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Archive for the ‘Scandals’ Category

NHS hospital care: Value for money?

In Scandals on February 23, 2011 at 11:19

PA Press Release-Patient Accounts25.08.09

Complaint to Standards Commissioner from Tim Ireland regarding Nadine Dorries

In Scandals on October 12, 2010 at 21:29

Below is a letter from blogger Tim Ireland to the Parliamentary Standards Commission regarding the conduct of Nadine Dorries, MP. It is, as you can see, quite revealing. Below Mr. Ireland’s letter is the Commission’s response.

Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

House of Commons

London

SW1A 0AA

BY FACSIMILE:  020 7219 0490

Re: Complaint about Nadine Dorries, Patrick Mercer, and Anne Milton

Dear Sir/Madam,

I write to you about false accusations of harassment and stalking that have been made against me and knowingly exploited as a political weapon by three MPs; Nadine Dorries, Patrick Mercer and Anne Milton. They have all made this allegation in response to my online scrutiny of their public activities, although I would like to emphasise that I have never been contacted by the police – even informally – about any complaint made by these MPs (or anyone else, for that matter).

We’re all intelligent, politically-aware grown-ups, and I’m sure we can recognise how a bogus accusation of stalking would serve as an explanation for why someone isn’t answering a certain critic while also scaring/warning that critic off at the same time. I’m equally sure that we can all recognise how false accusations of this type might be readily dismissed by some as an inevitable part of ‘the game’.

However, in my case, the false allegations have also been utilised by certain individuals with agendas of their own, and I have myself been subjected to genuine harassment as a consequence. These individuals are (a) an associate of Mercer named Dominic Wightman, (who also uses the names Dominic Whiteman and Richard Walker), and (b) an associate of Wightman named Charlie Flowers.

Flowers heads a “cyber activist” vigilante group called “the Cheerleaders”, and he has repeatedly published my ex-directory home address to audiences he and his group perceive as hostile to me, including supporters of the BNP (which is of some concern to me, not least because they have more militant members than most parties and I have made several popular and effective anti-BNP videos).

Eventually, this has led to a situation where my home address has been published alongside the accusation that I “stalked women and sent death threats to MPs”, specifically citing Mercer, Milton, and Dorries as “victims”.

Patrick Mercer

In January 2009, I discovered evidence that The Sun had based a front page story on purported evidence of extremism that had been wholly fabricated by their quoted ‘expert’, Glen Jenvey. Despite his denials to some journalists, I can prove that Mercer continued to work with Glen Jenvey after his deceits were exposed. At the time, his staff refused to answer my emails about the matter, and pretended to be out of the office for extended periods while screening my calls. They were pretending that none of it was happening; even after Jenvey went on to publish a false accusation that I was a convicted paedophile (!) on over 50 websites.

Further, I have good reason to believe that Jenvey, who is of fragile mental health, was being manipulated by Wightman. This is of relevance because Wightman had formerly run an online “terror-tracking” group called the “VIGIL Network”, and he and this organisation were publically endorsed by Mercer. Throughout this situation, Patrick Mercer continued to maintain that I was stalking him, and used this pretence as his excuse to refuse any communication with me. At no stage did he seek to moderate, condemn or publicly distance himself from Wightman’s behaviour.

Anne Milton

Anne Milton initially denied ever saying anything to anyone that might give them the impression that I had stalked her. However, I can prove that she made this specific accusation in 2005, and that it is based on no more than the fact that I maintained a website that scrutinised her conduct as a candidate and then MP. The initial outburst could perhaps be excused as hysteria or hyperbole, but from the moment Anne Milton learned that her claim was being published alongside my home address as if it were fact and she refused to clarify, retract or even acknowledge her outburst, it evolved into a dangerous lie.

Milton, like Mercer, is most likely choosing to expose me to ridicule, ruin and danger because she too has a past association with Dominic Wightman (at the local political level) that could damage her career if it were to become widely known and linked with his recent behaviour towards me.

