Paul Mercer: The Spy Who Came into the Spotlight

Last month, the Guardian reported on exposed undercover police officer Mark Kennedy’s links to corporate spying:

The undercover police officer whose unmasking led to the collapse of a trial of six environmental protesters on Monday apparently also worked as a corporate spy, according to documents seen by the Guardian.

…In February 2010 – a month before resigning – he set up Tokra Limited, at an address in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire…

…Calling himself a logistics officer, Kennedy registered himself as sole director of the company. Intriguingly, the address he used is the work address of Heather Millgate, a solicitor specialising in personal injury, and a former director of Global Open, a private security firm.

…It first came to public attention in 2007 when it was implicated in the case of Paul Mercer, a friend of the then Conservative shadow defence minister, Julian Lewis, who was exposed by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade of spying for the arms firm BAE.

Paul Mercer (no apparent relation to Patrick Mercer) is the author of several books, including Longman’s Directory of British Political Organisations (1994) and an anti-CND exposé called “Peace” of the Dead (1986), which involved infiltration of the organisation. In the 1980s he was associated with the radical libertarian strand of the Young Conservatives and became a local councillor; along with his friendship with Lewis, the late Mike Keith Smith of the Conservative Democratic Alliance (who has featured on this blog several times previously, for example here and here) described him on a forum in 2007 as a “personal friend for years”. According to legal documents relating to CAAT, Mercer’s organisation is called LigneDeux Associates.

The link to Kennedy through Global Open has provided the hook for an interesting and refreshingly unsensationalized article on Indymedia, which overviews Mercer’s career and includes some new material about activities in Nottingham:

Mercer has a long-standing interest in protest movements. In his sworn affidavit to the court during the CAAT case, Mercer insisted that “most of my research involves the automated searching of public websites and newsletters,” indeed he claims to have “a good reputation for my ability to rigorously search the Internet.” Nevertheless, he says he has “a wide range of contacts” and “does sometimes receive information from anonymous sources, as do many journalists.” At a meeting organised by think tank Policy Exchange in January he described himself as having spent 29 years trying to “combine an academic study of extra-parliamentary groups with actually going and seeing what happens on protests.” He claimed to have “covered and having been on pretty well every major public order disturbance in London over that period,” including the Poll Tax Riots and Mayday 2001.

The article notes that the Policy Exchange meeting can be seen on YouTube here; Mercer was introduced by Dean Godson (blogged here) as “one of the pre-eminent authorities on extremism of all kinds in the United Kingdom” and as giving “a rare public appearance”. The Indymedia article summarizes:

For all his supposed expertise, the analysis he presented at the meeting is unremarkable, mainly notable for the way in which he deliberately obscures the distinction between protest and riot so that he can talk about “all the major riots: NUM, Poll Tax, BNP, Reclaim The Streets, criminal justice, J18, Mayday… Tamils, Palestinians and now the students.” He went on to suggest, following the same analysis, that the Poll Tax Riots were organised by the Militant Tendency, latterly the Socialist Party. Despite the role of Trotskyist groups in “organising” riots, Mercer contended that violence at protests was typically instigated by “anarchist groups, squatters and what the Home Secretary rightly referred to as this ‘feral underclass.'” This “underclass” is apparently made up of Millwall football fans (who he seemed to suggest, kicked off the Poll Tax Riots) and hunt saboteurs. Having offered these insights into the causes of public disorder, Mercer then sought to justify the use of kettling and argue that prosecuting police officers for instance of brutality against demonstrators had cultivated “a reluctance of police officers on the frontline to actually hit people as hard as is necessary.”

It’s telling that Mercer’s roll-call of disruptive protests makes no mention of the rise of the English Defence League. However, Mercer’s approach appears to have earned him some grudging respect from those he investigates; a commentator adds:

I remember Mercer when he turned up at some Greenpeace meetings in Nottingham.

I have no doubt that he had an ulterior motive in doing so but at the same he was quite open about the fact that he had had books published and that, politically, I remember he always said that he was a libertarian. (In contrast most Greenpeace activists seemed to be the opposite). But unlike any other infiltrator or undercover police officer I have read about recently he was capable of maintaining a coherent political argument.

He may have just been very good at what he did but on some issues such as opposing McDonalds restaurants near schools, putting an incinerator in the middle of a city or opposing GM crops he not only had a grasp of the issues but was passionate at the same time.

Certainly, although Mercer’s analysis may be politicised and arguable, it’s clear that he has made some serious efforts with his researches and that his professional success can’t simply be dismissed as the result of self-promotion or bandwagon-jumping. Given the number of charlatans, fantasists, manipulators, and propagandists who pass themselves off as experts on extremism (some of whom have featured on this blog), it’s worth remembering that some more serious persons exist.

FOOTNOTE: Incidentally, the latest Private Eye (1281 p. 28) has a piece on private spies at protests, noting the case of C2i, which closed following “Austin Powers-style blunders” by one of its employees; typically for the Eye, the mocking jibe has been lifted uncredited from a website, in this case that of the protest group Plane Stupid. The Eye adds that C2i was run by an ex-army officer named Justin King, who now heads a similar outfit called Lynceus. Advisers include John Dearlove, brother of the former head of MI6 and (quoting the organisation) “a member of the Cabinet Office Security and Intelligence Secretariat during the premiership of Mr Blair”, and Sir Neil Thorne, who founded, according to the Eye, “the Armed Forces and Police Parliamentary Schemes, which allow MPs to play at being soldiers and policemen”.

