Last week, Tim Ireland published extracts from a letter which Nadine Dorries MP had sent to the Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police in July 2010, in which she asked for the police to act against four individuals who were subjecting her performance as an MP to unwelcome critical scrutiny. The four individuals were:
- Tim Ireland: Tim undertook a long voluntary interview with police which established that he had not broken any laws, although he was warned that because of her reaction to his presence at a public event he would be well advised not to attend any future events involving Dorries. Dorries and her allies have since tried to spin the fact of the interview and this advice as proof of stalking.
- “Mrs Humphrey Cushion“: ”Mrs Cushion” is a constituent who has criticised Dorries on Twitter and on her blog. Last year, she was on sick leave from her carer job awaiting operations on her feet for arthritis – Dorries (helped by Paul Staines) tried to smear her as a benefits cheat, and Dorries’ bogus harassment complaint led to a visit from the police. Again, no further action was taken, but the police visit frightened her children, and it took place while she was in pain and lying in bed recuperating from the operations.
- Chris Paul: Paul is a Labour blogger whom Dorries accused of hanging “around outside” her house due to “sexual” interest. In fact, there was no evidence of either.
- Linda Jack: Jack had the temerity to stand against Dorries for the Liberal Democrats in the 2010 General Election, and Dorries accused her of being part of the “group”.
Tim notes an anonymous comment posted to Paul’s website from around the same time as the letter was sent, and which boasted of imminent police retribution. This added a fifth person as part of the conspiracy:
- Peter Hand: Hand was a former Dorries staffer who had reported one of her expenses claims to police (the police investigated, but declined to proceed due to insufficient evidence).
- “My house has now been broken into twice; I didn’t report it the second time”.
Further details about this were provided in a email which one of Dorries’ associates sent to Tim and to others last year: it was claimed that her front door had been removed from its hinges and a filing cabinet disturbed. Given the incredibly low bar at which Dorries runs to the police and media with the cry of “stalker”, it is remarkable that she didn’t make more of a fuss about a truly criminal act which – if it actually happened – was clearly aimed at compromising her duties as an MP.
- “I have spoken to lawyers at Carter Ruck and they tell me that Tim Ireland is well known and that Guildford Police have dealt with a number of complaints regarding similar behaviour with others. He is apparently a well known computer hacker”.
I contacted Carter-Ruck about the extraordinary accusations Nadine Dorries made in their name. I was curious to know what evidence they could produce to back the assertion that I was a notorious computer hacker with multiple complaints against me, but I didn’t get very far.
Carter-Ruck were asked about the mysterious circumstances in which I found myself accused of harassment without so much as a letter from their office, but they had no comment to make about that, either. I do not recall ever being warned by Carter-Ruck about the appropriateness of my behaviour toward any of their clients, and seemingly neither do they.
The November “report” repeats some of the accusations in the July letter, but there’s more:
- Tim and Ms Cushion have been “us[ing] Twitter to deploy people to bombard the Office of the Standards Commissioner, three times last week I believe and place numerous FOI requests about myself”.
Dorries really needs to learn the difference between a subject access request under the Data Protection Act, an information request under the Freedom of Information Act, and the act of sharing the task(s) of data entry and analysis of information already in the public domain… Dorries claims that I sent her and her staff “numerous offensive emails” and other “vile” and “abusive” and “explicit” messages, but she refuses to reveal them, even when legally compelled.
- Tim has “fed a negative an untrue story about my blog to Sky News blogs recently who published it, without fact checking. One of the journalists has since apologised, but it was too late”.
The ‘Sky news blog’ article she speaks of was fact-checked. Dorries’ objection was that it wasn’t checked against things that she merely pretended were facts. The author stands by the piece and is very clear that he certainly didn’t apologise to Dorries about any of it.
- “He has bombarded my staff with phone calls, to the point whereby my staff in the constituency office have had to unplug the phone. This prevents constituents from being able to contact my caseworker”.
In good faith, I sought to alert Dorries to the dangers resulting from the public accusations of stalking she had made… Dorries not only portrayed my attempts to contact her about her unsubstantiated accusations of stalking as evidence of my stalking her (!), …
Bedfordshire Police were made aware of every scrap of relevant correspondence, and agreed that it did not amount to stalking, or even harassment. That may seem difficult to understand if you read what Dorries writes here and take any of it at face value, but Dorries has been using repeated lies and distortions about the frequency and content of attempts to communicate.
It seems to me obvious that if Dorries’ office had really been obliged to unplug its phone, that would have been sufficient to launch a proper police complaint at the time – instead, Dorries raises it as a vague detail in a general complaint sometime later.
It should be noted that Dorries does not have a particularly distinguished record as a constituency MP: her blog is primarily dedicated to expounding her views on abortion and sex education and attacking opponents; beyond a few ceremonial photo ops there is little about what she actually does for local people. The only local subject she has discussed at any length is her opposition to plans to build an incinerator, and she appears to have only recently become aware of (let alone got to grips with) the legal difficulties around cancelling the project.
- “I made a speech about abortion in which I mentioned the new charity “Forsaken”. The next morning they had Tim Ireland on the telephone making accusations about their organisation and myself”.
The content about ‘Forsaken’ can’t be anything but an outright lie. No calls were made to the Forsaken organisation at all, even Forsaken themselves were very clear about that, and the fact of the matter was made clear to Nadine Dorries on the morning this ‘report’ to police was written. This is important because unlike some tales that begin with a kernel of truth*, Dorries is basing this claim on evidence she cannot have seen and won’t have been told about. More detail on that little event here and here.
I have blogged on the background to this myself here.
I hope it is now established beyond reasonable doubt that Dorries makes vexatious complaints to smear opponents and discourage democratic accountability. Perhaps it is significant that none of her usual defenders have chosen to respond to Tim’s posts on the subject.
Dorries’ accusations of “stalking” against Tim have been used by a number of other individuals for their own purposes. These include:
- Some other politicians, in particular Patrick Mercer MP, who wishes to deflect questions about why he continued to use talking points from bogus “terror trackers” even after evidence of duplicity had been brought to his attention, and Anne Milton MP, who was embarrassed when Tim discovered that two of her activists were smearing a political opponent in 2005. More on all this here.
- A group of on-line vigilantes who have subjected Tim to a campaign of harassment and threats after he looked into bogus postings being made by non-Muslim provocateurs on Islamic web forums. Dorries has endorsed one individual related to this group. I’ve been targeted by the same thugs for daring to support Tim. Sporadic attacks occur even to this day
- A couple of journalists, including one who didn’t appreciate Tim complaining about being used as a source without credit.
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