Conspiracist Doctor Apologises Over Paedophile Accusation

From the Daily Express:

This Morning star Dr Ranj has achieved a “small victory” after a brutal troll was forced to retract his paedophile accusation against him [1] and made to apologise for his actions.

…The ITV star shared the apology to his Instagram page…

He penned: “FINALLY! After a horrible process spanning almost a year, this individual has at last been held accountable and made to apologise and pay for his disgusting attacks.

“But I am not the only person he has targeted. There are so many others who have been caused unnecessary distress because of his unprofessional behaviour. No doubt more of his antics will be revealed at his GMC hearing later this year… and I’m hoping he will face the proper repercussions…”

The reference in there to the GMC (General Medical Council) is likely to confuse many Express readers – in tabloidland, the stereotypical “troll” is either a social inadequate or a crude thug, yet here we have a different species: a troll with professional credentials and standing. Although not named by the paper, Ranj Singh’s accuser was none other than Dr David Cartland MRCGP, MBChB, BMedSci (var. “Dr Dave Cartland”), who in recent years has become infamous on social media for making wild claims about Covid vaccination and other subjects. As noted by John Bye last month:

David Cartland is under investigation by the GMC over allegations of bullying and harassment. He claims that covid vaccines make you magnetic, and has shared bizarre conspiracy theories about 5G, chemtrails and freemasons. He’s friends with David Icke.

In January he amplified – and then quietly backed down from – the proposition that “Every Single Aspect of the Covid Agenda is Jewish”. A few days from now, he will be appearing at an event in Leicester organised by “British Lions for Freedom”, alongside the likes of Andrew Bridgen and Fiona Diamond.

Like some some other trolls who can present as articulate, Cartland likes to boast about how he has a “police evidence portfolio” that will see critics brought to book by the authorities. He believes that anti-conspiracists are organised into a movement that he calls “77th” (meaning the 77th Brigade of the British Army, which conducts psychological operations) or the “Mutton Crew”, in reference to a artisan online butchers that has made scathing comments about him and the antivax movement.

One person who has tried to reason with Cartland is the former conspiracist Brent Lee. Back in June it seemed he had made some headway, and he related that Cartland appeared to be able to put his beliefs aside when it came to discharging his professional duties:

I was so annoyed Tuesday, I decided to confront Dr. David Cartland and surprised him with a video call. I’m blocked here, but I remembered that we had arranged the infamous debate on Telegram. I’m glad I did it. I was able to show him around the factory where I work and convince him I’m a regular guy. I was able to explain why I do what I do and hopefully have convinced him that I’m not connected to anyone and that I have nothing to do with any complaints against him. […]

Cartland is a conspiracy theorist.

But also, now this is very important..

Cartland is a Doctor. And he cares about health. I told him about my partner’s illness and he literally transformed into an attentive and caring GP and offered me a lot of advice.

We’re not friends and we never will be, but it was good to smooth a few things over and I appreciate him taking the time to take my call.

This didn’t last very long, though:

…he started spreading rumours online that I was having an affair with my friend, a well-known journalist. I blocked him. Soon after this submitted all of our communications including the harassment to a GMC compliant against him

4 months on, I see he’s been continuing this rumour, at one point, brought my partner into his attacks on me. This has gone too far. My partner has now asked him to stop, but so far, we have had no response. What a cult.

However, although Brent has made some media appearances in recent months he’s not a “celebrity”, and as such Cartland’s “brutal trolling” in this case is unlikely to make the Daily Express.


1. Here’s Cartland’s apology to Singh in full:

In May and June 2023, I published various tweets alleging that Dr Ranj Singh was a paedophile or sympathises unjustifiably with paedophiles. I accept that these allegations were wholly untrue, and that I had no basis to make them. I sincerely apologise to Dr Singh for the harm and upset I have caused. I have made a donation to a charity of his choice, and paid his legal costs. I will not be commenting on this matter again, save for any response that I give in evidence (written or oral) before a court or Tribunal in England and Wales.

