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Some Notes on the “Freedom Music Festival”

Last week’s “Freedom Music Festival” in East Sussex failed to attract any journalistic interest, despite having been trailed in advance by Vice as a “Red Pill Glasto” for Covid Truthers, and despite the involvement of activists associated with the Hope Sussex venue in a high-profile and aggressive protest outside a library hosting a Drag Queen Story Hour a few days beforehand (the first of several since then).

The festival was hosted by the 1990s pop duo Right Said Fred, who described it in advance as “quite a small event, a bit boutiquey”; the event license was limited to 500, and they claim all tickets were sold. Social media has some images and videos, from a which a few notes can be made:

— A lawyer named Jonathan Lea in particular praised the urinals, where male attendees were invited to urinate onto and through laminated images of Bill Gates, Chris Whitty and political leaders (holes were added to the mouths).

— The entertainment included a monologue from activist Michael Chaves with backing music, a clip of which can be seen here.

— There was also an on-stage conversation between Chaves and James Delingpole, whose commitment to the conspiracy milieu has long eclipsed his former credibility as a media professional.

— A group photo apparently taken on the last day of the event shows about 50 to 60 attendees, although James’s brother Richard Delingpole says there were more. Looking at other photos that does seem to be the case, although evidence for 500 attendees is lacking.

Moral Campaign Group Backs Aggressive Protest by Anti-Vax Activists at UK Drag Queen Story Hour

From the website of the Family Education Trust:

On Tuesday 26th July, FET was asked to comment on a story about a group of parents and others protesting against the launch of Drag Queen Story Hour at a library in Reading. The event was also targeted by pro LGBTQ+ activists who were supporting the drag queen performer Sab Samuel, who performs as Aida H Dee. Our full response to the protests was given to the Telegraph by Senior Researcher Piers Shepherd:

“The arrival of Drag Queen Hour at local libraries across the country has stoked considerable anger among parents and others concerned about the safety of children….

Given the disregard that many libraries are showing for concerns about the potential sexualisation of children, it was inevitable that some might choose to launch in-person protests at the venues where these events are taking place. As seen in Reading, the council responded to these in a disproportionate manner, getting police to bring a riot van to the scene…

It is a matter of concern that police resources will be used in this way when there are so many pressing problems in need of their attention. The simple solution to this problem is for councils to call off the grossly age-inappropriate Drag Queen Story Hour and restore the local library to its proper place as a family friendly environment where parents can take their children without fear that they will be exposed to inappropriate material.”

The Telegraph‘s article about the protest can be seen here (it is also reposted on the FET website, flowing on from the statement); it looks like the journalist noticed Tweets with video clips posted by @CovidRadicals and asked FET for a quote as a substitute for digging further into who the protestors actually were. The paper covered FET’s objections ahead of the event, as did GB News.

However, the write-up does make clear that the protest was aggressive, and it embeds some of @CovidRadicals’ material:

… the first event for families at Reading Borough Council libraries erupted in a dramatic row, as Mr Samuel was given a police escort next to a riot van and demonstrators chanted “paedophile”.

…They were escorted out by police officers and security guards while parents cheered. Rows of dozens of uniformed police officers stood guard outside the library, where a group vowed to perform a “citizen’s arrest” of the drag queen.

…They branded the police officers and council staff, who refused to let them in, as “paedophile protectors” and brandished banners and megaphones.

The embedded information, which the Telegraph could have expanded on, is as follows:

They’ve made a sign using the colours of a rainbow, saying “Welcome Groomers”. Michael Chaves berates police even more telling them that they’re likely to go on to be sex offenders themselves [here]… #SovereignCitizens attempt to enter a library to arrest a Drag Queen. [here]

Chaves came to media attention last year with anti-vax protests outside the homes of television presenters (blogged here), and some protestors in the clips are associated with the militaristic Alpha Men Assemble and with HOPE Sussex, which I recently discussed here.

Returning to the FET statement, the Telegraph focuses on Shepherd’s suggestion that the police ought not to have protected the event, and this quote has also been promoted online by Laurence Fox (whose own activist career owes a great deal to disproportionate coverage in Telegraph titles). Last year, Shepherd was quoted as saying that “The law needs to protect the rights of parents to bring up their children in a way that is consistent with their moral or religious beliefs”; apparently this does not apply when parents do not share his objection to drag artists reading stories to children.