Jonathan Lord MP Admits Activists Engaged in Smearing

The above image comes from a pseudonymous attack blog which was used ahead of a 2007 council election* to smear a candidate as a paedophile. Tim Ireland determined it to be the work of two activists working for his local MP, Anne Milton, and he blogged about it at the time; as a result, he was himself smeared for his troubles. Tim contacted Jonathan Lord, MP for Woking and at that time Chairman of the Guildford Conservative Association. Lord’s duty was to investigate any activity that might bring the party into disrepute, but he declined to act on Tim’s evidence on the grounds that the target of the “paedophile” smear had not himself complained, that no criminal law had been broken, and because Tim had contacted him by email rather than on paper. As Tim writes:

because Jonathan Lord swept this under the carpet, those who were involved… were able to excuse/disguise their disgraceful behaviour with entirely false implications if not specific allegations that I imagined or invented the whole thing as part of what they contend to be a harassment campaign against Anne Milton.

Since then, bogus accusations of “harassment” have become a convenient strategy for various persons who don’t like Tim finding and highlighting information that might interfere with their attempts to manipulate public perceptions about themselves or particular subjects. The list of those who have jumped on the bandwagon ranges from a couple of MPs (here and here), through to certain on-line commentators, and on to some particularly vicious cyber-bullies. The full background (including why this subject is of interest to me) is provided here.

Tim recently encountered Lord at a public event, and asked him about his failure to act. He also covertly recorded Lord’s “off the record” response, in which he admits that the two activists were acting irresponsibly, but that because they had themselves been selected as candidates for the local council election he had decided not to do anything beyond some stern words in private:

You thought that [the two activists] Chambers and Paul were completely out of order and beyond control or whatever… By the time you raised it with me Mike Chambers was already a candidate, and if he hadn’t been a candidate then…

I told them, stop being childish. You know, if you want to do a blog about national politics, or even, you know, clean stuff about local policy, that’s fine, I said. But cut out any personal stuff, I don’t want to hear, I don’t want to know about it. I said, you know, basically, you know, it’s lucky you guys have already been selected, because otherwise, you know, and we’re in the middle of a campaign now…

So this is all off the record, OK? In the middle of an election, you know, you don’t obviously want to give succour to your opponent or, you know, someone who, you know, who might twist your words in ways that you have on other little things, you know. And, do you know what I mean? And so I was very straight with those guys in telling them to cut it out, and, you know, if we hadn’t already been in the middle of an election campaign, and I think they were already both nominated and so on, you know, then it might have been a slightly different story.

You would think that the activists had been guilty of some unfortunate private indiscretion, rather than of orchestrating a thoroughly malicious campaign to use inflammatory lies to discredit – and perhaps physically endanger – a political opponent. If Lord had cared a jot for standards in public life, he would have done his duty to ensure that two such disgraceful individuals should never have had any chance to stand for public office – and he would stepped up to his responsibility  to put right the wrong done to those who had been smeared by activists within his political party.

*Amended: I had originally written “the 2005 UK election campaign”

Gilbert Deya: Wife Jailed for Stealing Baby in Kenya; Nephew Jailed for Killing Son in UK


THE wife of Archbishop Gilbert Deya, the controversial British-based evangelist who claims he can make women pregnant through the power of prayer, has been arrested hours after claiming to have given birth to a boy in the latest twist in Kenya’s “miracle babies” investigation.

…Yesterday, Archbishop Deya said the baby was proof he was able to help infertile women conceive. His wife arrived at a hospital in Nairobi on Saturday, carrying a new-born baby, a handful of blood-stained clothes and a placenta.


The wife of self-proclaimed miracle worker Gilbert Deya on Friday pleaded for forgiveness as she started a three-year jail term for stealing a baby boy.

…The court heard that Mrs Deya stole the baby from Kenyatta National Hospital on September 10, 2005. She alleged she gave birth to the baby miraculously.

…The magistrate did not agree with defence lawyer Mr Elisha Ongoya that a child, which the wife of UK-based evangelist is said to have given birth to, was exchanged between Nairobi and Kenyatta National hospitals.

Mary Deya was previously jailed for a related offence in 2007; I first blogged on media reports about the “miracle babies” way back in 2004, and in April 2010 I was depressed to note that Gilbert Deya was still in the UK, despite an extradition request from Kenya. He remains in the UK even now – and his nephew Paul Deya was recently jailed for life for murdering his own son in 2009:

A south London church worker has been found guilty of the murder of his three-year-old son after a trial at the Old Bailey.

Paul Deya, 32, of Bermondsey, slit his son Wilson’s throat in November 2009, six months after having a dream about killing children, the jury heard.

…Mrs [Jackline] Deya told the court:“We didn’t seek advice, we just prayed over it.”

Mrs Deya said her husband became calm after these prayers, but she believed it was at this point that he formed a plan to kill Wilson.

“Paul was angry and that is why he killed my Wilson,” she said.

“He was not mentally ill.”