However, at the same time he also writes:

Still waiting to see evidence of me calling any human being on earth a paedophile tonight let’s see how the feed fills up!!!! Please post every derogatory meme and post I have ever published directly linking any human to Paedophillia??? Evidence most welcome

Cartland’s attack on Singh appears to have been extrapolated from a 2013 remark that tabloids reported five years later when Singh was on Strictly.

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.

Dan Wootton Threatens Legal Action After Police Investigation Ends

From Dan Wootton’s crowdfunder, last summer (emphasis added):

A hard left blog is on a deranged campaign of harassment designed to destroy me financially, mentally and professionally – but, with your help, they will not succeed.

…We must fight back against the current state of social media, where any allegation can be made in an attempt to get someone on the right cancelled and it is impossible to defend yourself. This is even the case where they have claimed that I have engaged in criminal activity when I have never been arrested, interviewed or charged in respect of any of the allegations against me.

As is well known, Byline Times had published allegations that Wootton had used pseudonyms to solicit intimate images of men in return for money, adding that his alleged targets believed “catfishing” to be the motive. Wootton denied having done anything criminal, although he kept to generalities: he never denied using the pseudonyms, and he referred to enigmatic “errors of judgement in the past”. He also denied other criminal allegations, which had the effect of conflating the Byline Times accusers with other individuals, against whom Wootton was able to raise issues of credibility.

Wootton’s reference to the lack of any police contact was confirmed by an article that appeared in the Independent in August:

Scotland Yard said: “In June 2023, the Metropolitan Police was contacted with regards to allegations of sexual offences committed by a man.

“Officers are assessing information to establish whether any criminal offence has taken place. There is no police investigation at this time.”

That changed in October, as was reported by the Guardian, the Mirror and Byline Times as a new development in the ongoing story. However, rather than update his supporters, Wootton – whose crowdfunder included a GB News screenshot bearing the words “No censorship” – instead reached for his lawyers. It seems that they cited the February 2022 Supreme Court ruling in Bloomberg LP v ZXC that, to quote a legal discussion here, “a person under a criminal investigation has a reasonable expectation of privacy in respect of information relating to that investigation”. The Guardian and the Mirror decided that it wasn’t worth pushing back and deleted their pieces, but Byline Times declined to do so. I discussed the issue in general terms here.

That police investigation has now ended:

In a statement, the Met said: “In June 2023, the Metropolitan police was contacted with regards to allegations of sexual offences committed by a man aged in his 40s.

“Officers assessed all information available to establish whether any criminal offence has taken place. An investigation was commenced into these allegations. All parties involved have now been advised that no further action will be taken. There were no arrests during the investigation.”

Wootton is signalling via Paul Staines’ Guido Fawkes website that he intends to take legal action, while Andy Wigmore has posted Tweet in which he appears to promise funding while denouncing “that little @peterjukes and woke leftie @Hardeep_Matharu and the rest of the extremists at @BylineTimes”. This is a bit much given that when in 2018 Wigmore filed a police complaint against Byline Media he posted a photograph of the online submission form as if that in and of itself had significance (no police action followed).

The Guido Fawkes website has also given some brief commentary about the case, inferring from the outcome that the police believe Wootton has been the subject of a “smear campaign”. That is a speculative extrapolation given how little detail Wootton has chosen to share about what happened, despite issuing a new statement.

The circumstances of ZXC are very different from the position in which Wootton found himself – and it should be noted that the “reasonable expectation of privacy” is merely a starting point, not a rule that reporters must now follow. There was no such “reasonable expectation” for instance when Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner were investigated in May 2022 after Richard Holden MP handed over misleading information to police in Durham. Of course, Wootton could alternatively complain of libel, but if he believes he has a case then it seems odd instead to launch a privacy action.

However, if Wootton does decide to press ahead, then I’m sure his testimony under oath about the pseudonyms “Martin Branning” and “Maria Joseph” will be of interest to many.