The Family Education Trust was founded in 1971 as “The Responsible Society” and until recently was known as Family and Youth Concern. In the past it has been associated with anti sex-education campaigns; in the 1980s the group’s leader Valerie Richies argued that schoolchilden should not be taught about AIDS because it “is not a heterosexual problem”, and her successor Norman Wells lamented in 2012 that vaccination against cervical cancer was leading “some girls” to believe that they can “engage in casual sex without consequence”. Explicit religious rhetoric ownplayed, but the inspirations are obvious. Shepherd appears to be associated with Roman Catholicism.

Last month, McCain Foods withdrew an advert which featured a drag artist using the word “knockers” while creating a food presentation made up of various McCain’s products, including a potato “Smile“. Right-wing opinion-mongers sniffed blood and saw a chance to promote the imported moral panic, arguing that “sexualised drag queens should not advertise children’s food”.

UPDATE: I’ve belatedly seen this from RDG.Today, a local news site for Reading:

In a statement released today [25 July], Aida said: “There is absolutely no sexual language during any of these shows nor are children exposed to sexual situations.

“What is confusing is that these groups are attempting to create a sexual focus here where none exists by drawing attention to sex and sexuality.

“These stories celebrate the diversity found among human beings, and the delivery of these stories is a celebration of communities who have been historically marginalised and have historically had their voices silenced.

“To attempt to silence their voices here as well is regressive and to claim a person’s sole existence is sexual is insulting.”

Certainly, it seems to me that the argument that drag artists are inherently “sexualised adult entertainment” is a recent culture-war attack line, at odds with decades of pre-watershed television programming.

Antivax “Eco Community Group” In Derbyshire

From the Buxton Advertiser:

There is a new vision for part of the land owned by Stanton Estate at Cressbrook Dale after an eco community group took on the responsibility for the site.

Rachel Enlaugh from the new group is excited about the new venture… Last week they signed the contract for the land in Cressbrook Dale after crowdfunding to raise the first instalment of money. The group now have a year to raise the second half to pay to the Stanton Estate.

Rachel said: “A lot of people are seeing what is happening in the world and want to be independent of the system…”

The person quoted there is actually named “Rachel Elnaugh”; she has a media profile already, having formerly been an investor on the BBC reality business show Dragon’s Den. In September there was controversy when she Tweeted that England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty “will hang” for advising the vaccination of children against Covid.

The Buxton Advertiser makes no mention of her antivax views, but it is clear they motivate her “eco community” plan, along with a mix of New Age and “alternative” beliefs. The land for the project is owned by the Davie-Thornhill family, and in a video, in which Elnaugh presents herself as “Rachel of Cressbrook”, she thanks “the son of the lord of the manor”, who she says is “fully awake to the programme, and jabs, and what’s going on, and very consciously aware and enlightened”.

Elnaugh envisions a number of what she calls “Inner Sanctum” communities across the country: in February 2021 she held a conference call with fellow enthusiasts including Ray Savage, who owns land in Alfriston in East Sussex. In 2015 Savage was one of the protestors alleging Satanic Ritual Abuse at Hampstead; in the video (speaking at 54 minutes) he claims to have been involved with “some quantum nuclear physicists” who “have a way of getting the RFID chips out of the body and nullify the impact of the vaccine if they get to people fairly quickly”.

Vice Notes Antivax Music Festival Coming to Sussex

From Vice:

As hordes of music fans descend on Glastonbury, hardcore COVID conspiracy theorists are preparing their own festival in the UK, with a lineup drawn exclusively from artists in the “truther” movement.

The three-day “Freedom Music Festival,” will be held in a field near Battle, Sussex, next month, with early-bird tickets selling for £99. The organisers, HOPE Sussex – a hybrid homeschooling and events hub for the COVID conspiracist movement – are billing the concert as a “red-pill event” featuring “performers that aren’t afraid to spread the truth and haven’t let any lure of fame and fortune bend their integrity.”

The event is being headlined by Danny Rampling, “a pioneering DJ in the UK rave scene”, and the main stage will be hosted by Right Said Fred, recently described by Mark Dolan of GB News as “pop icons”. Mark Devlin, “another well-known DJ in the UK dance scene”, is also involved, as well as “Jam for Freedom”, founded by Cambel McLaughlin.

The article states that it is being held “on the grounds of HOPE Sussex”; it appears that the group has relocated from Horsham over the border in West Sussex (1). The home education group was profiled in the Daily Mail in January, which noted that it was “being promoted by the paramilitary antivax group Alpha Men Assemble (AMA) as a way children can avoid ‘state indoctrination’.” The report (oddly only available on Pressreader but on the paper’s website) was an un-bylined spin-off from a longer article about AMA, which appeared a few days after Vice also covered the group.

