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Pastoral Couple in Devon Claim “Many” British Christians “Embraced” QAnon and Trump Prophecies

From a post by American neo-Pentecostal commentator Michael L. Brown, following a conversation with two British Christians:

They told me that many U.K. Christians were terribly disappointed with the defeat of Donald Trump. They shared that, to their knowledge, there were hundreds of thousands of British Christians who were looking to Trump as a kind of savior-figure. This was absolutely astounding to them, as they said to me, “Donald Trump is not even our president.”

…They also told me that the failed Trump prophecies had impacted many churches in England, specifically the charismatic and Pentecostal churches. They said that in every church they knew of, people had been negatively affected.

…This pastoral couple also told me that many Christians had embraced the QAnon conspiracy theories, even within their own church. They spoke of well-educated people, committed Christian people, who had dropped out of their congregations because of the conspiracy theories.

These conspiracy theorists believed that they had uncovered the real truth of the matter, causing them to scorn the pastor and his wife whom, they claimed, did not have sufficient spiritual discernment to recognize what was actually taking place.

An accompanying video clarifies that Brown was speaking with Jon and Louise Sibley, a pastoral couple associated with the Crossroad Christian Fellowship in Seaton, Devon. Of course, one should be wary of relying too heavily on an anecdotal impression, but their perspective is worth noting.

Brown has recently promoted a Christian book called The QAnon Deception: Everything You Need to Know about the World’s Most Dangerous Conspiracy Theory, and he is scathing of attempts by co-religionists to rationalise failed Trump re-election prophecies by claiming that Trump is president in heaven or may yet return. Incongruously, he has expressed these views on Charisma News, a neo-Pentecostal news site notable for spreading conspiracy theories and Trump “prophets”.

Maajid Nawaz Denounces Observer Coverage of His Conspiracy Theory Tweets

From the Observer:

The prominent radio presenter and activist Maajid Nawaz, co-founder of a respected British anti-extremist thinktank and a one-time government adviser, has alarmed former admirers and academics with his interest in conspiracy theories about the lockdown and voter fraud in the US election on his Twitter account.

…Nawaz, who broadcasts on LBC in a lineup of other opinionated presenters from across the political spectrum…, denies that he has been drawn into conspiracy theory rhetoric and has threatened the Observer with legal action.

I previously noted Nawaz’s recourse to legal threats here. As is customary these days, he is also claiming to be the victim of “targeted harassment” at the hands of the Sunday newspaper, which he conflates with its sister paper, the daily Guardian. The article was by the Observer‘s arts and media correspondent and published in the TV and Radio section.

Nawaz has responded with a stream of aggrieved Tweets, and he has posted a screed on Facebook and on the website of the Quilliam think-tank’s journal, Perspectives. He has also accepted an interview request from the right-wing Turning Point UK group, stating that the Guardian is “fascist” and that “I’ll do interviews across the political spectrum”.

His argument is that as regards the US election,

I was predicting what Trump would do next and then commenting on his decisions without prejudice… I’ve not done anything but explain the constitutional procedures team Trump will take ahead of time (and been proven right) without openly taking sides on the merits of the fraud claims

This is blatant revisionism. For example, on 8 November he Tweeted “Look up what a SCIF is. Thank me later”. The plain meaning here can only be “Trump has been monitoring the election from a secure location and will soon reveal decisive evidence of fraud, after which everyone will thank me for my predictive insight”. Nawaz enthused over allegations put forward by the likes of Sidney Powell without ever referring to the many legal failures and debunkings that followed, and he even came up with a conspiracy theory of his own, involving a driver for Diane Feinstein who had been exposed as a Chinese spy (presented as a new story that was being suppressed, rather than old story from 2013), which he claimed was relevant because Feinstein’s husband was supposedly an “investor” in Dominion.

The Observer article also quotes Sunder Katwala, whose Tweets on Nawaz provide an exhaustive chronicle of Nawaz’s social media output. Nawaz has blocked him (as he has anyone who has ventured even mild criticism), but it is telling that he avoids making any reference to his forensic analysis.

Katwala has posted a comment on Facebook in response to Nawaz’s supposed “rebuttal”; given the ephemeral nature of the medium, I reproduce it below. It addresses Nawaz’s promotion of a Covid conspiracy theorist; his apparent enthusiasm for the idea that Mike Pompeo was timing his Tweets as some kind of “countdown”; and his suggestion that the Observer article was published because the Guardian wishes to discredit an ethnic-minority man of Muslim heritage who is critical of Islamic extremism:

The long account of lockdown verifies that The Observer account of the open letter to MI5 and the FBI is accurate. Its just that Mr Nawaz is proud of the work.