NB – the “catfishing” allegations should not be conflated with the reasons why Wootton disappeared from GB News, which I discussed here.

UPDATE: Press Gazette adds:

Dan Wootton is seeking damages, an apology and the retraction of articles from Byline Times after it reported on the fact he was being investigated by police.

Press Gazette understands that Wootton’s legal team is also writing to Carol Vorderman and former Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis over statements made by them on Twitter.

The suspended GB News presenter is also considering legal action against other media outlets over articles published in October last year.

The notion of a “retraction” doesn’t seem coherent: even if Wootton successfully argues that the police investigation ought not to have been reported in October, that hardly applies now, when he himself has referred to end of it and the matter is common knowledge.

However, a letter from his lawyer Donal Blaney has apparently persuaded Maitlis to delete at least one old Tweet in which she noted the fact of the police investigation and what it was about, quoting Byline. Paul Staines frames this as “deleting conspiratorial tweets”, the strained suggestion being that the allegations against Wootton – including the “Martin Branning” alias – are conspiracy theories that no-one should have taken seriously. Wootton, of course, can now boast that a famous journalist has withdrawn a Tweet about the allegations.

Blaney previously ran the Young Britons Foundation (blogged here) and he has a long history of collaboration with Staines. This perhaps explains why Guido Fawkes is apparently doing free PR for Wootton.

Notes on Valdo Calocane and the Attorney General

From a press release from Victoria Prentis, the Attorney General:

Valdo Calocane’s crimes were horrific and have shocked a nation. He brutally killed three innocent people, and violently attacked three other victims. Their experiences will stay in our minds for a long time to come.

This was a case that evoked strong feelings amongst so many people and it was no surprise that I received so many referrals under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme to consider the Hospital Order handed to Calocane.

My duty as a Law Officer in considering whether sentences may be unduly lenient is to act independently of government, even when it is not easy or popular.

Having received detailed legal advice and considered the issues raised very carefully, I have concluded that the sentence imposed against Calocane, for the offences of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility and attempted murder, was unduly lenient and will be referred to the Court of Appeal.

It seems odd to make a general reference to decisions that are “not easy or popular” when the specific decision being announced happens to be extremely popular and is doubtless also helpful to the government in projecting a “tough on crime” image. The case as to why “the CPS and the judge made the right decisions” has been laid out in some detail by Matthew Scott here; we don’t yet know the grounds on which Prentis has taken a different view.

On the face of it, Calocane’s conviction is in line with other cases: for instance, here’s one from last year:

A schizophrenic who killed and then dismembered a woman at her home has been sentenced to an indefinite hospital order.

Luke Deeley, 26, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of June Fox-Roberts, 65, by reason of diminished responsibility.

Deeley attempted to clean up the scene and to change his appearance – evidence of rational decision-making to evade capture, comparable to Calocane’s planning before his attacks and his coherent phone calls to a relative afterwards.

Given that Prentis does not seem to be concerned about Deeley’s sentencing, it seems reasonable to infer that her interventon in the case of Calocane is media driven. The scale of his violence indeed “shocked a nation”; young photogenic victims were involved; and there is much public sympathy for the bitter complaints of bereaved relatives.  There has also been angry and opportunistic commentary on social media, such as this example from GB News’s Darren Grimes (1):

…It’s enough to make you wonder, what’s it going to take for the system to wake up and smell the coffee? When are we going to start putting the victims first, instead of tiptoeing around the perpetrators? It’s high time for a change, and it can’t come soon enough. This isn’t justice; it’s a joke. A cruel, heartless verdict for those who’ve already suffered enough.

Faced with this sort of thing, it would not have been “easy or popular” for Prentice to have backed the trial judge.

The allegedly “unduly lenient” sentencing is tied up with the fact that Calocane was convicted of manslaughter rather than murder, even though it is difficult to envisage different sentencing outcomes. One can appreciate, though, that relatives who regard Calocane as a murderer want him to be officially recognised as such, both on princple and given a hypothetical but fantastically improbable route to early release that has been hyped by segements of the media (Daily Mail: “Nottingham killer Valdo Calocane could be eligible for release in THREE YEARS under terms of hospital order”).

