Tommy Robinson’s New Contempt of Court Conviction

From Leeds Live:

The founder of the English Defence League has been jailed over comments which had the potential to cause a retrial at Leeds Crown Court, it can now be reported.

Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, streamed an hour-long Facebook Live outside the court last Friday and within hours it had been watched more than 250,000 times.

A judge who locked the far right activist up for 13 months for contempt of court told him his actions may cause a long-running trial to be retried which would cost taxpayers ‘hundreds and hundreds of thousands of pounds’.

…He pleaded guilty to contempt of court and breach of a suspended sentence.

Matthew Harding, mitigating, said his client felt “deep regret” after realising the potential consequences of his actions.

The story (previously partially blogged here) has been widely reported (and misreported); however, I give Leeds Live precedence because the site successfully challenged a reporting ban yesterday, and one of its journalists, Stephanie Finnegan, was present when Robinson was outside the court and when he was brought before the judge. She has an account here.

The legal issues involved have been explained in a definitive commentary on the Secret Barrister blog, but despite Robinson’s guilty plea and apparent acceptance that he was in the wrong, his supporters are crying foul. In particular, Breitbart UK‘s Raheem Kassam claims that Robinson”was refused basic and normal access to a good lawyer who knows contempt law”, and that his “public defender” (a deliberate Americanism) had “urged him under the duress of arrest, to plead guilty”. Secret Barrister has offered sceptical responses to these claims, prompting Kassam to call him a “fake barrister” and then to block him on Twitter (1). I don’t know whether Kassam’s inference that Robinson was insincere in his “deep regret” may cause Robinson difficulties when it comes to parole time, but it seems to me to have lacked circumspection.

I have watched Robinson’s livestream, which lasts for 1 hour and 15 minutes; however, no link is provided, as the reporting restrictions relating to the trial he was filming outside remain in place until other linked trials are completed (this was also why Robinson’s own proceedings could not be reported until now). Discussion must therefore be cautious.

The livestream begins with Robinson goading several defendants as they arrive at the court, asking them about how they feel about the verdict to come and about the things they have with them. He then offers commentary on their responses and demeanour. These defendants had apparently arrived early – when Robinson is arrested an hour later for breach of the peace, all seems to be quiet at that moment, but after such an intro the judge had good reason to foresee disorder as other people involved with the case arrived.

For most of the livestream, Robinson talks about crimes similar to the allegations at Leeds Crown Court. He expounds on the supposed prevalence of this sort of crime; on its disgusting nature, and the injustice of perpetrators going unpunished; and on what he believes its perpetrators have in common, and the reasons for their offending. He does remind viewers that this does not mean that the defendants arriving at Leeds Crown Court are therefore guilty, but this is a fig-leaf when weighed against such obviously prejudicial commentary. He also uses the word “alleged” a lot, but he does not do so consistently, and on one occasion he refers to the defendants simply as “perpetrators”. He also makes further observations about the defendants, and according to  Finnegan, there were inaccuracies in statements he made about the case.

Throughout the livestream, Robinson shows an awareness of treading a fine line as regards the law, but he seems to have genuinely believed that he was keeping within it, and within the terms of the suspended sentence handed to him in Canterbury a year ago. However, treading a fine line is hardly sensible when it comes to court reporting, particularly when you have no training in the subject and you know there are special reporting restrictions in place. Perhaps he could have taken legal advice before attending: but the Canterbury judge was clear enough about what would happen if he repeated his behaviour, and Robinson’s view of that case as expressed in the livestream is that it was “bullshit” and an attempt to “deter” him (in fact, the suspended sentence was a leniency which allowed him to keep the liberty he has now thrown away). One wonders if the Leeds judge was aware of this “bullshit” assessment when Robinson assured him of his “deep regret”.

