Richard Tice Complains about Hope Not Hate after Dropping Reform Candidates

On Twitter (aka X), Reform Party chair Richard Tice commends a polemic against Hope Not Hate that appeared late last month (issue dated 2 March) in The Spectator:

Superb by ⁦@DouglasKMurray

The sinister tactics of Hope Not Hate

They should be renamed Hate not Hope [link]

Tice’s post was met with widespread derision by other fringe-right activists: in recent days, Tice has had to drop several Reform election candidates after HNH drew attention to past effusions that seem at odds with Tice’s insistance (backed up with legal threats) that his party is not “far right”. As such, highlighting Murray’s month-old article at this point comes across as compensatory. Particularly scathing was Carl Benjamin, who demanded “why allow them to bully you into deselecting good Reform candidates?” Benjamin has an interest here: one candidate dropped by Reform was one Beau Dade, who works “full time as a content creator” for Benjamin’s Lotus Eaters podcast. HNH had noted a deleted article on a website called The Mallard, in which Dade had called for mass deportations, prosecutions of civil servants and judges, and banning orders against media organisations of which he disapproves.

Murray’s article is titled “The sinister tactics of Hope Not Hate” – I suppose “The annoying tactics of Hote Not Hate” would have been less compelling, although it would have better reflected Murray’s irritated tone and limited scope. Murray’s charge is that HNH notices things that ought not to be of wider interest, at the expense of things that are more important. In particular, HNH and The News Agents podcast recently drew attention to likes and reposts from a Twitter/X account controlled by Paul Marshall, the co-owner of GB News who is hoping to purchase The Telegraph – as described by Alan Rusbridger in the Independent, these were “at the extreme end of mainstream political opinion about Islam, the expulsion of migrants and homosexuality”. Murray alleges that the findings were “cherry-picked”, although he doesn’t build a case for misrepresentation, and he scoffs that Marshall’s account (@areopagus123) was public anyway – in fact, though, readers have been restricted since September, and his control of the account isn’t immediately self-evident.

Meanwhile, one person who oddly is not complaining about Hope Not Hate is a GB News presenter who was recently accused of posting extreme content to Telegram under a pseudonym. HNH’s piece doesn’t explain how the identity was uncovered, and GB News supporters have accused HNH of making it up. This seems to me very unlikely, although mistakes are possible and so I won’t name the person concerned for the moment. However, it should be noted that this individual has not been seen on GB News since the story was published, and although they have made a few Twitter posts in the last day or so they have not addressed the allegation, despite having criticised HNH in the present past. [UPDATE (8 April)The Times has now reported the allegations, which pertain to Leo Kearse. It notes that Kearse “did not host his weekly Saturday Night Showdown at the weekend” and that “neither he nor GB News have responded to questions about his absence”.]

The Princess of Wales and Covid Vaccination Conspiracism

Despite the (selective) shaming of social media conspiracy theorising as regards Catherine, Princess of Wales (aka Kate Middleton), media focus on the “trolls” has not particularly noted the overlap with Covid conspiracism. As the prophecy of mass Covid vaccination mortality has failed to come to pass, believers (and more cynical promoters) have compensated by attributing all kinds of illnesses to the vaccine: thus in late 2022, Aseem Malhotra announced that Covid vaccination likely explains “all unexplained heart attacks, strokes, cardiac arrhythmias, & heart failure since 2021”. Since then, cancer has been added to the list, sometimes described as being a distinctive “turbo-cancer“. Stories in the media relating health are interpreted as either reflecting, or as being planted to explain away, this supposed reality.

As such, it was inevitable that the princess’s lack of visibility and then her cancer diagnosis would be interpreted as evidence of vaccine harm, as a cover story for vaccine harm, or as a bizarre conspiracy to “normalise” cancer. One figure of note active here is James Freeman Wells, who filmed Malhotra’s earlier statement and who has also been involved with organising events for Andrew Bridgen. A week ago Freeman spoke with “private investigator” Christine Hart, who told him that she had heard from journalists “that Kate is vaccine injured”, although she didn’t know if that was true (1). Freeman has now reposted this clip from his conversation, adding that it is “a question in the public interest” and that calls to respect the princess’s privacy are “bollocks”.

