Journalists Accused of “Harassment” by Nadine Dorries

From the London Times:

Nadine Dorries, the Tory MP who appeared on I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!, has accused journalists of invading her privacy and threatened to call the police if they turn up to her constituency office.

This is, of course, Dorries’ default position when it comes to unwelcome attention: in the past, she has complained to the police about on-line critics of her behaviour as a public figure, including her former election rival Linda Jack, and on one occasion she even claimed to have reported someone for libel (really).

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail claims that the paper has been trying to reach her in relation to a speech she made in Parliament in 2010:

All week, the Mail has also been trying to get Mrs Dorries to answer the same question. But she failed to respond to our emails and phone calls to her Westminster office.

Instead, she went on the attack on Twitter: ‘If another journalist visits my home, members of my family, their homes or my office, I will inform the police,’ she declared in one outburst. ‘This is harassment.’ In fact, the only other member of her family who has been approached by us is Mr Dorries.

Harassment? Or legitimate journalistic question?

Dorries’ 2010 speech was an attack on the allegedly “corrupt dealings” of an investment company called WorldSpreads; however, according to the Mail:

But there was one thing — or, rather, one person — Mrs Dorries failed to mention when she rose to her feet in the Commons to highlight the scandal. 

This was financial adviser Paul Dorries…They separated in around 2007. 

It appears that shortly after their split, 59-year-old Mr Dorries began introducing the very investors Mrs Dorries later referred to in her speech to WorldSpreads, for which he was to receive commission.

Investors advised by Mr Dorries appear to have lost life-changing amounts of money, but although the very name “WorldSpreads” obviously implies high risk (the crucial clue being the term “spread betting”), Nadine Dorries  insists that the money was lost due to criminal malpractice; and indeed, on Twitter today, Dorries complains that the Mail article failed to mention that the company is allegedly currently “being investigated by the police”. Accusations by others against the company – which has since entered administration – were noted by the Telegraph in April. Dorries’ speech referred to WorldSpreads as a “stockbroking firm”, which, as Unity at Ministry of Truth noted in 2011, was inaccurate (Unity’s post, as usual, also contains a great deal of other important background details).

The Mail makes it clear that Paul Dorries also regards himself as a “victim” of WorldSpreads, and that there is no evidence of impropriety on his part. However, the paper also notes court judgements against him in relation to duff investment advice concerning “an internet venture based on the concept of Facebook” thought up by his “associates”.

There’s also evidence of questionable judgement: he allegedly tried to reassure one investor who had received a devastating statement that she was half a million quid down “that something must have gone wrong with the WorldSpreads computer”, and he apparently took financial advice of his own – from a psychic:

The psychic was approached by Mr Dorries, he says, who came armed with a list of companies, then asked him which ones would be successful. ‘I pointed out about 20.’ Mr Dorries was delighted with the results, apparently, and came back to see him.

Paul Dorries’ business dealings were previously discussed on a blog run by Chris Paul (which has since become infected with malware, according to Google – here’s Wayback’s cache), and this post included the claim that disgruntled investors had hired a private detective agency (Mike Lenny & Co) to investigate him; shortly after Paul published his piece, his blog received anonymous comments stating that Mr Dorries had (perhaps inevitably) reported him to the police. The comments specifically mentioned  Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, and this detail also appeared in a letter sent by Nadine Dorries to police on the same day (this is all discussed here). The comments came in on 10 July 2010; Nadine Dorries raised the issue of WorldSpreads in Parliament on 27 July 2010.

The Mail article also raises questions about Dorries’ marital status:

…our research has been unable to unearth any trace of a marriage certificate in this country. Some of Mrs Dorries’s relatives, we have been told, were surprised never to have been shown wedding photographs of the happy couple. 

…just as we could not find any trace of a marriage certificate using the obvious search terms, we could find no record of their divorce, either, in the Central Index of Decree Absolutes at the Principal Registry of the Family Division in London.

However, a mid-November article in the same paper (by a different journalist) has the detail that

The date of Nadine and Paul’s wedding is unclear — the Mail has been unable to find any trace of a marriage in this country. It is likely they married abroad.

Miss Dorries has spoken in the past about how, early on in the marriage, they spent a year together in Zambia…

This article also details the “shock” existence of a supposed “secret husband” – which in fact turns out to have been a previous husband before Paul Dorries, whom she has dropped from her official biography. It’s not a subject of any real interest to anyone, and it’s not an avenue of enquiry that on-line critics of her public activities have ever felt the need to explore; Unity wrote in the same post that “there is apparently a first husband out there… but please don’t pursue the matter any further than this as I’ve been advised that he’s much better off out of things”.