Two HOPE Sussex tutors – Matt Single and Sadie Single – were previously in the news in 2008 after they were suspected of leaking the BNP’s membership list in defiance of data protection law; Matt was eventually fined, although charges against Sadie (at the time known as Sadie Graham) were dropped. According to the Mail, Sadie Single “has been pictured” with David Icke, whatever that means. Matt Single also made an appearence in the Evening Argus in December 2020 (described as “from Hailsham” rather than Horsham, presumably an error), when he was arrested while dressed as Santa Claus at a Save Our Rights UK anti-lockdown protest in London. (3) The Vice report incorporates a Tweet from Mohammed Shafiq that shows Sadie at a protest in September 2021.

One detail Vice overlooks is the involvement of the “newsroom cosplay” (3) conspiracy website UK Column, which over the years has endorsed various allegations including the Hampstead Satanic Ritual Abuse hoax. The UK Column logo appears prominently on flyers and at the head of a list of “collaborators” on the festival’s website, where a blurb announces that the site “is going to be broadcasting coverage of this Freedom Music Festival and exclusive interviews with it’s [sic] artists!”

Anyone signing up for the event is asked how they came to hear of it – the drop-down menu includes Alpha Men Assemble, “David Adleman – People’s Lawyer”, Ickonic Show (blogged here), Light Newspaper, Stand in the Park, UpRise and Shine Event, and UK Column Interview.

Notes

(1) The festival is advertised as being at “Upper Hook Field”, which is actually on the outskirts of the East Sussex village of Netherfield northwest of Battle. Last month HOPE used the same venue for an “UpRise & Shine” conference, and in August it will be hosting a New Agey “Spirit Fest” involving “the usual sacred music, dance, visionary art, healing circle, and the usual, fab food, kirtan, yoga, stalls, and children’s activities”.

(2) Larry O’Hara wrote about Sadie Graham/Single in Notes from the Borderland magazine during her BNP period (issue 5 [2003], p. 62 and issue 7 [2006], p. 32). He described her as having “surfaced in the mid-1990s hunt-sabbing and anarcho-punk scene” and as having worked for a Brighton law firm specialising in animal rights and briefly even the GANDALF case. Her BNP activism brought her some attention, but Larry noted an odd lack of media interest in her unusual history (including at Searchlight magazine). In 2008 it was claimed that “she was one half of an anti-Nick Griffin split last year”. Matt Single was expelled from the BNP in 2007; he told the Mail he had been “naive” to have joined in 2001, and they have both since repudiated the far right.

(3) H/T Hoaxtead for this apt characterisation.

When Anti-Vax Prophecy Fails: Charity for “the Vaccine Injured”

A blurb on JustGiving:

Weʼre raising £1,000,000 to Help fund the setting up of the “Charity Organisation for the Vaccine InjureD”

I am raising money to finance the setting up and running of a charity to help those who have been injured by vaccinations. My proposal is for the Charity to set up a call-centre to refer enquiries to qualified medical personnel who can advise and help and ultimately to help those in financial difficulty because of their adverse effects. It is known that adverse effects and death are afflicting approximately 3% of the Covid vaccinated. So far. Approximately 5 billion people have been vaccinated worldwide. 3% extrapolates to almost the poulation of the UK. So far. Help me set up this Charity. We should help these people. With your help we can.

The blurb was uploaded by John Bowe, a former actor now associated with Laurence Fox‘s Reform Party.

As a “proposal” this is all quite thin. Where has the million quid figure come from? On Twitter, Bowe has assembled anecdotes from people who claim they have been permanently injuried by Covid vaccination; but few or any of their claims appear to be properly documented, and medically recognised “adverse effects” (presumably the basis for his “3%” figure) are overwhelmingly transitory. We know, of course, that very rarely the AstraZeneca vaccine can cause blood clots, but what kind of “help and advice” is currently missing that Bowe intends to provide? In the UK, patient advocacy organisations already exist for anyone who believes they have suffered harm due to NHS treatment.

Despite the lack of credible detail, Bowe was invited onto GBNews to discuss his plan in a softball interview with Mark Steyn, where he said that he was inspired following a “three-month sabbatical”. On Twitter, he has further announced two trustees: sometime TV archaeologist Neil Oliver, and Dr Tess Lawrie, a pregnancy and childbirth specialist who has found fame as an invermectin enthusiast and Covid vaccination alarmist.

Vaccine conspiricists have for months been predicting an apocalyptic day of reckoning when the vaccinated will suddenly sicken and start dying in large numbers; significantly, the white-bearded Bowe told Steyn that the charity will be an example of the unvaccinated being “big enough” to help the vaccinated, implying that everyone aside from the unvaccinated elect will be afflicted.