Gilbert Deya’s influence was cited by Paul Deya’s defence lawyer:

Baroness Kennedy QC, defending, said the church to which the couple belonged was “strange” and “cult-like”.

“This was a tight-knit religious community run by a charlatan,” she said.

There are several other pastors associated with Gilbert Deya Ministries, although the organisation as a whole does not appear to maintain links with the wider neo-Pentecostal “scene”. (1)

(1) Alongside his son Pastor Amos Deya, pastors associated with his ministry include Pastor Brazz Bakka, Pastor Souzie Balosa, Pastor John Ezedom, Pastor Giovanni Ghidotti, Pastor Femi Emmanuel Hezekiah, Pastor Gabriel Idowu, Pastor Godwin YB Kwawu,  Pastor James Munga, Pastor Jerry Mukobo, “Pastor Shelly”, and Sister Mucha Zungunde. There are English-language and French-language services, and churches in Birmingham, Feltham, Leicester, London (Hackney and Walthamstow), Liverpool, Luton, and Manchester. Ghidotti runs a congregation for “people born in Europe, with a European upbringing and mentality, irrespective of race or colour”; his website does not mention Deya by name anywhere, although his congregation meets at a a GDM church in London.

Jerusalem UFO YouTube Videos Generate Headlines

A few days ago, the media treated us to a flurry of headlines about a supposed UFO in Jerusalem, the most dramatic being the Daily Mail‘s “Are aliens here? Shining white ‘UFO’ spotted over Jerusalem shrine?”, the Daily Telegraph‘s “UFO hovers over Jerusalem shrine“; and Fox News’ “UFO Hovers Over Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock Shrine“. CBS at least added a question mark: “UFO over Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock?“. My personal favourite, though, is a cheeky one from Aquapour: “Jerusalem Dome Of The Rock UFO Videos Impress Pope“; only half-way through the story is it made clear that this is a reference to UFO investigator Nick Pope rather than to Benedict XVI.

The headlines failed to make clear that the only evidence for these claims were some videos on YouTube, and that the only named person who has come forward claiming to have seen the unearthly entity is the man who posted the original video: this was a certain “Mr Eligael Gidlovitch of Tel Aviv” (some reports name him as “Aligal Gidliovic”, “Eligael Gedalyovich”, or as “Eli Gael”); he has a YouTube channel here, and he was lucky enough to capture a second UFO a couple of days later (“This ufo was higher in the sky and moved above the old city for long time”, the blurb tells us).

The Jerusalem Post has poured cold water over the story:

…HOAXkiller1 is leading the pack of debunking videos, with some 350,000 views on Sunday evening for six separate pieces, showing the original photo available on Wikipedia Commons that was the backdrop for the rather primitive work done in an attempt to make it look like part of a video shoot.

Besides close-ups that showed the background image was actually a static image on a screen and pointing out the faults in the attempt to show flashes of light, an effect called “motion tile” was also used in eligael’s video to enable the deception of an authentic video camera shot.

Motion tile mirrors a bit of the edges of a static image “to hide the black edges created when they added fake camera shake to the video,” HOAXkiller 1 explains. “The camera movements are fake. That is why the mirror lines follow the movement of the camera.”

HOAXkiller1’s YouTube channel is here. Fox News is also having second thoughts, suggesting the videos may be a viral marketing ploy to tie-in with the film Battle: Los Angeles.

A site called All News Web (“The World’s Only Inter-Galactic Daily News Service”) claims to have broken the original story with this article, and the piece’s author, Michael Cohen, warns that there is a conspiracy afoot:

Was the third clip deliberately inserted into this event to discredit it and why is media presenting this clip as central to the story?

UFO enthusiasts claim that a government coverup of UFO activity has been going on for years. These goings on seem to confirm this to be the case.

Some claim that the videos are of religious significance, and that the UFO was actually an angel or a manifestation of the Elohim. Elderly New Age guru Benjamin Creme sees a link with the Green Camera Smudge of the Apocalypse I blogged on yesterday:

…the UFO in Jerusalem was one of the four ‘stars’ seen around the world since December 2008 that herald Maitreya’s open emergence. He also confirms that the Rider on the White Horse was a blessing from Maitreya to show the immensity of what the Egyptian people are doing, and that he is with them in their struggle for justice and freedom…

Egypt Unrest Provokes Apocalyptic Hysteria

Hmm, let me think now….

WorldNetDaily reports:

A mysterious, pale green figure seen in televised news coverage of the Egyptian riots has prompted some viewers to ask, “Could this be the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse?”

…Between the crowds of protesters and barricades, the video shows a flowing, pale green image that resembles an erect rider atop a horse in Medieval-like barding. The ethereal figure remains for a few moments before floating over protesters’ heads and off the screen.

Yes, the Book of Revelation should be taken literally, although by “pale” we should understand “transparent and green”. However:

…Some claim the video’s “pale rider” is a sign and the greenish tint is somehow symbolic of Islam, while others insist the image has been added to the footage by editing technolgy. Still others point to three, trailing points of light in the footage that move away from the crowds at the same time and speed as the “horseman,” indicating that both the “rider” and the lights are merely smudges or reflections cast on the lens of a moving camera.