The account of the Covid tweets ignores The Observer’s (accurate) report of Mr Nawaz’s tweet about how he found Dr Thomas Binder’s claim that “almost everybody fell for the myth of a pandemic of a new corona killer virus”. Dr Binder is an anti-semite, a 9/11 truther, a Pearl Harbour truther, an Assad chemical weapons truther, and a believer that Bill Gates has a plot to make everybody take vaccines. While Mr Nawaz says that it was not his field to understand the Covid denial article he shared, it should be his field (as the founder of a counter-extremism think-tank) to spot if his source promotes every conspiracy theory under the sun. The account given of the Pompeo Countdown tweets is inaccurate and not credible. 2 of Mr Nawaz 3 tweets on this topic were not about China. Another says “right on cue, 30 minutes” tweet is clearly understood by followers to the about the QAnon-inspired countdown, as the replies to each of the three tweets show. On this, The Observer report is accurate and the response is inaccurate. The claim that the challenges to Nawaz spreading conspiracies are racially motivated are really a sad pile of nonsense of the kind that Mr Nawaz would decry as identity politics if anyone else pulled this OJ Simple style stunt of seeking impunity based on ethnicity.

See also Zelo Street here.

Katwala also notes that Qulliam’s Director of Policy David Toube has left the think-tank over Nawaz’s promotion of conspiracy websites.

Maajid Nawaz Threatens Libel Actions Over Claim He Spreads Conspiracy Theories

At the end of the year, Maajid Nawaz issued a warning to anyone taking his name in vain on social media:

A reminder to those on here who have today overstepped the mark & smeared me already.

I’m watching.

My Guradian US action took this to 5-0 [Link]

After action against Bastani it’s now 6-0 [Link]

I don’t do fail —> [Link]

The links refer to financial settlements and media apologies that Nawaz has previously received over misrepresentations about his past and his present activism. Aaron Bastani had incorrectly described him as being a former terrorist rather than a former Islamist, and others had mischaracterised his current activism against Islamism as “Islamophobia”. Most famously, the SPLC’s insurers paid a substantial sum to the Quilliam Foundation after Nawaz was incorrectly included in a report entitled A Journalist’s Manual: Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists. The matter is discussed in the Atlantic here.

More recently, however, Nawaz has come under criticism for his social media commentary on the Covid pandemic and on the likelihood of Donald Trump overturning the election result. On the latter, Nawaz began in November from the reasonable enough position that liberals ought not to dismiss allegations of fraud or irregularities out of hand, and that they should be mindful of legal and constitutional pathways when results are disputed. However, in the days and weeks that followed he increasingly chose to amplify bad actors and articles containing misinformation, including a dud statistical pseudo-analysis which he only repudiated when it was pointed out him that his source was an anti-Semite (a bit awkward given that Nawaz was about to receive a “Beacon of Light” award from the pro-Israel group StandWithUs UK). Nawaz also dabbled in his own speculations, claiming that Diane Feinstein’s husband invests in Dominion and that this is important because a Feinstein “staffer” (actually her driver) had been exposed as a Chinese spy (in 2013).

Nawaz provided no counter-balance when legal challenges to the election result crashed and burned, or when pro-Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood began making extravagant crackpot assertions. Instead, he warned  that “some people are about to be hit by the constructed reality they’ve been living in since election day” as it became clear that some members of Congress intended to object to the results on 6 January. Even now, he hasn’t explicitly given up on the idea that a report from the Director of National Intelligence on the possibility of foreign interference in the election might give Trump the authority to “act unilaterally”.

Polite disagreement from other Twitter users  has been met with blocks, although for some reason he tolerated extensive critical commentary from Sunder Katwala before finally blocking him on 6 January. Many of Katwala’s Tweets on the subject were threaded and can be seen starting starting here.

This then, was the context for Nawaz bringing his December Tweet to the attention of the actor Eddie Marsan after Marsan described him as “a self publicising shock jock promoting dangerous conspiracy theories”, in response to a similar view expressed by Adam Wagner. Thus was after Nawaz Tweeted that “reports on protestors who stormed Capitol Hill being Antifa infiltrators are becoming impossible to ignore”, based on Laura Ingraham’s amplification of a false story in the Washington Times about how this had been established by a facial recognition company.

