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Andrew Bridgen Sends Legal Letter to Matt Hancock – Report Claims Action is Funded by Reclaim and Bad Law Project

From Christopher Hope at the Telegraph:

Andrew Bridgen is suing Matt Hancock for £100,000 over a Twitter message in which the former health secretary accused him of spouting “anti-Semitic, anti-vax, anti-scientific conspiracy theories” about the Covid-19 vaccine.

…In a letter to Mr Hancock five days later on Jan 18, as seen by The Telegraph, Mr Bridgen’s legal team… said: “By inclusion of the phrases ‘anti-semitic’, ‘anti-vax’, ‘anti-scientific’ and ‘conspiracy theories’ the words are defamatory at common law.”

…Mr Bridgen’s legal action is being funded by the Reclaim Party and the ‘Bad Law Project’.

Laurence Fox, the leader of Reclaim, said: “The Reclaim Party and the Bad Law Project is providing its full support to Mr Bridgen and we want a full apology from Mr Hancock.

The letter is “as seen by the Telegraph” because Hope has long been a friendly media channel both for Fox and for the crank fringes of the Tory right – and we must wonder why the name of the “legal team” is not provided.

The “Bad Law Project” was set up last year as a vehicle for Fox and various associates (including Sarah Phillimore) “to challenge and depoliticise our democratic foundational institutions”. It defines “bad law” as “discrimination disguised as equality and human rights”, citing as examples “the shameful arrest of army veteran Mr [Darren] Brady” and “how wokery hounded Amy Gallagher, a nurse and psychotherapist, out of the #NHS”. An early cause was that of Fox’s friend Calvin Robinson, who was denied ordination into the Church of England (1). It is not immediately clear how such cases are comparable to Andrew Bridgen’s libel claim, although I expect the line of thought is that Bridgen has been “cancelled” by Hancock’s Tweet. Fox is also highly sympathetic to Bridgen’s Covid vaccination alarmism, seeing easy political capital in fear and resentment.

Bridgen famously stated on Twitter in reference to Covid vaccination that “As one consultant cardiologist said to me this is the biggest crime against humanity since the holocaust”. Hancock’s opinion is that this statement is anti-semitic, presumably because it trivialises the actual Holocaust. However, he did not allege that Bridgen is himself anti-semitic, and this seems to me to be a substantive distinction that Bridgen will struggle to overcome in court (2).

The same also applies to the other elements of Hancock’s Tweet (or “Twitter message”, to use the Telegraph‘s stuffy style) – besides which, there is a strong argument that the other epithets complained of can indeed apply to Bridgen personally as well as to his statement. For instance, Bridgen claims that members of security services in various countries were warned about a coming pandmenic in 2019, and were told not to take the vaccine or even to be tested for infection. This this an anti-vax conspiracy theory by definiton, and it is notable that Bridgen is not apparently suing The Times for framing his views as conspiricist.

We must wonder whether Bridgen will now join Fox’s political party and start to refer to himself as Reclaim Party MP. He no longer holds the Conservative Party whip, and he has persuaded activists that his recent suspension from Parliament was due to his views on Covid vaccination, rather than the finding that he had engaged in paid lobbying (3).

Notes

1. Robinson later received ordination from a breakaway Anglican group, and he now usually wears a cassock when presenting his show on GB News or making appearances on right-wing American shows. His media activities have recently expanded to working for Ezra Levant’s Rebel News.

2. In a video statement, Bridgen has said “the Israeli doctor I quoted in my tweet has stated that there was noting anti-Semitic about the statement”. Given that his Tweet began with “As one consultant cardiologist said to me”, it was reasonable to suppose that this is what he meant by “quoted”. However, in an argument with Iain Dale, he has now clarified that he was referring to an Israeli academic named Josh Guetzkow, whose work he had linked to in his Tweet. Most people would have understood “Israeli doctor” to refer to a medical professional rather than a social science academic, and one wonders why Bridgen wasn’t clearer. However, the effect was misdirection away from the actual “consultant cardiologist” he was referring to – almost certainly Aseem Malhotra.

3. Richard Tice, who leads the slightly more respectable fringe-right Reclaim UK party, recently told Andrew Marr that he does not want Bridgen, saying that he had “got it wrong with regard to his approach to vaccines”. Tice’s relative moderation is perhaps surprising, given his recent willingness to be seen dining in public in Soho with Maajid Nawaz. Tice’s partner is Isabel Oakeshott, who recently ghost-wrote Hancock’s self-regarding pandemic memoir.

The Times Profiles HOPE Sussex “Unregistered School”

The Times takes a look at what it calls an “unregistered school” run by HOPE Sussex near the village of Netherfield in East Sussex:

A full curriculum of subjects is taught, albeit through the prism of conspiracy. In a history lesson, children were taught that the US government knew in advance of the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers in 2001, and discussed the possibility that stars were not real and were in fact lights.

…Last year, Ofsted sent inspectors from its illegal schools team to visit Hope Sussex, but they were stopped at the perimeter by two “obstructive and unco-operative” members of staff…

HOPE Sussex maintains that they are not in fact running  a school, but rather “a community centre that hires its facilities to allow home-educating families to supplement their children’s education with wholesome and critically thinking tutors”.

The group also held a music festival at the site last summer, which was covered by Vice and which I discussed here and here – participants included the novelty pop-duo and conspiricists Right Said Fred, and also James Delingpole in conversation with antivax activist Michael ChavesVice also noted children taking “classes” at the location, some months ahead of the UK’s newpaper of record, and the involvement of Matt and Sadie Single. As The Times now reports:

Hope Sussex was founded last year by Sadie Single, 44, and her husband Matthew, 51, both former members of the British National Party (BNP) who were expelled in 2009 for leaking the names and details of thousands of party members online after an internal dispute. Before joining the BNP, Sadie had lived in Australia where she was linked to a neo-Nazi group, according to Hope not Hate, the anti-fascist organisation. (1)

The Times also writes that the alleged school “has won the endorsement of Mike Fairclough, the head teacher of West Rise Junior School, a state primary in Eastbourne”, and that his wife is involved. It adds that Fairclough

gave a talk last month in which he spoke about a plan by “globalists” to “disempower people and take away their freedoms”, and praised the “global freedom movement” — the term used to describe the loose conglomeration of anti-establishment conspiracy theorists worldwide.

