The Rebel Again Asks for Donations to a “Legal Defence Fund”

From The Rebel:

Tonight, Rebel reporter Laura Loomer was arrested in New York after interrupting the Broadway production of Julius Caesar, a play by William Shakespeare that had been politically altered to feature the assassination of U.S. President Donald Trump.

…The Rebel has hired a lawyer to work for Laura’s immediate release on free speech grounds — precisely the same argument the theatre uses to justify their play.

To contribute to Laura’s legal defence fund, please click below.

An update adds:

…UPDATE: Laura has been freed from jail. She is facing two charges: trespassing and disorderly conduct. We will fight those charges vigorously in court.

The stunt was obviously pre-arranged – indeed, it appears that Ezra Levant registered a “freelaura.com” url that redirects to The Rebel a few hours ahead of the interruption. The outcome was inevitable; why, then, is the site now asking for donations as a matter of urgency?

The above in effect promises that Loomer will plead not guilty and offer a justification, even though she has not yet taken legal advice. The case, then, is not just about benefiting Loomer, but establishing a point of principle.

Those of us who can remember back several weeks, though, will recall similar rhetoric when Tommy Robinson, the former EDL leader who now works for The Rebelwas arrested while filming for the website in the UK. The Rebel asked for donations, which it promised would be used to “put together a powerful legal argument in defence of Tommy’s free speech and freedom of the press.” And after Robinson’s court appearance, The Rebel declared “victory” and a “court win”, and Robinson made a short statement thanking donors.

However, it emerged a few days later that Robinson’s defence team had not in fact “put together a powerful legal argument in defence of Tommy’s free speech and freedom of the press”. Instead, Robinson had pleaded guilty to contempt of court and thrown himself on the court’s mercy. He was apologetic; he said that he had not been trained in media law; and he asked the court to take account of the fact that his personal safety would be at risk in prison. The judge gave him a suspended sentence.

Footnote

Also present at the interruption in New York was The Rebel‘s Jack Posobiec. Posobiec came to attention in December, when he suggested that the Comet Pizza gunman was a “false flag”designed to censor independent news sources.

A Note on Mustafa al-Mansur, Friday’s Grenfell Tower Demonstration Organiser

From the Daily Telegraph:

The organiser of Friday’s Grenfell Tower demonstration, in which protesters stormed Kensington Town Hall, is a Jeremy Corbyn-supporting political activist who was once arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

Businessman Mustafa al-Mansur, 39, launched a Facebook campaign urging people affected by the tragedy to gather at council offices on Friday afternoon, after discovering that a family friend had died in the tragedy.

It emerged last night that Mr Mansur, who used to be spokesman for the Finsbury Park Mosque, had been arrested 10 years ago by the Metropolitan Police on suspicion of terrorism offences. He was released without charge and later claimed he had been detained because his fingerprints had been found on a book about improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which belonged to a Bosnian associate.

The article makes it clear that al-Mansur (var. Mustafa Almansur) “appealed for calm” when he addressed the crowd at Kensington Town Hall, and he was quoted as complaining about “fringe elements”.

On Twitter, the Telegraph quote about Finsbury Park Mosque was annotated by Jack Montgomery, a Breitbart writer, to say that al-Mansur was “spokesman for [Abu Hamza’s] Finsbury Park Mosque”. From this, it was further claimed by Colonel Richard Kemp that al-Mansur was an “associate” of Abu Hamza.

Abu Hamza was forced out of the mosque in January 2003, and it was closed down a few months later. It reopened under new management early in 2005, and it is only from this period that  al-Mansur is described in the media as the mosque’s spokesman. The source is an AFP report helpfully preserved online by Free Republic:

Some 500 attend the mosque on average, mostly Muslims of Somalian, north African, Bangladeshi and Pakistani background, said Mustafa al-Mansur, the mosque’s spokesman, who is himself from Bangladesh.

“There are two types of people. There are people who stopped coming because of the previous management because they didn’t feel safe or comfortable, and there are people who didn’t care,” he told AFP.

“We don’t see any recognizable faces any more,” he added. “Since Abu Hamza left, the mosque was closed for several months. When Abu Hamza left there was a sigh of relief… Even some Abu Hamza supporters thanked us.”