Nawaz responded by sending him an RT of the Tweet quoted at the start of this post, adding:

Logged & captured.

PS: I do advise you strongly to delete this libellous tweet, apologise & retract. I have a year ahead of me to keep watching.

I’m no stranger to these dark fields.

And I assure you of my patience.

Marsan responded with a somewhat sarcastic apology, which Nawaz chose to take at face value. However, the legal threat has been met with disgust and derision from various quarters (as rounded up by Tim at Zelo Street here). One Twitter user repeated the claim and tagged Mark Lewis, Nawaz’s go-to lawyer but also someone who represents some of Marsan’s acting friends.

Having followed Nawaz’s output on and off over the years, I generally considered him to be a serious person writing and speaking in good faith. I didn’t agree with some of his positions or activities (such as his heralded “deradicalisation” of Tommy Robinson, which has not turned out well), but I was happy to debunk disinformation that was targeted against him (e.g. here and here). However, he always struck me as somewhat self-righteous and as careless in his some of his media-derived claims, and his complaints about being targeted with threats did not always convince. His trigger-happy recourse to libel threats on Twitter has been problematic before: in 2018, for instance, he threatened to sue Jonathan Portes for having inferred that Nawaz’s exhortation to people to read an article by Douglas Murray meant that he agreed with it. I am no longer of the view that his positive contributions outweigh the negative aspects to his position as a public figure.

Charisma News Author Publishes Book Denouncing “The QAnon Deception”

From Michael L. Brown at Christian news site Charisma News:

A few months ago, professor James Beverley, a respected research scholar and a Christian conservative, launched his own study of the QAnon controversy, looking for facts rather than come in with his preconceived ideas.

The more he studied, working with a team of fellow researchers, the more concerned he became, sharing some of his findings with me. We agreed that he should publish those findings in a book that could serve as the definitive, go-to guide for those wanting to know the truth about QAnon. And, with the book publishing process typically taking about one year from start to finish, we agreed that my ministry’s own publishing imprint, EqualTime Books, would release the book as soon as it was completed.

On Monday, he joined me on the radio to discuss that just-published book, The QAnon Deception: Everything You Need to Know about the World’s Most Dangerous Conspiracy Theory.

Not only was the content of the interview shocking, but some of the social media responses to the interview were shocking as well.

Beverley was instantly dismissed as an outright liar who was completely ignorant of the facts, and I was part of the deep state, seeking to cover up the truth.

Brown is something of an anomaly at Charisma News, which caters to the Charismatic and neo-Pentecostal end of the Christian Right – although he supports Trump he has cautioned against “blind allegiance” to the president, and his complaints when he feels secular media have misrepresented evangelicals are measured. His beliefs include a strong perception that malign spiritual forces are at work in the world (in particular the “Jezebel spirit”), but I suspect he regards some of the material published on the site – grandiose revelations from God to self-styled “prophets” or eccentric End Times prognostications – as something of an embarrassment.

The site’s owner, Stephen Strang, has published books on the prophetic significance of Donald Trump, and in recent weeks Charisma News has posted numerous articles amplifying all kinds of election fraud claims – including articles that bombastically assert Lin Wood’s “supernatural discernment”. Wood, it should be noted, has now more or less gone full QAnon. Also, in September the site published an article by Amir George titled “QAnon: Freedom Movement or Political Hoax?” which, while ultimately hedging, came as close as possible to giving an endorsement without making an investment:

It is as yet unclear whether QAnon is a hoax or a real movement. But what is abundantly clear is that there has been a sudden backlash and push to discredit it by the deep state and its various outlets. If nothing else, QAnon and related theories should move all believers to study, prayerfully discern and above all else, urge others to pray and mobilize the 37 million believers who did not vote in 2016.

George also refers to “a collaborative book written by 12 author/contributors and citizen journalists who have YouTube channels, blogs, Twitter followings or sub-Reddits that feature Q decodes, news and commentary”. He gives as the title WWG1WGA (Where We Go One We Go All), although this is garbled – the book he’s talking about is actually QAnon: An Invitation to the Great Awakening, and WWG1WGA is the name given to the author collective.

Given this background, when Brown’s column disappeared soon after it was published it was reasonable to wonder why, although in a Twitter exchange with RightWingWatch Brown explained that the article had gone live prematurely due to a scheduling error, and so had been temporarily withdrawn. It is now back in place.

