“Conservative Leaders from around the World” Gather in Berkshire

From the website of the Leadership Institute:

Once a year, the Leadership Institute organizes the International School of Fundraising for key conservative leaders from around the world.

Held in Berkshire, England, this week-long training gives you the chance to develop effective skills in fundraising for both candidates and causes.

The event took place from 30 March to 3 April, and was held at Wellington College, one of Britain’s prestigious public schools (for non-UK readers: this means that it’s an upmarket private school). The website of the Honorary Doctors’ Association has further details:

“Productive donor relations” and “Face-to-face fundraising” lectures, covered by Morton Blackwell, the LI president, were highly motivational and offered an insight into the subjects from the philanthropist’s point of view.

The Chief Executive of Cobden Centre, Tim Evans, delivered a great speech on corporate donations and was generous with his time advising trainees on the strategy based on their charity’s goals.

Incredible talent and expertise were the main features of the lectures such as “Grant writing, by Karla Bruno from Leadership Institute and “Organisations that fund international non-profit organisations”, by Larry Jacobs from the World Congress of Families.

Bruce and Katherine Eberle from Eberle Communications Group shared some tips on planning and organising highly successful fundraising events.

Evans and Jacobs are both faculty members of the Leadership Institute, an represent a broad range of conservativism: Evans is a former president of the Libertarian Alliance (and the author of a useful book about about the 1980s UK right-libertarian scene), while Jacobs’ World Congress of Families is part of the Christian Right. Kathryn Joyce described the WCF in 2008 (as I noted just a few days ago); she described it as

a locus for heavyweight US conservative actors such as the Heritage Foundation, the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America and James Dobson’s Focus on the Family–a Who’s Who of the American Christian right–to network with representatives from the Vatican, conservative Christians from developing nations and a smattering of Muslim groups seeking allies to fight gay and women’s rights at the United Nations.

Also likely to have been present was the WCF’s man in Russia, Alexei Komov; in a recent episode of the Voice of Russia’s Religion and Society programme, Komov told presenterVakhtang Kipshidze (following a discussion between Kipshidze and Christian Concern‘s Andrea Minichiello Williams) that he planned to be there. Komov has expressed his enthusiasm for US conservatism on a previous episode of the programme; he also runs a Russian franchise of Ted Baehr‘s Movieguide.

Christian Concern, the World Congress of Families, and Nadine Dorries vs Gay Marriage

A press release from Don Feder:

Christian Concern is a founding member of Coalition for Marriage. The Coalition’s “Don’t Play Politics With Marriage” Petition has reached over 407,000 signatures.

In response to Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to legalize so-called same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom, the petition states: “I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it.”

….Conservative M.P. Nadine Dorries noted that a recent poll showed 57% of Christians are ready to abandon the Conservative Party over the move, which 70% of the nation opposes.

“The fact is that many people now look at the Conservative party and are reeling with the realization that this modern party is the one they don’t know, didn’t vote for and no longer represents their views,” Dorries declared. She added, “They don’t recognize the values, are confused by the policies and repelled by the elitism.”

A World Congress of Families Partner, Christian Concern is planning a May 23rd conference, “One Man, One Woman: Presenting A Compelling Case for Protecting Marriage” at The Law Society in London.

Feder’s Dorries quote is taken from an article at Conservative Home:

A recent ComRes poll reported that 57% of Christians are ready to abandon the Conservative Party over the issue of gay marriage alone. Actually, 70% of the total population don’t want it either and yet, the Conservative Party felt this was a good policy to push in order to keep us in power. A policy completely out of step with the belief of the majority of the British public and many members of the gay community, but certainly one relentlessly pursued by the left-wing political gay lobby. 

According to details of the poll, which was undertaken on behalf of Premier Media:

ComRes surveyed 544 UK Christians on Cpanel between 25th and 31st October 2011 by online questionnaire. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules,

Full details can be seen here. As ever, Dorries’ interpretation is slightly sloppy – the poll found that 57% of Christians would be “less likely to vote Conservative”, which is not quite as dramatic as the image of a Christian exodus from the party.