Since Robinson’s detainment, a couple of messages have been relayed the outside world. Over the weekend, Mark Collett said that he had been asked by a third party to convey Robinson’s wish “for people not to attempt to contact him in prison or send him anything”, as he doesn’t want “to jeopardise his case or give the state an excuse to move him to a different prison”. Collett, a former BNP activist best known for having once told an undercover journalist that “Hitler will live forever”, is perhaps an unfortunate conduit. Meanwhile, Alex Jones’s Infowars has a segment called “Infowars Reporter Relays Message From Tommy Robinson In Prison”, featuring Alex Jones in conversation with the site’s reporter Harrison Smith.

UPDATE: On 29 May, Robinson’s regular lawyer Alison Gurden took to Twitter:

I am TR lawyer but was not in court on Friday. Sadly virtually everyone passing comment on TR, including lawyers are unaware of the full facts & are in danger of creating fake news. I won’t make any statement or give the actual facts until TR requests that I do so.

Footnote

1. Kassam is on a bit of a roll when it comes to identifying “fakes”: a few days ago, he suggested that Mamoudou Gassama’s dramatic rescue of a baby hanging from a balcony in Paris had been staged (“This doesn’t smell like bullshit at all!!”). But will he ever spot the fake who looks at him every day in the mirror? This is the man who sees no contradiction between addressing a free speech rally and using a spurious complaint to have someone locked out of their Twitter feed for a week.

Protest in London after Tommy Robinson Arrest

From the Evening Standard:

Hundreds of far-right protesters have descended on Whitehall to demonstrate against Tommy Robinson’s arrest for ‘breaching the peace’ outside a courthouse.

Whitehall had to be closed to traffic as a huge group gathered outside Downing Street on Saturday afternoon, chanting Mr Robinson’s name.

It’s not clear how much can be said about this in the UK – there is apparently a court order that imposes reporting restrictions, and some earlier newspaper stories about the arrest have been removed from the internet. There is nothing sinister about this: there are trials taking place at the courthouse concerned, and the temporary ban would have been imposed to protect the integrity of those proceedings. I assume the Evening Standard knows what it is doing, but out of an abundance of caution I provide no link or go into further details.

However, the information void on social media has of course been filled with the ramblings of blowhards and conspiracy theorists, who claim that an authoritarian state has detained Robinson because he is a high-profile critic of Islam. Those making inflammatory comments along these lines include public figures, such as Geert Wilders (in a piece published by the Gatestone Institute) and the UKIP leader Gerald Batten, who recently appeared with Robinson at others at a supposed “Day for Freedom” rally in London.

Without speculating about the specific grounds for the new arrest, Robinson’s apparent decision to show up outside a court building is surprising, given that he was specifically warned a year ago at Canterbury Crown Court not to do this. This was a condition for having a prison sentence suspended (I discussed the circumstances here); the judge at the time cautioned him that

In short, Mr. Yaxley-Lennon [Robinson’s real name], turn up at another court, refer to people as “Muslim paedophiles, Muslim rapists” and so forth while trials are ongoing and before there has been a finding by a jury that that is what they are, and you will find yourself inside. Do you understand?

There may be some pedantic ambiguity here over whether Robinson must adhere to all of these restrictions together, or might be allowed to “show up at another court” so long as he behaved himself, but any sensible person would surely assume the broadest interpretation and act accordingly. Such a general ban was quite reasonable – it should be remembered that judge was balancing leniency with risk management.

Many of Robinson’s supporters may not be aware of the Canterbury outcome; at the time, he made a short video in which he declared “victory” and a “court win”, but added that he was unable to go into detail. This was because he had raised funds on the promise that he would mount a free-speech defence, but had then pleaded guilty and thrown himself on the court’s mercy.

Esther Baker and the “Perversion of Justice” Claim

UPDATE: Via Twitter, Baker has informed me that this post contains “at least 8 factual errors”, and that I am ” talking bollocks again”. Unfortunately, however, no further details are provided.

From the Daily Mail, last week:

Four months after the Daily Mail raised questions about Esther Baker’s account of supposed VIP abuse, it has been announced that her allegations will not be investigated by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

Inquiry chairman Professor Alexis Jay described Miss Baker’s allegations as ‘highly contentious’ and added that she is the subject of a complaint to police that she had perverted the course of justice.