Fairclough has semi-celebrity status for his approach to teaching, which involves an emphasis on outdoor skills; he also has an unusually rugged and informal appearance, and he was described by the Daily Mail in 2021 as “the hunky headmaster”. Despite making occasional media apppearances (including, inevitably, on GB News), and also a being profiled for The Times last July (“comes across as both wildly unconventional and eminently sensible”, according to the paper’s Anna Maxted), in this instance he “did not respond to a request for comment”. On Twitter, John Bye notes that Fairclough is involved with UsForThem; he “was credited as contributing to their book [The Children’s Inquiry] last summer, and was the lead education signatory on their ‘Not For Them’ campaign against vaccinating children” (2).

The Times article also refers to Sadie Single addressing “an activist meeting in Bexhill last summer” – this detail comes from a video upload to YouTube that can be seen here. The event appears to have been an outside booking at the Bexhill Conservative Club for a group calling itself the 1066 Assembly, and she co-presented with Katy-Jo Murfin, who is also mentioned by The Times. Murfin (daughter of the actor Karl Howman) introduced herself as coming from “an awake family, on my mum’s side”, having been given her first David Icke book to read by her aunt at the age of 17; a second video from the same event shows her in conversion with Dr Niall McCrae, a senior mental health lecturer at Kings College London and Brexit activist who appears to concur with Murfin’s assessment that Dolly Parton’s pro-vaccine adaptation of Jolene is evidence that she has gone through “MK-Ultra mind control”.

Another speaker in Bexhill who is also involved with HOPE Sussex was the DJ Danny Rampling, who spoke about how he became bankrupt after a property development project fell through due to the credit crunch (3).

Note

(1) To repeat something I noted previously, Larry O’Hara wrote about Sadie Single (formerly Sadie Graham) in Notes from the Borderland magazine during her BNP period (issue 5 [2003], p. 62 and issue 7 [2006], p. 32). He described her as having “surfaced in the mid-1990s hunt-sabbing and anarcho-punk scene” and as having worked for a Brighton law firm specialising in animal rights and briefly even the GANDALF case. Her BNP activism brought her some attention, but Larry noted an odd lack of media interest in her unusual history (including at Searchlight magazine). In 2008 it was claimed that “she was one half of an anti-Nick Griffin split last year”. Matt Single was expelled from the BNP in 2007; he told the Mail he had been “naive” to have joined in 2001, and they have both since repudiated the far right.

(2) UsForThem was co-founded by one Molly Kingsley (“Parent, Entrepreneur, Campaigner”). She is critical of the Times article, complaining that by describing the “global freedom movement” as comprising conspiracy theorists the paper is identifing the idea of freedom with conspiracy theories.

(3) Rampling is also involved with the #Together group; another YouTube video shows him in a #together t-shirt chatting with Matt Gubba, who has recently been restored to Twitter shortly after his friend James Melville got some personal attention from Elon Musk. Like Melville, Gubba is a World Economic Forum obsessive, and Rampling expressed his support for Gubba’s grandiose anti-WEF “International Liberty Forum” project.

One thing I’ve noticed is that “anti-globalist” conspiracy rhetoric seems to have a special appeal for people with entrepreneurial backgrounds: when capitalism brings rewards disproportionate to effort, this is the natural order and a just reward for superior business acumen; but when the result is loss rather than profit, this is due to the machinations of globalists rather than because of how the system works.

Laurence Fox Implies Public Defibrillator Conspiracy

A particularly egregious piece of bad-faith fear-mongering from GB News presenter and fringe political activist Laurence Fox: a video of a public access defibrillator in an old telephone box in the village of Corfe Castle in southern England, to which he has added as sarcastic commentary “Move along. Nothing to see here.”

Google Street View shows that this particular defibrillator is in the village of Corfe Castle in southern England, and that it has been there since at least July 2018, probably a few months earlier. It was installed as a part of an initiative that goes back to 2011.

Why doesn’t Fox articulate exactly what the problem is meant to be? I can think of two reasons. First, it means that he doesn’t have to defend any particular substantive proposition. Second, by inviting his followers to draw an inference for themselves, he gives them an opportunity to see themselves an intellectual elite who can discern secret meanings amid the commonplace that the sheeple will overlook.

In this case, the obvious context given Fox’s anti-vax positioning is that the presence of public defibrillators indicates that the government is aware that there is an increased risk of sudden cardiac arrest among the general population, and that this is because of Covid vaccination. This is part of a wider strategy of looking for signs that Covid vaccination alarmism has not been a failed prophecy. Other examples involve attempting to prove the case by finding hidden significance in statistics; affirming vaccine death or injury as the cause whenever it is reported that someone has died suddenly or been unexpectedly hospitalised; and claiming that media stories about heart health risks in various contexts are being planted as a cover story.

Is Fox simply ignorant, and prone to jumping to conclusions based on an over-inflated belief in his own intelligence? Or is his post just a cynical, even nihilistic, “post-truth” narrative?

(For some reason, the video has also caught the attention of Francophone social media; one Tweet I saw claims “Le Deep-State installe des défibrillateurs dans les villes d’Angleterre”)

UPDATE: Fox has now issued a sulky and sarcastic corrective: “This has been around since 2012 apparently. I have spread the misinformations. I shall chastise and admonish myself for the remainder of the morning. My bad.”

