Patrick Mercer: conduct unbecoming

This entry was posted on
Tuesday, September 15th, 2009
1:10 pm and is filed
under Old Media, The Political Weblog Movement, Tories! Tories! Tories!.

Patrick Mercer is the Conservative MP for Newark. He is the former Shadow Minister for Homeland Security, and present Chairman of the House of Commons Sub-Committee on Counter-Terrorism.

It is my contention that Patrick Mercer has now brought his party, his committee and Parliament itself into disrepute, and it is with no small amount of reluctance and regret that I declare this to be so and set out my case.

I have heard from trusted sources that Patrick Mercer is a valuable contributor to the fight against extremism; his most-praised quality being his willingness to speak with all sides.

However, I have good reason to doubt his judgement if not his sincerity, not least because I have now been royally smeared by two of his former associates, and he and his office still won’t give me the time of day.

These are the five issues that I will be dealing with in this post, phrased as charges that I level against that MP. I accuse Patrick Mercer of the following:

1. Outright refusal to use appropriate/modern facilities in any of his public role(s)

2. Poor management of staff

3. Failure to act on the evidence regarding Glen Jenvey’s forgeries

4. Failure to act on the suspected involvement of Dominic Wightman, and the smears that followed

5. Failure to comply with FOI and DPA legislation and procedures

– | –

1. Outright refusal to use appropriate/modern facilities in any of his public role(s)

You may read this charge and consider this needless garnish (i.e. the type of petty point-scoring normally bandied about by some of the shoutier tabloid bloggers), but the fact is that Patrick Mercer’s refusal to use even a simple desk-top computer is greatly hampering his work, and was a major (though not sole) contributor to the events outlined in this post.

From my perspective alone, if he were more willing/able to personally receive email or read web pages, he would have been in a far better position to manage much of what is described below.

2. Poor management of staff

Instead of using this modern yet common technology, Patrick Mercer relies on staff to handle his emails, and has only second-hand access to the web. Leaving aside the appeal that must surely go out that someone ‘think of the trees’, on at least one ocassion, this has led to a situation where the staff he is overly-dependent on have let him so down badly as to associate him with the kind of smear that would make McBride and Draper blush (see below).

There is no sign or record of any punishment or process undertaken to address or correct this situation since things went so horribly wrong earlier this year. Indeed, the two staff members involved, Heather Millican and Edward Barker, are still employed by his office, and still conducting themselves in exactly the same way that did so much to bring about the first disaster:

3. Failure to act on the evidence regarding Glen Jenvey’s forgeries

The Sun newspaper has today quietly published this statement that neatly declares their innocence and spreads the blame (something I look forward to addressing in an upcoming post). In it, they include this quote from Patrick Mercer

(Jenvey) had been described as “an extremely capable and knowledgeable analyst” by Tory MP Patrick Mercer… (source)

This is an extract from a shining endorsement that was also used in a January 2009 letter to the PCC that I hope to bring you in full later this week. Mercer’s role in reinforcing the reputation of Glen Jenvey (in the same letter that The Sun were using to try to destroy mine) is crystal-clear:

Sun letter to PCC: Mercer quote

I had good cause to contact that MP’s office about what I knew and could prove about Jenvey’s fabrications, and did so. Repeatedly. To NO good effect.

If emails were not ignored, other forms of stalling and stonewalling were used. For example:

After Jenvey had denied ever using the alias ‘Richard Tims’ (in the same letter quoted above), I produced the audio of him happily admitting to using that same alias on a regular basis; Mercer’s office responded by insisting that I deliver the files in MP3 format (when they were readily accessible from the web, in downloadable form) and then suggesting that “voice recognition experts ” would be required to verify authenticity (involving a voice that would have been immediately recognisable to them or anyone else who had conducted a phone conversation with the quietly-spoken Jenvey).

There was from January 2009 onwards at least enough evidence* for any sensible person to start exercising caution in their dealings with Mr Jenvey, but I have data to hand that not only proves that his office was still colluding with him on similar stories, but also actively peddling such stories to tabloid newspapers, and sweetening the pot with promises of a quote from Patrick Mercer, as late as March 2009!

(*Further, at this stage, Jenvey’s main response to this evidence was a claim that myself, the Guardian newspaper and the PCC were in league with extremists. One might forgive the hapless Nadine Dorries for buying that line, but not the Chairman of the House of Commons Sub-Committee on Counter-Terrorism.)

If Mercer wishes to switch that around and claim that he had doubts about the audio because he suspected Dominic Wightman’s involvement (I can only guess that Jenvey told him of his own suspicions), again we return to the issue of his refusal to use email and/or his office’s refusal to communicate in any meaningful way.

Time and again, his office refused to issue any comment or take any action, even (get this) after they were presented with evidence of Glen Jenvey’s attempts to smear me as a convicted paedophile.

The only time they cooperated was when it was far too late, and Jenvey was already a day into his weeks-long campaign to smear me as a convicted paedophile. At that stage, Mercer himself (finally) issued a statement by phone, but the lengths I had to go to in order to contact Mercer directly led to a costly blow-up with Iain Dale (that continues to this day):

“I disassociate myself from anything that Glen Jenvey may have claimed about Mr Tim Ireland and will be looking carefully into my other dealings with Mr Jenvey.” – Patrick Mercer (source)

4. Failure to act on the suspected involvement of Dominic Wightman, and the smears that followed

Since the aforementioned blow-up with Iain Dale, that ‘leading’ blogger has seen fit to contact Patrick Mercer MP and accuse me of harassment. Every subsequent conversation with that MP has been stilted at best, but it was during one of these rare and generally frustrating conversations that Patrick Mercer made his only attempt to warn me off Dominic Wightman (a man he regarded to be an inherently dishonest schemer), far too late for that vague reference to be of any use.