Meanwhile, David Vance suggests it is “odd” that Kate and King Charles both have cancer (here), and he appeared to agree (apparently now deleted) with someone expressing the view that the royal family “is busy making her look stupid”, because “they don’t want people knowing it’s probably the jab”. Other unpleasant and unhinged reactions on Twitter/X have been rounded up by John Bye. The most distasteful is perhaps from former Telegraph cartoonist Bob Moran, who  suggests that “Either Pfizer has taken to employing whole families to sell their ‘cancer vaccine’, or karma doesn’t skip royalty”; Leilani Dowding is less vicious, but also takes the view that the diagnosis will be used to promote a bogus cancer vaccine as well as to “try to normalise cancer in young people”.

Moving on, Eric Clapton’s friend Robin Monotti asks “KATE MIDDLETON YET ANOTHER VICTIM OF THE MRNA TURBOCANCER INJECTIONS?”, and quotes William Makis MD as saying

Kate Middleton should urgently seek out medical professionals who understand the phenomenon of mRNA Induced Immune system damage and Turbo Cancer and can offer her alternative treatments (high dose Ivermectin, Fenbendazole) that could save her life.

This in turn has been endorsed by the dietician Tim Noakes (part of Malhotra’s network, as discussed here), who adds “Such important advice for the Princess of Wales. Please listen to it @KensingtonRoyal”. Such extravagant remote diagnoses from supposed medical professionals are of course unseemly and ought to be disqualifying for anyone wanting to be taken seriously.

However, not everyone is on the bandwagon – it’s perhaps notable for instance that neither Bridgen nor Malhotra have said anything about it, one suspects primarily out of fear of a backlash rather than due to a new-found moderation.


(1) Christine Hart here is obviously merely claiming to be “in the know” through access to privileged gossip. However, she also reportedly knows a thing or two about getting hold of people’s medical details, having allegedly been tasked by tabloid journalists in the 1990s and 2000s to “blag” medical information about public figures and members of their families. The matter is discussed in the Approved Judgment in Duke of Sussex vs MGN (particularly pages 350-352), which ranges much more widely than just Prince Harry’s specific complaints against Mirror Group Newspapers.

Media Decries Princess of Wales Disinformation

The adjacent collage, compiled by Twitter/X user @PGander73, shows an orchestrated attempt to swamp the platform with the distorted AI interpretation of the famous low-resolution video of Catherine, Princess of Wales (or “Kate Middleton”, as she is still frequently referenced) leaving the Royal Farms Windsor Farm Shop. Previously, it had been claimed that the AI version was an “enhancement” of the original and that the woman in the image must therefore be someone else, rather than that it shows how AI extrapolates wildly when asked to work with insufficient information. In these posts, the AI provenance isn’t even noted, increasingly the likelihood of confusion.

The collage caught the eye of the Daily Mail’s diarist Richard Eden, who asked: “Big question: Who is paying for this weird conspiracy theory promotion?” Given that Russian media had just published a fake story claiming that King Charles had died, I’m inclined to the view that this was likely the work of some Russian bot farm, the repeated question “Why do these big media channels want to make us believe these are Kate and William?” being a way to promote kneejerk incredulity about British and American media (a stance distinct from reasonable critical distance). Alongside these cut-and-paste efforts the AI image was also promoted by conspiracy influencers such as James Melville.

In the wake of the princess’s disclosure of her cancer diagnosis, Eden is now busy as part of a media chorus rebuking various individuals who promoted conspiracy theories, made wild speculations or joked about recent her lack of public visibility or the minor optimisation editing of her Mother’s Day photo. In particular, Mail ire has fallen on “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s supporter Christopher Bouzy, who appeared in Sussexes’ Netflix doc” and on Omid Scobie, for a “tasteless picture of alarm clock set for 6pm – the exact time Kate released heartbreaking statement”. This, of course, reflects the DMG Media’s ongoing line against Prince Harry ahead of his upcoming legal action against them over phone hacking.

Trolls in general are also admonished, in particular some guy named Paul Condron, who “spewed deeply hurtful and false stories about Kate” on TikTok. However, tabloids don’t tend to take a consistent line on the evils of “trolls”: in 2021 someone who called Meghan Markle a “bitch” on Twitter was presented by the MailOnline as a representative example of righteous British anger at her Oprah interview. What counts as a conspiracy theory to be rejected by all right-thinking people is also flexible.