Which of those might turn out to be the truth, I wonder? Perhaps it’s worth pointing out (probably not) that the “pale rider” in Revelation is a symbol of plague; there’s no actual rider, no actual horse, and certainly no application to anti-Mubarak protests in Egypt in 2011. However, the above is just a symptom of the religious hysteria which regularly feeds off uncertainty in the Middle East; back in 2006 I noted similar millennial enthusiasm over Israeli action in Lebanon, which included excitement over a medieval psalter found in an Irish bog.

Apparently it seems obvious to some that the fall of a pro-US hardman could not occur without God giving it special mention, and so Biblical texts that reference Egypt are being pressed into service. As I noted a few days ago, Joel Richardson has attempted to relate current events to the rise of a Muslim anti-Christ;  Shaddy Soliman, pastor of Every Nation Church in Lake Mary, Florida (I’ve blogged on the Every Nation grouping previously) is also on the bandwagaon:

This is not the time for our world leader to be blinded by the ideology of democracy and not see the bigger picture.

…If you read Isaiah 19, it will explain a lot of what is taking place right now. You see the process looks very ugly in Isaiah 19 but the end result is amazing.

Isaiah 19 warns the Kingdom of Judah against entering into an alliance with Egypt against the domination of Assyria in the eighth century BCE, and it contains a  prediction that Egypt will suffer disaster. This was astute advice, since Assyria went on to conquer Egypt, although the chapter ends with with a late interpolation (in a different style) in which Egypt and Assyria convert to the Yahweh religion, offer “sacrifices” and “cereal offerings”, and Israel is recognised as “the centre of the world”. That proved rather too optimistic, although it doubtless did wonders for the self-image of a small country squeezed between two regional superpowers.

Isaiah 19 was written for people living at the time; it does not explain  anything about “what is taking place” nearly three thousand years later. Of course, one may choose to discern a “timeless” spiritual message, too, but that would be that God’s people should trust in God and not compromise their values through dubious political alliances. It is difficult to see how that could be used to justify backing Mubarak.

Daily Mail Reports Claim that Patrick Mercer MP was Attacked by Ex-Lover

Back in July, Patrick Mercer MP joked with Mail diarist Richard Kay about his ex-mistress:

Tory MP Patrick Mercer tells me he has been issued with a personal alarm system by the police to help him avoid any unwelcome approaches by his thwarted ex-lover, Commons secretary Sarah Coyle.

…While the dust settles, Mercer is off to Afghanistan to research his third novel… ‘I think I’ll be safer in Helmand Province than here,’ he quips.

This jocular tone struck me as coarsely inappropriate: if Mercer’s claim was true, he surely has to take some responsibility for triggering a mental health problem in Coyle (he had made promises to her which he then reneged on), and he ought rather to be discrete and contrite on the subject. I also noted that he previously used the label of “stalker” to smear Tim Ireland; Tim’s blogposts on Mercer’s association with self-styled “terror-trackers” were doubtless inconvenient and tiresome to the MP.

The Mail now has a follow-up piece about Coyle, with new allegations about a supposed incident in November

…Mr Mercer is considering applying for a restraining order to protect himself.

…one well-placed insider said: ‘Mrs Coyle kicked Mr Mercer in the groin and then kicked and punched him as he lay on the floor. Mr Mercer didn’t raise a hand but he was terrified.

‘The Newark MP reported the incident to Jill Pay, the Commons Serjeant-at-Arms, and called in the police on her advice.

… This newspaper has also been told that Mrs Coyle was asked by police to have no further contact with Mr Mercer, the Tory Homeland Security spokesman.

Following the incident, Mr Mercer has had CCTV fitted in his office… In addition, he carries a panic alarm linked to the nearest police station and fitted with a high-quality tape-recorder that is activated when the alarm goes off.

‘Patrick is frightened at what might happen,’ said a source. ‘He believes he is in danger and has had to protect himself. He is terrified about what Mrs Coyle maydo next.’

…Mr Mercer, the son of a former Bishop of Exeter, refused to comment. Mrs Coyle said: ‘I have nothing to say.’

This raises a number of questions. Why has Mercer had CCTV fitted already, but is still only “considering” applying for a restraining order? Why didn’t he get the restraining order back in July, when he received the alarm? Who pays for the CCTV?

And who are the “well-placed insider” and the “source”? They claim to know Mercer’s mind and give the impression of being sympathetic to him – it’s doubtful that such people would have spoken to the press without checking with Mercer first. And why was Mercer happy to joke about the situation back in July, but now has “refused to comment”? It looks very much like he’s briefing against Coyle while keeping a bit of distance. The article leaves the distasteful impression that Mercer is playing the media – and it should be recalled that other stories that Mercer has put into the media have turned out to be questionable.

Incidentally, Mercer has also been known to opine about our “our overstretched police and security services”.

FOOTNOTE: One further question I have concerns what other channels of complaint Mercer could have followed besides the Serjeant-at-Arms. Coyle works for another MP; in 2009 a Commission looked into the subject of “the Employment of Members’ Staff by the House”, including responsibility for “discipline and dismissal”. The Commission observed that:

Given the close relationship between a Member and his or her staff, it would be a difficult situation if a Member wished to dismiss but the House was not willing to endorse the dismissal. It is harder to envisage a situation in which the House wanted to dismiss a member of staff against the wishes of a Member, but it could in principle happen if a member of staff committed a serious offence such as harassment of other staff or was found not to be doing the work.