Feder adds further details about the conference:

The discussion will include: “Remembering the Nature of Marriage” (with historical and legal perspectives), “Observing The State of Marriage” (judicial, sociological and global perspectives) and “Making the Case for Marriage” (from a policy, media and political standpoint). The conference will conclude with a panel discussion on “Constructing a Compelling Case for Marriage” and will be followed by a reception in the House of Lords.

Christian Concern also held a World Congress of Families event last year; a WCF newsletter reports that

The World Congress of Families hosted a key conference in London on June 29. “The Future of the Family in Coalition Britain” was held to help identify the causes of family breakdown in the United Kingdom and to present possible solutions. The event was sponsored by Christian Concern (a World Congress of Families Partner) and was addressed by such prominent leaders and thinkers as Stewart Jackson MP, Bishop Michael Nazir Ali (Church of England), Nadine Dorries MP, Professor Julian Rivers, Peter Hitchens, who writes for The Sunday Mail, Benjamin Bull of Alliance Defense Fund (a WCF Partner) and Ignacio Arsuaga of HazteOir.org, who invited participants to WCF VI, Madrid 2012.

I recently noted a WCF event in Moscow; the organisation is perhaps the most successful example of a globalising Christian Right movement. Kathryn Joyce wrote about the WCF for the Nation in 2008, and described it as

a locus for heavyweight US conservative actors such as the Heritage Foundation, the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America and James Dobson’s Focus on the Family–a Who’s Who of the American Christian right–to network with representatives from the Vatican, conservative Christians from developing nations and a smattering of Muslim groups seeking allies to fight gay and women’s rights at the United Nations. The result is the spread of US culture-war tactics across the globe, from the Czech Republic to Qatar–where right-wing Mormon activist and WCF co-founder Richard Wilkins has found enough common cause with Muslim fundamentalists to build the Doha International Institute for Family Studies and Development.

…The architects of the WCF have persuaded traditionally isolationist American conservatives to care about the fate of secular, impious Europe with two main arguments: one, that Europe is a bulwark against a Muslim “invasion” of America–“If Europe is lost to demographic winter and radical secularism, much of the world will go with it,” [WCF’s Allan] Carlson warns–and two, that global trends, such as the normalization of gay and women’s rights, can impact life at home.

I noted one troubling alliance in Europe in 2007. Joyce’s article drew a hostile response from Feder, as I discussed here.

Feder also embodies the link between the WCF’s demographic concerns and worries about Islam – he is also project coordinator for the “Shariah Awareness Action Network”, which was the original organiser of a conference held in Tennessee in November; Christian Concern’s Paul Diamond was involved in this event.

Dorries has long-standing links with Christian Concern, and a national media profile based on her campaigns to reform sex education, abortion counselling, and the date up until which abortion should be allowed. In recent months, she has increasingly positioned herself as a defender of Christianity in general. On Twitter, she has suggested that government might be “secretly implementing an anti-Christian agenda”, and she has promoted an article discussing whether the current government is the “most anti Christian government in history”. Last year, Dorries was at the receiving end of a flippant comment from David Cameron for which he later apologised; it seems likely that the incident inflated her sense of self-importance, and her willingness to launch unguarded attacks.

Although Dorries is often dubbed “the British Sarah Palin”, there are also similarities with Newt Gingrich, as noted by Gen J.C. Christian. In late 2010, Dorries entered into a relationship with a married man, vilifying her lover’s estranged wife (a former friend) in the process. Dorries’ behaviour was criticised by the conservative moralist Anne Atkins; Dorries, who never forgets a slight, recently responded with some prudish clucking on Twitter after Atkins wrote an article about her sex life:

Pious wife of Vicar, DMcolumnist, Anne Atkins writes abt her sex life+ waking hubby up at 4am and making it worth his while! (1)

Fnd it amusing how a columnist can be so pious in one paper and write in such personal ‘interlaced limbs’ detail in another! (2)

My point is hipocricy! (3)

However, Dorries’ prudery is selectively employed; she recently applauded James Delingpole’s description of David Allen Green as being a “tosser”.