A new Daily Mail article also makes explicit that al-Mansur was mosque spokesman “after the time of notorious hate preacher Abu Hamza”. There is thus no reason to suppose that the two were associates or that al-Mansur supported Abu Hamza. Al-Mansur is not mentioned in the literature about Abu Hamza.

Al-Mansur was apparently arrested in December 2006, and he gave an account of it six weeks later to Madeleine Bunting at the Guardian. Only his first name is used in the article as it currently appears online, although a re-posting on a forum shows that it used to carry his full name. He told Bunting:

After several days of questioning, it became clear why he had been arrested. He was shown a book entitled IED (improvised explosive devices). It was an American manual and he dimly remembered seeing it before. “It was about 1995,” he says. “I was 17 or 18. I met a man at a mosque in Clapton, east London; he was involved in a Bosnian humanitarian organisation, and over about six months I saw him a few times. On one occasion, he took me to the flat of a friend of his and that’s where I saw the book. I picked it up, skimmed through it and put it down. That was all. The police said they had found the book in a box in an attic and they found six fingerprints of mine on the book.”

Mustafa’s fingerprints were already on the police database from an earlier, unrelated incident and the police were swiftly able to establish a match.

The Telegraph also notes that al-Mansur had “praised Mr Corbyn recently on his Facebook page”. Clearly, then, there are no obvious signs of support for Islamic extremism in his social media profile, otherwise the Telegraph would have mentioned it.

False “News Blackout” Claim in Fawnbrook Sexual Assault Case

From WND:

News blackout on refugee boys who sexually assaulted Idaho girl

It’s as if it never happened.

A judge sentenced three Muslim refugee boys in the sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl in Idaho, but nobody knows the length or terms of the sentence because the judge has barred everyone in the courtroom, including the victim’s own parents, from speaking about the case.

The three boys — two from Iraq ages 7 and 10, and one from Sudan aged 14 — pleaded guilty in juvenile court in April to multiple counts of sex crimes in an incident that occurred last June in Twin Falls. The assault occurred at Fawnbrook Apartments, when 5-year-old Jayla, who is developmentally disabled, was lured into a laundry room, stripped of her clothing and sexually assaulted while the oldest boy filmed the entire incident.

This is an odd kind of “news blackout”, considering that the case has been widely reported in US media. There are of course reporting restrictions, but these are standard and because juveniles are involved in a criminal matter.

The WND author, Leo Hohmann (fresh from his botched reporting about Somalis in Minnesota), suggests that the “gag order” exists because the judge for some reason wishes to suppress criticism of how the prosecution handled the case. He quotes Pamela Geller, who claims to have received “leaked” information from inside the court, and the victim’s lawyer, Mark Guerry, who says that the family “were especially upset with the prosecutor’s repeated statements in the media defending the juvenile defendants, rather than focusing on the victim”. There’s also a bit of punditry from Matt Staver, who says that the judge has “forgotten about the First Amendment.”

The Twin Falls County Prosecutor, Grant Loebs, has responded to Guerry’s criticisms, although you wouldn’t know it from WND. As reported in the Idaho Statesman, Loebs explains:

“It’s not the job of a prosecutor to zealously represent the victim. My job is to zealously advocate for the state of Idaho and for whatever process results in the just settlement of the case and the truth coming out. That’s what we did from day 1,”

The article also notes that Guerry has previously accused Loebs of using improper influence to escape drink-driving charges, when in fact Loebs has never been suspected of such an offence.

There is also an important long-read about the background to the case by Daniel Vock in Governing magazine (“the nation’s leading media platform covering politics, policy and management for state and local government leaders”). Vock notes how early reports about the incident were highly inaccurate:

…The first reports falsely claimed that two of the assailants were Syrian and that they used a knife to carry out the attack. These reports described the assault in graphic detail, although Loebs says many of the details were wrong. The accounts were quickly picked up by websites such as InfoWars and World Net Daily. The Drudge Report ran an account under the headline: “REPORT: Syrian ‘Refugees’ Rape Little Girl at Knifepoint in Idaho.”

Notoriously, Alex Jones suggested that Chobani Yogurt was responsible, because it employed refugees in its local plant – the company sued, and Jones retracted (his second recent climb-down from a story he has been unable to substantiate).