As Brown notes, Beverley has scholarly credentials – his academic bioblurb can be seen here, and it includes the detail that the book was originally going to be titled The QAnon Explosion. Another book he has authored this year is God’s Man in the White House: Donald Trump in Modern Christian Prophecy, which “documents the hundreds of prophecies about Donald Trump that started over 10 years ago, and provides the political and religious context for the ongoing prophecies and controversies about the 45th president”. The book does not purport to be a work of analysis (unlike, say, my post on the supposed “Kim Clement prophecy” here), although it comes with an endorsement from Rodney Howard-Browne (a “close friend” of Beverley). His co-author Larry Willard (who published the book) implies in the foreword that God guided him to a Bible passage about Cyrus as the context in which he should understand Trump.

The QAnon Deception includes a section on “Satanism and Witchcraft” – Beverley has previously written critically of the 1980s “Satanic panic”, of which QAnon is the latest incarnation.

Lin Wood: Lawyer Described as Having “Supernatural Discernment” Denounces Mike Pence

From Charisma News, 24 November:

Prominent Lawyer Fights Election Fraud With Supernatural Discernment

Lin Wood, one of the most prominent and patriotic attorneys in America, joined the legal fight alongside President Trump’s legal team to save election integrity from fraud and political treachery, thereby, preserving the U.S. Constitution. However, according to his tweets, Wood, a man of deep faith and intimacy with the Holy Spirit, quickly discerned the spiritual battle of biblical proportions between God’s revelations and satanic influences fighting for control of the soul and future of America.

Then, the next day:

Prominent attorney Lin Wood also warns believers to be careful what information they choose to consume. Once-trusted sources of news and information may have come under the sway of globalists and compromised people who favor “The Great Reset,” a globalist initiative to rebuild the world economy after the COVID pandemic. It could open the doors wider for socialism and big government control, thus limiting people’s freedoms, including religious freedom and freedom of speech.

…Wood’s #FightBack Foundation Inc. was instrumental in recently raising financial support to post bail for Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who was arrested and charged with alleged murder in Wisconsin, even though video evidence showed him defending himself.

And finally, on 3 December:

In a historic event in Atlanta, Georgia, almost entirely ignored by mainstream media, patriotic legal duo Lin Wood and Sidney Powell held a press conference Wednesday.

…’We the People’ will not let them steal our vote,” he said. “We will not allow them to steal our freedom. Every lie will be exposed.”

Then, as if the Holy Spirit had downloaded a prophetic word to him, Wood launched into a faith-filled declaration, “And on Jan. 20, 2021, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as president of the United States of America.”

Charisma News represents the neo-Pentecostal end of the Christian Right; the site is just one manifestation of Charisma Media, whose founding CEO Stephen Strang (in 2005 one of Time‘s “25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America”) is the author of several books that ruminate on the spiritual significance of Donald Trump. One of these, God, Trump, and the 2020 Election, includes a chapter on “Why Trump Might Lose”, in which Strang pre-emptively lays out an election fraud narrative, citing the thoughts of Tom Ertl, the national director for Christians For Trump (1). As such, it is not surprising that Charisma News has embraced all kinds of election trutherism, the reality of which is supposedly blatant and self-evident.

Alongside the alleged mountain of evidence, there are also special signs from God – thus the site reported on 2 December that onlookers had “photographed and videotaped what could be an angel” above Independence Hall in Philadelphia during a post-election prayer event led by Pastor Dutch Sheets, who had been instructed by God to engage in spiritual warfare against “Valkyrie”, a supernatural and demonic “plan to take over the country”. In the case of Lin Wood (previously discussed here), the trilogy of articles about him (2) amount to an irrevocable investment. Wood speaks with “supernatural discernment”, and his prediction of Trump’s second term amounts to a prophecy. This is impossible to back away from without making a humiliating climb-down.