The Commission concluded that “Our preference would be for the House (or if appropriate the IPSA) instead to give greater support to Members as employers,” but that if the House wanted to go ahead, “it should not be implemented until the next general election at the earliest”.

Louis Theroux Meets Jewish and Christian Ultra-Zionists

On Thursday evening the BBC broadcast Louis Theroux and the Ultra Zionists, a documentary about Israeli settlers in the West Bank. Theroux is always worth a watch, although there are few surprises this time: the settlers come across for the most part as passive-aggressive (or just plain belligerent) and self-righteous, citing their divine “chosenness” by God as the reason for their presence in East Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories. Theroux spends some time with Daniel Luria of Ateret Cohanim – an organisation which has featured on this blog previously – and they make a trip into Silwan, an area I blogged on here.

Of particular interest was a segment filmed at the Mount Blessing winery at Har Bracha (the location wasn’t named in the programme). Here, American evangelicals arrive by coach to work for free for a month at a time, bringing in the wine harvest. They explain their reasons for coming; according to one volunteer, Martin from Denver:

This is a labour of love for the nation of Israel and for the people here, to see that they prosper in the West Bank and help them fulfil the prophetic calling that’s on this land.

A second volunteer explains further:

It’s about acting out the love that we have. The bible talks about not just loving in word but also in deed and in actions. And so when you pick a vine and a cluster of grapes and you get to hold them in your hands, it’s like, it’s like you’re part of prophecy, you’re part of scripture. You’re part of the promises that God has made.

A third – a young man – expresses a wish to join the IDF:

They’re the chosen people, you know… it’s kind of something I’m coming into, just with the revelation you get being here. It’s good stuff.

The vineyard’s owner, Nir Lavi, explains that the Christians can bring the grapes to the factory, but are not allowed inside, since the process of wine-making has to be kept kosher. Lavi agrees that for the Christians, their wish to “serve” him is spiritual (“through this they are redeeming themselves”), but that they have less understanding the politics (“they don’t come on the political side”). Some photos taken around the same time as the programme was made can be seen here.

The programme does not mention which group organised the Christians’ involvement, although a New York Times article from July has the background:

Various strains of American pro-settlement activity come together in Har Bracha… Nearby, a winery was built with volunteer help from HaYovel ministries, which brings large groups of volunteers to prune and harvest. Mr. Ha’Ivri’s charity promotes the program.

The winery’s owner, Nir Lavi, says his land is state-sanctioned. But officials in the neighboring Palestinian village of Iraq Burin say part of the vineyard was planted on ground taken from their residents in a parcel-by-parcel land grab.

Such disputes are typical for the area, as are the opposing accounts of what happened that February day when HaYovel’s leader, Tommy Waller, and his volunteers say they came under attack and the shepherd was shot.

“They came up screaming, slinging their rock-slings like David going after a giant,” Mr. Waller said. A Har Bracha security guard came to the rescue by shooting in the air, not aiming for the attackers, he added.

…In the last year, he said, he brought 130 volunteers here. This coming year, he said, he expects as many as 400.

The HaYovel website is here.* “Mr. Ha’Ivri” is David Ha’Ivri, who is regularly puffed by WorldNetDaily, and the NY Times notes his Kahanist background. The charity discussed in the article is Shuva Israel; according to its website, Ha’Ivri is now on the board of advisers, alongside a number of Christian Zionist figures.

Last week I noted how an evangelical television station was supporting the creation of a forest on the site of a Bedouin village which the Israeli authorities have deemed to be illegal, and in 2008 I blogged a BBC documentary about a Christian Zionist coach tour to Israel.

*UPDATE: Based on a cursory browse, I originally incorrectly identified this site as belonging to Waller. Apologies for the error.

Evening Standard‘s “Radioactive Dirty Bomb” Plot Report Scrutinised

Alarming news, tucked away on page 7 of the Evening Standard and on-line here, via political editor Joe Murphy:

Foiled: plot to devastate capital with a radioactive ‘dirty bomb’

…Terrorists based overseas made detailed plans to smuggle a device into Britain and detonate it in the heart of the capital, to create panic and undermine the economy.

Their plot was foiled by an operation involving British, American and Pakistani intelligence agencies. Had it succeeded, the impact on London could have been devastating.

However, several paragraphs later, one finds oneself groaning:

Former shadow security minister Patrick Mercer confirmed the existence of the abortive plot, which was kept secret. “I’m aware there was a plot to use a dirty bomb in London in 2004 that was foiled before the material got near the UK,” he told the Evening Standard.

“This led to a great deal of work by the then government on resilience planning, and the plans to evacuate not just London but also other major cities.”

Mercer, it should be recalled, has a history of “revealing” terrorist plots that wither under scrutiny: in June 2010 he claimed that the Taliban had developed HIV-bombs.

The way the report is written, it’s not clear whether Murphy was briefed by Mercer for the whole story, or whether Mercer is simply confirming something Murphy had been tipped off about. However, Murphy doesn’t name or imply any other source – and the only other outlet to follow up so far is the Daily Express, which purports to have extra information from the police:

The bomb would have included the highly toxic chemical osmium tetroxide which blinds, damages the respiratory system and turns the skin black.