As per my previous post on this, Baker says that she was abused for an extended period as a child by VIPs in a woodland setting while police stood guard; she also claims to have been taken by night to a location in London that she says may have been Dolphin Square (1), and that the abuse had an international dimension, involving orphanages in a foreign country (unspecified, but from old Tweets likely to have been the Philippines). Three MPs – John Mann, Jess Phillips and Sarah Champion – have expressed confidence in her allegations, but the CPS decided in September 2017 that there was insufficient evidence to proceed.

Not much is known about which public figures Baker has accused, apart from the former MP John Hemming, who went public after the case against him was dropped in September. Baker says that she remembered Hemming as an abuser after seeing him at a meeting in parliament in late 2014 – this meeting apparently saw conflict between Hemming and Baker’s close associate Graham Wilmer over proposed arrangements for the IICSA.

It was reported that Hemming wanted Baker pursued for an alleged attempt to pervert of justice, but that Staffordshire Police had rejected the possibility, on the rationale that “It would not benefit her or the wider community”. Hemming has since taken his complaint directly to the CPS.

It seems that Alexis Jay was not fully appraised of these distinctions, and her statement about her initially included the detail that:

Ms Baker’s allegations… are the subject of both a police investigation (I understand that the police enquiries are now focused on whether Ms Baker should be charged with perverting the course of justice) and also contested civil proceedings.

This was then withdrawn and reissued in a softened form:

Ms Baker’s allegations are highly contentious. They are the subject of both contested civil proceedings and an ongoing police investigation. I am also aware that Mr Hemming is reported to have made a complaint to the CPS that the allegations that Ms Baker has made about him amount to perverting the course of justice.

Some background to the amendment has been provided by the journalist David Hencke, who continues to support Baker’s claims:

I am told [the first version] was withdrawn after Staffordshire Police contacted them to tell them it was untrue and defamatory and it is now deleted from the website. The inquiry confirmed they had deleted it. Instead there is a reference to a complaint by Mr Hemming to the CPS.

There is NO investigation into Esther Baker about her perverting the course of justice. It is itself a fantasy. Staffordshire Police in a carefully crafted statement said she was a ” victim of crime ” and they are still supporting her. When I asked the police force whether there were further investigations into Esther Baker – after Mr Hemming is said to have complained about the ” false accusations” against him – they made it clear there are none.

This is remarkable. Police forces are seldom so proactive when it comes to correcting claims made on their behalf, nor do they usually venture into providing advice about the civil matter of defamation.

Hencke’s account, though, fails to put Staffordshire Police’s stance in full context. We know that forces have been instructed to believe complainants as a matter of procedure (a directive criticised by the Henriques Review into Operation Midland), and that when a police force has set about building a case it is reluctant to later look for evidence that it may have been credulous or misled. We also know that Baker has made other allegations, such as having had underage sex with an employer – the reference to her as a “victim of crime” may thus be reasonable without amounting to a strong endorsement of sensational VIP claims.

Further, it seems unlikely that there is any forensic evidence or third-party testimony that could either prove or debunk Baker’s VIP claims, given the length of time that has passed and the extended period over which the woodland abuse supposedly occurred. The case against Hemming was apparently dropped due to the possibility of a mistaken identification; but this works both ways, and could also be used by Baker as a possible defence against having made a false claim. This is important, as Hencke’s article might give the impression that the police decision not to investigate Baker indicates the strength of her claims, despite the CPS decision.

Meanwhile, Baker has confirmed that an appeal lodged by her against the CPS decision under the Victims’ Right to Review scheme has been rejected. Apparently the result has come earlier than expected, from which she infers improper “pressure” by Hemming over the process.

Footnote

(1) Exaro reported in 2013 that Baker

has also told police that she was sexually abused at a flat in London, which she now believes was in Dolphin Square, the apartment complex where many MPs have homes, near Westminster.