UPDATE 2: It appears that Fox may have been inspired by novelty-pop-duo-turned-conspiracists Right Said Fred. On Saturday they posted photos showing “defibrillators on the street and outside schools”.

Excurcus

Fox recently upset some allies within the conspiracy movement with a statement about abortion, in which he affirmed that “A woman who willingly aborts a child should be regarded in exactly the same way as a man who willingly commits rape”. The tone did not strike me as particularly “pro-life” (and what exactly is “willing rape” to be contrasted with?) – the juxtaposition seemed to me to be instead a bitter complaint that women supposedly do something just as bad as a male crime that is highly stigmatised, but are not being made accountable for it. This impression was strengthened when he went on (in a Tweet since deleted) to reject poverty and absent fathers as a reason for abortion, claiming that “women have it easy” and referring to his own expenditure as a divorced father.

Aseem Malhotra Accuses Newspapers of “Racism” After Criticism of BBC Interview

An announcement from cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra:

I’m considering taking legal action against the Guardian and the Times for racism. This is sickening.

Malhotra, as is well known, has recently beome a high-profile Covid vaccination alarmist: a few months ago, he published a review article in an obscure journal called the Journal of Insulin Resistance in which he made extravagant claims about the risks of vaccination; since then, he has been engaged in relentless media amplification and activist networking (assisted by former Brexit Party MEP James Freeman Wells), which most recently led to him being championed in the House of Commons by Andrew Bridgen MP.

Prior to his anti-Covid vaccination activism, Malhotra was known for his criticisms of statin prescriptions, and it was in this capacity that he was invited onto the BBC News channel on Friday to respond to advice by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence that the NHS should make them more widely available. However, he predictably seized the opportunity to promote vaccination alarmism:

…my own father suffered a cardiac arrest at home… and when his post-mortem came out he had very severe coronary artery disease which is unexplainable. I then published in a peer reviewed journal, they accepted my findings that the likely cause of his death was two doses of the Pfizer mRNA vaccine he had six months earlier….

He also referred to an article by other authors, published in Vaccine – this can be identified as a paper by Joseph Fraiman et al., which has come under criticism. Perhaps concious of how far he could push his digression, Malhotra toned down his absolute rejection of Covid vaccination, adding that it “has certainly helped people who are high risk” and suggesting that the rollout should be paused due to the mildness of the Omicron variant.

Following his interview, he uploaded the clip to Twitter, along with a boast: “We did it. We broke mainstream broadcast media”. Just as he milks his review article’s peer reviewed status as evidence of scientific standing, we can expect “as featured on BBC News” to now be another rhetorical strategy to compensate for the fact that his scientific peers have raised numerous criticisms and objections to his claims that remain unaddressed.

Why was he invited onto BBC News? He is candid on Twitter:

I’ve been the most vocal publishing papers & discussing in mainstream more than anyone in the world criticising statin prescription over the years. They came to me last minute & junior BBC producer had no idea I’d mention mRNA. Spontaneous by me as had 7 min.

Later the same morning, BBC News invited on an immunologist named Peter Openshaw to provide, in his words, a “rapid response interview”; he says that “the staff seemed alarmed and embarrassed that they had given [Malhotra] a platform”. Frustratingly, however, it is impossible to see it anywhere. Malhotra’s interview appeared during the segment from 9 am to 10 am, which is then uploaded to the BBC iPlayer for 24 hours, whereas Openshaw’s response featured during the segment following, which is not made available online at all. Further, Malhotra’s uploaded clip has had millions of views on social media.

The BBC fiasco was written up by the Guardian under the headline “BBC criticised for letting cardiologist ‘hijack’ interview with false Covid jab claim”, and featuring responses from Dr Stephen Griffin, virologist at the University of Leeds (who made the “hijack” comment); Prof Marc Dweck, chair of clinical cardiology at the University of Edinburgh; and Dr Matt Kneale, the co-chair of the Doctors’ Association. In response to the responses, Malhotra has amplified a Tweet from someone alleging that they have conflicts of interest and that this is “the real story”. Similarly, Malhotra supporter James Melville pointed to the fact that the Guardian has a Global Development section that receives funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The word “hijack” in the Guardian headline caught the attention of fringe-right activist and GB News presenter Laurence Fox, who alleged that this is the “language of terrorism” being used to “smear a cardiologist of colour”. Malhotra quotes Fox’s Tweet directly in his legal threat against the paper.

Malhotra’s legal threat to The Times, meanwhile, relates to an article headlined “Andrew Bridgen, the MP who was ‘groomed by gangs of antivaxers'”. This was published yesterday as further context for Bridgen losing the whip:

Those involved in the government’s vaccine roll-out, which Bridgen had lauded, said his case was a classic example of “radicalisation” by antivaxers who operate like “grooming gangs”.

In the tweet that prompted his suspension, Bridgen recounted a conversation about vaccine safety with an unnamed consultant who told him: “This is the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust.”

This unnamed source, according to Bridgen, was an Israeli (2), but it is Malhotra who features prominently in the article, which includes a photograph of Bridgen and Malhotra standing together on the terrace at the Houses of Parliament (3). Malhotra and his supporters, including Fox, suggest that the juxtaposition of an Asian man next to a headline about “grooming” was deliberately meant to evoke stereotypical connotations.

Bridgen is also currently considering legal action to protect his reputation: his Holocaust comparison caused great offence, and former Health Secretary Matt Hancock has gone so far as to call it not just irresponsible or in bad taste but as being actually anti-semitic. In response, Bridgen says “I will allow Matt three days to apologise publicy for calling me an antisemite and racist or he will be contacted by my legal team”. This sense of grievance is difficult to take given that Bridgen has implied that Hancock has been involved in the worst crime since the Holocaust.