But the plot was foiled in 2004 following months of surveillance by MI5 and Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command. Police believe the gang had been planning to detonate the “dirty bomb” at a major shopping centre in the South-east.

Curiously, however, the outlines of the above appear to fit perfectly with “Operation Crevice”, a March 2004 police raid which was widely reported at the time and which led to several high-profile terrorist convictions in 2007. The Islamic militants pondered the Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent as a possible target, and there were initially reports that there was a plan to use osmium tetroxide. According to the Daily Mail in 2004:

Security services have foiled a terrorist plot to launch a “dirty bomb” attack on Britain.

…Security services in the UK were alerted to the plans when conversations about the chemical were picked up at the GCHQ listening centre.

Details of the gas plot were also intercepted by the National Security Agency in the US. They passed on the tip to MI5.

The phone call they overheard is thought to have taken place between Peshawar in Pakistan and Crawley in West Sussex.

Mercer is quoted in that report; so if he’s now told Murphy that he’s “aware there was a plot to use a dirty bomb in London in 2004”, he must have been referring to this rather than to a second abortive plot, “which was kept secret”. Perhaps a previously unknown nuclear element has now come to light in relation to Operation Crevice, but if so we need a bit more than just an ambiguous quote from Patrick Mercer. And the timing is rather suspicious; Murphy’s report ends by noting that

New WikiLeaks revelations underline the threat posed by dirty bombs. Diplomatic files show al Qaeda is trying to secure nuclear material and rogue scientists to create a device.

Might it be the case that the 2004 chemical “dirty bomb” story has now been recycled as nuclear threat, as a convenient journalistic hook?

WorldNetDaily: The Rise of the Muslim Anti-Christ Explains Egypt Unrest

With uncertainty in the Middle East, prophecy hawkers inevitably see a new opportunity. Step forward Joel Richardson at WorldNetDaily:

While no one knows the future, I believe that through a general understanding of the various geopolitical actors and atmosphere in the Middle East and surrounding regions, and a solid understanding of what the Bible says about the future, it is fair to make some general observations and predictions about what will happen next in that part of the world.

And we’re off:

…In the midst of the shift, I expect Turkey (again, with the full support of the U.S.) to be the most actively engaged and visible actor in the region. If things destabilize enough, we could even see Turkish military action, but this is doubtful.

…Surrounded on all sides by hostile and now a well-organized power, and with the United States remaining relatively neutral, Israel will be forced to accept some form of regional “peace plan.” This comprehensive peace and security initiative will include the establishment of a Palestinian state. And to the surprise of some, after the initial chaos and tumult settles down, there will emerge a period of calm. To the surprise of many religious Jews, Israel will even be offered a concession to rebuild the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount. The Mount will be shared by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, causing some to herald this development as the sign of a new monotheistic age.

…In Africa; Tunisia, Libya, Sudan and Somalia will clasp hands and pledge support tothe new Turkish-Iranian-led alliance.

And so on – alarmist prognostications extrapolated from current events, mixed in with well-worn fantasies about a “Third Temple” in Jerusalem. It’s a scare story that WND has pushed for some time, even at the expense of being mindful of the Ninth Commandment.

Richardson also has a follow-up piece on his blog, railing against “the Leftist-Islamist Revolutionary Alliance” which will usher in the Islamic anti-Christ:

But there is another interesting element to Mahdist belief that is quite relevant with regard to the present revolution is in the air. According to Islamic tradition, under the reign of the Mahdi, the Islamic religious community will finally achieve the “economic justice” that both the Leftists and the Islamists have been yearning for. So whether we are speaking of the recent violent socialist protests in Greece, the anti-Capitalist revolutionary operatives here in the United States, or the violent revolution boiling in the Arab world, they are all part of a larger collectivist revolution.

While the idea of Antichrist as wealth redistributor is likely new to some, it is certainly not a novel observation. This view was also well-established in the early church. In his celebrated work, “Against Heresies,” Irenaeus, a bishop from the early third century wrote that the “[Antichrist] pretends that he vindicates the poor.”

Of course, this is all in a grand tradition of reading into the ancient text of the Bible not just clues about an uncertain future, but a vindication of one’s political perspective. Previously, self-styled “prophecy experts” have assured us that the anti-Christ would emerge as a result of the belligerency of Saddam Hussein or the machinations of the Soviet Union. Probably ten years from now it’ll be time for books about the Chinese anti-Christ.

Richardson’s book The Islamic Antichrist has been endorsed by Robert Spencer (who in turn was recently commended by Douglas Murray as a “brilliant scholar”). According to Spencer’s blurb:

A fascinating and provovative work. Joel has broken fresh ground in the ongoing exploration of the relationship between Islam and the rest of the world. A must-read for priests and pastors, students and lay readers everywhere. Bravo!

Incidentally, that quote from Irenaeus (who died c.202; he’s more of a second-century figure) has been used by Richardson before, such as in a 2009 WND article entitled “What Obama and the Antichrist Have in Common“. The text comes from Book 5 Chapter 30 of Against Heresies, and forms part of a discussion about how the number 666 may be misapplied to various proper names. This larger point is ignored by Richardson, who wants us to believe (following Walid Shoebat) that “666” was a mis-transcription of the Arabic for “In the Name of Allah”, as copied by the author of Revelation from a vision.

