Intro: I write this post in defiance of threats made to violate my personal privacy and that of members of my family.
Earlier today, the Twitter user who uses the name “Tabloid Troll” wrote an intrusive and inaccurate blog post about Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads, claiming that he had been forced to leave his SEO job after being exposed as having used his company’s facilities “to smear and abuse a whole host of public figures, journalists, and witnesses to the Leveson Inquiry”. The story, despite coming from behind “the coward’s cloak of anonymity” (to borrow an apt phrase from Nick Cohen), was gleefully re-Tweeted not just by right-wing gossip trolls such as Paul Staines, whom we do not expect to have any standards, but also national journalists bearing grudges: Tim has more than once uncovered instances of journalistic dishonesty or bad practice, including the “Terror Target Sugar” fiasco, which led to hefty legal bill for the Sun. Those endorsing Tabloid Troll’s claims include Neil Wallis, former editor of the News of the World, and Nigel Pauley, a Daily Star hack about whom I wrote previously in relation to Tabloid Troll here.
However, the blog post is not only inaccurate: it is lame, and it is clearly the work of liar and a stalker with malicious intent. That big media players should decide to jump on such a nasty bandwagon clearly shows that journalism in the UK remains as corrupt, degraded, and unaccountable as ever.
First, as regards accuracy: a journalist named Gareth Corfield decided to re-write the piece for his own purposes for a website caalled Business Technology, and he included a quote from Tim’s old boss. This quote actually destroys the whole story, which is why Corfield was careful to place it at the very end:
Rob Pierre, CEO of Jellyfish, said in a statement to Business Technology: “The blog is full of inaccuracies and as such Jellyfish have no comment on the matter. I can also confirm that Tim Ireland is no longer employed by Jellyfish.”
In other words, the anonymous claims are rejected by an on-the-record statement from someone in a position to know the truth of the situation. End of story, right?*
Second, as regards lameness: Tabloid Troll’s accusations are strained in ways that ought to set off alarm bells: Tim criticises Rupert Murdoch on his personal Twitter feed, yet the SEO company he worked for has done work for News International! Ditto for Tesco. This is then garnished with a few quotes taken out of context that may seem distasteful, but which Tim made in his own name anyway. Big deal.
Third, we come to the guts of the real story here: this is a stalker crying “stalker” as self-justification for private revenge. As Pauley and the other hacks know, Tabloid Troll hates Tim because Tim revealed strong and compelling evidence that he’s a freelance journalist named Dennis Rice (incidentally, Corfield would have known this from looking at Tim’s blog, but he chose not to mention it). Tabloid Troll was subsequently named as Rice by Tom Watson MP and by David Aaronovitch, among others, and more evidence has come to light since.
Tabloid Troll calls Tim a stalker, yet Tim has said nothing personally intrusive about Rice’s private life or about anyone else’s (he has, however, exposed dishonest conduct by public figures). Tabloid Troll’s identity was a matter of wider public interest because he claimed to be an insider with discrediting information about witnesses to the Leveson Inquiry – in particular Richard Peppiatt, who famously quit the Daily Star in disgust at the paper’s standards.
By contrast, Tabloid Troll’s posts and Tweets about Tim and others (particularly the blogger Tim Fenton) have been gratuitously personally invasive and have served no other purpose than to intimidate. Tabloid Troll’s Tweets have included the claim that he knows Tim’s daily routine, and a previous post consisted of private family information that was of no wider interest whatsoever. On one occasion, there was even a direct threat of violence:
Hide all you like, you despicable woman stalking prick, but know I’m coming for you, and its going to get bloody :-)
(Here Rice is drawing on an accusation made by Nadine Dorries MP, who regularly attempts to deflect critical scrutiny by making “stalker” smears)
Rice realised that he’d gone too far with that one, and he subsequently deleted it (although not before it was seen not just by Tim and me, but also by a lawyer, Peter Daly, who replied to it). Tabloid Troll has also posted comments about my family, along with a threat to visit my mother’s house (and posted such information on the website of other hostile parties).
Peter Jukes seems to be the only professional writer to have noticed Tabloid Troll’s behaviour who has also taken exception to it, as several Tweets from November show:
Problem personified: @tabloidtroll idea of debate: innuendo, privacy invasion etc… the nasty attack all that’s wrong with tabloids… It’s just personal pooh flinging – and ‘who started it’ is irrelevant… Playground stuff, verging on intimidation
However, even Jukes decided that this bit of distancing was sufficient for him to continue interacting with Tabloid Troll as if he were a “normal” person rather than a disgrace to his profession and to all reasonable standards of behaviour.