In this context, Bowe’s grandiose proposal looks to me to be messianic cope in the wake of a failed prophecy; the predicted harm is not self-evident, and so members of the public will be invited to come forward and identify with the victim narrative on offer. As with therapists specialising in Satanic Ritual Abuse, the strategy will likely generate some apparently confirmatory anecdotes that will serve as data.

While Bowe is attempting to raise funds for his charity, another page on JustGiving in the meantime is raising funds for the man himself:

Weʼre raising £50,000 to help the British actor and campaigner, John Bowe.

John Bowe – a man of principle
Over the last two and a half years, due to circumstances beyond his control, the great actor and campaigner, John Bowe, has lost his income and his house.

This is our way of thanking John for all he has sacrificed.

This campaign, set up by a comedian named Abi Roberts (although originally using the name “Cathy Crunt”), has been endorsed by Fox, the narrative being that Bowe “has lost everything for speaking out”. However, the man is in his seventies, and he announced last year that he had decided to “quit acting” to focus on activism. At his time of life this was a retirement, and although actors’ finances can be precarious, he enjoyed professional success in a number of televison roles and his career included steady and lucrative work on two prime-time soap operas. It’s not clear why he should now be so hard up (despite owning a house in Italy), much less why he should be taken seriously as the visionary figurehead for a million pound project.

UPDATE (17 June): Bowe has been invited back onto GBNews for a segment hosted by Mark Dolan billed as “The Big Question – is the Covid 19 vaccine safe?”. Don’t expect much debate: Bowe will be in conservation with Lawrie and all-purpose conspiracy crank Naomi Wolf.

UPDATE 2 (19 June): His trustees now include a menopause specialist named Dr Tina Peers and (perhaps inevitably) James Melville.

Matt Hancock’s Half Hour with James Melville

From a podcast blurb:

Isabel and James are joined by the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, who as Health Secretary led the UK’s response to the covid pandemic until his resignation in June 2021. One of the highest profile politicians in the UK, Hancock was an economist at the Bank of England and was an adviser and chief of staff to George Osborne, who would go on to become Chancellor. As a backbencher, he has become a champion of cryptocurrency.

“James” here is James Melville, who has one foot in the conspiracy milieu and his other in more mainstream media networks – sometimes co-hosting online discussions with David Icke’s sidekick Leilani Dowding, but here sitting alongside Isabel Oakeshott, a former political editor of the Sunday Times whose oeuvre includes books co-written with Lord Ashcroft.

Presumably it was Oakeshott rather than Melville who managed to persuade Hancock to appear on their new podcast series The Speakeasy, which describes itself thus:

News just in. Prohibition is back! Governments around the world are clamping down on a dangerous new drug called “free speech” in an effort to stop the spread of common sense. But, like before, there is growing resistance from people who call themselves “freedom fighters”. Investigative journalist Isabel Oakeshott and communications expert James Melville are among their number…

It is not clear how the podcast is being funded. Hancock was probably also unaware that Melville had previously repeatedly insulted him online, describing him as “bascially a candidate from The Apprentice who got fired on week one and somehow ended up running the company” (H/T @turts_).

Melville is best-known for extrapolating malign and dystopian intentions behind public health measures, repeatedly intoning on Twitter that “once you have seen it you can’t unsee it”. He has also recently expressed concern about chemtrails, and in March he suggested that the Western media was refusing to run a story about the Russian army providing humanitarian aid to Ukrainians because this “act of compassion… doesn’t fit the narrative” (he later deleted that one, without explanation).

However, Melville’s willingness to have a friendly chat with Hancock has not been well received by by the conspiracy crowd. Right Said Fred are of the view that Hancock “would only turn up to pre-agreed questions asked by controlled interviewers”, whereas Bev Turner’s assessment is that “If I had @MattHancock in an interview chair and didn’t hold his feet so close to the fire that he wanted to bolt for the door, I couldn’t look myself in the mirror” (a view apparently supported by Dowding, despite working with Melville herself). Former Telegraph cartoonist Bob Moran, meanwhile, complains that “the only time and place it’s ok for [Hancock] to be interviewed is in a police station following his arrest.”

UPDATE: Bev Turner’s assessment has also been endorsed by Neil Oliver, while James Delingpole has compared the interview with a puff piece for Hitler. Boris Johnson’s former lover Jennifer Arcuri meanwhile has suggested that the interview with a “globalist traitor” indicates that Melville is a “sell out”.