Here’s the context:

It is therefore more certain, and less hazardous, to await the fulfilment of the prophecy, than to be making surmises, and casting about for any names that may present themselves… [A]mong our kings we find none bearing this name Titan, nor have any of the idols which are worshipped in public among the Greeks and barbarians this appellation… This word, too, contains a certain outward appearance of vengeance, and of one inflicting merited punishment because he (Antichrist) pretends that he vindicates the oppressed…

The Greek original of this section is lost, and the translation has come through the Latin:

Certius ergo et sine periculo est sustinere adimpletionem prophetiae quam suspicari et divinare nomina quaelibet, quando multa nomina inveniri possunt habentia praedictum numerum, et nihilominus quidem erit haec eadem quaestio… neque enim eorum regum qui secundum nos sunt, aliquis vocatus est Titan, neque eorum quae publicare adorantur idolorum apud Graecos et barbaros habet vocabulum hoc;… et ostentationem quandam continet ultionis, et vindictam inferentis, quod ille simulat se male tractatos vindicare.

My Latin is very rusty, but a literal translation seems to me to be along the lines of “because he pretends to vindicate those who have been handled wickedly”. However, “the poor” better fits Richardson’s aim, which is to demonize those with socio-economic views that he finds disagreeable (he’s more flexible when it comes to actual theology – Glenn Beck, who is a Mormon, is regarded by Richardson as “prophetic”).

Tim Ireland Calls Out Accusers

Tim Ireland is a blogger who has a fairly reasonable request: that those who use the internet or the media to influence public discourse, or to promote themselves as public figures, ought to be accountable and to take responsibility for the things they publish or write. His main area of interest is British politics, but although it is obvious that he takes a progressive stance he is no mere party hack: for example, he was prophetically critical of Derek Draper’s strategy with Labour List some months prior to Draper’s exposure as a manipulating rumour-monger.

However, it is in dealing with various MPs and activists connected with the Conservative Party that Tim has discovered the most egregious abuses: unsurprisingly, given that he has been the target of them. Tim’s latest post on the subject is comprehensive rather than concise, but the guts of it can be summarised easily: as a strategy to deflect and discourage critical scrutiny, various individuals have chosen to smear Tim as a “stalker”. It’s not a conspiracy, but, as with other playground taunts, the accusation has quickly gained momentum among a group of like-minded people with overlapping interests. It’s also self-reinforcing: if Tim complains about it, this is itself evidence of stalking; if he lays out his defence, he’s an obsessive. Worse, however, is that Tim’s researches have earned him some more sinister enemies, who have been subjecting him to real harassment: personal details have been posted on-line about his home and smears about his family, there have been threats of violence, and anonymous attack blogs have been set up with slanderous accusations. Those who indulge in this self-debasing behaviour use the “stalker” accusation as cover, as self-justification, and as a means to incite others.

My interest in this dates back to early 2009, when Tim looked into a Sun newspaper story about an terror plot against Alan Sugar. Tim showed that the evidence had been concocted by a freelance “terror-tracker” who had made postings to a Muslim web-forum under an Islamic pseudonym. The “terror-tracker” had links to Patrick Mercer MP, who is often quoted in the tabloid media as an expert on terrorism; this raised the question of to what extent other tabloid stories about terrorism may have had tainted origins (for example, here). I did some follow-up work on Tim’s discovery, and we both found ourselves being contacted by former associates of the “terror-tracker”. It turned out that these persons wanted to manipulate us for their own interests (they wanted us to attack a third party), and it was when this attempt fell through that the sustained campaign of harassment began (the “terror-tracker” had himself earlier reacted to exposure by writing anonymous comments accusing Tim of being a paedophile, but that was eventually sorted out). The harassment has mostly been targeted at Tim, although I’ve also been on the receiving end of some abusive attacks and misinformation.

At the time all this began, I was aware of Tim’s disputes with some other Conservative Party figures; although I took a general interest, I regarded these as separate matters and I was not inclined to mention them on this blog. However, it eventually became evident that a full understanding of the situation required taking these other conflicts into account: it was also appalling to see just how far some people are prepared to go to smear someone they find to be inconvenient.

Tim’s post is a J’Accuse addressed to Steve Hilton, who is the Conservative Party’s director of strategy. Tim names a number of persons:

Steve Hilton: Hilton has known about the situation but has failed to act.

Anne Milton MP: Milton is Tim’s local MP, and she didn’t appreciate various criticisms of her campaign in 2005, including his claim that “many if not all of the people posing as average members of the public in her campaign literature were in fact average members of her campaign team.” Milton, says Tim, “at this stage… began to dismiss queries about my blog and its contents with mild implications and then quite specific claims that I was stalking her.” Worse, two of her activists then set about attacking Tim at a personal level through anonymous sites and blogs. These activists also allegedly smeared another political opponent of Milton as a paedophile.

Jonathan Lord MP: As Chairman of the Guildford Conservative Association, his duty was to investigate any activity that might bring the party into disrepute. However, Lord declined to act on Tim’s evidence on the grounds that the target of the “paedophile” smear had not himself complained, that no criminal law had been broken, and because Tim had contacted him by email rather than on paper.