As such, Wood’s more recent discourses may be problematic. Following the failure of so many legal challenges, and ridicule of their shortcomings (a Freudian slip turned “penalty of perjury” into “plenty of perjury” in one filing), Wood is now lashing out wildly, and he includes none other than Mike Pence in a list of “criminals & perverts who threaten our freedom”. Here’s the context, from recent Tweets (the first is embedded in the second, making the connection clear):

It is time to shine red hot light of truth on Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Stephen Breyer, Joe Biden, Obama, Clintons, Bill Gates, VP Mike Pence, Mark Meadows, Pat Cippoloni, Bush 41 & 43, George Soros, Cocaine Mitch, etc. Man, where is Jeffrey Epstein when you need him? [here]

And this is just the TIP of the iceberg. We The People now demand TRUTH. We The People now demand ACCOUNTABILITY for wrongdoing. This is OUR country. It is time for American Patriots to prepare to take it back from the criminals & perverts who threaten our freedom. [here]

In further Tweets, Wood makes QAnon-adjacent insinuations about Roberts in particular, implying that a black eye has some occult ritualistic meaning and making vile insinuations about his motives for having adopted children. He has also now made an utterly bizarre link between his first name being “Lucian” (Lincoln is his middle name) and St Lucian of Antioch, which is supposedly significant because his client Kyle Rittenhouse lives in Antioch, Illinois, and the apparent Nashville bomber Anthony Warner lived in Antioch, Tennessee. It appears, then, that Wood is in the grip of a grandiose religious mania.

On social media, there is some disquiet over Wood’s attack on Pence, who of course has played an important role in making Trump acceptable to evangelicals. In all likelihood, though, Charisma News will simply ignore it while continuing to promote claims made by Wood that are more useful for its owner’s religious-political agenda.

Notes

1. The book comes with a foreword by Eric Metaxas, whose transformation from evangelical “public intellectual” to Trump loyalist and election truther was recently charted by the Religious News Service. There are also blurbs from a Christian Right Who’s Who of Pat Robertson, Mike Huckabee, Paula White Cain, Alex McFarland, Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jim Bakker, Kenneth Copeland, David Barton, David Lane, Michele Bachmann and Robert Jeffress (plus Dennis Prager, who is Jewish).

2. All three articles are by A.B. Petrucci, also known as Anthony Petrucci. Petrucci is a professional writer who “helps thought leaders tell the stories that will change the world”. He is particularly associated with Jorge L. Valdes, a former international drug dealer who had a conversion experience and is today a motivational speaker.

Franklin Graham “Tends To Believe” Stolen Election Narrative

From Franklin Graham, on Twitter:

Since the 2016 election, @POTUS @realDonaldTrump has been falsely accused, maligned, and attacked. He told us his campaign was spied on. He was right. He told us there was no collusion. He was proven right. When he says this election was rigged or stolen, I tend to believe him.

This is clever: Graham’s position does not rely any particular piece of evidence that might be deconstructed. Instead, he appeals on his many followers to invest in the election fraud narrative simply by having faith in the leader.

Even here, though, Graham qualifies his statement with “tend to”. This slight hedge against giving a hostage to fortune has been characteristic of his comments since the election. On 4 November he wrote that “many fear that some are trying to steal the election”, but although he didn’t explicitly give his own view he called for prayer “that the enemies of God would be quieted”; in the weeks that followed, he opined that “if there was fraud, let’s pray that God would reveal it, and that those responsible would be found out” and on 8 December he exhorted everyone to join him “in praying that if there is fraud, it would be proven… Forces of evil are at work”.

Yet despite piously intoning that “the American people need to know the truth”, he has had nothing to say about the shortcomings of the many cases that have been put before the courts, nor about the overheated conspiratorial rhetoric of the lawyers around Trump. The word “if” gives Graham an out, but there is no possibility in his mind that it might be Trump’s lawyers who ought to be “found out”, for spreading “fears” that are baseless and corrupt in intent.

Graham’s new statement is surprising given that on 14 December Graham seemed at last to have accepted that Trump had lost the election. On Facebook, he wrote that

I’m disappointed about the election… It is unfortunate that many people got confused and made the election about personalities rather than the policies of the candidates. President Trump will go down in history as one of the great presidents of our nation, bringing peace and prosperity to millions here in the U.S. and around the world. May God bless him, Melania, and their family, as God leads him to the next chapter in his life.

The evangelist then turned to the holy task of whipping up resentment against Biden’s appointments, on 18 December complaining that while Trump had “searched for the best of the best to run the various levels of gov’t” for Biden “competence doesn’t seem to be as important as diversity”.

So why now has Graham suddenly now come closer than ever to endorsing election fraud claims? Perhaps he was encouraged by news that Trump had discussed a military option for staying in power with Michael Flynn – Graham is an enthusiast for the disgraced general, whom he has described as “a man who has a distinguished record of service to this country and who many people feel was unfairly targeted”.