There is, though, a danger of going too far the other way – when the farm shop video first appeared it was reasonable to be cautious about whether the two individuals had been correctly identified, not because of some all-powerful Palace conspiracy but because the images weren’t ideal quality and there’s a monetary incentive to trick newspapers. The Daily Mirror‘s “Sorry… We Were Hoaxed” headline is 20 years old, but casts a long shadow.

UPDATE (1 April): As reported in Vanity Fair magazine:

On Wednesday, The New York Times spoke to Martin Innes, a professor at Cardiff University who leads their Security, Crime and Intelligence Innovation Institute, about his research connecting 45 social media accounts spreading claims about the princess to “a Kremlin-linked disinformation network” commonly nicknamed Doppelgänger.

…Innes notes that disinformation networks might also be motivated to attack the British royal family in order to deepen a sense of chaos and erode trust in Western institutions. “It provokes an emotional reaction,” he said of the influence campaign. “The story was already being framed in conspiracy terms, so you can appeal to those people. And people who support the royal family get angry.”

Dan Wootton Still Unclear on Pseudonyms While Complaining about False Allegations

The latest issue of Private Eye magazine (1619, p. 10) updates readers about Dan Wootton, under the headline “Desperate Dan”. After noting the outcome of the recent police investigation, the piece notes:

An internal investigation at his former employer, the Sun, meanwhile, has yet to establish whether Wootton was – as several former colleagues and contacts are convinced – the mysterious figure who used pseudonyms to persuade them to share sexually explicit videos and images of themselves.

As Wootton [previously] made clear… he was prepared to ‘fess up to “errors of judgement in the past”, but insisted that “criminal allegations that have been made against me are simply untrue”.

As I noted last month, Wootton made legal threats against outlets and individuals who referenced the police investigation in October – the Guardian and the Mirror both removed articles about the matter, and he has now received out-of-court settlements from them (1). His complaint was one of privacy, although a misleading impression has been created that the papers have apologised for having aired the pseudonym allegations, rather than for reporting the existence of the investigation. (2)

Oddly, despite railing at some length against Byline Times, “leftist so-called journalists” and the testimony of his ex-partner, Wootton hasn’t found time to address the Private Eye article, nor why “former colleagues and contacts” at the Sun reportedly believe that he was behind the “Martin Branning” pseudonym. However, alongside “errors of judgement in the past”, Wootton has now also made cryptic reference to “the weaponisation of people’s perfectly legal private business”. There’s no plain statement of denial in his recent video uploads or Substack articles, and Megyn Kelly had the tact not to ask about it in a recent interview.

Alongside his new-found enthusiasm for privacy legislation (a difficult pose for a journalist who made his name in celebrity gossip), Wootton is also now presenting himself as a campaigner against false allegations, making hay from James O’Brien’s witless old support for the “VIP paedophile” hoaxer Carl Beech (3) and adding:

There is now a two-tiered justice system in the UK, where high profile and mostly right-wing personalities are a focus of police regardless of the lack of evidence or credibility from accusers driven by overwhelming malice. I mean Russell Brand, just another recent example.

Certainly, unproven accusations should not simply be accepted as fact or shielded from scrutiny, but it works both ways – and based on what we know so far about Brand’s complainants, the imputation of “malice” is unwarranted and even wild. Wootton is also offering implicit support for Andrew Tate and his brother Tristan, RTing a message of support from the latter.

It seems to me that Wootton’s statement tends towards knee-jerk scepticism and incredulity when right-wing influencers are accused of anything – a position no less pernicious than the uncritical “believe the victim” mantra.


1. The Guardian is said to have paid a “substantial” figure as a proportion of Wootton’s legal costs, while the Mirror reportedly paid “damages”. The difference, assuming it is accurate, may be because the latter paper ran with a lurid headline stating “Met Police launches probe into ‘Dan Wootton sex offences’ allegations”. This was unwise and invited readers to imagine a wide range of possible crimes. However, although browser results for the Press Gazette report brings up the phrase “tabloid makes apology and pays damages”, the word “damages” does not appear in the article itself.

2. Thus Kelvin MacKenzie, in a since-deleted Tweet (originally here): “More good news for the broadcaster Dan Wootton tonight. The Guardian has just apologised and paid legal costs to Dan for an untrue story they ran last October linking him to sexually explicit images.”

2. This was prior to Beech’s exposure, but those of us who were paying attention could see that there were reasons for caution as soon as Beech came on the scene as “Nick” in 2014.