On this point, I do wonder about the implication that Calocane’s medical history means that he was inherently incapable of committing a random murder. One of the psychiatric experts judged that “it seems likely that Mr Calocane’s decision-making was largely governed by his psychotic experiences”, but that “seems likely” gives a lot of leeway – we don’t know exactly what he thought he was doing that night. Delusional belief is not in itself a bar to being convicted of murder: Danyal Hussein, for instance, was convicted of murder for killing two women apparently (2) in the belief that doing so would seal a demonic pact that would allow him to win the lottery. A random attack motivated by anger or frustration can also be murder. I’m open to the suggestion that Calocane’s general volatility (he had previously assaulted co-workers), rather than psychosis, motivated him – but could that ever be proven in court, given his diagnosis? (3) Sometimes justice is less than satisfactory because it cannot served fully, rather than because wrong decisions were taken. (4)


1. There was also heightened public interest in the case over an early assumption that this was a terror attack, which on social media has segued into gratuitous discussion of his ethnic background and immigration status. Thus Grimes pointedly refers to “Valdo Calocane, of Guinea-Bissau in West Africa” – a reference to his early childhood origins, rather than his a settled status in the UK as a Portguese citizen.

2. Hussein’s account was taken at face value, although why did he have to kill women specifically? It is reasonable to suspect banal mysogyny underlying the esoterism.

3. I think here of Robert Napper, who was convicted of manslaughter after he was belatedly found to be Rachel Nickell’s killer. However, his history of mental illness had not precluded him from being convicted of murdering a different young mother, along with her child.

4. It seems contradictory that Calocone was also found guilty of attempted murder, but had he been successful this would have been yet more manslaughter. Presumably this was the only way to deal with it given that “attempted manslaughter” is a nonsensical concept.

Laurence Fox Lashes Out After Libel Loss

In the Guardian, drag queen Crystal writes about their recent libel victory over Reclaim Party leader Laurence Fox:

It’s been bizarre to watch Fox’s behaviour this week. He’s refused to admit defeat, threatened to appeal, and doubled down on the rhetoric that started this whole mess. It’s especially bizarre given that damages are yet to be awarded – but perhaps if we view it as political strategy, it starts to make sense. I didn’t want to go to court, but Fox forced our hand by not only refusing to apologise, but with his ultimately failed countersuit (hole: dug).

Perhaps we gave him and any financial backers exactly what they wanted: publicity, outrage and, for some, damage to the reputation of our legal system. Regardless, I needed to see it through – I had to clear my name, and there must be consequences for defamation.

I wrote about the potential issues in 2020, including the possibility that Fox might counter-sue, which is what happened. Crystal, along with deputy chair of Stonewall Simon Blake and the actor Nicola Thorp, had accused Fox on social media of racism, based on their view of things he had said. Fox responded by calling the trio paedophiles. Fox’s defence was that he obviously wasn’t seriously accusing them, but, rather, simply trading socially stigmatising terms of abuse.

In the case of Thorp, he previously prevailed at the Court of Appeal, because he had mimicked her wording and the so context was clear. In the case of Crystal and Blake, though, he has lost. According to the judge:

Mr Fox’s firecracker ‘paedophile’ tweets may have been indiscriminately lobbed… but here they landed on highly combustible material, reputationally speaking. Three things about Mr Blake and Mr Seymour [i.e. Crystal] stand out in particular.

First, they are not only both gay men, but both had a public profile as such – Mr Blake in his Stonewall and other diversity roles, and Mr Seymour in the distinctively gay subculture or art-world of drag […] They both gave evidence from their own experience, which was not challenged, and which I accept, that one of the oldest, most pernicious and most stubbornly ineradicable falsities or myths of homophobia is that men whose sexuality is orientated to other men thereby exhibit a general ‘proclivity’ likely to comprehend a sexual orientation to children.