If Malhotra is in need of a lawyer, perhaps Fox can help – he knows several via his “Bad Law Project“, and he is currently being sued for libel.

Notes

(1) Malhotra had no “findings” about his father’s death – he instead deployed dubious statistics in the service of a speculation derived from his personal incredulity. As far as I know, Malhotra has never addressed whether or not his father had stopped taking statins on his advice, or if he was following his controversial dietary advice.

(2) Bridgen has been supported by Josh Guetzkow, a senior lecturer in criminology and sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who was quoted in Toby Young’s Daily Sceptic as saying that “there is nothing at all anti-Semitic about his statement”. It’s possible that Bridgen has become confused in his recollection about who made the Holocaust comparison, although his belated attribution to a Jewish source after being criticised and condemned is convenient.

[UPDATE (19 Jan): In an argument with Iain Dale, Bridgen now complains:

You also state that I was quoting an anonymous cardiologist who is also Israeli – ‘how convenient’ – this is untrue. My now deleted tweet referred to a paper written by an Israeli social scientist. Dr Josh Guetzkow. At no point have I stated the cardiologist I was referring to is an Israeli, in fact, I have not named them.

In his video statement, Bridgen said “the Israeli doctor I quoted in my tweet has stated that there was noting anti-Semitic about the statement”. Given that his Tweet began with “As one consultant cardiologist said to me”, it was reasonable to suppose that this is what he meant by the “quote”, and this is why The Times wrote it up as “the MP said the cardiologist he quoted was an Israeli”.

However, his Tweet also included a link to Zerohedge page entitled “CDC Finally Releases VAERS Safety Monitoring Analyses For COVID Vaccines”. The page consists of a long piece authored by Guetzkow, re-uploaded from somewhere else.

So, as I suspected, it was indeed Guetzkow who provided Bridgen with his defence. For some reason, Bridgen referred to him in his statement as “an Israeli doctor” rather than as “an Israeli academic”, and he said he “quoted” him rather than that he linked to his work. This created a misleading impression, that he is now complaining about. It also directed attention away from the actual source of his Holocaust quote.

(3) I noted how Bridgen has come under the influence of the conspiracy movement last week.

Andrew Bridgen: Notes on an MP Under the Influence of Bad Actors

From The Times:

A Tory MP has claimed that global elites conspired to keep coronavirus secret for months, before exaggerating its severity to impose restrictions.

…In an interview with NHS 100k, an organisation set up to oppose vaccine mandates, [Andrew] Bridgen said: “I’ve spoken to people who’ve recently left security services around the world. And they’ve told me that they knew in September [2019] what was going to happen, some of them told me they knew in August. And they were also told not to take any vaccines or test.”

Andrew Bridgen has long enjoyed media prominence as an all-purpose rent-a-quote, despite his obvious buffoonery. In recent months, however, his influence on public life has taken a darker turn. Disgraced by a judge finding that he he had been dishonest during a legal dispute involving members of his family, and then suspended from Parliament after undertaking paid lobbying, Bridgen has now re-branded as a thorough-going Covid alarmist and conspiricist. In December, he called an adjournment debate in the House of Commons in which he promoted the work of Aseem Malhotra, and his social media output is now a sewer of disinformation, shared without discernment from obvious bad-faith fringe websites such as NewsPunch. Among the conspiracy crowd he is regarded as a heroic figure, with supporters such as Maajid Nawaz and GB News’ Calvin Robinon pushing a false narrative that he was suspended from Parliament for speaking out.

It it reasonable to suppose that Bridgen’s weblinks and talking-points are being handed to him by persons within the conspiracy movement. His claim to be in contact with “people who’ve recently left security services around the world” is beyond the bounds of credibility, but it is feasible that he has been introduced to individuals claiming to have such a background, which he has taken at face value. Whether his contacts are fantasists, crooks or foreign agents is anyone’s guess.

Some years ago the satirical television show Brass Eye showed how easy it is to suck MPs into hoaxes, and I’ve seen examples for myself. Bridgen’s judgement and decision-making would appear to be completely subordinated to the interests of bad actors who are unknown and in the shadows. This is not acceptable, and it seems to me that an intervention is overdue. At the very least, he should lose the whip.

Note

NHS 100k is a campaigning group created by a paramedic referred to in the media only as Lilith. According to its website (emphasis in original):

NHS100k believe in bodily autonomy and the right to give informed consent to any medical intervention. Evidence currently indicates that Covid-19 vaccines may reduce severe disease, and may reduce transmission. However, Covid-19 vaccines do not prevent infection, severe disease, or transmission.

This seems to be rather more nuanced than Bridgen’s Covid conspiricism. However, NHS100k billed the interview as being in the wake of Bridgen’s “historic speech in parliament calling for the immediate suspension of the cv !9 [sic] injection”, and according to The Times,

His interviewer [Matt Taylor, unnamed in the report] thanked him for confirming what he and his community had long suspected, but had been accused of being “crazy tin foil hat people” for believing.

Woman Supported by “Justice For Ellie” Campaign Found Guilty of Perversion of Justice

From the Barrow-in-Furness Mail:

A WOMAN who claimed she was the victim of an Asian grooming gang has been convicted of perverting the course of justice.

Eleanor Williams, 22, published pictures of her injuries and an account of being groomed, trafficked and beaten, on Facebook in May 2020, in a post which was shared more than 100,000 times.

…Jonathan Sandiford KC, prosecuting, said the incident was a “finale” to a series of false allegations made by Williams.

Williams, also known as Ellie Williams, had been charged with perverting the course of justice in March 2020, several weeks before her sensational Facebook post. At the time, it was not completely clear whether her pictures related to her original claims or to a new development, although it was reasonable to assume the latter and this was in due course confirmed. It struck me as unlikely that individuals who had just seen their accuser charged with perverting the course of justice would help her case by conveniently providing evidence in her favour, in the form of new injuries and threatening messages, but in accordance with rules of sub judice and principles of natural justice it would have been imprudent to comment publicly.