She said that she recognised what one abuse survivor, known as “Darren”, described as the “medical room” at a large apartment in Dolphin Square.

However, she later clarified in December 2015 (here and here) that

Darren and I have described the same room. Independently of each other. He says that room is in DSQ – I was too young to know where it was. It may be DSQ it may not. That is for the police to determine.

The Exaro account, though, does not refer to two independent descriptions, just Baker agreeing with Darren.

Darren’s various allegations came under critical scrutiny in September 2015; some were found to be unsubstantiated, while others were impossible. He eventually withdrew an allegation against the late politician Leon Brittan, and was found to have a long history of dishonesty.

 

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse Reveals New Esther Baker “Westminster” Allegation

Baker says document “misrepresents” her, and was published “against the requests of both myself & a police force”

The website of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has published a “Note of Determination” regarding the scope of its investigations into allegations relating to Westminster. The note confirms the approach announced at the preliminary hearing at the end of January, that it will be considering issues of public concern “relating to the way in which Westminster institutions have historically addressed or responded to issues of child sexual abuse.”

As such, the inquiry will not be investigating allegations of sex abuse made by Esther Baker, who has “core participant” status; this is because

…they are the subject of both contested civil proceedings and an ongoing police investigation… such an investigation would be extremely resource intensive… the Inquiry’s function, which, as Counsel to the Inquiry submitted, is to investigate institutional failings, and not to determine disputed facts on individual cases.

The Note summarises Baker’s allegations, and for the first time it is explicitly recognised that her allegation of abuse in woodland amounts to a “ritualistic” abuse claim. We are also now told that that Baker says that the abuse was filmed, which is (I think) a new element, and the Note further reveals a completely new claim:

In summary, Ms Baker says that as a child she visited a foreign country and stayed at the house of a relative of a person of public prominence associated with Westminster where she was shown a room full of young girls and was sexually assaulted by her host. She alleges that her parents worked with orphanages in the country concerned, in conjunction with her host, and she assumes that visits by politicians and others in a position of power both in the past and to the present day have involved the abuse of young children. On behalf of Ms Baker it is submitted that investigation of the links between Westminster and the foreign country can be conducted if her allegations are considered as part of the scope of the investigation.

Unsurprisingly, this is also rejected as being outside the scope of the IICSA’s inquiry, but the disclosure is a sensational expansion on her earlier claims, which have developed since January 2015. At that time, as “Becky”, she gave an interview to  Channel 4 News in which she said that she had been abused “in a church setting”, and that some of the abusers had been police officers who attended the church. These police officers were later described as guards at woodland orgies involving “VIPs”. At the end of the month she privately accused the then-MP John Hemming as having been an abuser (the date of her allegation apparently confirmed by a screenshot); this was three months after Hemming had criticised the decision to make Fiona Woolf the head of the IICSA, whereas Woolf was supported by an activist with close links to Baker.

Hemming’s name was bandied about by self-styled “anti-CSA activists” for several months until he went public himself – and he is now pursuing legal action. Baker also at one time claimed have been taken by night to be abused by VIPs at Dolphin Square in London, although this is not mentioned in the Note and it did not come up at the preliminary hearing.

In response to the new publication, Baker has posted a statement on Twitter:

I am aware that tonight the @InquiryCSA have published a decision (V2) on scope in the Westminster Strand against the requests of both myself & a police force. The document is both a misrepresentation of what I submitted to the inquiry & of current ongoing events [here]. This document releases details that were not in the public domain and that were not intended to become so, certainly not before the CPS decision. Yet it omits details that were crucial to give context – only those that were private to me, not others. There is much more to be said [here] But I will leave that for the appropriate time and arena. It is safe to say that interference by “persons of public prominence associated with Westminster” has played a part which shall be detailed soon. [here] It needs to be made VERY clear that I have NEVER asked the @InquiryCSA to investigate my allegations. That is outside of scope & they are certainly not qualified to do so. I will be publishing my actual scope submission as soon as circumstances allow. [here]

Baker has previously chided those who have expressed incredulity or doubt about her allegations with the explanation that there is confirmatory material that is outside of the public domain, but that will be revealed in due course. Baker has in the past been vocally supported by the MPs Jess Phillips (who defeated Hemming in the 2015 General Election), Sarah Champion and John Mann.