Nadine Dorries

The situation with Nadine Dorries is wholly different, and far more alarming.

At the peak of the first campaign to publicise my home address (September 2009), Nadine Dorries began publishing on Twitter none-too-subtle implications that I was mentally unwell, and likely to do her harm. She did this knowing that anyone searching/looking for tweets in response would see the following (published on Twitter, publicly addressed to her account by Charlie Flowers’ group):

“anyone bothered by Tim Ireland’s harrassing [sic] of Nadine can write to him at [my ex-directory home address snipped] x”

Given her extraordinary demands for privacy during the expenses furore (e.g. refusing to reveal her address even to some relevant authorities), Dorries cannot pretend to be unaware of how distressing it might be for someone to be intimidated in this way, but when I emailed her office about the harassment targeting me and how her behaviour was greatly exacerbating the problem, her only response was to block me on Twitter.

In February 2010, Charlie Flowers was confronted at a public event and asked to explain his conduct. He claimed that he was acting on behalf of Nadine Dorries and others when he published my home address alongside the claim that I had stalked her and sent her death threats. He further claimed that he had advised her of this, heavily implying that he had her blessing.

In response to a specific question about Flowers’ claims, Nadine Dorries’ answer gave the impression that she had reported the incident to police:

“have fwd all emails etc to the Met police who are reviewing with the harassment unit”

It now emerges that the “relevant emails” Dorries referred to were mine; her position being that she reported me to police for stalking her… using as her evidence the emails I had sent to her in response to her false accusations that I had stalked her.

(If that sentence gives you a headache, just try to imagine how I felt about it on the days my wife and I didn’t feel it was safe to let our kids out to play.)

Dorries’ sometimes baffling ignorance of how Twitter works might afford her some limited deniability with regards to the original incident (i.e. prior to my emailing her about it), but by this stage there was no question about Dorries knowingly seeking to exploit the campaign to publicise my home address and expose me to harm if not fear of same.

Even if she believed then or believes now that she was the target of harassment herself, she should have addressed this through civil or criminal law. She had no business exposing me and my family to these risks, and yet she continued to do so while refusing all demands that she cease this behaviour… which she then went on to portray as further evidence of stalking.

In May 2010 I had just recently recorded and broadcast a hustings event in my constituency; knowing that I had this technology, and knowing that Dorries had made some misleading and unsubstantiated statements at previous husting events in her constituency (mainly relating to her expenses claims), some constituents in Mid Bedfordshire invited me to the final hustings event in their area to record and broadcast that event also.

(I have since been asked by one of her supporters why I did this when I knew Dorries had already accused me of stalking. I take the position now, as I did then, that the accusations are without foundation and I refuse to allow them to interfere with my democratic rights.)

I cleared the recording and broadcast with the organisers (in front of witnesses) but all hell broke loose when Dorries found out it was me conducting it; she stood up in front of the audience of hundreds of people and claimed that I had stalked Patrick Mercer and Anne Milton and sent her ‘vile’ and ‘abusive’ messages. She also said at one stage that she could no say more because it/I was the subject of a police investigation at the time. None of this was true, all of it was highly damaging, and Dorries made these accusations publicly, in two separate outbursts, knowing that these same claims were being published alongside my home address. (All of this was captured on video, and Dorries cannot substantiate her accusations or deny making them.)

Incredibly, it gets worse.

After the election, Dorries made a regrettable reference to Dr Evan Harris as ‘Dr Death’ (a nickname she has repeatedly sought to popularise, despite being one of the few MPs with the audacity to use it). There was a well-documented public outcry, and she closed her Twitter account and her weblog soon after.

She then issued a statement to her local newspaper claiming that she had done so on the advice of police:

“Tim Ireland lives in Guildford. He is not a Mid Bedfordshire resident and therefore I am not answerable or accountable to him in any way whatsoever. I have been in consultation regarding his behaviour with the Westminster division of the Metropolitan Police, and the House of Commons police, for more than a year. Their advice was to close down my blog and Twitter account and thereby remove the ‘oxygen’ upon which he fed. As an election was imminent, I ignored this advice. Following the Stephen Timms incident last week I have decided that I should pay attention to the police advice and have therefore closed down both Twitter and my blog for the time being.”

