The 70 Per Cent Solution: Who Are Nadine Dorries’ “Four Stalkers”?

As is being widely reported, a Parliamentary investigation has cleared Nadine Dorries MP of having lied about the location of her main residence in order to claim a second home rent allowance. Some of the evidence against her came from statements on her blog, in which she gave the impression of living in Woburn, in her constituency of Mid Bedfordshire. Dorries explained the discrepancy away by admitting that information on her blog is mostly untrue; even the right-wing Daily Mail is incredulous:

Amazingly, she told Standards Commissioner John Lyon: ‘My blog is 70 per cent fiction and 30 per cent fact’.

‘It is written as a tool to enable my constituents to know me better and to reassure them of my commitment to Mid Bedfordshire. I rely heavily on poetic licence.’

This explanation has elicited howls of derision, and Dorries has now changed tack:

Last night Miss Dorries said the police had advised her to ‘disguise’ her movements on her blog.

According to a news report by Matthew Hudson on Anglia Tonight, Dorries claims that she has reported “four stalkers” to the police. But who are these “four stalkers”? We know that she has claimed to have reported the blogger Tim Ireland to the police, but no-one from the police has had any communication with Tim on the subject. It’s a blatant lie by Dorries: as I wrote here, Tim’s blog has satirised her mercilessly, and he has persistently called her to account on various matters. He has never, though, either threatened her or crossed the line into anything that could be regarded as invasive of her as a private person. She has also attacked a Labour blogger named Chris Paul along similar lines – but again, there is no evidence that the police have so much as had a word.

As for the other two – who knows? She was recently affecting anguish over a satirical Twitter feed by someone pretending to be her dog (“It’s like someone setting up an account as one of my kids. Go away sick person you need help.!”). And we know she is generally vicious with her accusations – when a constituent who uses the on-line name Ms Humphrey Cushion complained about her comments concerning Tim to Conservative HQ, Dorries’ response was to smear Ms Cushion as a benefits cheat.

Dorries’ story simply does not hold up. As Tim notes, her blog is usually a record of where she has been, not where she’s going to be. And even if she felt unable to publish certain details for privacy reasons, there was no need to disseminate false information that just so happens to be advantageous to her political reputation – no-one who is accountable to the public should consider that to be acceptable. Tim has dissected her narrative with customary attention to detail:

Dorries maintains that she told lies on her blog about where she was staying and when to throw stalkers of the scent, and began doing so when she attracted “unwanted attention” from “unsavoury people”… (important bit coming up) following the expenses scandal.

The expenses scandal began for Nadine Dorries with this report in the Telegraph on 15 May 2009.

And here are the dates of the blog entries mentioned in the Standards and Privileges Committee report (PDF) that she explains away as ‘fiction’:

– 15 May 2009
– 16 May 2009

Dorries apologised for misleading her constituents about where she lived in this entry on her not-really-a-blog on 16 May 2009.

Apparently, we’re supposed to believe that in one day – on 15 May 2009, to be precise – Nadine Dorries not only attracted four stalkers, but then made credible reports to police about all four of them (in London and Bedfordshire), then went on to receive advice from police that convinced her that she should publish largely fictional accounts on her blog about where she was living/staying, then did so, and then went on to apologise for doing so the very next day.

Sorry, but no.

…The truth is that Dorries published the misleading content before any concerns she claims to have had about stalking.

When it comes to stalkers, she cries wolf to gain false sympathy, to make life difficult for (male) critics, and to explain her actions after the fact (such as why she at one point deleted her blog).

This is not a matter of political partisanship. My blog obviously has a progressive perspective, but I have no complaints about my own local Conservative MP. It’s also clear that Mid Bedfordshire is a safe Conservative seat, and I have no particular interest in whether that changes in the future. My main reason for blogging about Dorries is that her false accusation of stalking against Tim Ireland has led to Tim being targeted by a cyberthug named Charlie Flowers. Flowers, angry that Tim had exposed some on-line activism against Islamic extremism as tainted by fakery, used Dorries’ claim as his justification for a campaign of harassment against Tim which included Tim’s home address being posted on-line and brought to the attention of hostile parties (which, if Flowers was true to his word, would have included the BNP). As I blogged here, Flowers’ accomplices also used Dorries’ claim to try to draw other people into the attacks.

Dorries’ false accusation was also taken up by Patrick Mercer MP, who was desperate deflect Tim’s enquiries into Mercer’s associations with Dominic Wightman and Glen Jenvey.