New Paedo Smear Attack on Tim Ireland After He Contacts Conservative Activist

Tim Ireland writes:

On 8 April I tracked Douglas Morpeth’s receipt of my email making him aware of this article. He made no effort to communicate any response to me, but less than 24 hours later, I was smeared as a paedophile again (i.e. in the first attack of its kind since the 2009 event). This time the author decided to incorporate my volunteering with local children into this damaging and dangerous lie.

The article refered to (same link) is a recent blog post by Tim in which he discussed Morpeth’s associations with Dominic Wightman; Morpeth (who is a well-connected semi-public figure with a knighthood) used to be listed as the “Patron” of Wightman’s Westminster Journal website, and the two men are or have been involved with activism on behalf of the local Conservative Party in Shamley Green, Surrey. Wightman, it may be remembered, used to run a private “terror-tracking” organisation called the “VIGIL Network”, which purported to infiltrate on-line and real-world extremist groups; the group has since been disbanded, and it has subsequently become apparent that Wightman is extremely dishonest on a whole range of matters.

It is not here claimed that Morpeth has had any involvement with the new smears or with any other underhand action against Tim, but we know with certainty that Wightman has subjected Tim to a sporadic campaign of on-line abuse and harassment since autumn 2009 (I’ve also been targeted from time to time). Morpeth has had this matter brought to his attention, but he either refuses to believe the evidence or considers it none of his concern. This is despite the fact that Wightman claims that he has support of his local MP, Anne Milton, who he claims wants “Ireland downed”, and despite the fact that the website of which he used to be Patron hosts distasteful and spitefully abusive falsehoods (and in May 2011 a threat to run Tim and me over). And now, despite the fact that new attacks against Tim, of the foulest and most dishonourable kind, have appeared shortly after Morpeth has been contacted by Tim.

Paedophile smears were previously used against Tim in 2009, in the form of fake newspaper articles placed on websites about Thailand; this was during the period during which Tim was trying to get the media to take notice that the Sun‘s “Terror Target Sugar” story about a supposed Muslim plot to harass British Jews had been concocted by Glen Jenvey, who made postings to an on-line forum under a fake name which he then “exposed” (Jenvey was also formerly associated with VIGIL).

A paedophile smear was also used by two Conservative activists associated with Anne Milton in 2005, against a local opposition candidate. Tim identified the culprits, and just last year Jonathan Lord MP, at that time Chairman of the Guildford Conservative Association and responsible for dealing with complaints, admitted that Tim had been correct. However, the two activists were at that time standing in council elections, and Lord merely told them in private to “cut it out”, rather than expel them for grossly unethical conduct (a decision that, it seems to me, amounts to dereliction of duty).

Tim now adds:

Conservative MPs Anne Milton and Jonathan Lord still refuse to attempt to draw this matter to a close by taking a public stand against this kind of conduct. Jeremy Hunt, my local MP, and also a Conservative, refuses to even discuss the possibility of conducting any diplomacy or casework that might draw this matter to a close.

Meanwhile, I can add that the new smear against Tim appeared twenty minutes after an abusive and taunting comment was posted to this blog, under a relevant post here. As ever, the comment was left by someone too cowardly to leave his or her real name. Instead, they signed themselves with the title of a Marilyn Manson song (“Doll Dagga Buzz Buzz Ziggety Zag”). I’ve since removed it.

Wightman also has links with Patrick Mercer MP: after VIGIL collapsed, Mercer was contacted by a former employee about Wightman’s dishonesty. This employee had won an industrial tribunal against Wightman, but Mercer dismissed her out of hand:

Dominic and Vigil have been extremely helpful to me from my task as Shadow Minister for Security. They have provided me with a number of very useful leads and between us we have managed to put pressure upon the nation’s enemies and secured a number of arrests. I shall certainly continue to use any guidance that Vigil gives me.