Vock also describes the activist role played by a Breitbart reporter:

Breitbart sent its lead investigative reporter at the time, Lee Stranahan, to the city for a month to report on the Fawnbrook case and dig for dirt on the refugee program. Stranahan went beyond writing stories. He berated a city council member during the public comment portion of a meeting. Then he helped launch a group to promote populism and “localism” rather than “globalism” in Twin Falls. The group, called “Make Your Hometown Great Again,” also pushed for more aggressive policing, curbs on immigration and developing alternative media to replace local newspapers and TV stations as sources of information.

The creation of the supposed “group” appears to have been a stunt a few weeks ahead of the Presidential election – there has been no sign of it since, and Vock notes that Stranahan has now moved on and works for “a Russian news outlet” (a generous description of Sputnik, a propaganda operation owned by the Russian state).

Hostility towards the local media turned vicious: Vock explains that employees at the local Times-News received threats of violence, while the editor, Matt Christensen, received a rape threat against his daughters. Hardliners even a targeted a local Fox News contributor, Bill Colley.

None of this is of interest to WND of course, who would rather whip up spurious fear and resentment with a false claim about a “news blackout”.

Conspiracy Theorist Goes After Theresa May’s Late Father

A website called The Swamp (“a community exploring the murky waters of politics”, according to its publisher, Jerrick Media) has published a particularly nasty conspiracy article focusing on Theresa May’s father. There’s an argument for ignoring this kind of material – the article is thin even by the standards of conspiricists, and so far no-one of standing is promoting the story on social media. Yet there is a sense that the article – by one Johnny Vedmore (“Singer, Songwriter, Political Blogger, Legalise Cannabis Advocate and a Welshman”) – is gaining social media traction, and so I reluctantly give it a minimum of attention here.

The conspiracy focuses on the fact that Theresa May’s father, the late Reverend Hubert Brasier, used to have a Wikipedia page, but that this has been removed. The author found a copy of the original on Wayback, and asks: “It’s not a large entry, it covers only the basics, so why would you want it removed?”

The answer, of course, is to be found on the relevant “Articles for Deletions” page, which remains live. It shows that Wikipedians discussed the page, and that it was eventually decided that Reverend Brasier had not been a public figure in his own right, and as such ought not to have his own entry. Instead, the link to the original page now redirects to the page for Theresa May. The supposed “mystery” is thus solved.

However, the Swamp conspiracy theorist prefers to suggest that it has been removed to hide some sinister secret, and without providing any documentation he adds that “After researching Hubert’s life I came across many pages that had been removed, links to nowhere, and a few conspiracy theories too”. Whereas I looked him up online and found plenty of references to him in the media.

The author points out that Reverend Brasier trained to be a priest with Community of the Resurrection Seminary School in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, and that some decades later there were claims of child sex abuse associated with this location. He further notes that Brasier married late; that he was a hospital chaplain in Eastbourne at the same time that John Bodkin Adams, a GP suspected of murdering patients, was active in the town; and that the Diocese of Chichester has seen several clerical child sex scandals (including that of Bishop Peter Ball). There is nothing to implicate Brasier in any kind of wrongdoing (indeed, there’s not even a coherent allegation), but Vedmore builds an edifice from these tenuous associations and his misunderstanding of why the Wikipedia page no longer exists to posit a “cover up”.

But just when you think the article has scraped the very bottom the bottom of the barrel, there’s an even more idiotic suggestion: that Theresa May deliberately set up the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse to fail, because “the inquiry into child sexual abuse seems to be something Theresa May does not want to face”. In which case, why did she propose it in the first place?

There’s no point arguing with this sort of author (and those promoting the garbage on Twitter): they don’t give a damn about what’s true or not, and they’re not interested in helping abuse victims. All they care about is (a) the cheap thrill they get from accusing “powerful” people of child sex abuse, no matter how flimsy the supposed basis for it; and/or (b) weaponizing a concocted claim for some reason or another, usually to do with politics (I looked at another example a few weeks ago). The current example is logged here primarily as a particularly egregious specimen of the problem.

UPDATE: Vedmore has now promoted his “research” on the Richie Allen Show. I previously discussed Allen, an associate of David Icke, here.

New “End-Times” Book Identifies “Mystery Babylon” as Mecca

WND has news of yet another “end-times” book:

It’s already the center of a great empire – but it’s only going to grow in the years to come. In fact, says New York Times bestselling author Joel Richardson, it’s shaping to be the “mega-city” of the Antichrist himself.

The city is Mecca, the object of devotion of Muslims around the world who pray in its direction five times a day.

