Nadine Dorries MP: How Journalism Works in Bedfordshire

A couple of days ago I noted a ranting post entry which Nadine Dorries MP had posted late on Friday night and deleted on Saturday morning. She has now re-instated it, which extra attacks on Tim Ireland (whom she does not deign to name). As well as boasting that the police are “monitoring” the blogs of anyone Tim “communicates with on a regular basis”, she now also tells us that she has the support of local media:

My local newspaper editors and journalists are well aware of him and describe him as a ‘menace’ and much, much worse.

This may be true – it’s certainly the case that hacks on the Bedfordshire on Sunday regularly use Dorries as a fount of easy churnalism, and have no interest in holding her to account.

In particular, back in February Tim highlighted some rather substantial payments made by Dorries (at tax-payers’ expense) to a company run by a friend named Lynn Elson. One payment to Elson had actually been the subject of a police investigation following whistle-blowing by a former employee, although it was eventually decided that there was insufficient evidence to proceed. Dorries has also been investigated by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner over her expenses, and she was cleared after explaining that material on her blog was fictitious.

Dorries, it should be noted, has a massive sense of entitlement as regards her expenses: such is her arrogance, she once posted a photo of her copy of the official expenses guide lying on the roof of a building after it had supposedly been blown out of her office window: “And there I think it shall stay”, she added, obviously sticking two fingers up at the Commissioner and at the plebs who keep her in the manner to which she is accustomed.

Elson resigned following Tim’s investigation, but – taking Dorries’ lead – she spun the unwelcome scrutiny as “internet intrusion”. Bedfordshire on Sunday duly decided that the story was indeed “MP’s aide quits her role after internet intrusion”, rather than anything of wider public interest.

I’ve used Twitter to ask Chris Gill, the editor of Bedfordshire on Sunday, whether Dorries’ latest claim was correct. Here’s the exchange:

Barthsnotes @Chrisg_BoS Nadine #Dorries is currently boasting that you regard @bloggerheads as a “menace” for writing about her. Care to clarify?

Chrisg_BoS @Barthsnotes tell me more. Haven’t had any personal contact with her since last October.

Barthsnotes @Chrisg_BoS See her blog entry here, 2nd para from end: “My local newspaper editors… describe him as a ‘menace’ 

Chrisg_BoS @Barthsnotes just seen it. can’t see me mentioned. She says editors, you shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

Barthsnotes @Chrisg_BoS So she means some other local editor, not the only one whose paper has written about @bloggerheads and interacted with him?

Chrisg_BoS @Barthsnotes I have no views on whoever it is she is referring to. I think there must b 5 papers in her area. Ask them

Chrisg_BoS @Barthsnotes no idea mate, ask her. I have no views and care not. Can’t make it any clearer.

Barthsnotes @Chrisg_BoS Thanks. But just to clarify 100%: her description of what “local editors” are saying does not reflect anything you said to her?

Chrisg_BoS  Not getting involved in something that has nowt to do with me… Look elsewhere.

Barthsnotes @Chrisg_BoS #Dorries has got you involved, by citing “local editors” in her post. You should be able to see that.

I must say that I expected something rather less evasive and obtuse from a mature adult writing in a professional capacity.

Tim had communication of his own with Gill back in February, which can be seen here. Gill took the view that being challenged on his paper’s distortions was “offensive”.

Dorries’ new revised blog entry also returns to the issue of the fiction in her blog:

Occasionally, he gathers traction, notably with the storm he kicked up regarding my own blog. He wrote, and used Twitter to amplify the statement that my blog is 70% fiction 30% true. What he didn’t have was the whole statement or the context of that remark and indeed, he used it to pretend that my blog was instrumental in my having been cleared by the Standards Commissioner with regard to my expenses enquiry.

…I was advised by the Met Police to obfuscate my blog because of this man, which then brought about the 70/30 blog statement problem which he exacerbated.

Here’s what was reported at the time:

According to documents published by the Standards and Privileges Committee, Ms Dorries responded: “My blog is 70% fiction and 30% 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 and frequently replace one place name/event/fact with another.”

The idea that she lies to her constituents to “reassure them” of her commitment was met with howls of derision, and only then did she come up with the “stalker evasion” excuse. And either way, it was central to her defence against the accusation that she had fiddled her expenses.

As I’ve written before, she’s vicious and ridiculous – and I don’t believe that an intelligent man like Iain Dale (who is currently promoting her blog entry) can’t see it.