It is my contention that Dorries knowingly sought to use highly defamatory innuendo portraying me as having a violent, criminal character, and this is supported by the indisputable fact that Stephen Timms was stabbed an entire week after Dorries closed her blog (i.e. it cannot have played a role in her decision-making process as she claims).

I have sought to address this matter via the Mid Bedfordshire Conservative Association since February 2010, and just recently received the following short reply from their Chairman, Andy Rayment:

“I do not waste my time communicating with nutters so do not expect me to respond to any of your communications, electronic or otherwise”

Dorries’ published response to this was telling in that it showed that she does not regard me to be a threat at all, and actually finds the situation she puts me in quite amusing:

“when a ‘nutter’ began bombarding my association with telephone calls and emails, this [the statement above] made me laugh out loud”

Conclusion

Thanks to the recent guidance to prosecutors released by the CPS I hope to proceed with legal action that will finally protect me from the ongoing attempts by Dominic Wightman to put me in danger and/or fear of danger, but I am appalled that Dorries and others have sought to exploit his campaign of harassment, in some cases to do little more than avoid political embarrassment, and would ask that the Commissioner/committee address their shameful conduct.

If any of these MPs are to cite evidence that they claim amounts to me stalking them or justifies their outburst(s) in any way, I would ask that I be allowed to see it before the Commissioner/committee condemns me for it or dismisses my testimony as a result of it.

Throughout this affair, I have been subjected to trial by smear and innuendo based on evidence that my accusers refuse to produce or discuss. Dorries, for example, refuses to name the police officers she claims to have reported me to, and justifies this refusal to cooperate with a claim that I am stalking her. But if I had behaved in anything like the way she described, I would already know the names of the officers involved, as they would have been in touch with me by now. (I know this to be standard protocol from my experience as a victim of harassment.)

I request that the Commissioner/committee not only address this specific matter with some urgency, but also seek to protect the public and their servants by commissioning and issuing updated guidance of their own about the proper way in which MPs might recognise actual harassment and deal with it responsibly if and when they suspect themselves to be a victim of it. In this way we might hope to avoid MPs shunning scrutiny with hysterical accusations about criminal behaviour where none exists.

That said; I doubt this measure alone will help to moderate Dorries’ behaviour. It is my understanding that she has gone on to make misleading if not entirely false accusations and implications about one of her constituents who dared to make a complaint to CCHQ on my behalf, and I suspect no amount of guidance on the matter will discourage her from the bad habit of attacking critics with harmful smears (which is what led me to blog about her in the first place).

Regards,

Tim Ireland

Fascinating reading, isn’t it? Particularly since – if true – it would mean that the dirty tricks campaign waged by Ms. Dorries against her Mid-Beds constituent isn’t an isolated incident.

Here is the Commission’s reply:

 

It will certainly be interesting to see what the wider British public make of this response, and the whole debacle itself.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards & the Dorries paper trail

In Scandals on October 12, 2010 at 20:40

I wrote last night that I would not be engaging in any more anti-Dorries sentiment on this blog. That was mainly in the interest of time. However, some things have come to light that – I think – deserve some attention.

To begin, published below is a letter requesting a Standards investigation into the conduct of Nadine Dorries, MP, written by @humphreycushion. It addresses the breach of privacy alleged to have been committed by Dorries.

More to come…

Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

8th October 2010

Dear Sir/Madam,

I trust that you received my email of 6th October.  I would like to inform you that I gave an interview to Disability Now on the afternoon of the 6th October via telephone, I had given them my telephone number but not my real name, via Twitter.

However, they already knew my name, having interviewed Ms Dorries shortly beforehand and openly informed me that she gave it to them.