This clueless and self-serving response in the face of evidence is one other reason why Wightman’s subsequent behaviour is of wider public interest.

The Christian Right, the OSJ, and the WPF: Some Overlaps

Independent Christian Churches International was founded in 1973 by the late Donald Ned Hicks,

to serve as an Ordaining body for men and women who felt a calling to the ministry. Over 8,000 ministers have been ordained since the inception of the Independent Christian Churches International.

The current head of the organisation is Archbishop Gregory Holley, and I’ve recently noticed that one of the “8,000 ministers” appears to be none other than Ted Baehr, of “Movieguide” fame (and one of Joseph Farah’s “favorite Christian cultural warriors”); according a profile at the website of the Lausanne Global Conversation:

I was ordained a Bishop in the Independent Christian Churches International in 1985. He was also ordained in the International Ministerial Fellowship in 2007.

(The switch from “I” to “He” seems to be an editing blip)

Holley also serves as  “Grand Prelate (United States)” for a chivalric order called the “Knights Hospitallers of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, the Ecumenical Order (OSJ)”.  As I”ve blogged previously, the “Grand Chancellor” of the OSJ is Gen William “Jerry” Boykin, while the “Grand Master” is a businessman named Nicholas Papanicolaou; the evangelist Rick Joyner is a mere “Deputy Member of the Supreme Council”, but he claims that his books are responsible for a “spiritual renewal” in the Order, and OSJ events have been held at the  Heritage Grand Hotel, which is controlled by Joyner’s MorningStar Ministries in Fort Mill ( the building was formerly owned by Jim Bakker, and Joyner remains close to the disgraced televangelist). Another “Prelate” of the OSJ is Ardell Daniels, an evangelist based in Jacksonville.

The organisation is primarily involved with charity work, but it is also hostile to Islam: Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff was recently invested as a “Dame” of the OSJ at a ceremony in Rhodes, and Boykin and Papanicolaou co-signed a hostile statement on Islam on behalf of the OSJ in 2010 (“The Obama Administration’s Department of Homeland Security recently swore in two devout Muslims in senior posts…. Was it not ‘Devout Muslim men’ that flew planes into U.S. buildings 9 years ago?”). I looked at the historical claims of the OSJ here.

The OSJ is registered in Texas under Papanicolaou’s name as “The Hospitallers“, with the address “2104 Underwood Road, La Porte”. Holley also has several charities at the same address, and he founded a church there called the “New Life Christian Fellowship“. There is also some cross-over between the OSJ and Rick Joyner’s Christian Right “Oak Initiative” organisation: Papanicolaou, Boykin, and Daniels are all board members of the group, and its manager is Bill NeSmith of Harvest Light Ministries in South Carolina; NeSmith had “Ceremonial oversight” at the Grand Priory of The Carolinas’ “Solemn International Investiture” for 2011 at Fort Mill, and one of the OSJ’s websites is registered in his name.

However, another interesting – and rather surprising – link is with an organisation called the World Public Forum. The WFP promotes the “Dialogue of Civilizations”, and its international events regularly involve high-level politicians, academics, and religious leaders. Papanicolaou is a co-founder of the Forum, alongside Vladimir Yakunin, who runs Russia’s railways and who is described as a “confidant” of Vladimir Putin. WPF meetings on Rhodes have coincided with events held by the OSJ.

One would have thought that conservative evangelicals from the USA would be wary of such an urbane and multi-faith organisation: yet several of the above-mentioned figures have travelled to Rhodes to take part in WFP “Dialogue of Civilizations” Forums. Ardell Daniels was a “moderator” at a Forum event 2008; Rick Joyner and Gregory Holley took part in 2009 (alongside Lou Sheldon and Bob Weiner); Ted Baehr spoke in 2011.

Another link between the WPF and US conservatives is an association with the World Congress of Families – last summer, Yakunin’s wife (President of the Sanctity of Motherhood Program) joined Don Feder and Larry Jacobs at a WCF event in Moscow, and the WPF youth website carries an interview with Feder.