Finally, it appears that Tabloid Troll has also stooped to impersonation and sockpuppeting. On Friday I received a fake comment on this blog from someone claiming to be Rob Pierre. But Tabloid Troll is the only enemy Tim has who knows of Rob Pierre’s existence; there is therefore only one conclusion. And a few weeks ago, a friend of mine received a comment under a fake name about my supposed relationship status in words that mirrored claims made by Tabloid Troll.
UPDATE: Tabloid Troll, after telling me that “I’m next”, now adds:
@flutterbyfjl New blog going up first thing tomorrow about one particularly sad cohort – wait til you see his dating site entry? #pukes
10:16 PM – 11 Feb 13
Well, I don’t know what he’s cooked up or thinks he’s found, but I have never had any kind of “dating site entry”. More to the point, though, is that making such an announcement is just further evidence of the kind of person we’re dealing with here.
Incidentally, “flutterbyfjl” is Felicity Lowde, who appears to have latched onto Tabloid Troll’s claims and is getting interaction as a reward (not just from Tabloid Troll, but also from Nigel Pauley). It’s an appropriate alliance: Lowde was jailed in 2007 for stalking the 7/7 survivor Rachel North. Like Tabloid Troll, Lowde also deployed a “stalker” smear to deflect evidence of stalking; see also this very full account and psychological assessment at Ministry of Truth.
UPDATE 2: Tabloid Troll is now interacting with Glen Jenvey, who in 2009 sent Tim Ireland threats of violence and made anonymous postings accusing him of paedophilia. Jenvey is best-known for attempting to incite British Muslims to “target” British Jews through postings made to a Muslim website under the name “Abu Islam”. These days, he writes in support of the English Defence League. Full background here.
UPDATE 3: Tabloid Troll has now published his attack piece; as expected, it simply confirms my case even more, with gratuitously invasive and pointless references to my mother and such (and – particularly bizarrely – a completely bogus and predictably indistinct screenshot that claims to show that I use the services of a dating agency called “Black Books Singles”).
However, some of the inaccuracies suggest input from Dominic Wightman and/or Glen Jenvey, and it’s interesting to note that he gives implicit support to the EDL:
The religious posts are cover for the blog’s real purpose which is attacking the likes of US-based Jewish [sic] researcher Robert Spence [sic], the Conservative Party and the anti Islamist English Defence League.
…@Barthsnotes is a sad, deluded leftist with no scruples who for years has hidden behind the fallen blogger and stalker Tim Ireland.
*This article was subsequently taken down after I alerted Bradley Scheffer, the CEO of the company that runs the Business Technology website, to various misrepresentations it contained. Corfield is now working elsewhere, but before he left he arranged for urls linking back to Rice’s stories to be placed in another piece. This was done without Scheffer’s knowledge or approval, and they have also now been removed. But it shows that Corfield actually did the very thing that he falsely accused Tim of doing – he used the resources of his employer improperly to pursue a private vendetta.
UPDATE: The TabloidTroll article has since been taken down, following a request from Jellyfish. Jellyfish’s complaint has been published by Chilling Effects, and it clearly shows that Rice was made fully aware that his story was false – but that he went ahead anyway, publishing anonymously:
Apologies for contacting you in this way, but unfortunately due to the anonymous nature of your blog, this is my only direct method It is important that any story attributed to an anonymous blogger – even if anonymously – is accurate and not based upon inaccurate or false information. We explained to Dennis Rice when he approached us for our comments about this same story in November 2012, that the content in this article is 100% false in relation to Jellyfish such that: 1 Jellyfish is a reputable business and would not and has never been associated with any of the activities you have described in your article 2 At no time has Tim Ireland been able to use Jellyfish resources or software to do any of the activities that you have identified 3 The clients you have listed have never been associated with Tim Ireland and he has never worked for them during the period he worked at Jellyfish 4 Tim Ireland is no longer employed by Jellyfish Consequently, we would like to request that you take down the offending article which is defaming Jellyfish We have attempted to email the TabloidTroll blogger, but their email account does not work, so as well as being anonymous, they are not even available to contact directly and ask for the content to be removed Jellyfish, as business that employs over 100 individuals that are all trying to earn a living and succeed in digital marketing, we will have no choice than to do whatever we have to do to protect the good name and reputation that Jellyfish has built up over the last 13 years. This would mean involving our solicitors to pursue the blogger for damages which is made extremely hard when the blogger is both anonymous and non-contactable via email Clearly, we do not wish to take this action and we will not have to take that action if you take down the offending article that defames Jellyfish. If you would like to understand the full facts, I am more than happy for you have a conversation on the phone [number edited]
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