Iain Dale: Dale is a leading Conservative-aligned blogger, pundit, and activist. He dismissed Tim’s evidence about what had occurred during Milton’s campaign, and then allowed pre-moderated comments to appear on his site accusing Tim of stalking Milton and Nadine Dorries MP. Dale also accuses Tim of stalking him, as I discussed here.

Patrick Mercer MP: Once it had become clear that Mercer’s relationship with the “terror-tracker” and his associates was problematic, he announced that he would be “looking carefully” into his “dealings”. However, the extent to which Mercer’s office had handled dubiously-source material remained unclear, and when Tim pressed the point, Mercer took the lead from Dale. Naturally, any criticism of Mercer’s judgement could be deflected by claiming that Tim is an “electronic stalker”. Incidentally, Mercer also used a “stalker” smear to discredit his ex-lover, who shares his workplace.

Nadine Dorries MP: Dorries is of course notoriously vicious when dealing with anyone who crosses her: in recent months she has outed her lover’s estranged wife as alcoholic who is disliked by her own children (perhaps true, but cruel and unnecessary to reveal) and accused a critical constituent of pretending to be disabled (a complete fabrication). She is also notorious for admitting that her blog is “70 per cent fiction”. Dorries hates Tim’s continued scrutiny of her astonishing behaviour on the public stage, and she has been the most aggressive in accusing him being a “stalker”:

Dorries stood up in front of a hustings meeting in May 2010, claimed that I had stalked Patrick Mercer, claimed that I had harassed Anne Milton to the point that police became involved, and further claimed that I had stalked and harassed her to such an extent that a police investigation was currently in progress.

At the same time, Dorries was under investigation for expenses claims relating to a property that she officially classified as her second home, but had difficulty explaining why she had made repeated entries on her blog that gave the impression that it was her main home. It is on record and entirely clear from the subsequent report that Dorries told the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards that she had deceived her constituents about the location of her main home for entirely political reasons (i.e. to give the impression that she lived primarily in the constituency). She thought this put her in the clear and was entirely unprepared for the backlash that followed this revelation. She responded by again claiming that I had stalked her, and further claiming that police had specifically advised her to give misleading accounts of her whereabouts for reasons of security.

I have no history of stalking Nadine Dorries in any physical sense, and she had no cause to believe this, even if she is so dim-witted as to have allowed herself to be convinced that I was stalking her electronically. Worse, Dorries used my attendance at a public meeting in May 2010 to defend her claim that I had physically stalked her in the many years/months previous to this, and used Conservative activists aligned to her to spread this claim on blogs and in the media though a series of entirely strategic claims and distortions that not only stretched the truth to breaking point, but challenged the very notion of time and space.

Months after her hustings outburst, after being challenged to provide evidence to support her claim that a police investigation was in progress, Dorries sought to initiate a police investigation after the fact, and succeeded to a small extent in that police are now investigating my presence at a public meeting that I was invited to. This alone, while it is a complete waste of police time, did not cause me alarm… but Dorries then went on the leak news of this to a supportive local newspaper, leading to an entirely biased article that has set off my attacker(s) all over again, and once again allowed them to base their ongoing revenge attack on the word of a Member of Parliament who is in turn endorsed by a mainstream party (i.e. your party).

Further background here. Dorries has also mocked Tim as a “nutter” – the same jibe was used by Adam Macqueen, a Private Eye journalist who didn’t like Tim calling him to account for using his research uncredited. Macqueen is a friend and former employee of Dale.

Rachel Whetstone: Whetstone is European Head of Communications for Google:

Rachel… cannot or will not explain why, when staff claim to have a turnaround time of 48 hours for removal of sensitive data such as home addresses published in bad faith, why it took over 3 months to remove the data in my case, not just on, but on YouTube as well. Further, she cannot explain why their search database with continue to store and distribute this data long after it has (eventually) been removed from pages under their control.

By remarkable coincidence, Whetstone used to be Political Secretary to former Conservative leader Michael Howard, and at the time Howard’s wife wrote a diary piece for a Conservative website carrying Milton’s claim that Tim’s critical blogging amounted to “stalking her with a website”. Hilton may be able to get a quick answer to this, given that Whetstone is his wife.

Tim concludes:

I sincerely hope to hear from you well within 48 hours so we can settle this matter as cordially as possible soon after that. If this cannot be done, I hope you recognise why I will be pulling out all the stops and dedicating myself to the task of clearing my name while exposing the rot at the core of your party, and I wish you luck in the inevitable attempt to smear me in response, because you are going to need it with the paper trail I’ve got and the fair warning you’ve received.

This is surely not too much to ask for. It’s no secret that this blog takes a progressive perspective on the various things I discuss, but I’m well aware that it is possible to be a Conservative and to argue aggressively in good faith. I’m sure that many Conservative-mined people, if they can penetrate the fog of misinformation and self-serving spin, will be appalled that this kind of repellent carrying-on is able to pass for political activism. Any short-term advantage that may be gained by dismissing the above as part of the “Tim is a stalker” meme will, in the long-term, lead to payback of one kind of another. This may take the form of exposure and opprobrium, or the result may be a completely debased political culture. I’m taking a stand against it, and I hope others will too.