wrong" why he had never been a "big man" ?The comment "This Ben Goldacre guy doth protest too much. He never seems to shutup about this which implies a degree of guilt…" for me really sums up everything that's wrong with Iain's Blog.

  6. scotch says

    It is a fine thing to admit mistakes.The ugly gloating over at Dizzy's and Dale's places revolts me.These guys have been caught bang to rights many times in underhand, deceitful behaviour.Let them have their schadenfreude while they may.Let the village idiots play.

  7. Manic says

    Thank you, Scotch & PP.BTW, I'm sure you'll all be glad to know that I've made it through this unique test without a shaky moment on the cigarette front.I'm fresh out of heroin, though.

  8. D-Notice says

    TimI'm sure I can get some heroin for you…

  9. Manic says

    I think from a PR perspective I maybe should move on to smoking crack at this stage, but thanks anyway.:o)

  10. jailhouselawyer says

    Professor Paul: Phil Hendry and Iain Dale praised me for my honesty. They either chose not to mention or did not think it was material about setting up the blog in the first place. You have decided to attack upon the setting up of a blog. This is quite legal in this country.Yes, Tim got egg on his face. He chose not to wipe it off. If you want to get into moral arguments, my view is that if you get caught with your hands in the till, at the very least the right thing to do is apologise. Not say, oh, Dizzy is guilty of other things, therefore no apology is forthcoming.It is a grave injustice to falsely blame someone for something they have not done. I set that matter right, by owning up. If Tim is not man enough to apologise that is his problem. Deleting my link on his blog is childish and conduct he has criticised Iain Dale for. It is fake moral outrage.Can I please have a degree in bullshitology?

  11. Professor Paul says

    John;You already have one m8. Did you not think as well that it might have been as well to tell Tim what you were doing? I stand amazed at your hypocrisy on this, you post a blog containing potentially libellous material, then you tell me in your view it was entirely legal?You may be a Jailhouse Lawyer but I don't think I'd want you as mine if ever I found myself in court!

  12. Paul.Ferrari says

    Jailhouselawyer,I think I sort of agree with you – claiming somebody else is guilty of other crimes is no excuse to avoid an apology – I think that's a fair point.One question though, when you saw that Tim was pointing the finger at Dizzy, did you tell both of them that it was you that had set up the fake blog, or did you just tell Dizzy ?From what I have read on here, at Dizzy Thinks and on your own blog it appears that you only told Dizzy.

  13. Manic says

    I think you need to revisit this, John:Over at Hendren's blog, you give the impression that you see this as a left vs. right thing and that I had assumed you were on the left. This is a mistake that's likely to cloud your thinking. What I actually said was"I honestly didn't consider for more than a moment that anyone on our side of that dispute could be behind it"I was quite specific. Deliberately so. After what Dorries did, it made no sense to engage in the same type of personal attack against her. At all. So I made the (incorrect) assumption that no-one on our side of that dispute would do it, because it just didn't make any sense.Hendren (who has proven past form for using false identities online) had been actively trolling and undermining me during the matter while making every attempt to avoid the matter itself. The Ironed Sardine blog, arriving just at that moment, seemed ready-made to do just that. I suspected him of being behind it, and I finally confronted him about it in one of the few channels left to me:He claims to block my email, and I'm certainly not going to call him on the number he recently provided so he can ponce about misleading people with claims that I'm doing anything like what he did. As for leaving comments on his website, well, the last time I left a comment on his website, I pointed out that he was wrong about Tom Watson being behind a specific Blogger.com ID, and he went absolutely spare about it (publishing details that it was well understood that I wished to keep private, and then using those details to call me at my home to yell at me). 'Dizzy' has since tried to pass off the since-deleted exchange as something else entirely; he even calls it "provocation".This time, you pointed out that I was wrong about Phil Hendren being behind a specific Blogger.com ID (because you yourself were behind it)…. and he went absolutely spare about it.I'd like to think I have every right to be a little peeved about being the only one to be hit with flaming hammers here, but don't think that your removal from my blogroll is in any way personal; there's plenty of people on the blogroll that I don't side with 100%, but there's no-one on that list that I'm aware of who would carry on with multiple/false IDs like 'Dizzy' does or like you did over Nadine Dorries.Look at how much Dale and Hendren are trying to make of this little number and maybe you'll understand why I simply can't afford it.As for apologies, I think I at least owe you lot one for including a baiting of Hendren during Operation Manticore. I should have known he would go absolutely spare about it.But presently I still fail to see why I should apologise for having this suspicion and airing it in this way given the circumstances (that are mostly the result of Hendren's bullshit), especially when it's clear that any apology is going to be misrepresented right along with everything else.And you need to take a bloody good look around you before you start accusing me of dodging anything in any way like Dale, Dorries or Hendren. For one thing, no-one here is attempting to avoid the points you raise by calling you names from behind a false ID. The only people guilty of doing/allowing this are those who choose to buddy up to you (for now) because it suits their purpose.

