Back in January, I noted that Nadine Dorries MP had made a complaint to the police about Tim Ireland, a blogger whose critical and satirical scrutiny of her activities she wished to discourage and discredit. According to Bedfordshire on Sunday:
A spokesman for Bedfordshire Police said: “Officers from Bedfordshire police are currently looking into a complaint of stalking/harassment in May 2010.
“Officers are in the process of talking to both parties involved to determine whether any actual offences of harassment or stalking have been committed and if any further action needs to be taken.
“Inquiries are currently ongoing.”
Dorries now crows:
Today I had a meeting with Bedfordshire Police. They informed me that under caution and recorded on tape at Guldford Police station, Tim Ireland, of bloggerheads, has been issued with a warning under section two of the harassment act.
Naturally, she doesn’t go into details: she’d like to leave the impression that Tim has been guilty of some sort of threat or inappropriate intrusion into private matters. What the May 2010 complaint actually refers to, though, is Tim’s presence at a hustings event in the village of Flitwick, and his broadcasting of the event over the internet. The incident itself, as Tim recorded it at the time, can be seen below.
One might wonder why, since this was May 2010, no hint of police interest reached the public – or Tim – until January 2011. According to the police, Dorries made her complaint in July 2010, but a couple of factors might explain why there was no follow-up for more than six months.
First, Dorries had on a number of occasions claimed that she had made complaints about Tim to police in Bedfordshire and London, although she declined to provide reference numbers or other specific details. Requests made by Tim under freedom of information and data protection legislation drew a blank. She eventually had to make a complaint for real, or look absurd.
Second, Dorries was last year investigated by Parliament over her expenses: she was accused of having lied about the location of her main residence in order to claim a second home rent allowance. Some of the evidence against her came from statements on her blog, in which she gave the impression of living in Woburn, in her constituency of Mid Bedfordshire. Dorries explained the discrepancy away by admitting that information on her blog is mostly untrue; even the right-wing Daily Mail was incredulous:
Amazingly, she told Standards Commissioner John Lyon: ‘My blog is 70 per cent fiction and 30 per cent fact’.
‘It is written as a tool to enable my constituents to know me better and to reassure them of my commitment to Mid Bedfordshire. I rely heavily on poetic licence.’
This explanation elicited howls of derision, and so Dorries shamelessly changed her story:
Last night Miss Dorries said the police had advised her to ‘disguise’ her movements on her blog.
Dorries has also been facing scrutiny over tens of thousands of pounds made to a company called Marketing Management Midlands Ltd, run by a friend named Lynne Elson, for “professional services”; this includes £10,000 for what appears to have been no more than two-page Word document in which Dorries explains her activism against abortion. This particular payment was investigated by the police, who recently decided there was “insufficient evidence” to proceed to a prosecution.
Tim highlighted some other payments on his blog, using documents submitted by Marketing Management Midlands to Companies House and open to public scrutiny; Elson complained that this was “intrusion”, and she told Bedfordshire on Sunday that she had consequently reported Tim to police in Bedfordshire and Gloucestershire. This was also a convenient smokescreen to explain why she and Dorries have now terminated their professional relationship.
The “warning” given to Tim over the Flitwick incident now provides some superficial evidence for Dorries’ narrative, although anyone with a modicum of sense can work out what’s really going on. Tim explains on his blog:
…she was thrown a bone that offers only some reassurance that I have agreed not to act in a way that I have never acted before, and that’s all. I doubt that Dorries actually needs this reassurance, especially when she so clearly intends to use it to continue her attempts to smear me (because nothing makes more sense than poking your alleged stalker with a stick).
At one stage, I was given advice from police about the wisdom of attending any future events with the intention of trying to get close to Nadine Dorries, but it would be wrong to assume or imply that I ever held such creepy intentions the first place, and it would be dishonest to pretend that the investigation closed with police establishing any inappropriate behaviour on my part; this conversation that Dorries clings to took place before I was able to produce evidence supporting my contention that (a) I had been invited to a public meeting, and (b) secured permission to both film *and* broadcast, and it should be appreciated in that context…
Police may have had more cause to speak to me about inappropriate behaviour if I had behaved in a way that was inappropriate. As it was, the conversation/point focused a lot on how my past/future actions might be construed by some...
Since this investigation began, Dorries has been repeatedly leaking incorrect and distorted versions of privileged information in an attempt to politicise it. The antics included an entirely false claim that I was arrested that Dorries (the source if not the author) has yet to explain or apologise for.
…[P]revious to this complaint, Nadine Dorries claimed a police investigation was already in progress. At Flitwick, she specifically declared that I was already a notorious stalker (i.e. with a string of victims and a ‘police aware’ sticker on my forehead). When challenged to back this hysterical if not calculated cycle of bullshit with evidence, instead of producing a crime reference number as she promised to, Dorries sought to generate one.
Dorries also threatened Tim with the police after he sought to establish details concerning an anti-abortion organisation which she had promoted in Parliament.
UPATE: On Tim’s request, the police have issued him with a written statement:
I write to inform you that the harassment complaint made against you by Nadine Dorries, MP, on 12th July 2010 is now concluded.
This was in relation to you attending the Flitwick Hall Hustings, Bedfordshire on 4th May 2010, knowing that Nadine Dorries was in attendance. As advised, others could construe this type of behaviour as harassment or stalking. There is no action against you concerning this matter, apart from the verbal warning given by me to you during the Voluntary Interview in January 2011.
Nadine Dorries has been informed of this result.
The above Non Crime Report has been generated today, Monday 16th May 2011, as the paperwork for this complaint now needs to be referenced and filed.
As Tim explains, the “filing” is taking place at his request. Further:
There is the risk of quote-mining that concerns me, but I can say with confidence that the warning mentioned in this letter amounts only to the officer’s duty under law to advise me of the potential consequences of being in the same room as Dorries at a further event in light of the fact that a complaint was made about the first. I can also say without fear of contradicting the police or distorting their position that it is not a judgement on my conduct at that event or in any other respect, because it is not a warning about any past behaviour, much less any pattern of behaviour. Police do not themselves regard my actions to date to be harassment or stalking, but they would not be doing their jobs if they did not advise me of the risks of being in Dorries presence once a formal complaint has been made, because it is from the moment that a second event takes place that the law might apply.
It seems to me that any reasonable person will now see from the police statement that Dorries’ post on the subject was grossly and viciously misleading.
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