…”In the early history of the church the primary opinion of believers seemed to be that the pagan city of Rome was Mystery Babylon,” Richardson explained. “Of course, they lived under the shadow, under the dominance, the hegemony, of the pagan Roman empire. But as the Roman Empire essentially fell, as pagan Rome fell and it was Christianized, then that view lost favor. And so the next major view that we find in history is that it was Islam. Islam, as a religion, represented Mystery Babylon. We see that in some of the earlier commentaries we have on Islam.”

Richardson draws attention to infrastructure projects that will apparently combine Mecca with Medina, Jeddah, and King Abdullah Economic City, and he notes the influence of the Saudi lobby in Washington. A video on the site also shows various American Presidents greeting Saudi rulers over the years, culminating with Obama’s infamous bow of 2009; it thus passes over Trump’s dip (mocked as a “curtsy”) as he received the the Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud a few days ago. On Twitter, Richardson judges that “When @POTUS44 met the Saudi king, he bowed before him. This time around, the Saudis bowed to @POTUS No other way to assess it.”

Like his previous works, Richardson’s new book is published by the birther conspiracist Joseph Farah at WND Books; it builds on (and according to one Amazon review, appears in part to repeat) his argument that the Anti-Christ will be a Muslim. In terms of scholarship, his thesis blunders in the same way as other self-proclaimed “End Times experts”. The prophetic books of the Bible may seem to contain obscurities, but these become explicable when understood in historical context; “prophecy experts” instead look for other contexts, which is both unnecessary and nonsensical, and thus commit the error of eisegesis – reading things into a text that aren’t there.

Richardson’s previous books have been endorsed prophecy “peers”, as well as none other than Robert Spencer (1); this new book comes with blurbs from Tom Horn, whose own extravagant end-times theories owe more to science fiction than Biblical scholarship;  Chris Mitchell, CBN’s Jerusalem correspondent; Pastor Mark Biltz, of “Blood Moons” fame; and Marvin Rosenhthal, who runs a ministry to Jews.

Richardson also thanks a number of pastors and others for assisting with the book’s preparation: these include Samuel Whitefield, “director of OneKing, a ministry that helps connect the global church to God’s purposes for Israel and the nations”; Stephen Holmes, who hopes to missionize Israelis living in Nepal; Ralph Woodrow, an old-school evangelist who formerly took the view that “Babylon” was the Roman Catholic Church, but then changed his mind; David Lindhjem of Perleporten Mission for God, which provides Richardson’s books in Norwegian translation and beams evangelistic programming into Iran; and Dax Cabrera, a businessman who specialises in medical services but who also turns his hand to Christian novels.

Babylon has also been identified with Mecca by Richardson’s one-time associate Walid Shoebat.

Footnote

(1) Richardson and Spencer also recently spoke together at an unnamed church in Colorado.

Police Drop Stalking Complaints Made by “VIP Sex Abuse” Complainant and Journalist

From the Daily Post, September 2016:

A blogger has been arrested on suspicion of stalking after police raided a property on Anglesey.

Darren Laverty was arrested when officers from North Wales Police swooped on the house at Llanfairpwll at roughly 7am.

Local reports say the front door was rammed off its hinges when the early morning search warrant was executed.

And from David Hencke, January 2017:

Police arrest man on suspicion of stalking a child sexual abuse survivor

…I understand the man arrested was Simon Just and the person who was being allegedly stalked was Esther Baker, who has publicly disclosed that she is an abuse survivor.

…In a separate move  earlier another  man – understood to be Darren Laverty – has also been arrested  and charged with stalking Esther Baker and another woman, a journalist.

Both cases have now been dropped; according to the journalist Mark Watts on Twitter (start here):

I asked CPS + Met for statements yesterday. CPS today: “Following a review of additional evidence received from the police, we have concluded that there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction, and will not be pursuing the case.” CPS re Darren Laverty added in its statement: “The court and the parties involved have been informed.”… Simon Just was to answer police bail this month after arrest in Jan on suspicion of online stalking, but Met is dropping investigation… Met has made no comment as yet…

One wonders what the “additional evidence” was, and why the police previously thought that there was enough to go on for a investigation into not just alleged harassment but of the more serious “stalking”.

The case is of interest for several reasons.