On the plus side, though, the interview has been promoted by Hancock himself on his own Twitter feed.

Meanwhile, as an attempt at damage control Oakeshott has announced that “For a grilling over lockdown, ⁦@JamesMelville and I have invited ⁦@MattHancock back to ⁦@TheSpeakeasyFM ! Rest assured we won’t hold back”. Melville’s explanation is that a “round two” was “the whole point of this”, despite the fact that no second interview has been secured and that the original interview was advertised as encompassing lockdown already.

Some Notes on Keir Stamer’s “He Needs to Resign” Tweet

A now-infamous Tweet from Keir Starmer, from the end of January:

Honesty and decency matter.

After months of denials the Prime Minister is now under criminal investigations for breaking his own lockdown laws.

He needs to do the decent thing and resign.

This has been interpreted to mean that someone who is the subject of a police investigation must therefore be guilty – when asked on television yesterday whether he had “jumped the gun” with such a pronouncement now that he is himself under police investigation he did not address this criticism directly, instead pointing out that the investigation had indeed led to fixed penalty notices.

If Starmer is not prepared to explain how he can stand by this Tweet while not resigning now, it’s perhaps odd that anyone else should do so on his behalf. However, it is not credible that a former Director of Public Prosecutions would advocate a crude equivalance between the mere fact of a police investigation and guilt, or expect such a proposition to be taken seriously.

It seems to me that the difference is the phrase “after months of denials” – the government line was that there was nothing to investigate, but that had been shown to be false by a series of uncontested damaging disclosures. The announcement of “criminal investigations” was just the nadir of the hole Johnson had dug himself into, rather than the hole itself.

In contrast, we do not yet know for sure what “new information” has prompted the Durham investigation, but Starmer is disputing not just the signifance of agreed details but the whole substance of the allegations against him. In particular, we already know that Richard Holden MP’s letter to Durham Police, in which he alleged that an “in person” social event had been advertised, was a false claim.

Certainly, though, Starmer’s Tweet was infelicious – the fact of a police investigation was presented as significant in itself, and this is irriating to anyone who has found themselves under investigation due to bad luck or malice. Perhaps had Starmer experienced being on the receiving end of such a concerted campaign to contrive a police investigation when he was DPP he might have been less keen on fostering the “believe the victim” culture that resulted in subsequent police fiascos (a charge made by Harvey Proctor).

One aspect of Starmer’s statement yesterday has prompted commentary. It has been suggested that by promising to resign if he is not cleared by police he is putting pressure on the force. This is humbug – the same people complaining about this now have been gleefully anticiating such an outcome as inevitable for weeks. Starmer’s promise merely makes this explicit.

It is curious, though, that Starmer has discounted the possibility of contesting a Fixed Penalty Notice if he receives one. As noted on Twitter by Dan Davies, “Many decisions made by the police over lockdown penalties have fallen apart in court”. Starmer’s enemies have suggested this is part of his “pressure” tactic, or evidence that he knows that he cannot win in court and so is making a virtue out of a necessity.

One possibility that crossed my mind is that as a former DPP he would rather resign than challenge the police – a while back I listened to an old 1950s melodrama on the radio about a judge who is falsely convicted of murder but who then signs a confession in order to protect public belief in the law’s infallibility. More likely, though, is that Starmer is just very confident that he has the goods, as discussed in the Guardian last night.

If Starmer is exonerated, then I suggest that it is Richard Holden and the cabinet ministers who amplified his false “in person” narrative with Durham Police and the public who ought to be considering their positions.

A Media Note on Politics and Police in Durham

From the website of Durham Constabulary:

Earlier this year, Durham Constabulary carried out an assessment as to whether Covid-19 regulations had been breached at a gathering in Durham City on April 30 2021. At that time, it was concluded that no offence had been established and therefore no further action would be taken.

Following the receipt of significant new information over recent days, Durham Constabulary has reviewed that position and now, following the conclusion of the pre-election period, we can confirm that an investigation into potential breaches of Covid-19 regulations relating to this gathering is now being conducted.

As has been widely reported, this refers to the night when Labour leader Keir Starmer visited Durham Miners Hall while campaigning for the Hartlepool byelection. A short video showing Starmer holding a bottle of beer was reviewed by police, whose view in February 2022 was that “we do not believe an offence has been established in relation to the legislation and guidance in place at that time”.

This was reiterated late last month, as reported in The Times:

Police will not fine Sir Keir Starmer for breaking Covid rules despite renewed pressure from Conservative MPs.