US State Department Goes “Further Than Ever Before” in Statement on MEK for BBC Documentary

The BBC World Service has broadcast a documentary on the MEK, presented by Owen Bennett-Jones and entitled “The Strange World of the People’s Mujahedin”. The end of the programme includes the following:

Bennett-Jones: In an exclusive statement for this programme, [the State Department has] gone further than ever before in clearly stating what it thinks of the MEK as a political force. Henry Wooster* is a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.

Wooster: Let’s cut to the heart of the matter on the MEK. They are not a viable opposition, despite their claims to be the best hopes for democratic reform in Iran. They control their members through measures such as mandatory divorce and celibacy, sleep deprivation, public shaming, and unquestioning devotion to their leader, among other techniques. The regime in Tehran notwithstanding, the US has no evidence or confidence that the MEK is an organisation that can promote the democratic values we’d all like to see in Iran. It would be unwise policy to suggest otherwise.

The programme also includes sceptical comment from John Limbert, who is a former US hostage in Iran and US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran, and from Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institute; Riedel claims to know “up to a half dozen” individuals who have turned down invitations to speak on behalf if the group. There’s also input from ex-members, who allege abuse.

Bennett-Jones also speaks to a number of MEK supporters, mostly American but also including Ken Maginnis, a member of the House of Lords who became involved with the issue after being approached by a MEK activist in a street in Oxford (I’ve come across them in London from time to time).

Bennett-Jones lets both sides have their say, but MEK’s supporters have responded with a preemptive statement published yesterday, quoting “Brigadier General David Phillips, Commander of the 89th Military Police Brigade (2004 – 2005), and Colonel Wes Martin, Antiterrorism Officer for all Coalition Forces in Iraq (2003 – 2004) and Commander of Camp Ashraf (2006)”:

“In recent weeks, the producers of this report at BBC Radio asked for interviews about Camp Ashraf residents and related issues. We initially welcomed the interviews.  However, during the communications and in view of the questions asked, a picture of an unfair process with biased political objective and pre-determined agenda developed.  It is disturbing that the net result of this report will be condemnation of the Iranian opposition, as well as helping to set the world stage for indifference to another massacre such as occurred in 2009 and 2011. A part of this BBC team’s actions that was incomprehensible and unjustifiable for us was the insistence of the producers to rely on selected individuals who identify themselves to be former PMOI members as their witnesses and sources. We know many of these people very well and are fully aware of their relations with the fundamentalist Iranian government.”

MEK is also currently in the news over the a claim made by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker that members were  secretly given training in Nevada in and after 2005.

I previously blogged on MEK in 2008.

*Pronounced “Henry Worcester”, and also spelt that way by the Daily Mail.

Terry Jones in Florida and Dearborn

9 March posting on the website of the Republican Liberty Caucus  of Northeast Florida on the subject of blasphemy (taken from another source) describes Pastor Terry Jones as “a deservedly obscure Florida pastor with a congregation of less than 50”.


Presidential Candidate Terry Jones will address The Republican Liberty Caucus of Northeast Florida on the subject of “Freedom of Speech, Religious Liberty, Christianity & Islam.” Tuesday, April 3, 2012, 6:00 PM Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott – Jacksonville 4888 Lenoir Avenue, Jacksonville, FL 32216

According to a report in the Florida Times-Union,

About 50 people attended the event, hosted by caucus chairman Louis William Rose. Jones’ presentation was followed by a question-and-answer session with the caucus’ members.

“We love to have controversial speakers,” said Rose.

He said the group values debate and noted that they had invited in five members of the Occupy movement, who were in the parking lot of the hotel, to participate in the question-and-answer session, but they declined. He noted that the group had previously had speakers they disagree with, including Gary Koniz, a candidate challenging Ander Crenshaw for his congressional seat.

However, while Rose (who has a website here) seems keen to suggest a bit of distance from his group’s invited speaker, his vice chair Karyn Morton was unequivocally enthusiastic:

Dr. Jones gave a very interesting & inciteful presentation. I think people were impressed with his background and his commitment to keep Shariah law out of this country.