…Second, both claimants had, in the course of their respective professions, worked with children in circumstances in which sexual propriety was of the essence

…And third, remarkably, each claimant shared a name with a convicted child sex offender.

…Finally, there is no suggestion whatever that either claimant had himself previously done or said anything remotely capable of justifiably casting the shadow of paedophilia on himself.

Fox in contrast failed in his countersuit because he was unable to show that he had been seriously harmed by their “racist” allegation. Had this bar been reached, then the trio would have relied on an honest opinion defence, likely bolstered by Fox’s own testimony in court. As quoted in the Guardian, Fox thought it helpful to expound the view that “If a man is just released from a Ugandan jail where he’s been gang-raped by several men and he walks out and he goes: ‘I hate black people’, it’s a sort of understandable response”, and he chanted a haka to contrast footballers “taking the knee” in support of the Black Lives Matter movement with New Zealand rugby players. Speaking on The News Agents podcast, Thorp described spectacle as a”parody” and “an uneducated interpretation of a tribal dance”. (2)

Meanwhile, Fox has indeed been using the outcome to “damage to the reputation of our legal system”, via a series of bitter social media posts and and self-pitying video monologues made from the back of a car. In particular, he complains that the judge had failed to define the meaning of “racism”, and that it therefore is a meaningless term that he is now free to deploy against others. Thus he addresses Thorp:

Racist as a term now means nothing.

So actually, I won.

He followed this up with a post calling her a racist (1).

This is a wild compensationary extrapolation, but it reflects Fox’s apparent inability or refusal to understand that meaning arises out of context (also seen, for example, in his belief that “Aussie” and “Paki” are equivalent abbreviations), even though this is why Thorp’s claim failed and the others didn’t.  He also misrepresents the basis for the judge’s reasoning. As discussed by Sunder Katwala:

Fox has misunderstood the judgment. He attributed serious changes in reputation (eg loss of agent) to a couple of specific tweeters. The judgement shows his reputation (agent, public, media) was very different long before that owing to his penchant for controversy.

Fox needed to sue many more people earlier in the reputation shift.

Fox himself uses “racist” incessantly, eg for Sainsbury’s marking black history month/taking knee. He says this is key to free political expression. But he also now wants some kind of court ruling to define it

If you want to risk calling Laurence Fox (or Farage, Starmer, Corbyn, Sadiq Khan, Lammy, Braverman, Johnson, Southgate, Rashford or Katwala racist) + are asked to defend it legally, need either “fair comment, reasonably held” or “substantively true”. Fox case failed before that.

Fox seeks to defend as free expression statements like “most anti-racists are racist” about his specific political/ideological opponents & many EDI programmes) while seeking legal protection against other people describing any of his own statements as “racist” as honest opinion.

How far Fox is just being dim or alternatively has enough donor cash to put a lot of £ into losing, appealing & then miscommunicating why he lost for political reputation/martyr purposes hard to gauge. Tweet yesterday [calling Thorp a racist] is as/more stupid as the extremely stupid paedophile tweets


Other people have won defamation cases for being called racist. Fox’s team failed to make the case he needed to make for court to assess this (that his reputation was damaged by those tweets). The judgment suggests it may have been difficult for him had they needed to take a view.

It is also difficult to see how he can argue that he has lost his acting career when he boasted in May 2023 that he was “10 million quid up” for his performance in the Breitbart film My Son Hunter. The figure was always implausible (the film was crowdfunded for $2.75 million), but he can’t have it both ways in how he chooses to present himself.

Of course, there is some argument that the law should be reformed – Brendan O’Neill makes the case that people shouldn’t find themselves in court due to what he calls “a rhetorical flourish”. If an appeal goes ahead the judge’s reasoning will come under scrutiny more serious than Fox’s rants. Fox, though, is hardly helping the effort, even if his political patron Jeremy Hosking (Fox was quoted by the judge of boasting about receving “a huge wad of cash for this game” as leader of Reclaim) is happy with how Fox is framing the outcome and riling up his base of supporters.