UPDATE: As noted in the comments, “V2” in Baker’s response refers to a variation in the IICSA statement in relation to John Hemming’s complaint against her.

V1 had:

Ms Baker’s allegations are highly contentious and are the subject of both a police investigation (I understand that the police enquiries are now focused on whether Ms Baker should be charged with perverting the course of justice) and also contested civil proceedings.

This gives the impression that police primarily now regard Baker as a suspect rather than a complainant – a bold and apparently careless claim that is backed away from in V2:

Ms Baker’s allegations are highly contentious. They are the subject of both contested civil proceedings and an ongoing police investigation. I am also aware that Mr Hemming is reported to have made a complaint to the CPS that the allegations that Ms Baker has made about him amount to perverting the course of justice.

Excursus

The IICSA’s statement that does not intend “to determine disputed facts on individual cases” is a retreat from its position in 2015, when it announced that it would undertake an “objective fact-finding inquiry into allegations of abuse by people of public prominence associated w. Westminster”.

There has previously been some public confusion on this point arising from Wiltshire Police’s  farcical £2 million investigation into the former Prime Minister Edward Heath, more than a decade after his death. The force attempted to save face by announcing that it would be passing its “findings” to the IICSA, which generated a compliant Mail on Sunday headline that the inquiry intended to “probe” Heath. However, the new Note confirms that Wiltshire Police accepts that the IICSA will not be making findings of fact, in that the force “do[es] not wish to make submissions on the scope of the investigation”.

It is difficult to imagine how the distinction between “institutional responses to allegations” and the veracity of the allegations themselves will be applied in relation to the IICSA strand devoted to Greville Janner (previously discussed here – scroll down).

A Note on the 1986 “Tory Student Leader in ‘Racist’ Party Link” Guardian Article

Last month saw a moment of renewed interest in a 1986 Guardian news report headlined “Tory Student Leader in ‘Racist’ Party Link”, and a new implicit libel action threat by the article’s subject, the supposed libertarian Paul Staines, better known these days as “Guido Fawkes”.

Staines “gave notice” on Twitter after the article was referenced by the Labour MP Laura Pidcock:

This is Paul – I am in Hong Kong on holiday. Have been alerted to this tweet. The author of this article retracted the allegations in writing decades ago. Am assuming you [Pidcock] and @owenjones84, @paulmasonnews et al are unaware. You are now on notice.

Those with long memories of online disputes will recall that this matter previously came up in 2007, at which time it was initially suggested that the newspaper had itself issued a retraction. It transpired that this was not the case, but that in 1990 the article’s author, David Rose, had written a letter to Staines on Observer letterhead in a private capacity, in which he had conceded that the article “plagues my conscience”. He explained:

I wrote the article after speaking to you but did not did not then accept your explanation of what you had done: to wit, a letter to the local BNP proposing ‘possible joint future activities’ on the the basis of your sharing the BNP’s objectives. You told me then that you wrote this letter as an attempt to trick the BNP, in the hope perhaps of gaining intelligence of its activities and that your motive was only to damage this extreme right-wing organisation.

At the time I regarded this as absurd, but as our acquaintanceship has developed I believe you were telling the truth… [W]ith hindsight, I think I should have accepted your explanation.

The difficulty here is that this does not explain why Rose did not include Staines’s explanation in his article. When someone is approached by a newspaper to provide a comment for a story about themselves, what they have to say in reply is usually included as a matter of course. The journalist’s personal incredulity is irrelevant – indeed, when an article purports to “expose” something, an “absurd” explanation is grist for the mill.

Further, the 1986 article contains a quote that is completely at odds with the above:

Mr Delaire-Staines told the Guardian that… he had tried to forge links with thr BNP because “we share their anti-Communist view”. He added: “They’re not far-right. They’re just racists, they believe in one colour.”