The Labour leader was photographed with a bottle of beer in the office of a Labour MP in April last year in Durham. Tories have argued that the occasion was a breach of lockdown rules similar to that committed by the prime minister.

However, Durham police did not suspect Starmer of breaking rules and did not take retrospective action on lockdown breaches, sources said.

Durham police famously said in May 2020 that it would not take retrospective action against Dominic Cummings, as this would not have been in “in line with Durham Constabulary’s general approach throughout the pandemic” and would amount to “treating Mr Cummings differently from other members of the public”. That policy now appears to have been overturned as a result of political pressure, including letters from cabinet ministers.

So what changed? The same report added:

Officers are likely to review material provided by Richard Holden, the Tory MP for North West Durham, which was not available when they came to their decision in February.

Holden highlighted an invitation for a “quiz and social in-person event” on Facebook from the City of Durham Labour Party on the same evening that Starmer was drinking beer. [Mary] Foy encouraged attendees to have a “greasy night”, which is slang for drinking.

Labour has said that Starmer did not participate in the quiz and that it was hosted in a different building. It said that the quiz was online rather than in person.

The plain meaning here is that Holden is quoting the words of the invitation, but it’s actually The Times quoting Holden, and getting into a muddle about where the quote marks should go. Here’s Holden’s letter to Deputy Chief Constable Ciaron Irvine:

An invitation posted online at the time by City of Durham Labour Party shows that a “Quiz and Social” in person event was hosted on the evening of 30 April 2021.

“In person” is purely Holden’s interpretation. However, he was mistaken (or rather, “he lied”, if we prefer the heightened accusatory rhetoric that that is characteristic of the controversy). The invitation is still online, but as noted by Dan Barker, to see it in full the viewer has to click a “See more” button. Thus

Pre – election
CLP
QUIZ and Social
Friday 30th April
7.00pm… See more

becomes

Pre – election
CLP
QUIZ and Social
Friday 30th April
7.00pm
Friends and family welcome
Members please check your emails for zoom link

This completely explodes Holden’s whole argument. It is difficult to see why the Times journalists did not check this for themselves, rather than leaving it at “Labour has said”.

The claim that “greasy night” is “slang for drinking” is also derived from Holden rather than the independent linguistic researches of Britain’s paper of record. Holden told police that the definition can be found on the Urban Dictionary; Mikey Smith of the Daily Mirror found the relevant entry on the third page of results from that website, where “greasy” is described as referring to

any activity that involves spending too much money, drinking too much, doing too many drugs, hanging out with dregs of society people, and generally any activity that involves lowering one’s standard and hindering one’s progress.

The submission dates from 2006. But this usage is obscure and bears no relation to an online Zoom quiz. It appears that Foy actually meant to write “great” but was the victim of a predictive text correction for a typo. (1)

However, according to today’s Sunday Times, the police investigation is actually based on other grounds:

It was the discovery that [Angela] Rayner had been at the event, despite Labour’s original claims, that prompted Durham police to open their investigation. A source close to the force said: “It raises the question about what else we might not have been told the entire truth about.”

Officers have set up a major incident room, and up to six detectives will spend the next four to six weeks looking at the potential lockdown breach. They are expected to use questionnaires — similar to the ones used by Scotland Yard to investigate Johnson and the Downing Street scandals — to interrogate those present at the event.

Rayner’s presence in Durham was openly advertised at the time, and a video remains available on the Labour Party website. A Labour Party staffer later told the Daily Mail that she had not been present, but this was obviously negligence rather than an attempt to deceive. Is Durham Police really opening an investigation based on speculative extrapolations regarding the significance of a staffer’s dismissive response to a Mail enquiry? It is also disturbing to see a police force apparently leaking information in addition to its formal statement.

There are also other alleged details in the media. The Sunday Times has produed an unnamed hostile witness, but he or she is described as “willing to help police” rather than as having done so already:

Crucially, the source said Starmer did not go back to work after eating his curry: “It has been claimed that Starmer worked during the curry and then after the curry. None of those two things happened. He did not go back to work to the best of my knowledge.”

They also accused some attendees, including Foy and her staff, of not working at all and only being there to socialise.

“They were just there drinking,” said the source. “This made some people feel uncomfortable because they knew there was a risk we could be accused of breaking the rules.”

“To the best of my knowledge” is a serious qualifier, and if “some people felt uncomfortable” by the presence of alleged slackers it must mean that other people were working.

The main news, however, concerns a leaked memo:

a leaked document appeared to show the gathering had been planned.

Starmer has claimed the takeaway was ordered spontaneously between meetings.