Yesterday afternoon I had two reporters from the Beds on Sunday at my door, looking for an interview. I asked them how they knew my name and address and they gave me a ridiculous story that they had found it on the Internet.

Now, there is NO record ANYWHERE online that links my real name to my twitter name @humphreycushion.  I have asked the Editor of the Beds on Sunday to advise me as soon as possible how they came by my personal details.

What makes this even worse is that at 8.30 yesterday morning, after taking legal advice, I emailed both Ms Dorries and Mr Staines to advise them that my real name is confidential. I may be speculating but I feel that the reporters were sent in an act of defiance.

There has been a massive online reaction to Ms Dorries’ insulting remarks about benefit claimants and “nutters”. When Talksport’s Duncan Barkes held a phone-in debate on the subject this week, there was only one supporting voice for Ms Dorries throughout the 3 hour discussion.

I have collated 30 blog posts on the matter, mostly from disabled people who are horrified by her blog and genuinely feel they are going to be victimised by this government.  My blog pages which hold “the story” have had over 13,000 hits in just one week, that is incredible. (to put that into perspective, a good blog page would usually have approximately 200 hits per day)

As Ms Dorries’ constituent, I am horrified that she abused her position by giving out my confidential personal details to the media against my clear, indisputable wishes.

David Cameron spoke during the election of greater transparency and accountability of MPs and promised us the ability to re-call our MP should they be found to break the parliamentary rules. I truly think that Ms Dorries has crossed that line.

Regards

Name withheld at request of author

It’s not just the government’s problem, it’s our problem

In Scandals on October 11, 2010 at 21:21

Backgrounder: Click here.

This will likely be my final blog post on the Dorries saga, as I’ve already devoted far too much time to it. So, read on…

I don’t often post to this blog, simply because I don’t think I have anything of interest to say – at length, anyway – that you can’t read in the broadsheets. So, I generally confine my comment to 140 characters or less. Some might even be considered not terrible.

I don’t pretend to be a closet journalist, with the skills and training of a seasoned Fleet Street hack. Nor do I operate on the assumption that I write with a wit and fluency that will capture the hearts and minds of even the most hardened. No. None of that. So, you should be surprised that another post should appear so hot on the heels of another.

The reason for this Gatling-esque shower of comment is an MP from the backwaters of Bedfordshire who just cannot seem to keep her mouth shut. That bothers me, because she really ought to know better. She’s certainly been told to keep a tighter grip on her mouth. So, why isn’t she listening? And why – and this is the question of prominence – is the Conservative Party not doing more to silence her?

That is the question that seems to keep coming up again and again. Why is the Conservative Party not doing more to silence her? The answer – as any PR git can tell you – is that it really isn’t a major problem until the heavies – the broadsheets, the wank-rags, the red-tops – pick the story up and run with it.

In other words, right now it’s a local problem, not a national problem. Therefore, coverage in – say – Bedfordshire on Sunday is worthy of note, but not worthy of tasking valuable resources.

That in mind, this evening after you read this, as you’re brushing your teeth, as you put the kids to bed, as you take the dog for a pee – hell, as you make love to your wife – why not consider what you can do to make it a national problem? Ultimately, it’s the same public purse that pays Nadine Dorries’ expenses as that which pays for national defence, Eric Pickles’ fish suppers, or John Prescott’s ermine frock.

Infuriating thing to consider, isn’t it? So, get off your spotty duffs, put pen to paper, digit to keyboard, smoke to sky and write to the editors – all of them. Ask them why they continue to ignore this malfeasant MP from Mid-Bedfordshire. There’s plenty of story to go around, from all sorts of angles. And, best of all, it practically writes itself!

So, join the PM’s urging to become part of the government of Great Britain. Make yourselves known. Make your opinion count. Take control. You may just find, at the end of the day, that you actually did make a difference. Imagine the satisfying reward of looking back at this year and saying to yourselves “That was the year I joined the government of Great Britain. And, it was good.”

– This blogpost is my own opinion.