Williams’s supporters, however, had no such qualms: it was taken for granted that she had been arrested as part of a police cover-up, and that the local paper was colluding in this. Local journalists were threatened (as I noted at the time); the Mail reported that

The strength of feeling in Barrow has been so strong businesses have been ordering posters to display their support, online trolls have been targeting anyone deemed unsupportive of the campaign and vandals have been leaving derogatory graffiti about the police on walls in the town.

Tommy Robinson made an appearance (against the wishes of Williams’s family), local Asian businesses were attacked and the men she had accused were subjected to online and real-world vilification. The Facebook “Justice for Ellie” campaign, according to the Guardian, “led to a line of merchandise featuring a purple elephant, her favourite animal, and prompted a crowdfunder, which saw more than 1,000 people donate £22,000”.

The narrative frame was set by MailOnine (connected to the London Daily Mail, and not related to the Barrow-in-Furness Mail), which in May 2020 ran an article headlined “Girl, 19, is charged with perverting course of justice after telling police she was drugged and raped by Asian sex gang in Cumbria”. This account was picked up by Maggie Oliver, a former police officer who is a household name due to her involvement with exposing a predominately Asian grooming gang in Rochdale. Referring to the article, she wrote on Twitter “Far easier to blame the victim than embark on a complex investigation” (when in fact there had already been a year-long investigation), and when asked about why the story had not received wider coverage, she suggested that “the authorities are very powerful and close down MSM” (1).  Oliver’s efforts to promote the “Justice For Ellie” campaign were also commended by the celebrity television presenter and activist against anti-semitism Rachel Riley. Neither has so far commented on the outcome.

Tommy Robinson, however, is complaining that the “scum sly sky news media” had failed to mention “the fact I knew she was guilty and said as much BEFORE the verdict from my investigation into her allegations” – this is disputed by Amy Fenton, a journalist who had to have police protection for writing objectively about the case, who writes: “I’ve never heard such rubbish in my life. You weren’t saying this when you were barking your racist nonsense through a megaphone and demanding I explain myself were you Tommy Robinson? What a load of nonsense this is. And I do have evidence of what you said and did at the time” (Robinson denies being racist).

Also worth noting is the response of Sarah Champion MP. In 2018, responding to another controversial case that garnered a lot of publicity but no prosecutions, she expressed the strong view that journalists should “believe the victim”; now, however, she writes that she declined to support Williams because “something always seemed off”.

The Barrow-in-Furness Mail also has a companion article entitled “Eleanor Williams: How Fer ‘Web of Lies’ was Debunked”, which outlines the case against her. In particular, she was shown to have fabricated Snapchat messages, and her accounts of having been trafficked to Blackpool, Ibiza and Amsterdam were debunked by CCTV, flight records and witnesses respectively. As for her sensational injuries uploaded in May 2020, these were found to be consistent with a hammer – she had purchased such an item a week beforehand, and this was found in a field near her home with her DNA on it.

Also, one person she had accused was actually in a police van at the time of an alleged rape, following an altercation at a taxi-rank. In this case, Williams’s allegation was not related to “grooming” claims, and the man concerned, Jordan Trengove, has given an account to the Guardian. Another victim, known as Mo Rammy, has meanwhile been interviewed by the Mail.

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see Spin vs Truth, which describes Williams as “the female Carl Beech”.

UPDATE: Spin vs Truth also notes that those who supported the “Justice for Ellie” campaign included none other than Oliver’s former associate Jon Wedger, and that Wedger claimed to be in contact with Williams’s family. Wedger’s advocacy on behalf of Williams in online videos while the matter was sub judice apparently led to a warning from the Attorney General about contempt of court.

Note

1. Maggie Oliver’s willingness to jump to conclusions about a cover-up reflect the fact that despite her mainstream profile she is also involved with the figures in the conspiracy milieu, as I discussed here and here. More recently, she has commended the the anti-Covid vaccination alarmist Aseem Malhotra.

A Note on the Promotion of Andrew Tate

From GB News on Wednesday morning:

Andrew Tate has taken a swipe at Greta Thunberg and her green agenda in his latest series of tweets.

…Tate has mocked the activist by sharing an image of himself filling up his Bugatti with petrol and asking for her to send him an email address so he can detail the “enormous emissions” his cars let out.

…He responded later with a video of Thunberg speaking at the United Nations where she famously lambasted world leaders by telling them “This is all wrong, I shouldn’t be up here”, the clip has been edited and features clips of Tate driving his supercars and boarding private jets.

The article is credited to a “senior digital producer” at GB News, which is a title indicating something less than journalist – the channel specialises in rent-a-gob commentary and rarely if ever has an investigative scoop, and as such its general online news coverage tends to be derivative to the point of near-plagiarism (1).

In this instance, however, there wasn’t even a story – taunting environmental campaigners online by boasting about wasting energy or creating needless pollution is hardly remarkable or original. The main reason GB News chose to write up Tate’s Tweet was because they wanted to promote him, and perhaps in turn gain attention from his social media audiences. Thus the article also mentions that

Earlier this year, Tate appeared on GB News and called Meghan Markle’s race accusations disrespectful to people who have genuinely suffered from racism.

That was in June, although Tate made a second appearance earlier this month in which he was billed as a “social media sensation” after Elon Musk restored his Twitter account. In conversation with Dan Wootton, he described Covid as an “imaginary pandemic” – elsewhere, he has announced that he avoids sex with vaccinated women, a policy that I suspect is equally agreeable to such women, and in another clip he claims that Covid vaccines were created in order to control the population as a check on freedoms arising from the internet and cryptocurrencies (conspiracy influencer James Melville commended the clip, although he also made clear that he’s “not particularly a fan” of Tate).

