Iain Dale seeks to silence me with legal threats

This entry was posted on
Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
1:00 pm and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

People keep bitching at me about long posts, but it’s other people’s bullshit that make things so complicated. Regardless, here I am going to try to keep to the basics and show you why Nadine Dorries and Iain Dale (and others) are having you on. I’m sure Iain Dale or one of his mates will have a go at me if I skip anything important, so let’s crack on, on that basis:

Earlier this year, I ran a series of expos&#233s on self-described ‘terror expert’ Glen Jenvey. He responded with wild conspiracy theories about me (and the PCC) being in league with extremists and accused me of harassment pretty much at every stage that a question turned up that he could not or would not answer. He also falsely accused me of being a convicted paedophile.

Unlike some people who have been defending Nadine Dorries on the basis that wild conspiracy theories should be allowed to roam free, I regarded the latter claim to be serious and actionable, so I made a complaint to the police.

[I wish to make this next point very clear: an investigation resulted and is in progress. There are aspects of that investigation that I cannot or will not speak about at this time, but it is very real, and ongoing. I am not a blogger who issues a dubious complaint/report to a police station and makes out that action is being taken when it is not. But Glen Jevey has done this, and so has Iain Dale. Read on…]

At one stage, I needed to get in direct contact with Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, then widely seen as an ally of Jenvey’s. Messages to his office about Jenvey’s conduct – even the one showing that Jenvey’s accomplice was the brother of a man on Mercer’s executive committee – were not getting through.

I explained the situation to Iain Dale, who knew Patrick Mercer. Iain agreed to take action, then later knowingly left me with the impression that he had contacted Mercer directly and alerted him to Jenvey’s smears, when he had not.

It later turned out that Iain had called Mercer’s office, and not Mercer himself, and then lied about that.

When confronted about this, Iain offered a single pathetic excuse that he insisted remain a secret. He then began to take increasingly desperate measures to avoid discussing the matter in public. For the most part, Iain Dale avoided discussing the matter of his complicating my harassment case… by falsely accusing me of harassment.

On the long weekend of April 11-13, I was in the process of pursuing Iain Dale for his account of his call to Mercer’s office, not just for my own peace of mind but for his input on a police statement that I was preparing.

Further, on the long weekend of April 11-13 Iain Dale was also busy publishing a few smears himself while making unsubstantiated claims that he was a named target of a smear campaign.

The Mail on Sunday was eventually forced to pay “substantial damages” to Tom Watson for a claim made by Iain Dale at this time that Iain now claims to have apologised for immediately and corrected swiftly.

However, his story about when/how he did this has already changed once, and is undermined by his revealing on his own website that he had yet to apologise to Tom Watson very late on the afternoon of the 13th (when he had claimed elsewhere that he had already done so days earlier).

Further, in this very thread where he and others implied that Tom Watson was guilty because he objected to people publishing lies about him (WTF?), Iain Dale deleted many comments from me that sought to challenge him on his persistent smearing of Tom Watson (as well as his ‘helpful’ role in the Jenvey smear, which I considered relevant given his outrage over some smears but not others).

In that same thread, mostly published more than a day after he claimed to have properly addressed/corrected his false claims about Tom Watson, there were at least two comments published by Iain from readers still clearly under the impression that Tom Watson was CCed on the smeargate emails; one at 13:11 (since deleted by the submitter) and one at 14:29 (still live).

But Iain did not publish anything to address or correct comments like this until 16:15, well after the main conversation had taken place and most readers had moved on. But he deleted many comments from me in the interim, and even as late as 6pm, he was deleting comments from me that pointed out; “But Tom didn’t find out about these emails because he wasn’t CCed on them as you claimed.”

I will stress again that Iain has since claimed that this was all an innocent mistake, and he was acting in good faith every step of the way.

It should also be noted here that, at the same time, while she was playing the victim of smears, Nadine Dorries was busy smearing the Prime Minister in much the same way that Iain Dale was smearing Tom Watson (by stating as fact things that she could not even begin to prove).

All of this came to a head when I finally lost my temper with Iain, and he immediately and without warning published a single private email out of context, presented my many attempts to contact him for very good reasons out of context, made a ridiculous claim about my launching a ‘DNS’ attack (on a Blogger.com-hosted weblog, FFS) and published under that multiple false claims about my mental state and, further, many comments alleging my involvement of a number of criminal offences.

I made my specific intentions clear to Iain Dale within an hour, he knew damn well then (even if he didn’t before) that what I described bore no relation to what he had accused me of, but Iain did not correct his post or alert his readers, and some of them went on to undertake acts of revenge against me (for ‘victimising’ poor Iain).