Meanwhile, Charisma News reports:

Pastor Terry Jones is back in the news again. This time he’s getting some legal support to stand up for his First Amendment rights in a high Muslim-populated city.

…The Thomas More Law Center on Monday filed a federal lawsuit in the against the city of Dearborn—and its police chief—over the city’s new tactic to stop Jones from speaking out against shariah law. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Jones, Stand Up America Now and Jones’ associate pastor Wayne Sapp.

In February, Jones filed an application for a special events permit that would allow him to speak on Saturday, April 7, in front of the largest mosque in North America, which is located in Dearborn, Mich.

Dearborn, however, demanded that Jones and his organization sign a “Hold Harmless” agreement as a condition to granting the permit. The agreement requires Jones to surrender all of his legal rights if he wants to speak on public property.

Charisma is published by Strang Communications, which in 2010 brought out Jones’ book Islam is of the Devil (under the Creation House imprint). However, if Strang is so worried out Jones’ ability to get his message out, one wonders why the company decided to withdraw his book from sale and scrub all reference to it when Jones became internationally notorious.

As has been widely reported, the lawsuit in Dearborn has been successful. Of course, the Thomas More Law Center’s defence of Jones’ right to speak ought not to be conflated automatically into an endorsement of Jones himself, but the TMLC doesn’t seem to see any need to make a distinction. According to a post on its website:

The Thomas More Law Center currently represents several Christian missionaries whose first amendment rights have been trampled upon by the City of Dearborn, home to the largest Muslim population in the United States.

Stand Up America Now, headed by Pastor Jones, was established for the purpose of proclaiming the Holy Bible to Muslims and educating people about the threat of Sharia law to our Nation’s fundamental principles of freedom. As part of his outreach efforts, Pastor Jones travels around the country speaking about Christianity at Muslim events and mosques.

The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes America’s Christian heritage and moral values…

Bogus Attack Interview No Longer Online

Yesterday, I wrote about how in 2011 self-styled “terror tracker” named Dominic Wightman had used his Westminster Journal website to express his wish to run Tim Ireland and myself down with his car. Wightman – who formerly advised Patrick Mercer MP – has had a grudge against both of us since 2009, when we discovered that he was viciously deceitful.

Wightman sporadically makes false accusations against both Tim and myself, sometimes under his own name and sometimes using sockpuppets. In one instance, he even appeared on someone else’s website under the title “An Interview With Dominic Wightman: Counter-Terrorism, the UK, USA, and Venezuela”. It began with a preamble:

Dominic Wightman is a former director and spokesman for the counter-extremism network VIGIL, a contributor to think tank reports and editor of the Westminster Journal, an online magazine dedicated to exposing the activities of radical Islamist organizations in Great Britain. Due to permissive British libel law, later this month, the journal will be re-launched from New York…

Wightman used his platform to accuse Tim of being a stalker (a talking point taken from Tim’s political opponents), and to make the completely bogus claim that “neighbors told some locals that computers were removed” from Tim’s house by police.

The interview was subsequently taken down; it should be noted that one former associate has repudiated Wightman for his general behaviour, while others – such as Patrick Mercer and the crowd at the Centre for Social Cohesion – appear no longer to associate with him but have maintained a self-serving silence on the subject.

Incidentally, the claim that the Westminster Journal was “re-launched from New York” is utterly meaningless: Wightman resides in the UK, and there is no New York address associated with the site. Further, a New York address would not protect Wightman from a libel action in the UK anyway, because the site can be read in the UK. However, pursuing a libel action would be extremely expense, and costs are unlikely to be recovered: in 2009, when a court ruled that he had to pay an ex-employee £14,000 he simply moved his assets, declared bankruptcy, and created a sockpuppet website where he abused his creditor and mocked the court.