The GB News article also included one other detail:

Thunberg is yet to respond to the tweet.

That was early on Wednesday morning; later that day, however, she replied with a mocking Tweet that went viral:

yes, please do enlighten me. email me at smalldickenergy@getalife.com

This one got picked up by the media, although for some reason GB News now thought the matter beneath their notice. In contrast, in the USA the Post-Millennial used Tweets from Matt Walsh and Iain Miles Cheong to try to build a narrative that Thurnberg had made herself look foolish by giving that as her supposed email address, which was also Tate’s own face-saving interpretation.

GB News’s promotion of Tate as a voice to be heard reflects his broader acceptance among conservative activists: at the 2019 CPAC conference he socialised with the likes of Paul Joseph Watson, Jack Posobiec and Candace Owens, and got photo-ops with Nigel Farage and Donald Trump Jnr. In the same year Mike Cernovich visited Tate’s residence in Romania, and Tommy Robinson is another friend. (2)

This embrace of Tate has occurred despite a history of unambiguous and coarsely expressed misogyny. He openly boasts about using predatory seduction techniques to recruit women into webcam work, and he has even filmed himself engaging in sadistic sexual role-play. Perhaps this was seen as primarily performative, but things have now taken a darker turn; as reported by BBC News:

The controversial British-American influencer Andrew Tate will be held in detention in Romania for 30 days, after a court agreed to a police request.

Tate was arrested alongside his brother Tristan on Thursday as part of an investigation into allegations of human trafficking and rape, which they deny.

Tate was previously arrested in April, and an investigation has apparently been going on for some months. Someone Tweeting on Tate’s behalf has alluded to “the Matrix” as an explanation, and his supporters allege that he is being persecuted, perhaps as a result of his Tweets to Thurnberg. There is a striking contrast between activist readiness to accuse “elites” of involvement in sexual criminality based on conspiracy theories and the doubt and scepticism being expressed now.

(H/T @CarlEveCrime for alerting me to the GB News article)

Note

1. At one point last year it seemed that GB News had a real story about about bonuses at Channel 4, but it turned out that someone had simply sexed up two Press Association articles (used without credit). GB News oversold the story by alleging “corruption”, but then toned it down before deleting it.

2. In 2019 Tate engaged in some copycat harassment of Mike Stuchbery after Robinson made a night-time visit to Stuchbery’s home.

Andrew Bridgen MP Claims British Heart Foundation “Cover Up”, Amplifies False Claims by Aseem Malhotra

From a statement by the British Heart Foundation:

We do not recognise these claims and strongly refute all allegations made about colleagues in seniour leadership roles within the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

…We would encourage those making these serious allegations to share specific, credible information with us which supports them…

The BHF is here responding a claim made by Andrew Bridgen MP in Parliament last night that someone with “a prominent leadership role with the British Heart Foundation” is the lead at a cardiology research department that “is covering up clear data that reveals that the mRNA vaccine increases inflammation of the heart arteries”. This was based on the word of a unnamed “whistleblower”; Bridgen did not go into specific details, and it appears that he has made no attempt to raise the matter privately anywhere.

Bridgen was speaking as part of an adjournment debate he had called on the subject of “Vaccines: Potential Harms“. He put great emphasis on claims made by Aseem Malhotra, and it is likely that Malhotra and his circle provided Bridgen’s talking points. Malhotra also attended in person, and a photo shows him posing with Bridgen on the House of Commons Terrace. With typical modesty, Malhotra Tweeted that the speech in which he was commended by Bridgen was “the most important parliamentary speech you will see”. Malhotra was previously at Parliament a few weeks ago, having been invited to an event by Christopher Chope MP.

As is well known, Malhotra recently published a review essay in a lesser-known medical journal in which he made extraordinary claims about the prevalence of Covid vaccination harms, based largely on personal anecdotes and his interpretation of statistics (not his field). The essay (which appeared in two parts) was peer reviewed, and his supporters believe that this amounts to scientific canonisation. Bridgen asserted that “there has so far not been a single rebuttal of Dr Malhotra’s findings in the scientific literature”, presumably discounting out of hand the exhaustive enumerations of his work’s shortcomings made by various scientists (e.g here and here, as well as a Health Feedback critique).

Bridgen also stated – while giving a false impression that he was now referring to a different paper – that it had been

accepted by a peer-reviewed medical journal that one of the country’s most respected and decorated general practitioners, the honorary vice-president of the British Medical Association and the Labour party’s doctor of the year, Dr Kailash Chand, likely suffered a cardiac arrest and was tragically killed by the Pfizer vaccine six months after his second dose, through a mechanism that rapidly accelerates heart disease.

Chand was actually Malhotra’s father, and this narrative of his demise features in his paper. However, Malhotra provided zero evidence of any such “mechanism”, and the speculation is fantastical. Bridgen’s presentation of this detail is disingenuous and I would say verges on misleading parliament. It must also be noted (albeit reluctantly, for reasons of taste) that Malhotra has so far failed to clarify whether his father shared his controversial views about diet and avoiding statins, which may be more pertinent to understanding why Chand died (and why Malhotra is so desperate for it to be someone else’s fault).

However, despite leaning heavily on Malhotra’s credentials as a “peer-reviewed” authority, Bridgen also suggested that the vaccines are unsafe because scientific research in general is in a poor state:

In 2015 a commentary by Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, suggested that possibly half of the published medical literature “may simply be untrue”. He wrote that “science has taken a turn toward darkness”, and asked who is going to take the first step to clean up the system. (1)

Also:

Furthermore, the former editor of The BMJ, Richard Smith, claims that research misconduct is rife and is not effectively being tackled in the UK institutions, stating: “Something is rotten in…British medicine and has been for a long time”.