There is no suggestion that Rose concocted this quote, and Staines has not claimed that it is inaccurate. On what basis, then, could Staines threaten legal action? If Staines was willing to present himself in such a light (even though it apparently did not reflect his true views), then he has no basis for complaint if others later take him at what was his public word. It is also difficult to see why this would have “plagued” Rose’s conscience.

The fact that Rose later became friendly with Staines after writing about him in 1986 suggests that Staines had mutually beneficial relationships with certain journalists long before the appearance of the modern internet and social media.

A Note on Some Religious Activists and the Alfie Evans Case

From the Guardian:

The Christian campaign group that acted for the family of Alfie Evans could face an investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the Guardian has learned.

Three court of appeal judges criticised the role of supporters who may have “infiltrated or compromised” the legal representation of Alfie’s parents, Tom Evans and Kate James.

…The high court judge Mr Justice Hayden was particularly critical of the role of Pavel Stroilov, a Russian-born law student who appeared to have taken the lead in representing Alfie’s parents for the Christian Legal Centre (CLC).

BBC Panorama Reveals Police Complacency on Non-Disclosure of Digital Evidence

From BBC News, January:

A man who had a rape conviction overturned after spending two years in prison has said he feels “devastated” and “let down” by the justice system.

Deleted Facebook messages were found by Danny Kay’s sister-in-law leading to the Court of Appeal quashing the conviction.

He said he fears people will always have “doubts” about his innocence.

Derbyshire Police said its investigation will be independently reviewed so “lessons are learned”.

The case has now featured in a BBC Panorama documentary about the late disclosure and non-disclosure of defence evidence in criminal trials – and Derbyshire Police are no longer talking about the need to learn lessons. As summarised in the Sun:

Derbyshire Police told the programme that using only the complainant’s Facebook messages was a proportionate response and that its investigation into Danny wasn’t criticised by the Court of Appeal.

Anyone who has made a complaint about how a police force has handled a matter will instantly recognise this stonewalling attitude. There is no attempt to engage with the substance of a complaint – instead, members of the public are fobbed off with a complacent and dismissive statement that everything has been done correctly, in the face of overwhelming evidence of serious failings.

The Panorama programme also highlighted the case of Clive Steer, a Surrey businessman who recently went on trial accused of bribery; as was reported by Get Surrey in February:

By the time the case was dropped, it had become clear the police officers had failed to examine Mr Steer’s laptop, despite him telling them 18 months previously it contained key evidence.

…Eventually, Mr Steer’s barrister, Julia Smart, obtained a court order requiring the CPS to release his laptop so the defence could examine it themselves.

…Mr Steer said: “I had to do the police’s work for them. We found 246 examples proving my innocence and sent them to the CPS.”

…A CPS spokesmann said: “Following a review, the CPS decided the evidential test in this case was no longer met and offered no evidence against the defendant in January 2018.

“The CPS complied with its disclosure obligations in this case. There were more than 110,000 emails retrieved from the defendant’s hard drive.

“The defendant did not submit a defence case statement but in November 2017 highlighted a small number of emails as being potentially undermining of the prosecution case…”

Note there the gratuitous reference to “more than 110,000 emails”, implying a huge cache that it would be unreasonable for officers to have to wade through – and the police response in Panorama was to emphasise the general problem of dealing with huge amounts of digital data.

This supposed obstacle, though, disappears when the context is taken into account. In the Kay case, the prosecution relied on a doctored Facebook message thread provided by the complainant: the police needed only to check the same thread in Kay’s Facebook archive, not trawl through all his messages. And in the case of Steer, he could have “highlighted” the “small number of emails” months previously had he not been deprived of his laptop. Presumably it was impounded to prevent the potential deletion of prosecution evidence, but this does not explain why the laptop could not have been brought to an interview room and Steer allowed to guide an officer to the crucial 246 messages.