…According to an operational note drawn up for Starmer’s visit to Durham, obtained by The Mail on Sunday, an 80-minute slot was set aside for “dinner in Miners Hall with Mary Foy”. The document also includes a note asking a member of the Labour leader’s staff to “arrange takeaway from Spice Lounge”, a local curry house. The source confirmed that the decision to order a curry had been taken in advance.

The memo calls into question Starmer’s claim that he returned to work after eating dinner at 10pm. After the entry allocating time for dinner, the document says that he walked to a hotel, followed by: “End of visit.”

The memo also refers to “social distancing” and reminds attendees to “wear face coverings whilst indoors at all times” – the latter of course hardly applicable during eating. (2) This details indicates that whoever wrote the note believed in good faith that the scehdule was in compliance with the law; if Durham police now judge otherwise it will suggest that the rules were difficult to interpret. This of course would benefit Boris Johnson, who maintains that his own rule-breaking was unintentional (Jacob Rees-Mogg drew a comparison with sport, in which a player receiving a penalty does not imply having cheated).

UPDATE: Sky News has a clip of Holden with Home Secretary Priti Patel ahead of the Queen’s Speech. Patel touches Holden’s arm to get his attention and says “you are having so much luck”.

UPDATE 2: Special mention to the Conservative MP James Cleverly, who on Twitter claims that this was a “meet Keir” event and that there must have been others like it.

UPDATE 3: As the investigation proceeded, Holden began to provide a running commentary in which he suggested that police actions demonstrated that the matter as being treated as “serious”. The implication seemed to be “no smoke without fire”.

UPDATE 4: In early July, a conspiracy theory started appearing online which claimed that Starmer had been fined, but that he had managed to get an injunction to keep it out of the news. The claim apparently began on the far-left (Skwawkbox ran pieces pointing out that Starmer had failed to “deny reports circulating in party that he has been fined by Durham Constabulary”), but was picked up by conservatives including Susan Hall, who is the chair of the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee, and then by Mark Steyn on GB News (which must have known it was nonsense or else Steyn would have been taken off air).

UPDATE 5: The matter was closed by police on 8 July. No-one was fined.

Notes

1. It is difficult to envisage Holden trawling through Labour Party social media and the Urban Dictionary in search of his “gotcha”. One wonders who did the actual research.

2. A clue to how the memo reached the Mail on Sunday, and about the likely motives of the unnamed witness, is provided in a different recent Times article, which says that

Tory sources also said they had been helped on the ground by hard-left Labour activists who resent Starmer replacing Jeremy Corbyn.

Covid Conspiracy Activist Mike Yeadon Turns to Satanic Panic

From Michael Yeadon to his followers on Telegram:

Putting this long & unpleasant narrated listing of satanic abuse in UK out there, because I know & respect the narrator, a former member of the covert services.

Also, because I’ve read Dr John Coleman’s work in the field of conspiratorial planning.

Best wishes
Mike

Channel: @RobinMG

YouTube
Satanist Abusers Named — The RAINS List

The post was spotted by John Bye, who posted a screenshot to Twitter as part of a thread on how it’s been “quite a week for former Pfizer scientist turned conspiracy theorist Michael Yeadon, who has yet to find a rabbit hole he won’t dive headfirst into”. Other recent Yeadon pronouncements logged by Bye include (among others) the claim that climate change is “faked” by the “same perpetrators” as the pandemic; that fires at food processing plants are a plot to introduce rationing; and that Covid vaccines are a eugenicist depopulation conspiracy.

Yeadon, it should be recalled, was previously perhaps the most high profile Covid sceptic with scientific credentials in the UK, trading on his status as a former vice president of Pfizer (sometimes inflated by supporters into “the former vice president”). In October 2020, for instance, the Daily Mail invited him to opine on “Three Facts No. 10’s Advisers Got Wrong”. As noted by Tim Fenton at Zelo Street, Yeadon was also “lionised by self promoting TalkRADIO host Julia Hartley Brewer, and given a platform by Lockdown Sceptics, domain of the loathsome Toby Young” (more on Young here).

Tim’s post went on to note that some of Yeadon’s older Tweets, from before he came to prominence, consisted of crude anti-Muslim diatribes. When someone else brought these to Hartley-Brewer’s attention, her response was a dismissive “Those are not his tweets. But you knew that already”, even though they could be verified by a simple Twitter search. They were already a year old at that point, meaning that Yeadon’s claim that he had been hacked was unconvincing.

