Daily Mail Pulls Articles on Russian Oligarchs

Two Daily Mail articles appear to have gone missing, concerning links between two British politicians and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. I suspect strongly that the reason is nothing to do with the main story about the politicians (which is being widely reported), but rather because of some of the background material about Deripaska and his former associate/present opponent Mikhail Cherney.

The first article, with a headline best not repeated, has disappeared altogether, while links to the second – “Mandelson heads to Moscow to meet Russia’s business leaders” –  now re-direct to a similar article entitled “Top Tory Osborne admits he met Mandy’s Russian tycoon five times – but denies he asked for a dodgy donation”. I’ve seen bits of the first article reposted elsewhere, and it repeats serious – albeit old – claims about the period during which Cherney (or “Mikhail Chernoi”) and Deripaska worked together.

As is widely known, Cherney and Deripaska have been locked in a bitter feud for some time, with the Israel-based Cherney pursuing Deripaska through the London High Court. However, back in the 1990s the two men were allies, and they became preposterously rich in the “Aluminium Wars”. This was during a period in which ruthless gangsters were making fortunes, and by bad luck the two honest businessmen came into contact with some rather dubious characters. Also unfortunately, a journalist who had written pieces critical of Cherney and his brother was killed by persons unknown in 1997. Inevitably, this kind of thing has led to questions; Cherney now has some visa problems with the USA, and he has been the subject of many investigations, all of which have floundered (in one case, Israeli police investigator Moshe Mizrahi was forced to resign amid claims of a “witch-hunt” of wealthy Russian-Israelis). Cherney is a generous philanthropist, and among other causes he sponsors an organisation called the “Jerusalem Summit”. This outfir brings together brings neo-conservatives like Daniel Pipes and Baroness Cox with Christian Zionists such as Mike Evans and members of the Israeli right like Benyamin Netanyahu, and this is why he caught my attention. I have a fuller profile here.

It looks to me very likely that one or other of the two men made a complaint to the Mail, and it’s probably over old stuff which has long been in the public domain and reported in other newspapers. However, given that the Mail had a £4 million libel bill back in March, one can appreciate the paper’s caution.

Swinton Circle Spat Second Sequel

A bit of politics for a change: Hugh Muir of the Guardian has a third diary piece concerning members of the Swinton Circle (see my previous entries here and here for background):

… They have looked at their group as led by Alan Harvey, a former National Front activist and founder of the Springbok Club. Many just don’t like it. “Alan Harvey was removed as chairman by the committee in August as he brought a personal feud into a Circle meeting on 22/7 and his conduct was deemed unbecoming of that of a chairman,” says the latest newsletter. “He has subsequently been suspended as a member as he attempted to sabotage the meeting held on 3rd September as he contacted the speaker to say that it had been cancelled which was manifestly untrue. He has also sabotaged the Circle’s website. Fortunately his attempts to stop the meeting going ahead were unsuccessful. AGM should have a discussion on all these events and decide on further action.”

This announcement has been reposted on a discussion board run by a group of Harvey’s political opponents (my previous postings on the subject have also reappeared there, although with certain bits of information curiously removed – in particular my reference to the location of a Right Now! conference as being at the Mark Mason HQ in Piccadilly).

Harvey himself has a rather different take, and he claims that he was trying to keep extremists out. His lengthy account appeared in the comments section of my blog and elsewhere. Here’s an abridgement:

As you are probably aware, a quite scurrilous attack has been made against me in the so-called London Swinton Circle Members Circular No.69, which contained many factual errors. I believe therefore that I have the full right to defend myself in this matter.

I have been a member of the Committee of the London Swinton Circle for the past four years, being elected Chairman following the resignation of Sean Pearson in January 2007. During that time I have steadfastly endeavoured to uphold the Constitution of the LSC and to advance its cause. I have, however, become increasingly concerned by the fact that no proper AGM has been held for the past couple of years, and neither were Committee members being replaced when they died or resigned. If I have made an error as Chairman then it is that I never voiced my concerns in this regard strongly enough. For the past couple of years, therefore, the LSC has been run basically by the only two remaining active members of the Committee, Mr. Allan Robertson, the Organiser, and myself. This arrangement seemed to be working very efficiently however, and as no-one raised any objections there seemed no reason change the situation…All this was to change alas at the last LSC meeting of 22nd July 2008, which was addressed by Cdr. John Muxworthy RN of the UK National Defence Association. Incredibly all three of the undesirable individuals who we thought we had got rid of turned up – completely uninvited and unwelcome…The question before you therefore is whether you wish the LSC to become a mere appendage of the BNP – or whether like me you wish it to remain loyal to true Conservative and Unionist principles. I trust that I can rely upon your support.

Yours sincerely,

( Alan Harvey – Chairman, the London Swinton Circle )

The Swinton Circle website, which, as inferred by Muir’s piece, remains under Harvey’s control, carries a notice that

…The planned Emergency General Meeting of the London Swinton Circle, at which the crisis resulting from events of July 22nd will be discussed and appropriate decisions taken, is now planned for December 2008. After this EGM it is anticipated that normal regular activities of the organisation will be able to be resumed.

Just last night the Springbok Club (which is profiled by Johann Hari here) held a “joint meeting with the London Swinton Circle, at which the guest speaking will be a visiting long-standing overseas supporter” (for some strange reason,  a number of Springbok speakers are not identified by name on the website). Untangling the Swinton Circle from the Springbok Club will prove difficult without Harvey’s cooperation – indeed, the Swinton Circle website url contains the phrase “~springbok”.

According to a posting on a second discussion board, a Swinton Circle meeting was planned for September with a certain Christopher Luke replacing Harvey as chair. He writes that “I can assure Ken and others that the Committee of the London Swinton Circle have taken action against Mr Harvey to hopefully prevent him misbehaving again.” Luke, by the way, is an exponent of British-Israelism (here: “the Union Flag is no ordinary flag: it has a profound Biblical significance and is the banner of God’s Covenant People: Israel Britain”) and, although based in the south of England, he identifies strongly with Northern Ireland Unionism (although he was recently expelled from his Orange Lodge, an incident which moved him to poetry).

Meanwhile, there is no news on Michael Keith-Smith’s threatened libel suit against Alan Harvey, details of which remain obscure.