(In August 2009, during a conversation about Jenvey and my information request, he said that he had not been in contact with Jenvey for months, and then added that he had also not been in touch with Dominic Wightman since that man “went off the rails”. This was the only time Wightman’s name was mentioned by Mercer or anyone from his office. By that stage, Wightman had already smeared me anonymously, and paralysed the investigation and my website with a forged interview that sought to damage a long list of people, including Mercer.)

Mercer’s office was also made aware of the forged interview as soon as it emerged (19 May 2009). The response was muted, at best. Despite my asking, Mercer himself offered no thoughts or clues as to who might be behind it (other than the disconnected hint 3 months later).

Last week, Mercer’s office was informed of Dominic Wightman’s involvement in that smear, and that he had confessed to publishing it twice. I also took the precaution of calling Mercer himself. Both times, I requested that Mercer release “a statement regarding his past and present relationship with Dominic Wightman.”

I contacted his office again yesterday to repeat my request; they offered me smiles and sunshine… but at the time of writing, I am still waiting for that statement

The public record accessible to most people shows Dominic Wightman and Patrick Mercer as allies:

Dominic Wightman and Patrick Mercer

Patrick Mercer (right) with Dominic Whiteman of the Vigil group, Oct 2006 (source)

Patrick Mercer, the Tory spokesman for homeland security, has also worked with Vigil. He said that he had been impressed by the group’s professionalism. “Anything of this nature that helps the security services has to be encouraged,” he said. – Nov 2006 (source)

Further, it is clear from his latest and far more savage smears that Wightman seeks to undermine any suggestion that Mercer no longer supports him:

I can predict the gist of Ireland’s attack already – “Wightman broke my confidence, Wightman has run failed businesses (no mention of the successful ones), Wightman has multiple email addresses (he is already on about one called richardwalkerinstitute which I’ve used for eight years as an ancillary account), Wightman is mad, despite his expensive education Wightman is less intelligent than me and even Mercer says Wightman’s off the rails (Ireland loves quoting from conversations which rarely if ever existed), look at this document which shows Wightman going into an insolvency arrangement yet he lives like a King and is married to a beauty queen, Wightman hates the far left because he was once smacked by a Bolshevik nanny, Wightman has real-world business enemies (no mention that this is because he’s had the balls to give life a go rather than hiding behind a keyboard) etc etc. Snore, snore. Bore, bore. Far left cheers, centre right sneers. And what then?

Extract from Dominic Wightman’s extraordinary attack piece of 13 September 2009

It should be clear to anyone how much help Mercer could (and should) be with a simple statement establishing the truth of the matter. But no.

To paraphrase Michael Caine’s character Governor Baxter Thwaites in the 1985 film Water, it would seem to me that in the eyes of Patrick Mercer, I’m about as significant as the dot above the ‘i’ in the word ‘shit’.

5. Failure to comply with FOI and DPA legislation and procedures

On 05 May, 2009 I submitted a combined FOI and DPA request to the office of Patrick Mercer (extract follows):

All emails and documents sent, received, created or held on the computer(s) used by Edward Barker and Heather Millican that mention my name (Tim Ireland) or my site (‘Bloggerheads’,’ and/or ‘’). I am primarily asking for emails, but there may also be documents such as RTF and DOC files. I would like copies of all relevant data from 1 Jan 2009 to the present, but special attention should be paid to the periods from 13-16 January, 2-5 March, 15-20 March and 2-5 April

I am well aware that MPs have voted themselves exempt from FOI requests, but I was only asking for information relating to me personally, and given reason to believe that they would cooperate, especially in light of what had gone before.

However, On 11 May, 2009 Edward Barker (Parliamentary Researcher to Patrick Mercer) wrote to inform me that they were “not obliged to respond” to my FOI request, and made no response when I pointed out that he had completely ignored my right to access data under the DPA (when Advice for Members’ Offices is very clear about the matter).

I later called Patrick Mercer directly about my combined request and he assured me that his office would cooperate fully on both fronts (i.e. FOI and DPA) but his office then ignored my email correspondence (on May 14, June 3, and June 10).

I would have expected at least one update email advising me of their ultimate decision on FOI and what might be addressed from a DPA standpoint, but I heard nothing. Over 40 days had passed and still I heard nothing.

I then called Patrick Mercer direct, and he advised me that his position had changed and his office would not be delivering ANY data. Apart from a vague reference to a stalker problem (to explain why he had changed his general position), the only reason Mercer gave for refusing the request was that the data had been… deleted!

Even when I subsequently informed him that the data was still legally ‘held’ by his office, he made it clear that this made little difference to him because, as far as he was concerned, the data was gone and he could not access it, even if he wanted to.

I do not know at this stage when the data was deleted, but I was not informed of any deletions initially in the email of 11 May. There was no final written response to my request (in fact, nothing since the single email of 11 May) and subsequent emails to his office were ignored.

Complaints are now in the hands of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and the Speaker’s Office.

I say again; it is my contention that Patrick Mercer has now brought his party, his committee and Parliament itself into disrepute, and I would hope that I have now made my case.

Further, I would like to say that it reflects poorly on all parties involved in the farrago (including Iain Dale, who I will be writing about tomorrow) when the priority appears to be how things might impact politically, instead of what is right, or just, or fair.

About Tim Ireland

Tim is the sole author of Bloggerheads.
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