It’s also possible that he feels his position ought to align more clearly with what is now the default position on the Christian Right. If he were to say outright that Trump ought to accept that he has lost, it would put him at odds with allies such as Eric Metaxaas and alienate much of his base. Public thanks he received from Trump for his Facebook post may also have been an influence.

UPDATE: On 22 December, Graham promoted an article alleging election fraud by Newt Gringrich, adding: “I’ve known former Speaker of the House @NewtGingrich for a number of yrs. He might be one of the smartest people in politics today. In this article he shares his perspective of where we are today politically.” This amplification via character reference once again allows Graham to dodge the risk of endorsing any particular detail put forward as evidence.

Excurcus

On 5 November, before all the votes were finalised, Graham Tweeted that “my prayer is that we will have four more years of leadership that defends religious freedom, supports law and order, and is the most pro-life administration ever”. A few days later, this formed the basis of a item on the Christian Right website Charisma News by Amir George headed “Franklin Graham Says ‘4 More Years’ for President Trump”. The article was mainly about election fraud allegations and Rudy Giuliani’s planned lawsuits, and a false impression was given that Franklin’s comment was a reaction to these developments, rather than something he had said earlier.

Former Mail on Sunday Journalist Denies Role In Virginia Giuffre’s Alan Dershowitz Accusation

At the Daily Telegraph, Camilla Tominey notes some details from a transcript of a conversation between British journalist Sharon Churcher and New York publisher Tony Lyons concerning Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s allegations against Alan Dershowitz:

Ms Churcher then refers to an email Ms Roberts Giuffre sent her on May 5, 2011, also submitted in evidence, asking her to clarify the names of the men she claimed “had sent me to” during the interview to help her with a book pitch. The transcript of the email suggests Ms Churcher responded six days later, on May 11, 2011, saying: “Don’t forget Alan Dershowitz. JEs buddy and lawyer… We all suspect Alan is a pedo”.

Ms Churcher tells Mr Lyons she would never use the word “pedo”, adding: “I wonder about some of these emails, too, that she’s produced. Because of course you can change emails.”

Describing Prof Dershowitz as “a victim”, Ms Churcher suggests Ms Roberts Giuffre may have “confused him with this other Harvard professor” who was also friends with Epstein.

Roberts Giuffre is currently suing Alan Dershowitz in New York for defamation; the transcript has been filed by Dershowitz as part of his defence, and can be accessed here. Lyons has published books by Dershowitz, and Churcher had come to his office to discuss a book proposal of her own. She was unaware that Lyons was recording their exchange.

The 2011 email exchange between Churcher and Roberts Giuffre was published last year. Roberts Guiffre was attempting to put together a memoir, and she had emailed Churcher asking “if you have any information on you from when you and I were doing interviews about the J.E. story”, particularly as regards names of “pedo’s” (sic) “that J.E. sent me to”.

Churcher’s reply, in fuller detail:

Don’t forget Alan Dershowitz… J.E.’s buddy and lawyer… good name for your pitch as he repped Claus von Bulow and a movie was made about that case… title was Reversal of Fortune. We all suspect Alan is a pedo and tho no proof of that, you probably met him when he was hanging out with JE.

As I noted at the time, “You probably met him” indicates that this is a name that Churcher is speculatively proposing, rather than someone Roberts Guiffre had herself previously named to her. Even though this is Churcher providing informal advice rather than working on a new story, the implications of a journalist advising a source about whom they might derive benefit from accusing are troubling.

The fuller exchange is important additional context for Churcher’s explanation to Lyons. As regards the term “pedo”, Churcher tells Lyons “I’ve never heard the word”, but it appears that Roberts Giuffre herself used it when she emailed Churcher. Therefore Churcher was aware of the word, and even if it’s not part of her usual vocabulary it would be natural to adopt the terminology of her correspondent. The 2011 reply to Roberts Guiffre and the conversation with Lyons also both include mention of Dershowitz’s representation of Claus von Bülow.

Churcher goes on to suggest that the allegation against Dershowitz had been made up by “Brad Edwards and his team”, and that “If I were Alan, I wouldn’t bother so much with it”.