Those two items can be seen here and here. Ironically, the various shortcomings and problems outlined by Horton actually explain how Malhotra got his essay into print:

In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world. Or they retrofit hypotheses to fit their data. Journal editors deserve their fair share of criticism too. We aid and abet the worst behaviours… Our love of “significance” pollutes the literature with many a statistical fairy-tale. We reject important confirmations.

Malhotra’s self-marketing has been largely organised by one James Freeman (formerly known as “James Wells”), a former Brexit Party MEP who makes regular appearances on conspiracy podcasts (such as here with David Icke’s son Gareth). Following Bridgen’s speech, Freeman Tweeted at the CEO of the British Heart Foundation, demanding to know “Were you aware of this @iCharmaine?” Predictably, his many followers have chimed in with more explicit allegations of wrongdoing and corruption.

Others who have enjoyed Andrew Bridgen’s confidence in recent years include disgraced former chief constable Mike Veale, convicted stalker Alex Belfield, and (apparently) Satanic Ritual Abuse obsessive Jon Wedger.

UPDATE: Jon Bye has a more detailed breakdown of Bridgen’s speech, noting that the anecdote about a “whistleblower” appears to have been taken directly from Malhotra.

Also (links click through to the Tweets, where there are also screenshots of sources):

Bridgen directly quotes Malhotra’s paper, saying that the absolute risk reduction during the Pfizer trials was only 0.84%.

But this was over a short period during which prevalence of the virus was relatively low. So largely irrelevant by the time it was rolled out.

Bridgen falsely claims that covid vaccines give “no protection against infection at all”, and ignores all the studies showing there’s more than just “hope” that they “protect us from serious illness and death”. He caps this by citing “real world data” from .. HART.

Having wrongly dismissed “the benefits of the vaccine” as “close to non-existent”, Bridgen cribs from Malhotra’s paper again, this time making questionable claims about how common serious adverse effects are, and citing a paper co-authored by Peter Doshi.

Bridgen repeats Malhotra’s unevidenced claim that his father was “killed by the Pfizer vaccine”, before blaming “many” other cardiac arrests on covid vaccines. This is based on more HART data, and an FOI request that says completely the opposite to what Malhotra claims.

For variety, Bridgen also quotes an earlier article by Malhotra, suggesting the MHRA has conflicts of interest because it’s mostly funded by (registration fees paid by) the pharmaceutical industry, even quoting the exact same passages from an article by Donald Light.

Then it’s back to Malhotra’s “paper”, as Bridgen cites an “investigation” (by HART’s Zoe Harcombe) into the JCVI and its (indirect) links to conspiracy theorist favourite Bill Gates, before saying big pharma “has been described as psychopathic” (by .. er .. Malhotra).

Note

1. Hansard currently misspells Horton as “Richard Houghton”. He recently attended a lecture given by Malhotra at Friends’ Meeting House in London, and his urbane account can be read here.  He wrote:

Malhotra’s method of argument deserves scrutiny to understand why it persuades some people. Frame one’s view as the reluctant endpoint of a personal journey. Quote respected scientists. Stand up to corporates. Place oneself firmly on the side of patients. Emphasise well described concerns about the presentation of research evidence. Allude to correlations. Make the call for access to raw data an issue of trust and transparency.

He then noted some audience interjections, including an extravagant “bioweapon” claims. In his view: “This descent into unreason is what happens when you inflame public anxieties”.

Some Notes on Elon Musk and a Moral Entrepreneur

From Joseph Menn at the Washington Post:

Elon Musk escalated his battle of words with previous managers of Twitter into risky new territory over the weekend… implying that the company’s former head of trust and safety had a permissive view of sexual activity by minors.

…In the Spaces session late Friday, Musk seemed to agree with a host known as Eliza Bleu that [former Twitter safety chief Yoel] Roth and his staff had been too busy censoring conservatives to provide resources to identify and block abusive child sex material. Bleu is an activist podcaster who wrote three columns this year on conspiracy promoter Glenn Beck’s website The Blaze…. Bleu, who last year tweeted a photo of herself with Pizzagate promoter and alt-right provocateur Mike Cernovich, was joined on the Spaces session by Ella Irwin, who was hired by Twitter in June and was promoted to trust and safety head after Roth’s departure.

…In response Sunday to questions she said she’d received about her own claim of having been trafficked, which she has not detailed, Bleu tweeted that she had reluctantly come forward as a public advocate in 2020 by speaking to conservative Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire.

On Twitter, Bleu also drew Musk’s attention to a 2010 Tweet by Roth asking “Can high school students ever meaningly consent to sex with their teachers?” as evidence that Roth would have been predisposed to corrupting Twitter’s safety standards – the old “bit.ly” url included with the Tweet failed to show that he was referring to a Salon article about a teacher charged over sex with an 18-year-old student. Roth is now reportedly in hiding due to threats against him, some of which have been allowed to persist on Twitter despite reports. Menn is also now being subjected to “pedo”-themed abuse (see replies and quote-tweets here).

At various times last year, Bleu Tweeted that “the world is ran by a satanic pedo ring” or “evil pedo ring”, each time for some reason using “is ran” rather than “is run”. Menn has RTed one example of this, presumably as evidence that Musk is aligning with QAnon-esque excesses, although it doesn’t feature in his article. Perhaps her assertion was meant to express frustration at the injustices of the world rather than being a serious proposition, but without an explanation it can only serve to inflame conspiracy worldviews. (1)

Shortly after Musk’s purchase of Twitter, Bleu wrote a Newsweek op-ed headlined “While Blue Checks Whine About Extremism, Elon Musk Is Protecting Sexually Exploited Children”. Bleu referred to an ongoing legal action involving two complainants who that allege Twitter failed to remove images of their underage sexual exploitation, and on the issue more broadly she says that she found a meeting with Twitter corporate arranged personally by then CEO Jack Dorsey to be “a waste of time”.