  14. jailhouselawyer says

    Professor Paul: No, what I have is the shovel to clear a path through the bullshit. I am puzzled why you should think I should tell Tim what I am doing. That reminds me of prison and the mailbag shop and having to stick my hand up and say "Boss, I'm going to the toilet". I think you are confusing me with Iain Dale when you mention hypocrisy. You said "…such a blog should never have been created". And my answer was "This is quite legal in this country". There is a difference between creating a blog which is legal, and publishing material on it which may not be. I am used to winning in court, if you wish to choose a lawyer with a worse track record that is up to you.Paul.Ferrari: I only told Dizzy.Tim: Yes, you are peeved. You made a fool of yourself by pointing the finger at the wrong bloke. Admittedly, there is a lot of ins and outs to the "blog wars", and because it is so complicated and largely non of my business I tend to stay out of it. My only comment here, is that if I falsely accuse someone of doing something wrong, even allowing for past track record, I still apologise for the false accusation. It is like the CPS at present, they intended introducing bad character. Saying because Rocky, my dog, barked at X,Y, and Z, on previous occasions, therefore it is reasonable to assume that he bit A. They dropped this line because we said prove every example. It's like crying wolf. A specific apology for a specific wrong. It in no way reflects upon the rest of it. I would not try to argue because you are wrong in one respect, you are wrong in all of it.My reaction to the removal of the link was "Am I bovvered?". No. As said, it is exactly what Iain Dale did, and reminded me of how you both accuse the other of trying to police the internet. But, I did not accept your explanation of no choice. Life is full of choices. As said, I saw 3 choices and made mine. I feel I made the right choice, and the Right have only praised me for my honesty in relation to admitting being the author of a blog that you had accused Dizzy of being the author.

  15. Paul.Ferrari says

    Thanks for the reply Jailhouselawyer. Personally, as I have stated here I agree concerning the apology – I think Tim's view is along the lines of "I stated my suspicions, I never accused him of anything, so there's no apology to be made" – maybe the history clouds the waters.I have to say that I'm surprised that you never told Tim that you were responsible for the Blog – if I was responsible for something that somebody else was being accused of and I wanted to be honest about it, then I'd certainly inform the accuser as well as the accused. The accused, in-fact, is already certain of their own innocence, so telling them is probably more of an act courtesy than an act of honesty.

  16. Paul.Ferrari says

    Apologies for the back-to-back comments, but I wanted to say one more thing Jailhouselawyer – I think your honesty concerning this is commendable and should be applauded and I, for one, praise you for standing up and making the admission.

  17. Manic says

    John:In the various comment threads where you were posting links to Ironed Sardine last year, I made several comments at the time that made it clear I was under the impression that no-one on our side of that dispute could be responsible for something so stupid and awful. On that basis alone, a little heads-up (quite a few months ago) would have been polite to say the least. Here, you've turned fair expectations like this into something else entirely while proclaiming yourself to be a clearer of bullshit and not a creator.The same applies with your reaction to my 'peeved' comment and the quite absurd suggestion that your removal from my blogroll is in any way like one of Iain Dale's highly personal hissy-fits. There is a solid practical reason for your removal. If there are any personal feelings, they are ones of disappointment in someone I trusted not to play false ID games. Not to keep my secrets or be on my side like a faithful puppy or only go to the toilet when I say, just to not play false ID games. In short, your removal has everything to do with Ironed Sardine and nowt to do with how you (eventually) revealed you were the author.And I sincerely doubt that any praise of you (from 'Teh Right') is sincere or that any of the current niceties are going to last.(PS – Check Hendren's latest comments on his site. This is just a game to him. A 'harmless' online flame war… involving one party who keeps taking it offline and making it far from harmless.)

  18. jailhouselawyer says

    Paul.Ferrari: I have seen others trying to tell Tim he is wrong, (not that I am saying he is in those instances) and thought it would be easier to go to the other side. Judging from reaction, I would say point proved.Tim: I did email somebody else at the time and said don't worry it's only me. For whatever reason I received no reply, and assumed the message would be passed on. I don't think we were even in contact at that time, I could be wrong. I do recall reading some of the adverse comments, and wondering what all the fuss was about. As I say, I expected the criticisms to come from the Right. My intention was not to upset the Left, so I simply pulled the blog and moved on and forgot about it all until I read your recent post.I get comments on my blog, and when I trace back the link all I get is a Blogger Profile page and no more information. I find this disappointing. But, I don't make a big song and dance over it. You will find my Blogger profile and blog provides far more biographical information than most are prepared to share. As Ironed Sardine was meant as a spoof Nadine Dorries blog it contained no information about me. The spoof Harriet Harman blog author is still a mystery to me. As you seem to get the blame for almost everything, I can see why you might prefer blog authors all to be out in the open. But that's in Tim's world. The real world it ain't going to happen.

  19. Manic says

    Well, it certainly turned out easier for you, John. No argument there.And you're wrong; we were in contact at the time *and* I was active in each thread where you appeared with Ironed Sardine pointing out how counter-productive it would be to even link to it.Also, can you please do me a favour and read what I've written before passing judgement on it?I said; "If you want to be anonymous, generally that's fine. If you want to pretend to be someone else (or five different people) or attack someone's reputation anonymously, don't expect me to be at all happy about it."And you can't hide behind the word 'spoof', John. Ironed Sardine was chock full of outright libel.Finally; "As you seem to get the blame for almost everything"Pardon?Like what specifically? From who?

  20. jailhouselawyer says


  21. Manic says

    John, do me a favour and think how you might feel if I dismissed every point you raised that way.

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