I would advise anyone who has come to police attention as a suspect to be on their guard. Do not assume that an obviously vexatious or trivial allegation will be recognised as such, or that a misunderstanding will be ironed out with an informal chat. Instead, take it that the police are interested only in building a prosecution case, however flimsy or constructed in bad faith.

Excursus

Although not discussed in Panorama, Steer’s case also brought to light evidence of police misconduct in a different context, after unrelated material was mistakenly sent to his defence. The story is covered here.

Franklin Graham Endorses Bible Book by Birther Joseph Farah

From WND:

Can the gospel literally be found in every book of the Hebrew Scriptures?

Joseph Farah says it can and systemically, book by book, reveals the clear redemptive passages found in all 39 books of the Old Testament.

…Farah, a lifelong journalist, applied the skills he developed as an investigative reporter to do what Bible scholars had not previously done—systematically explore all 39 books of the Old Testament for the good news fully revealed in the Greek Scriptures. The book [The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament] is not releasing until September, but you can help spread the Good News.

… it demonstrates the miraculous nature of the Bible. It reveals the singular, cohesive message through all 66 books of Scripture, including all 39 of the Old Testament.

Such a claim, of course, is grandiose to the point of absurdity. Farah – whose “skills as an investigative journalist” mostly consist of promoting alarmist conspiracy theories about Muslims and Barack Obama’s birth certificate (a subject he advised Donald Trump about) – is just the latest crank to approach the Bible with a pet theory that of course he is then gratified to find confirmed in what he reads. The blunder is called eisegesis.

Certainly, a proper understanding of the New Testament requires knowledge of the Hebrew Bible. It is also the case that Christians have historically understood the New Testament as providing a fuller understanding of the “Old Testament”, although this is contested – obviously, followers of Judaism reject the idea that their holy text prefigures the New Testament, and the “Old Testament” is perfectly comprehensible without reference to a collection of Greek texts written centuries later.

Farah’s supposed discovery of “the singular, cohesive message” – here framed as a supernatural phenomenon – relates to what he refers to as “the Gospel of the Kingdom”:

When most of us think about the Gospel, we think about the message of personal salvation. When we witness to people, when we evangelize, we share that precious message of repentance, Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection and the gift of eternal life. But what we don’t typically share is the message of what Peter called in Acts 3 “the restoration or restitution of all things,” the redemption of the whole world – the new world Jesus will restore when He returns, a world, the prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel and Joel all say, will be like “the Garden of Eden.”

The term “Gospel of the Kingdom” is familiar enough, although it’s not very clear from the above what exactly Farah is bringing to it. Nevertheless, endorsements have poured in from Christian Right figures – most notably, Franklin Graham, whose blurb appears on the cover:

Don’t miss the true adventure of seeing God’s perfect plan of redemption from beginning to end.

There is also praise from the likes of Mike Hukabee, Greg Laurie, Ray Comfort and Dinesh D’Souza, as well as that well-known Biblical scholar Mr Chuck Norris. Also on board is General Patrick Brady, “Medal of Honor recipient, most decorated living soldier” (“I hope this book will help bring it back by uniting both books into one gospel and one message for salvation for all”).

We’re also told that

…ministries around the country are eagerly awaiting the release of the book, which has already been approved for sale by Franklin Graham for the Billy Graham Library and being considered now for sale in the Museum of the Bible…

Farah is an important link between the Christian Right and right-wing conspiricism, equally at home appearing with Jim Bakker and chatting with Alex Jones. His name on display at the Billy Graham Library and the Museum of the Bible would be triumph of self-promotion, but also a sign of malaise within US evangelicalism.

However, we’re not quite there yet – although the cover has been designed, funds are required:

WND and WND Books does not have the financial resources to print the first 100,000 books, which will cost over $200,000.

…Can you help WND raise at least $200,000 right now with your tax-deductible contributions or your free-will non-deductible gifts directly to WND so we can help spread this vital Gospel message?

Would you like to help bring this message to the whole world? Isn’t that just what Jesus asked us to do, saying that accomplishment would precipitate His return?

(H/T ConWebWatch)