May 2011: A Threat From Dominic Wightman

Last June, I wrote about an abusive attack on me which appeared on website called the Westminster Journal. Its author was a man named Dominic Wightman, who in 2006 had been in the public eye as a private “terror tracker” running an organisation called the “VIGIL Network”. VIGIL had subsequently collapsed in disarray, and in circumstances which showed that Wightman was demonstrably dishonest and perhaps delusional. In 2009 he attempted to involve Tim Ireland and myself in a grudge against another ex-member of the group, but he overreached himself by creating a bogus document in this person’s name which the police traced back to him.

Wightman’s response to being exposed more widely as a blatant liar and manipulator was to engage in a campaign of on-line harassment, aimed for the most part at Tim and using multiple sockpuppet identities through which he made false accusations and posted taunting and abusive messages. Wightman involved various associates in some of these attacks, including a personal friend of his whom I attempted to contact last May. Wightman’s response was a new abusive attack, this time under his own name, and posted on his Westminster Journal website. The original version of his post included the following threat made against Tim and me:

You’re still a pair of spineless losers and I’d love to run you down in my Toryblue Range Rover.

This may not sound very serious, but Wightman’s behaviour towards Tim in particular has been personally intrusive and increasingly non-rational, and they live geographically close by each other. Wightman realised he’d crossed the line, and soon after amended the article to

You’re still a pair of spineless losers and – albeit a fantastical dream – I’d love to run you down in my Tory blue Range Rover

However, the authorities became involved, and the Crown Prosecution Service decided to act. Wightman’s website disappeared soon after. Following some delays, the scheduled court case was eventually dropped in September for reasons that remain unexplained. Wightman later resurrected his website, although a good part of it now consists of general news items plagiarised from other news sources. Most of the abusive material has gone, although Wightman recently re-instated the piece that got him into trouble (this time without the threat, even as a “dream”).

If Wightman were just some random troll I probably wouldn’t bother blogging about it – but there are two aspects which mean that his behaviour is of wider significance.

First, it is alarming that someone of Wightman’s character could manage to take posing as a terror expert as far as he did. He appeared on television, he advised Patrick Mercer (who was at that time Shadow Minister for Homeland Security), he apparently worked with police, and he contributed to the creation of reports about extremism (in particular, as “Dominic Whiteman” he assisted Denis MacEoin with a report for CIVITAS, and VIGIL is thanked in a Centre for Social Cohesion report by James Brandon and Douglas Murray).

Second, Wightman has played a role as an activist for the Conservative Party in Shamley Green. Here, he was a neighbour of a Tory grandee named Douglas Morpeth, who was named as the Westminster Journal‘s patron until Tim and I realised that Wightman was dishonest. At this point (September 2009), Morpeth’s name was removed from the site, and Wightman warned us not to try to contact him. Wightman told us that Morpeth had in fact resigned in April and was on “his deathbed”, and that any disturbance would lead to “massive legal repurcussions”.

Happily, the best part of three years later Morpeth is still very much alive, and attending to his emails. Tim explains what happened when Tim wrote to him about Wightman:

Morpeth initially took no action and offered no reply, but saw fit to forward our private correspondence to others, including Wightman. When pressed for a reply after a month of silence, he was exasperatingly evasive.

Not long after this (the weekend before the CPS inexplicably dropped their case against Wightman after his threats or violence against me), Wightman sought to intimidate me via an anonymous email that implied I would be up on a manslaughter charge should Douglas Morpeth suddenly drop dead as a result of my daring to ask him any further questions.

I’ve seen this email, which was sent to Tim in the guise of a message from a Muslim who had somehow accessed Wightman’s emails to someone else.

However, Wightman’s involvement with local Conservatives goes further than Morpeth. Wightman has boasted that he has the support of Anne Milton MP, and that she wants “Ireland downed”. Tim asked Milton for an explanation, which was not forthcoming. Back in 2005, Tim discovered that two activists working for Milton had been using the internet to smear a political opponent prior to an election; these activists were themselves standing as councillors, and so Jonathan Lord, now MP for Woking and at that time Chairman of the Guildford Conservative Association, decided to deal with it with a discrete word to them in private rather than by dismissing them for bringing the party into disrepute. That seems to be the default position when this kind of thing happens.