1. Baker alleges that she was subjected to organised and ritualistic sex abuse as a child, and her claims are currently under police investigation. Among other things, she says that she was taken to Dolphin Square in London by night, where she was abused by VIPs. She remains a vocal supporter of “Nick”, whose extravagant claims of sadistic sex abuse by politicians and others prompted the “Operation Midland” fiasco. She has also provided commentary on VIP abuse for the Richie Allen Show, a conspiracy radio podcast associated with David Icke.

2. Simon Just has written critically about Baker a number of times on social media. He has also criticised the Lantern Project, which provides a controversial therapeutic treatment to abuse survivors. Baker is associated with the organisation.

3. News of the police action against Laverty and Just was received with some glee online, with a number of accounts (some anonymous) triumphantly expressing great confidence that prosecutions and convictions would follow. Watts – who had championed “Nick’s” claims at Exaro News – wrote on the day Just was arrested: “Oh and Happy New Year! So far, 2017 is already going better than 2016. Eight green bottles hanging on the wall”. The obvious inference from this was that two individuals had now “fallen”, and that further arrests would follow. Baker RTed the Tweet.

4. Also among those praising Just’s arrest was the libertarian “free speech” Tweeter Robert Ambridge (“Old Holborn”), who alleges that Just had targeted him in the past.

5. The arrests were also cited by the barrister Sarah Phillimore as part of ongoing feud against another barrister, Barbara Hewson. As I wrote about last month, Phillimore recently made an allegation of harassment against Barbara; according to her own account, she said that

…I am very concerned that Ms Hewson is in contact with two men who have just been arrested for stalking Esther Baker and an unnamed journalist. These men are Simon Just and Darren Laverty.

This “concern” comes across as affected, and the “guilt by association” tactic now looks more opportunistic and trivial than ever.

6. There does not seem to be any legal reason why the journalist is “unnamed”, although just in case there is, I will refrain from providing the name here.

Another Jimmy Savile “Vote Conservative” Hoax Image Goes Viral

There may be a number of reasons not to vote Conservative in the next UK election, but “Jimmy Savile supported the Conservative Party” is not one of them – especially when fake images are brought into the argument. Two examples that are being widely disseminated on social media are shown below.

The first is Savile wearing a t-shirt in 1985, on which is written “Don’t get your fingers burnt”; apparently, the slogan related to a government straw and stubble disposal campaign. This image has now been doctored so that the t-shirt now says “Vote Conservative” and bears the Conservative Party’s old torch logo. The doctored image also carries the mysterious words “Sket Chag” in the bottom-right corner, barely visible.

The second picture is of Savile with a van – a “California” made by Volkswagon, apparently published by the car-marker as an advertisement. This van has been doctored into a Conservative Party election campaign vehicle. That one has been around for a while, and was noted as a hoax by the Daily Telegraph in early 2016.

There are, of course, genuine photographs of Savile with Conservative politicians, most notably Ted Heath and Margaret Thatcher. However, such photos reflect Savile’s status as a celebrity campaigner and his access to government; they do not indicate that Savile was publicly aligned with the Conservative Party (Savile was later photographed with Tony Blair). Nor, despite frequent postings to conspiracy websites, do they demonstrate that these politicians must have been involved with child sex abuse.

Savile has been linked to claims of “VIP Westminster abuse” by three individuals:

1. Operation Midland’s “Nick” says that he was abused by a group that included Savile, and that Savile was “sadistic”. Harvey Proctor was astonished and exasperated to be asked whether he had known Savile.

2. Jimmy Savile’s nephew Guy Marsden spoke affectionately of his uncle following his death in 2011; however, two years after the broadcast of the Savile allegations in 2012, he suddenly decided to relate how he had found his uncle among paedophiles after running away to London. Then, after allegations were made against Ted Heath in 2015, Marsden added that the group had apparently included Heath.

3. The American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones says that according to his “sources”, Savile would procure girls for Heath, and that these children would be ritually sacrificed in front of him.

Documentary Stirs New Interest in Schøyen Collection’s “Tower of Babel stele”

Also: Mystery of two provenance stories

From the website of the Smithsonian Channel:

SECRETS: SEASON 4: EPISODE 1
TOWER OF BABEL

Inside the legendary city of Babylon in modern-day Iraq lie the remains of a vast structure, which ancient records suggest was the Tower of Babel. Is it possible that this biblical stairway to heaven actually existed? Experts think it did, and thanks to satellite technology and new discoveries, they have pinpointed exactly where the legendary tower once stood, and what it looked like. Join us as we revisit the inspiration for one of the strangest stories in the Bible, and then recreate the spectacular skyscraper in all its glory.