Bleu has been cited in the media as a “survivor” more than once, but it is difficult to reconcile the centrality of her personal experience to her credentials as a moral entrepreneur with the fact that, as Menn notes, she has “not detailed” her story. She has, however, stated that she was exploited after relocating to Los Angeles aged 17 in search of fame, and that “the man who promised her heaven on earth sold her to another man for a mere $500”. She further claims that this was “the beginning of an ordeal that was to last for over 15 years”.

Bleu was 17 years old in 2002; during the same period she was a student who was earning extra money cutting hair for pop bands on tour. In this capacity she met and started dating Gerard Way, frontman of the band My Chemical Romance, stating that Way dominated her life “for the next 4-5 years”. In 2006 she appeared on Blind Date, and from there went on to gain an online profile associated with social media influencers.

This doesn’t preclude the possibility that there was also some hidden malign and coercive presence in her life, perhaps appearing intermittently, but it raises reasonable questions. However, when Menn contacted her for comment, she did not reply, “instead tagging the reporter in a tweeted obscenity”. We might also ask why no police reports have been made or legal actions launched, particularly now that she has Musk’s patronage.

Note

1. Despite refusing to engage with Menn ahead of publication (“go fuck yourself” – here), she now complains that he failed to mention that she had previously spoken against QAnon “misinformation”. She cites a 2020 NBC News article by Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins, even though that article refers to her only as “Eliza”, whose “last name is being withheld to protect her identity from former abusers”; and a November 2022 Washington Post article by Taylor Lorenz which noted that she had “attempted to swat down” conspiracy theories about the “Gas” app.

Isabel Oakeshott Sensationalises On Matt Hancock Memoir

From Isabel Oakeshott in The Spectator:

Published this week, co-authored by me, [Matt] Hancock’s Pandemic Diaries are the first insider account from the heart of government of the most seismic political, economic and public health crisis of our times.

…As far as Hancock was concerned, anyone who fundamentally disagreed with his approach was mad and dangerous and needed to be shut down. His account shows how quickly the suppression of genuine medical misinformation – a worthy endeavour during a public health crisis – morphed into an aggressive government-driven campaign to smear and silence those who criticised the response. Aided by the Cabinet Office, the Department of Health harnessed the full power of the state to crush individuals and groups whose views were seen as a threat to public acceptance of official messages and policy. As early as January 2020, Hancock reveals that his special adviser was speaking to Twitter about ‘tweaking their algorithms’. Later he personally texted his old coalition colleague Nick Clegg, now a big cheese at Facebook, to enlist his help. The former Lib Dem deputy prime minister was happy to oblige.

Such was the fear of ‘anti-vaxxers’ that the Cabinet Office used a team hitherto dedicated to tackling Isis propaganda to curb their influence. The zero-tolerance approach extended to dissenting doctors and academics. The eminent scientists behind the so-called Barrington Declaration, which argued that public health efforts should focus on protecting the most vulnerable while allowing the general population to build up natural immunity to the virus, were widely vilified: Hancock genuinely considered their views a threat to public health.

This passage is being celebrated by the conspiracy crowd as evidence that the way in which the UK responded to the Covid pandemic crisis was no more than a  contrived “narrative” created by government-directed media manipulation, but which they themselves saw through and resisted.

However, having had a look at the relevant passages in Hancock’s memoir on Google Books, it looks to me that Oakeshott is sensationalising and even misrepresenting the work that she helped to create. On the Cabinet Office team, Hancock refers to

…worrying research suggesting that as many as half of Americans and a fifth of people living in the UK will decline the jab. A load of nutters are putting it about that it is part of some great global conspiracy, and we need to limit their influence.

We’ve pulled together a team from the Cabinet Office that was involved in tackling Daesh propaganda during the existence of the Caliphate. The online campaign they led was based on providing an overwhelming counter-narrative. Instead of focusing on responding directly to false claims, the main effort is to provide clear, objective positive material.

Nothing here about a campaign to “smear and silence” – and it’s not at all clear how this relates to the supposed “vilification” of Barrington authors. Oakeshott merely juxtaposes Hancock’s scepticism about the authors with a reference to the cabinet team to create an impression.

Further:

We are starting to think about how the social media companies can help. Jamie has spoken to Twitter and they’re going to tweak their algorithms so when people search for ‘coronavirus’ and various other key terms, they’ll go to our offical guidance page

…Clegg may have looked a mess when he Zoomed me from Yellowstone, but he got straight onto it re. combatting fake news. Facebook has taken down a wild-eyed Trump post declaring that children are ‘almost immune’ to coronovirus. Twitter followed suit.

Hancock’s media adviser Jamie Njoku-Goodwin speaking to Twitter is hardly “harnessing the full power of the state to crush individuals and groups”, a ludicrously overheated interpretation.

Some Spectator readers may infer that Oakeshott is giving an an unexpurgated account that goes beyond Hancock’s own authorised version. But she doesn’t say that, and she doesn’t provide any extra context that would justify the spin she’s put on her cherry-picked details. Indeed, context has actually been removed.

Oakeshott came under some criticism from the conspiracy crowd for agreeing to write the book with (for?) Hancock, and also when she coaxed Hancock into a recording studio in June for an interview alongside James Melville on the subject of cryptocurrency. However, all is now forgiven – one “social media campaigner” and GB News regular, June Slater, has written:

I apologise for doubting Richard Tice and Isabel Oakshott’s [sic] involvement with Matt Hancock’s book.

As her Spectator article proves today, it was a long game, a quest for truth, to ensure the government and minister could never lock us down or mandate drugs again.