Yeadon withdrew from Twitter soon after; there is now a new account called @DrYeadon, but this is a parody that highlights various confident assertions by Yeadon about Covid-19 that have since been exploded.

The RAINS (Ritual Abuse Information Network and Support) list that has now caught Yeadon’s imagination is a notorious document, compiled by a therapist named Joan Coleman (no relation to the John Coleman he cites) primarily based on names given to her by an accuser called “Helen G”. The list alleges human sacrifice at stately homes involving a range of public figures and celebrities, and includes the detail that Edward Heath would abuse children while wearing fake claws. Further details at Hoaxtead here.

John Coleman, meanwhile, is the author of Conspirators’ Hierarchy: The Story of the Committee of 300, which refers to “the inheritors of the Illuminati”. The narrator mentioned by Yeadon is Alex Thomson, a former GCHQ officer who now contributes to UK Column.

Note

The Telegram channel noted by Bye is titled “Robin Monotti + Dr Mike Yeadon + Cory Morningstar”.

Andrew Bridgen MP Accused of Dishonesty by Judge

Also alleged to have pressured police to investigate brother

An extraordinary report about Andrew Bridgen MP in The Sunday Times:

A Conservative MP lied under oath, behaved in an abusive, arrogant and aggressive way, and was so dishonest that his claims about a multimillion-pound family dispute could not be taken at face value, a high court judge has ruled.

The dispute concerned the Bridgen family’s potato empire AB Produce:

… In court [Andrew Bridgen] argued he had been forced out by Paul, 55, his brother, a claim the judge described as a lie. In fact, the judge ruled, he had quit because he thought it might reduce the amount he owed his first wife, Jackie, 57, in divorce proceedings.

…During the case Peter Ellis, a director of AB Produce, claimed that in January 2017 Bridgen sent texts that were so aggressive they brought him to the brink of a “nervous breakdown”.

…In October 2017 Bridgen called Inspector Helena Bhakta, the commander of the neighbourhood policing team for his constituency, whose force he is supposed to scrutinise. He asked her to investigate an alleged seven-figure fraud against him by his brother. Bridgen claimed he had not made the call as “it would not have been proper”. He said he had contacted the fraud squad.

However, on October 16, 2017, Bhakta wrote: “As NPT commander I have regular contact with Andrew Bridgen over constituent matters. Today he asked that I call him. On doing so he informed me that he suspects his brother is committing fraud.”

This sort of thing might once have been grounds for resignation, although in today’s political culture, as Matthew Scott observes, the judge’s findings are “probably the beginning of Andrew Bridgen’s leadership bid”. It appears that the judge has in effect accused Bridgen of perjury, although that particular word is not used and any criminal investigation would have to make a case that is stronger than mere balance of probabilties; Bridgen continues to assert that his account has been truthful so far as he recollects. The Sunday Times describes Bridgen as having “pressured” Bhakta, and states that this pressue prompted “a costly inquiry lasting more than a year”.

Bridgen has issued a statement on Twitter in which he says he is “exploring all avenues with regard to legal options”, and argues that

if courts got everything correct the first time then there would be no need for appeal mechanisms nor would I have had to campaign for 12 years to get justice for the 736 innocent sub-postmasters who were wrongly convicted.

This is a rather more circumspect approach to issues of law and justice than we have seen from Bridgen in the past, when he was at the forefront of promoting Wiltshire Police’s posthumous investigation into former Prime Minister Edward Heath. Bizarrely, Wiltshire’s Chief Constable Mike Veale designated Bridgen a “stakeholder”, meaning that he got advance access to the force’s final report, and it seems reasonable to infer that Bridgen was the conduit by which details of the investigation were leaked to the Mail on Sunday‘s political correspondent Simon Walters. More recently, Bridgen arranged for Veale to become adviser to Rupert Matthews, a UFO enthusiast who is currently Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire and Rutland – a controversial “well paid” appointment. Bridgen’s informal influence here post-dates his dispute with his brother, but given this earlier context it is troubling. (1)

Bridgen is known primarily due to his willingness to provide the media with a stream of quotes relating to any subject that might be considered newsworthy – a strategy that allows a politican to raise their profile while also avoiding more serious scrutiny.

Note

1. Bridgen also has links with the conspiracy milieu: in 2021 he was criticised after giving an interview to Anna Brees, and her former associate Jon Wedger previously claimed in 2018 that Bridgen had “made contact” with him. There is also a photo of Wedger and fellow Satanic Ritual Abuse conspiracy fanatic Jeanette Archer sitting at an outside café table with an unidentified man whose appearance from the rear is consistent with Bridgen.