The programme includes discussion of a seventh/sixth-century BCE stone stele that depicts E-temen-anki, the ziggurat of Babylon as rebuilt by Nebuchadnezzar II. This site has long been identified as the model for the Bible’s Tower of Babel, but the stele’s appearance on the show has inspired some excited reports on Christian media websites: “Scientists Discover Irrefutable Evidence Tower of Babel Was Real” (Charisma News); “Evidence for Bible’s Tower of Babel Discovered” (Christian Post); “Stone Tablet Believed to Confirm Tower of Babel” (WND); and so on.

These headlines are all over-stated. The former existence of the ziggurat has never been in doubt, and the site was excavated in the early years of the twentieth century. Further, although the site may have inspired the Biblical story, the story itself relates to a legendary structure that supposedly existed thousands of years earlier.

The stele is part of the Schøyen Collection (MS 2063), which is owned by a private Norwegian collector, Martin Schøyen. It is described in a 2011 book by Andrew George, Cuneiform Royal Inscriptions And Related Texts In The Schøyen Collection, although it was already known before this. George writes:

This extraordinary monument, popularly known as the Tower of Babel stele, has already been brought to the attention of scholarship and the wider public. As one of the Schøyen Collection’s most notable objects, a photograph of its face was early placed in the collection’s online checklist of manuscripts (www.schoyencollection.com/babylonianhist.htm), where it soon attracted comment (e.g. Van De Mieroop 2003: 264). The photograph has been reproduced several times in print, in both academic and popular publications (Schwemer 2005: 16, Montero 2005: 216, André-Salvini 2008: 229), and my drawing of it has already appeared in a popular book on early cities (Levy 2008: 31).

…The ziqqurrat of Babylon has fascinated many generations of antiquarians, from those romantically attracted to the notion that it was the Tower of Babel to those concerned with the detailed reconstruction of the cultic topography of Marduk’s sanctuary. 

This 2011 publication caught the interest of the Daily Mail, which ran a piece at the time under the headline “One of the Earliest Drawings of the Tower of Babel found on Ancient Stone Tablet”.

An inscription on the stele states that Nebuchadnezzar “mobilized [all] countries everywhere” for the construction project, and the current Schøyen Collection webpage for the object links this to the Bible story:

Obviously all the tens of thousands of workers speaking different languages, could not communicate with each other, and this caused a total confusion at this huge building project, which lasted 43 years. Neither the Babylonian gods nor Yahweh needed to come down from heaven to interfere and cause language confusion. And most importantly, the Jews taken into captivity in 586 BC after destruction of Jerusalem, were there in Babylon and observed the building of the Tower and the confusion. So when the Genesis text was composed by the Jews during the Babylonian exile and after return to their homeland in 539 BC, this down to earth chaotic building story had to be put in a theological context, and hence the present text in Genesis 11:1-9.

George endorses this (somewhat speculative) theory in an interview for the Smithsonian Channel show.

The webpage that is cited in George’s 2011 book is no longer active, and instead redirects to another part of the Schøyen Collection website. However, a quote from the lost webpage has been preserved on some other sites, and also appears in some academic sources:

The stele was found in a special hiding chamber, broken into 3 parts in antiquity, at Robert Koldewey’s excavations of the site of the Tower of Babel in 1917. Its importance was immediately recognised. A photograph was taken with 3 archaeologists standing next to the stele. With the imminent danger of war breaking out in the area, they decided to rescue it, and each archaeologist carried one part out of the war zone. One part was taken to Germany, one part to Jordan and then London, the third part to U.S.A.

This story appears to be alluded to in the Smithsonian Channel documentary; in a preview clip, a (rather bombastic) narrator explains that the stele “was discovered in Babylon over a century ago. Unbelievably, no one realized how important it was until Professor Andrew George, an expert in ancient texts, brought its faint carvings back to life”.

Oddly, however, this somewhat romantic story is no longer present anywhere on the Schøyen Collection website, and it is flatly contradicted in George’s book. George is certain that Koldeway had no knowledge of the stele, and he notes “the complete silence of nineteenth and twentieth-century archaeological records in regard to the stele”. George suggests that it was probably removed from Babylon during antiquity to some other site, perhaps Susa, and he concludes:

The stele, if it was also taken to Susa, clearly evaded discovery by [Jacques] de Morgan and subsequent excavators, but could have been found by local people in an interval between expeditions or after scientific exploration of the site ceased. Or it could have come from some other site where Babylonian antiquities were hoarded.