Nadine Dorries, MP: Making stuff up

In Scandals on October 10, 2010 at 22:34

Nadine Dorries is the Conservative MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, a post she has held since her election in 2005.

That was the least damning introduction that Ms. Dorries is likely to receive this week, particularly from the mainstream media, as she continues her descent into political self-destruction.

In her latest peculiar blog tirade – ostensibly an accompaniment to the rather friendly Bedfordshire on Sunday story, from today – she continues her assault on constituent Sue Cullen (@humphreycushion on Twitter).

Cullen is a care worker, presently on sick leave awaiting surgery on her feet for severe complications from arthritis.  She had the audacity to challenge Dorries (no virgin to controversy) on her apparently “disablist” views.

But, that’s not where the story lies, now. The MP for Mid-Beds has seen well to that. In her latest polemic against Cullen, she accuses her of being a “con” because Cullen has spread the word far and wide that she is a journalist.

The argument goes that since Cullen mentions she has written pieces for the Guardian and a women’s magazine, she implies she is a journalist – and therefore is soliciting votes under false pretence.

Further to this, Dorries attempts to take a swing at a sitting Labour MP (Kerry McCarthy). She writes that Cullen “attends meetings in the Jubilee room in the House of Commons with Kerry McCarthy MP, the Labour party Twitter Tsar.”

That being the case, one wonders why McCarthy would take Cullen along. Company, presumably. Regardless of why she frequents the Jubilee Room – the only distinction of which is that you don’t have to use Commons refreshments staff in it – one must ask the question of why that is relevant in the first place?

So, the two major objections that Dorries raises – which may very well be valid – are that:

  1. Cullen lied about being a journalist to procure votes in her local election.
  2. Cullen regularly attends meetings at the Jubilee Room at the House of Commons, with Kerry McCarthy, MP.

The first is a very serious allegation indeed, though the second is rather questionable.

There is, however, a problem with Nadine Dorries’ allegations against Sue Cullen: they are bold-faced, pure, unadulterated untruths. They are not true, almost to the letter.

The Jubilee Room? Cullen has never set foot (pardon the pun) inside the House of Commons in her life, let alone the Jubilee Room.

The journalist story? That’s not true, either. Cullen never claimed to be a journalist, which is something that is readily apparent upon even a cursory glance at the website Dorries cited as her source.

The local election? Cullen hasn’t even been selected, let alone announced her intentions.

Dorries uses her straw men as a springboard into accusations of foul-play, deceit, and personal attacks against her. But, the problem with straw men, is they tend to wilt under the light of day.

Dorries released the name of one of her constituents to the press. Dorries handed Cullen’s personal details over to at least one publication without her permission. Dorries printed false claims on her blog – many of which are clearly libellous – about a private resident in her constituency.

There is the matter of the erotic fiction, though. This is something that I don’t particularly find appealing, and apparently neither does Dorries, as she uses it as another tool to go after her favourite whipping boy, Sue Cullen.

I don’t think the House of Commons will agree with either Nadine, or I, particularly given that the first House of Commons Erotic Dinner Party was hosted there, during the Conservative party conference. I hear it was a blast. So much for that, Nadine.

The resulting chaos has been difficult to ignore. With sentiment both within Tory ranks and at the popular level listing heavily toward Dorries’ removal, there can be but one way out for the beleaguered MP:

A full and frank public apology, followed by her resignation from her seat, her resignation from the Conservative party, and her removal from public life for the time being.

MPs simply do not, and should not carry on so irresponsibly, freely sharing the private details of constituents with publications – without the explicit or implied permission of constituency members – nor launching into unbecoming and frankly sadistic attacks in a very public venue.

A cursory glance at popular sentiment this evening bears this out quite clearly.

From fiddling her expenses, to waging public war with disabled constituents, to a plethora of public embarassment for the Conservative party, Dorries has distinguished herself not only as a poor politican, but also a poor person.

The party wants it, the country wants it, and the opposition wants it.  Nadine, it’s time to give it up, and go.

– This blogpost is my own opinion