As regards Churcher’s claim that it is possible to “change emails”, she also tells Lyons “you can edit emails. I wanted to try it, and you can do it”. It’s not clear what she is getting at here – certainly, it’s possible to edit the text of an email if you are forwarding it to someone else, because the text then becomes part of a new email. But the original remains unchanged. And why doesn’t she have a copy of what she wrote in her “Sent” folder? An alternative is that the email was completely fabricated, which Churcher hints at by saying “I’m not positive I remember this email”.

The interviews between Churcher and Roberts Guiffre formed the basis for the 2011 Mail on Sunday splash “Prince Andrew and the 17-year-old girl his sex offender friend flew to Britain to meet him“, which became the focus of renewed interest last year. According to Churcher:

It was quite a falling out with them after I wrote that story because they are part of the British establishment, and they ran it without thinking about the fact that the editor-in-chief is a friend of the royal family’s. I got laid off.

This would appear to be a reference to Geordie Greig, who is related to royal courtiers. However, Greig did not become editor of the MoS until 2012, some months after Churcher’s article was published.

Tom Newton Dunn and “Hijacked Labour”: Still No Answers One Year On

On Twitter, three left-wing journalists (Ash Sarkar, Owen Jones and Ellie Mae O’Hagan) remonstrate with former Sun political editor Tom Newton Dunn over his promotion a year ago of a bizarre conspiracy chart called “Hijacked Labour”:

Newton Dunn responded to the above (also highlighted by others as “Tom Newton Dunn Day”) by blocking Jones; some journalists apparently consider Jones’s subsequent complaint about this reaction to be more worthy of commentary than Newton Dunn’s continuing failure to account for how the “Hijacked Labour” story came to be published or why it was then deleted. To date, Newton Dunn’s only public comments on the matter are correctives to the claim that he promoted a neo-Nazi website, rather than a site that included some neo-Nazi sources.

The chart, as I have mentioned before, was self-evidently a crank effusion that made connections that were either banal, inexplicable or simply wrong (a point overshadowed by revulsion at its use of far-right sources). One link led to the actor Matt Berry, while a bizarre emphasis was placed on the supposed influence of the deceased French philosophers Michel Foucault, Jean-François Lyotard and Jacques Derrida. At least one person named on the chart complained about their inclusion: this was a doctor named David Rouse, who stated that “I quit labour the moment Corbyn got in as I disagree with his politics. So looks like they need to try and get their facts right”. The Sun published only a low-resolution blurry screenshot, I suspect because Newton Dunn knew that it could not withstand scrutiny.

Newton Dunn’s story was headlined “Ex-British intelligence officers say Jeremy Corbyn is at the centre of a hard-left extremist network”. Presented as leading the supposed group of officers was one “Mark Bles”, the pen-name of a former SAS soldier turned author named Mark Whitcombe-Power. IPSO rejected a complaint that an SAS soldier should not be described as an “intelligence officer”, on the grounds that members of the unit may undertake surveillance work, and the press regulator also judged that the word “say” distanced the paper from the claims being made. Crucially, the Sun was not asked by IPSO to substantiate the existence of “intelligence officers” in the plural, even though that central detail is presented as established fact in the headline.

However, although it’s tempting to see secretive propaganda outfits lurking behind the scenes, one would hope that an operation connected to intelligence agencies would have done a more competent job. The truth is shabbier. Prior to the appearance of the “Hijacked Labour” website, a previous version of the same chart was hosted at a site called “Traitors’ Chart”. The repackaging occurred days before Newton Dunn’s story was published, and it was only with the Sun story that Bles became publicly associated with the project. As such, it seems that his involvement from this point both obscures the chart’s actual provenance and gives it more credible pedigree. If Bles – retired and living in France – was induced to be the front-man in good faith, it would be very difficult for Newton Dunn to now give an explanation about what actually happened.

Clues to the true provenance of the chart are traced in Daniel Trilling’s Guardian piece linked to by Sarkar and Jones. There are also some details on a Twitter thread by a researcher named Steve Rose. His Tweets include a video with a distinctive voice-over that was created to publicise the “Traitors Chart” version of the chart.

On the one hand, the story is not going away. But on the other, as noted by another Twitter user, “What’s kind of amazing is that Tom Newton Dunn’s strategy of ‘just pretend/insist that it didn’t happen’ has actually been completely successful”.

