Nadine Dorries and Dominic Wightman: A Mutual Interest

At the risk of some repetition, I return again to the subject of Nadine Dorries and her attempt to use bogus accusations of harassment to discourage critical scrutiny of her expenses and her performance as a Member of Parliament. As I noted in an update to my previous post on the subject, Tim has published a notification which he has received from Bedfordshire Police:

I write to inform you that the harassment complaint made against you by Nadine Dorries, MP, on 12th July 2010 is now concluded.

This was in relation to you attending the Flitwick Hall Hustings, Bedfordshire on 4th May 2010, knowing that Nadine Dorries was in attendance. As advised, others could construe this type of behaviour as harassment or stalking. There is no action against you concerning this matter, apart from the verbal warning given by me to you during the Voluntary Interview in January 2011.

Nadine Dorries has been informed of this result.

The above Non Crime Report has been generated today, Monday 16th May 2011, as the paperwork for this complaint now needs to be referenced and filed.

As Tim explains:

Dorries’ claim that I had lied to organisers about my intentions was one of the main reasons why police had initial concerns about my presence at Flitwick, but the truth was that I had gone out of my way to secure permission and be clear about my intentions. In fact, I was not only able to produce emails backing this up, but also (surprise evidence!) audio of my explaining it to the Chair and getting her approval prior to broadcast!…

Police were furnished with this audio, along with all other unedited footage of the event from my main camera, plus my every email communication with Dorries and/or her office for good measure. Dorries claims to have received hundreds of “vile and abusive” messages from me, but nothing like this turned up during the investigation that I’m aware of, and Dorries has so far refused to honour a legitimate DPA request from me that would require her to (at least) provide a copy of every email and letter sent to her in my name. 

…Since this investigation began, Dorries has been repeatedly leaking incorrect and distorted versions of privileged information in an attempt to politicise it. The antics included an entirely false claim that I was arrested that Dorries (the source if not the author) has yet to explain or apologise for.

However, Tim also acknowledges that Dorries may have been genuinely upset to see him in Flitwick, based on an impression she may have gained “from ill-informed mates”. In particular, there is the blogger Iain Dale, whose accusations against Tim I dealt with here; at the Flitwick event, Dorries mentioned two other MPs: Anne Milton and Patrick Mercer. Milton did not like Tim’s critical scrutiny of her election campaign in 2005 (which included appalling conduct by a couple of her campaign workers), while Mercer did not want to have to admit that his association with the now-defunct “terror-tracking” outfit VIGIL had been ill-advised and had resulted in false stories about terrorism appearing in tabloids (Mercer is a regular pundit on terrorism).

Tim adds the detail:

Dorries followed up on an initial July 2010 letter about the Flitwick event by presenting to police a series of passages from articles by Dominic Wightman.

Dorries publicised Wightman’s website on her blog in the autumn of 2010; it seems unlikely she was aware of it much before this date.

Wightman, as I have blogged previously, used to run VIGIL; as I blogged here, he enjoyed friendly associations with Mercer, and by his own account, Milton is a “supporter” of his.  Tim and I met him early in 2009, and he told us a tale about how VIGIL had collapsed due to the machinations of an ex-associate. He urged us to “expose” this ex-associate, and a few months later he drew our attention to a document uploaded to Scribd which contained personal attacks on Tim, and distorted personal information. Wightman insisted that the former associate was responsible, but police traced it back to Wightman. The truth was that VIGIL had collapsed because of Wightman’s dishonesty, of which his ex-associate had become aware, and Wightman had hoped to manipulate us into attacking this man for his own advantage.

Once the truth was apparent, Tim then became the focus for an actual harassment campaign, involving another associate of Wightman, named Charlie Flowers. Tim’s home address was posted on-line alongside threats of physical violence and the claim that  his details would be sent to everyone he’d ever “pissed off” (this would have included the BNP), and anonymous abusive websites were created (a few jibes were fired in my direction as well).

Wightman was desperate to paint our exposure of his lies as a political spat, based on his support for the Conservative Party, and his website continually references Tim’s various opponents as justification for his behaviour. So far, though, only Dorries has taken the bait and decided to use or endorse Wightman’s material.

In turn, Dorries’ continued bad-faith accusations about harassment and police warnings have been the spur for continued acts of real harassment, mostly against Tim but also myself. It seems that at some point Flowers realised that Wightman had been manipulating him, too, but he was too proud to admit it – perhaps because he’d also persuaded some friends to join in. Dorries’ accusations became a way for Flowers to save face and to give a retroactive motivation for his typically-botched vigilantism.

On-line harassment and abuse have been ongoing ever since: last summer, an anonymous site was created targeting Tim’s family, and recently around ten anonymous hit-and-run one-post smear blogs were created to abuse me and spread falsehoods. In April, Flowers accused me of “aiding and abetting” Tim’s supposed stalking, and he warned that someone would “slap” me “upside the cheek” as a consequence (there have also been other threats).

As with most vigilantes, we find bullies cloaked in self-righteousness, and the more that Dorries makes bogus complaints and accusations, the more likely it is that abuse aimed at Tim’s direction and my own will continue and escalate. One defence might be that she simply doesn’t know what’s going on – however, I explained the situation to her last year in a letter, and a Conservative blogger who knows her may have tried to have a word.