So how exactly did it come into Schøyen’s hands (the top part, showing the image but not the inscription, was apparently first exhibited in 1997, according to the current webpage), and where did the incorrect provenance story involving Koldewey and a photograph with “3 archaeologists” come from? It should be noted that the Schøyen Collection is controversial, with allegations that some items in the collection amount to “tainted cultural property”.

Tommy Robinson Confuses Contempt of Court with Journalism

From Kent Live:

Controversial political activist Tommy Robinson has been arrested for contempt of court after attempting to interview four men on trial for raping a 16-year-old girl in Thanet.

Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, who took on the alias Tommy Robinson during his stint as leader of the English Defence League (EDL), was warned by police outside Canterbury Crown Court on Monday (May 8).

As the police descended down on his home early this morning (May 10), Robinson took to twitter to say the charges related to “attempted journalism.”

…A spokesperson for Kent Police said: “On Wednesday, officers attended an address in Luton, Bedfordshire, and arrested a 34-year-old man for contempt of court…”

…Robinson set up his own media venture, The Rebel, which films confrontations with alleged Muslim criminals.

That last part is slightly inaccurate: The Rebel is a Canadian media outlet run by Ezra Levant, who employs Robinson as a “contributor” (in the US, Rebel contributors include Jack Posobiec, who helped to promote “Pizzagate” conspiracy theories and who is currently in the news in relation to the “Macron leak” story).

There have been two main strands to Robinson’s “reporting” at The Rebel  confrontations with critics, and appearances outside court buildings during trials involving groups of men who have been accused of raping young girls; Robinson is exclusively interested in cases in which the defendants are men of Muslim heritage. As well as Canterbury, Robinson has shown up outside trials in Huddersfield and Oxford.

Robinson, of course, wants the public to believe that Muslim crimes are being covered up by a complicit media on behalf of a corrupt establishment, which is why he says he has been arrested simply for “journalism”. Ezra Levant, meanwhile, has connected the arrest to Robinson’s advocacy on behalf of a rape complainant in Sunderland, suggesting that police have acted because they have been “embarrassed” by Robinson’s reporting.

However, videos of Robinson’s “attempted journalism” in this area have for the most part consisted of him goading and abusing defendants as they enter the courts, and denouncing their friends and supporters for “defending” their crimes by asserting their innocence.

Obviously, this is legally problematic. In the UK, there are strict laws about what can be reported during a live trial, and one of the most basic rules is that a defendant should not be declared guilty in a media statement before a verdict has been reached. (1) Confronting defendants (and possibly witnesses) outside of a court is even more egregious, as it is likely to affect the composure of those who are about to give evidence. In the Canterbury case, the defendants also include one individual who is a juvenile and who as such cannot be named in the media – and it is doubtful that Robinson would have been mindful of this restriction in his filming.

UPDATE (27 May): Robinson appeared in court on 22 May. Afterwards, he made a short video in which he declared “victory” and a “court win”, but added that he was unable to go into the details. On 26 May it was revealed by Kent Live that he had pleaded guilty to contempt of court, and had received a suspended sentence. In mitigation, he explained that he had not been trained in media law, and that his life would be at risk in prison. It is not known why Robinson was unable to provide this particular context on 22 May, although the case was still on at that time. It concluded with guilty verdicts on 26 May.

Robinson maintains that he was given “3 month suspended prison sentence for trying to warn the public they were on bail living near them”, although the fact that other reporters covered the case for Kent Live and other media without falling foul of the law would suggest that this is a somewhat partial account of what happened.

Footnote

(1) Some fringe sites have clouded the issue by conflating Robinson’s videos with an old case from 2013, in which a man named Mohammed Karrar and his associates were jailed for “rape and trafficking” in Oxford.

Northumbria Police Respond to “Social Media Reporting” on Sunderland Rape Allegation

From the website of Northumbria Police:

Northumbria Police has released a statement in relation to social media reporting on an attack that happened in Hendon [in Sunderland] last year.