One person was so inspired by Iain’s post that they attempted to repeat Jenvey’s false claims about paedophilia (I have server logs to back this assertion, and would welcome the opportunity to prove/present this in court). Another more serious incident has emerged where Iain’s smears have been merged with Jenvey’s, and I am now falsely (and anonymously) accused of having a long history of mental illness and inventing the ‘paedophile’ smears against me.

[Note – All of these instances have been reported to the police, as will all future instances. You join the pile-on at your own risk.]

Fast forward roughly one month…

At the height of the expenses scandal, The Telegraph issued Nadine Dorries with a standard arse-covering letter asking her to clarify several points about an upcoming article. A major point raised was that it appeared on paper as if she were claiming expenses on a second home when she only appeared to have one.

Dorries went into a self-righteous frenzy, immediately publishing a letter marked ‘PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL’ and making it out to be an interrogation of the kind normally expected* of the Spanish Inquisition. Sadly, in her rush to show her moral superiority, she revealed details suggesting that while it was not her only home, neither was it her ‘second home’ as was required for her to claim expenses against it.

You can read the details here, but from what she has done and what she herself has published, it is clear that Nadine Dorries broke the rules… and I state that as if it were a fact, because it damn well is.

Nadine then went on to claim that the rules governing expenses didn’t apply to her or any other MP (and that MPs were likely to commit suicide, so you really wouldn’t want to press the matter).

Later, just in case those rules did apply to her, she claimed that the ‘second home’ rule as most people understood it didn’t apply in this case anyway.

Also, in the process of diverting attention away from her wrongdoing, Nadine Dorries last week made several accusations that the Telegraph had acted in a self-serving manner over the matter of investigating MPs expenses. She implied in places and claimed in others that they were motivated by profit and/or far-right politics.

On Friday afternoon, she closed all comments on her site, published a further accusation of this nature, and then swanned off for a three-day weekend, fully expecting to get away with this.

The Telegraph instructed lawyers, who contacted Nadine Dorries and the hosts of her website. Dorries was either unable or unwilling to make specific edits to her site at the time, and so her host was forced to stop it from broadcasting.

Iain Dale again disagreed with the use of lawyers, gave the false impression that the Telegraph had somehow ordered the removal of the entire ‘blog’, and even had the audacity to make out that this event was somehow akin to the Usmanov event.

(Yes, the point about ISPs and UK libel law is a valid one, but largely irrelevant here. The Telegraph’s lawyers took entirely reasonable steps in the circumstances, especially in light of the bad faith shown by Dorries. Crucially, they showed no sign of denying Nadine Dorries her right to meet that legal challenge and have her day in court.)

Iain Dale did all of this knowing that he had just issued a legal letter to me that:

a) seeks to manipulate me into a position where I am ‘free’ to write what I like about him on my site, but never allowed to contact him for clarification of any given point or submit comments to his website
b) threatens me with legal action should I dare to continue to pursue Iain Dale over anything in pretty much any way he doesn’t like
c) accuses me of being critical of Nadine Dorries (and others) merely to get at him (see ‘b’)
d) makes an extraordinarily vague accusation of libel, that totally fails to specify what/where that libel might be, or even what it might refer to

Further, what clearly upsets Iain Dale the most is that I would dare to question his conduct and motives as a publisher; essentially the same thing that Nadine Dorries has done to the Barclay Brothers, only with a lot more evidence and a lot less fruitcake

But as Iain Dale would have it, my criticism of the way he misleads his readers is a “gratuitous personal attack”, mostly having “nothing to do with advancing political debate or matter[s] of any public importance”:

1. Who the f**k does he think he is?

2. Scroll up for a bloody good example of my being right about Iain Dale misleading his readers that also shows my concerns to be of significant importance, not just to me but to the public at large.

3. Iain Dale is a rogue publisher, a shameless, malicious liar, and a bloody menace.

4. And he is cordially invited to bring it on:

I am withdrawing all offers made in this letter, as I now regard the terms I offered to be far too generous in the circumstances. Iain Dale is clearly taking the piss and most likely wanting to manoeuvre me into a position where he can continue to do so while gagging me, and I’m not having it.

If Iain Dale is genuinely convinced that he is the victim of harassment, then he should do what any one of us could have done by now; he should walk into a police station, and make a formal complaint. Even if for reasons best known to himself he instead chooses a civil remedy, he should prepare to defend in court the conduct he refuses to discuss in public.

(During the Usmanov event, Iain Dale claimed to be supporting me, but took the opportunity to falsely accuse me of smearing him. Again, he was unable to specify what I may have said that might not be true.)

(*Nobody expects the Sp… oh, bugger.)

About Tim Ireland

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