UPDATE: I see that Wightman (writing in third person) is claiming that

Last year Wightman wrote that “if he found these two stalkers on his drive ….he’d love to run these two losers down in his Tory Blue Range Rover”. He was speaking figuratively.

This suggests that his threat depended on trespass onto his property; but, as usual, he’s lying, as can be seen from the original quote and its amended version above. Although Wightman had on another occasion fantasised about us coming to his house so that he could “fight” us, there is nothing in the article discussed above about “if he found these two stalkers on his drive”. He is also claiming to have received “compensation” from the Crown Prosecution Service, although a phone call to the CPS in Surrey has confirmed that this would not have happened.

EDL’s Stephen Lennon on BBC Prog After Aarhus Rally: “I didn’t say ‘Breivik’. I said ‘Ribbit'”

Back in February, Channel 4 broadcast a documentary about Stephen Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson), the leader of the English Defence League. The programme featured an encounter between a somewhat lubricated Lennon and a Muslim security guard. It included the following:

Guard: Not all Muslims are bad.

Lennon: I know they’re not, bruv. I know they’re not. Just most of them. Ha, I’m only joking.

Then to camera:

Lennon: Other than Breivik, cos he’ll shoot ’em all. I’m from Norway and I’ll shoot you. [Grins]

As a follow up, Lennon tried throwing stones from a distance at some police officers, as a prank; he then pulled his hood down over his face in comic fashion, and once again – apparently – said “Breivik”.

Lennon has now explained that there has been a misunderstanding, speaking on BBC1’s The Big Questions:

When I had me hood up and I had goggles on – this is what we’re up against as an organisation – I said “ribbit”, cos I looked like a frog, cos I had goggles on, and I was drunk. I didn’t say Breivik. They put a subtitle as “Breivik”, I didn’t say “Breivik”. I said “Ribbit”. And taken out of context, a lot of those things, if you know what the story behind what had happened, it’s not the way it looked.

It’s a fair point that reports claiming that Lennon had threatened the guard were wide of the mark; the guard actually initiated the exchange by shaking hands with Lennon and stating that he respected his views. As I wrote at the time, it was clear that Lennon’s “Breivik” comment was bad-taste humour rather than a threat of violence. Nevertheless, I added, the fact that the leader of the EDL finds Anders Breivik’s massacre to be a source of amusement ought to be seriously damaging. The fact that a second apparent reference to Breivik may have been a misunderstood frog impersonation doesn’t change that.

Lennon’s appearance on the The Big Questions came a day after a much-reported “European Counter-Jihad Meeting” in Aarhus, from which he was brought back in time for the programme at the BBC’s expense. The rally consolidated links between the various Defence Leagues and the “Stop Islamization” groups. This process has been ongoing over the past few months – Pamela Geller, who co-runs Stop the Islamization of America (and who has written a book with the same title, endorsed by John Bolton and Jerry Boykin), reaffirmed her support for the EDL last July after temporarily backing away, while the EDL’s alliance with Paul Weston and the British Freedom Party has helped to facilitate links with other groups (such as the Tennessee Freedom Coalition).

Lennon was careful to use his BBC appearance to distinguish between Islamists and Muslims; Matthew Goodwin, who was also on the programme, noted that the EDL is known for “slippage” on this point (here’s an example). However, Anders Gravers, who spoke at the Aarhus rally as the head of Stop the Islamisation of Europe, makes no such distinction. Geller has posted his vitrolic speech on her website:

…Islam is not a religion. It is the world’s biggest hate group.

Muslims choose to be members of this hate group.

…Every mosque being built must be protested against. Not only must protests be held outside mosques, but also the building companies making the mosques. Also the councils allowing mosques to be built.

Whenever a woman, or even worse, a child is raped, we must protest outside the mosque closest to where it happened. Even if it is only four or five people.