1. In the original post, Fox also baselessly claimed that Thorp’s case against him failed because the court had earlier found her to be a “compulsive and vexatious liar”. He then went on to allege in an angry video that her commentary about the case was putting his life in danger.

2. The notion that “taking the knee” is an attitude of passivity or submission has arisen due to it having been taken out of its original context, which was as a defiant gesture of non-participation in standing for the American national anthem as a protest against police brutality against Black people. British sportspeople and some politicians adopted the position in solidarity following the death of George Floyd, but nearly four years later Prime Minister Rishi Sunak now sees it as something for which Keir Starmer should be derided.

Conspiracy Influencers Bandwagon on Farmers’ Protests

From Reuters:

French and Belgian farmers angry about rising costs, EU environmental policies and cheap food imports blocked highways and access roads to a major container port on Tuesday as the protests spread across Europe… Farmers say they are not being paid enough, are choked by excessive regulation on environmental protection and face unfair competition from cheap imports.

Part of “not being paid enough” concerns a power imbalance with supermarkets: French farmers have also targeted Lidl and Aldi for protests. In the UK, the “Get Fair About Farming Campaign” has highlighted that “almost half (49%) of British fruit and veg farmers fear they will go out of business within the next 12 months”, and that 75% see “supermarket behaviour” as a “leading factor”.

One might see scope here for an obvious left-of-centre critique of neoliberalism; however, the Financial Times recently noted a protest in Brussels “organised by MCC Brussels, a think-tank backed by the arch-Eurosceptic Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán”, and how “liberal and leftwing politicians fear that rural groups are being radicalised by far-right parties and Eurosceptic groups prepared to grasp any cause as a way to infiltrate mainstream politics ahead of EU elections in June.”

Meanwhile, the conspiracy milieu is also getting in on the act: if farmers are finding their work economically unsustainable, this is because of “globalists”, while “regulation on environmental protection” is based on bogus, corrupt science and scaremongering. As claimed in a recent documentary made by the Falun Gong media outlet NTD (previously noted here) entitled No Farmers No Food: Will You Eat The Bugs?, farmers are being “attacked” by governments, who want to control the food supply and move populations over to an insect-based diet. On social media, the German-inflected phrase “you vill eat ze bugs” is used to signal belief that the whole thing is being orchestrated by Klaus Schwab, whose reward for decades of self-promotion and elite networking is to find himself at the centre of many conspiracists’ thinking as an all-poweful bogeyman who for some reason nobody noticed until a few years ago.

The phrase “No Farmers, No Food” has also been around for a while, and over the past week or so it has been used as the name of a new account on Twitter/X (@NoFarmsNoFoods) which has now amassed more than 40,000 followers. The account is controlled by UK conspiracy influencer James Melville; although his name does not appear, striking similarities of rhetoric were obvious from the beginning, and he has confirmed his involvement in an interview with James Freeman, the former Brexit Party MEP who more recently has been working with vaccination misinformation spreader Aseem Malhotra. Inevitably, “merchandise” is promised, but it’s also a vehicle to promote other influencers, or those who seek to become such: a scroll through the account’s feed brings up endosements from the likes of Neil Oliver and Alan Miller of the Together Declaration, as well as links to a website infamous for attempting to smear Chris Packham. A number of posts focus on “net zero”, reflecting Melville’s views that climate science is bogus and that summer wildfires have no significance beyond an apparent rise in arsonists.

More generally, Melville has also promoted the idea that food distribution in the USA is under attack from supposedly mysterious fires and cattle deaths, presumably with a view to creating artificial shortages. He also complains about the extent of Bill Gates’s ownership of agricultural land in the US: this, though, is less a principled critique of monopoly capitalism than an objection to Gates as an especially malign individual. Last year, Melville suggested that Gates may be planning to contrive an pandemic to hamper the 2024 Presidential elections.