Chief Supt Ged Noble, the Southern Area Commander at Northumbria Police, said:

“Reporting on social media about a complaint of a serious assault in Peel Street Hendon last year has grossly misrepresented the facts… On receiving the complaint, Northumbria Police made early arrests and conducted an extensive investigation. Officers sensitively gained the complainant’s recollection of the event, secured CCTV footage, interviewed independent witnesses and obtained DNA and other forensic samples.

“The CPS took the decision that no action should be taken, in accordance with the evidential test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

“The complainant has been informed of her right to appeal that decision… It is disappointing that the victim is now having to endure a situation where the case she was involved in is being subjected to entirely misleading reporting, based on unfounded information, via social-media outlets…”

The “serious assault” is actually an allegation of rape. Last September, it was reported that a young woman had awoken “with cuts and bruises”at a strange address after a night out, and that six men had been arrested; a few weeks later, a fuller account of the allegations in the Daily Mail revealed that the suspects were “a gang of six migrants from Iraq, Syria and Bahrain”. The Mail report also had details of a “far-right” protest march “involving the Sunderland Defence League”, during which the property had been attacked and two unconnected Asian men assaulted.

More recently, the allegations have been publicised by former EDL leader Tommy Robinson via Ezra Levant’s Canadian Rebel Media website, which now employs Robinson as a contributor. However, contrary to Northumbria Police, the complainant does not seem be “enduring” the attention – instead, she has (informally – see update below) waived her right to anonymity, given an interview to Robinson, and appears to be actively involved in marches demanding “Justice for Chelsey”. According to what she told Robinson, a rape exam “uncovered two counts of semen, one of them inside her body”, and it is further alleged that police failed to speak to a witness who saw the suspects attempting to restrain the complainant as she fled the property in a distressed state.

Robinson used his recent appearance on the Daily Politics Show to draw attention to the case, citing a web address that has been registered by Levant and that redirects to a relevant page on The Rebel. Robinson believes that the police have failed to investigate properly because the suspects are Muslims, and his supporters complain that there is a media “blackout” in place.

Robinson has been keen to stress that the protests reflect the feelings of “the community” in Sunderland. Perhaps this is so, but the far-right appears to be an organising presence. In particular, an activist named Billy Charlton is heavily involved, and Robinson can seen posing with him here. It is difficult to believe that Robinson is unaware that Charlton has a history with Combat 18, and difficult to to understand why someone who frequently complains bitterly that he is mischaracterised as far-right would be willing to overlook such an association.

Further, this context of far-right involvement is probably why the media is wary of continuing with the story. The prior coverage in the Mail shows that there is no squeamishness about running a story that might stoke up resentment against migrants or Muslims, but for the most part not even other conservative outlets are touching it – Paul Joseph Watson is on board, but there is nothing even on Breitbart, while commentators who railed against old police failures to tackle “grooming” in places like Rotherham haven’t (so far as I have seen) said anything about it either.

UPDATE (16 May): The Sunderland Echo has a follow-up piece, which includes a quote from John Dilworth, acting Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North East. According to Dilworth, there was a “thorough investigation” by police, and that only one of the suspects was referred to the CPS. The Echo adds:

The Echo understands that the CCTV and forensic evidence gathered significantly undermined any assertion that the complainant had been kidnapped or drugged, or that multiple assailants had been involved in an attack of the nature being suggested online.

Further:

We have received numerous inquiries asking why we have not covered the gatherings that have taken place in Sunderland city centre.

However, the woman at the centre of the case has, on more than one occasion, contacted the newspaper to insist nothing is reported about the matter.

She said: “I’d like to make this clear that I do not give any permission for any stories to be wrote about the incident that happened in Peel Street several months back.”

The article goes on to explain that complainants in sexual allegations have legal anonymity, and that “the anonymity remains unless the alleged victim signs a written waiver allowing her anonymity to be lifted.”

This is curious: the complainant has clearly consented to her name and face being used for a public campaign, and she was happy enough to be identified by Robinson and Rebel Media. Yet she apparently hasn’t “officially” waived her right to anonymity, and she doesn’t want other media to write about the case. This is of some significance, given the claims of a “media blackout”.

UPDATE (June 2017): In a new video, Tommy Robinson has introduced “top lawyer” Daniel Berke, who has agreed to represent the complainant in pushing for a case review, for a reduced fee. Berke has been in the media previously (sometimes misspelt as “Daniel Burke”) – he successfully defended Nigel Evans MP in 2014 and Rolf Harris just last month.