According to the Mail, Dorries married this man when she was very young and had just suffered a bereavement, and one can understand why she wouldn’t feel the need to keep reminding the world – and herself – of a unhappy personal matter from the 1970s. However, the fact the Mail knows of him at least puts to bed a possibility that had crossed my mind, which is that the Dorries marriage certificate couldn’t be found due to confusion over Nadine’s surname at the time. Personally, though, I’m not convinced that there’s anything “weird” or of wider interest about her past marital arrangements.

5 Responses

  1. There are one or two additional points that should be made clear.

    On the Worldspreads issue, one thing that has been established is that Paul Dorries did not hold an FSA licence to operate as an independent financial advisor and so, notwithstanding any alleged malpractice at the company, he should not have been offering his services in that capacity.

    As regards Nadine Dorries early history, the first husband is not, I understand, the only significant omission from her official biography. There is also the little matter of a period of employment outside the nursing profession which may shed light on the veracity of Dorries’ claim that she personally witnessed an allegedly botched late-term abortion while working as a nurse, a story which alters, in some its details, with every retelling.

    Botched abortion stories, in which its claimed that a foetus survived the procedure only to be left to die by doctors, have long been staple of anti-abortion propaganda – the earliest one I could find dated to 1975 – but invariably lack any kind of corroboration in either official records or from an identified eyewitness. Hence, any inconsistencies or omissions in Dorries’ own account of that period of life may be relevant to the veracity, or otherwise. of her ‘botched abortion’ story.

    As for the absence of a marriage certificate, I did check to see if a marriage had been registered under her name from her first marriage and drew a blank, as did a search on Paul Dorries.

    Although this may be accounted for by a marriage which took place overseas – Zambia and South Africa being the most likely locations – that doesn’t explain the absence of any records of divorce proceedings.

    As both are habitually resident in the UK, they are free, even if they did marry in Africa, to obtain a divorce through the UK courts and, this being the case, it would be an unusual step for either of them to file for divorce in a foreign court when proceedings could be concluded in this country at much less time and expense. This is particularly the case in regards to Zambia as the law there does not permit in-country divorce proceedings to be handled by a proxy, so at least one of them, if not both, would have to appear in person before the court in order to obtain a divorce. South Africa is rather different as it can be handled by proxy and there are even online services that can deal with the paperwork, if the divorce is uncontested.

    Dorries could, I suppose, have decided against failing for divorce, perhaps in the belief that the paperwork might place information on the public record that she would prefer to remain private, but in that case she would still be legally married, assuming that a legal marriage did take place overseas.

    As things stand the only question that any uncertainty about her marital status raises is the extent to which what she has said publicly about her marriage/divorce might reflect on her personal honesty and the veracity of personal anecdotes relating to her short nursing career, which is one of many reasons why the matter of her first husband was pursued no further than merely establishing his existence.

    The circumstances of that marriage and its subsequent failure are, so far as anyone is aware, of no relevance to Dorries’ later political career or public activities and as the first husband has moved on and put it all behind him it was felt best to respect his privacy and leave him to get on with his life without further prying.

    Whether the press will show him the same courtesy as us humble bloggers remains to be seen.

  2. There is also a rather odd anomaly in the Mail’s full account of Dorries’ first marriage. Although it gives the location of the marriage as Runcorn, Cheshire, the marriage index states that the marriage was registered in North Yorkshire.

    Could be a data error, I suppose, or something to do with the internal organisation of the Baptist denomination which conducted the ceremony but it may also indicate that the Baptist ceremony was conducted without an authorised celebrant or civil registrar being present, hence a civil ceremony elsewhere.

  3. Just one technical point on your post, Unity (sorry to post this here but comments are closed…)

    In March 2007, he left Square Mile and become an investment advisor at Worldspreads, a job that lasted on seven months, at which point he appears to moved jobs, internally, to become a customer relations representative (i.e. sales rep) for Worldspreads

    More or less every stockbroker’s FSA history shows this move in October 2007 (mine does, for example). The FSA had an overhaul of the licensing system and reduced the number of classifications, so a load of different regulatory authorisations all got boiled down to “C30, licensed to perform customer functions”. In all likelihood he just continued to be a retail stockbroker for all that time.

  4. Thanks for that DSquared – was unaware of the FSA’s licensing overhaul.

  5. Sounds like Dorries ought to have done what the US singer Ashley Judd is now reported to be doing; in preparation for entering politics, she’s hired a private investigator to dig up any possible past dirt on herself, before her political opponents get around to it.

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