UDPATE: Meanwhile, John Bye has drawn attention to a group called the “People’s Food and Farming Alliance”. He describes it as “a spin-off from alternative medicine group the People’s Health Alliance. Unsurprisingly they promote homeopathy for farm animals, as well as growing your own food in case the government collapses our food supply”.

UPDATE 2: As a good example of how the media works, Melville was invited onto an episode of BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today devoted to the protests (at 17.27), during which he denied that his campaign has any “political slant”. However, he was followed by Leceistershire farmer Joe Stanley, who warned against genuine grievances being “wrapped up win conspiracy theories and some sort of extremist dogmas”on farming social media. Asked about “No Farmers No Food”, he notes:

Just from looking at their output, there’s a lot of talk around things such as “elites”, anti-climate change messaging, anti-net zero messaging, and then if you follow through the sorts of accounts that they in turn are re-Tweeting, there’s a lot of that sort of content which is coming from the right of the political spectrum.

Stanley is the author of Farm to Fork: The Challenge of Sustainable Farming in 21st Century Britain (Quiller, 2021), and he probably came to the BBC’s attention because of a letter in Farmer’s Weekly, published under the heading “Be Careful of Far-Right Farming Rhetoric”.

UPDATE 3 (11 February): The Reclaim Party’s Laurence Fox has drawn attention to a “No Farmers No Food” Tweet from James Melville, adding:

Britain’s brilliant, hardworking and crucial farmers should look very carefully into who has nominated themselves to represent them.

This got a “like” from Fox’s conspiracist girlfriend Liz Barker (CaliforniaFrizz, aka “Betty”), who was previously in a relationship with Melville (H/T @qandamazon).

HART Anti-Covid Vaccination Activist Amplifies “Covid Agenda is Jewish” Flyer

Unsurprisingly, the failed prophecy of mass vaccination harm has failed to shake the faith of many believers. As noted previously, one common cognitive strategy is to claim that the prophecy is coming to pass, but that only the discerning are aware of it: for example, sudden deaths or stories in the media about heart disease are evidence of vaccination harm; even cancer is actually a new phenomenon called “turbo cancer“, again supposedly attributable to  the vaccine to those in the know (1). Another strategy is to seek collective affirmation within the conspiracy milieu, embracing other outlandish pseudo-interpretations of events and phenomena.

And, of course, there is also increasing extremism. Thus yesterday Dr David Cartland of the anti-Covid vax group HART (previously noted here) posted a screenshot of a flyer bearing the message that “Every Single Aspect of the Covid Agenda is Jewish”, and alleging some sort of collusion between Jews with senior positions in the CDC, Jews heading pharmaceutical groups, and the World Economic Forum (here with the bonus false claim that Klaus Schwab is Jewish) A QR link promises to show “Jews celebrating their role in Covid”, and readers are invited to visit the website of “GoyimTV”, which carries the kind of material that you would expect and which has a logo of a “G” styled to look like a Nazi swastika.

Cartland posted the image alongside the message “Reposting is not endorsement”. But what then is it? He doesn’t offer up any criticism or critique – and the context suggests that Cartland believes the flyer makes a reasonable point that tends to support his Covid anti-vax conspiracism, rather that is it self-evidently foul. In response to one critic, his reply was “these are confirmed facts and leaving it to people to decide their own conclusions” – but why doesn’t he tell us what his own conclusions are? He’s now deleted the post (I saw it before it disappeared, and it’s still in Google cache) after receiving criticism, but he hasn’t offered any explanation. As such, we should infer that this is a strategic deletion, rather than a change of heart.

The anti-vax conspiracy milieu appears to be taking a dark turn.

(Image via @Drcharliefraud)


1. The notion that vaccination is responsible for excess deaths was recently the focus of a GB News discussion between Nigel Farage and Angus Dalgleish (previously discussed here in relation to lab-leak claims).