Lin Wood “Paedophilia and Satanic Worship” Claim Promoted Online

Comment made on “business coach” entrepreneur radio show

A quote from Atlanta attorney L. Lin Wood:

So there is potentially a great awakening. The truth has to come out. I believe it will. I do not think that you can hide the truth. I do say it and I believe it, every lie will be revealed. This country’s going to be shocked when the find the truth about who’s been occupying the Oval Office for some periods of years. They’re going to be shocked at the level of pedophilia. They are going to be shocked at what I believe is going to be a revelation in terms of people who are engaged in satanic worship.

Wood made the comment during a radio interview a couple of weeks ago, and it has more recently been extracted from it and is now being passed around on social media.

In context, the above is simply a reflection of what passes for received wisdom within Lin’s Christian fundamentalist conspiracy milieu, but due to his current association with Sidney Powell and the pursuit of election fraud lawsuits his statement is being taken as an authoritative promise of shocking revelations from someone “in the know”. The reference to a “great awakening”, of course, evokes the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Wood (whose fondness for referring to Kamala Harris as “Cabala Harris” I noted previously) was speaking on a programme called the ThriveTime Show, which describes itself as a “Business Coach Program… founded by former United States Small Business Administration Entrepreneur of the Year and current member of the Forbes Coaches Council, Clay Clark.” Clark’s introduction referred to the “Satanic Luciferian Left”, and the episode’s webpage has a list of links to sites promoting election fraud claims. The episode itself is titled “BOMBSHELL VOTER FRAUD REVEALED!!! | LIN WOOD EXPOSES VOTER FRAUD AND SHARES HOW KYLE RITTENHOUSE IS OUT OF JAIL IN TIME FOR THANKSGIVING!!!”, and the “satanic worship” comment comes at about 40 minues in.

Clark and his ThiveTime Show associate “optometrist turned entrepreneur, Doctor Robert Zoellner” appear to be celebrities within the “motivational entrepreneur” / “business guru” subculture, with an impressive back-catalogue of guests ranging from Ken Blanchard and John Maxwell to Horst Schulze to Ken Auletta and many more besides (including a few pastors). Yet the show’s “business podcast” in recent weeks is a slew of conspiracy content about supposed voter fraud and Covid-19 vaccines. Among those featured is Charlie Ward, a British QAnon influencer.

There is also religious content, with Clark having an “urgent prophetic message for President Donald J. Trump” that he says he was told to convey by the late Kim Clement, a neo-Pentecostal evangelist whose 2007 claim that “Trump will become a trumpet” has since been taken as a prophecy of the Trump presidency (discussed further here).

Influencers promoting Wood’s “satanic worship” comment on social media include Boris Johnson’s former mistress Jennifer Arcuri; it is perhaps relevant here to note that the Digital Marketing Manager at her Hacker House company was Wesley Hall, a promoter the Hampstead Satanic Ritual Abuse hoax.

A Note on Lin Wood and the “Cabala Harris” Nickname

From Capital Beat News Service, earlier this month:

Republican leaders in Georgia delivered different responses Friday to President Donald Trump’s claims of voting irregularities

…Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel…. was joined at the podium by former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, Trump’s agriculture secretary; outgoing state Rep. Vernon Jones; and attorney Lin Wood, who intentionally mispronounced Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris’ name as “Cabala” Harris during his remarks.

Wood has now achieved greater prominence after stating that he has been working closely with Sidney Powell, the former federal prosecutor whose wide-ranging and conspiratorial claims of electoral fraud have been eagerly embraced by many Trump supporters (but that have apparently proven too extravagant for Trump himself). In the wake of his announcement, Wood has made a further reference to “Cabala Harris” on his Twitter feed, which also includes numerous Biblical quotes and religious exhortations.

Apparently, the abusive nickname has been going around for some time. It’s significance is not simply wilfully ignorant mockery of an unusual name (as in Georgia Senator David Perdue’s “Kamala-mala-mala”) or some vague allusion to a “Deep State” cabal – it is pointedly meant to associate Harris with the Jewish mystical tradition. Other, more explicit, variants on Twitter include “Kabbalah Heiress” and even “Kabbalah Haaretz”, referring to the left-of-centre Israeli newspaper. These must be allusions to the fact that Harris’s husband is Jewish, and there is a wider context here in that kabbalah is regarded with suspicion by many evangelicals, who see its esoteric doctrines and practices as occultism rather than spiritual exercise. The implication is that Harris is some kind of witch, embroiled with malign supernatural forces and hidden networks through her Jewish husband.

As such, it is surprising that Wood’s “Cabala” rhetoric has not drawn more adverse comment.

Footnote: The Capital Beat News Service report refers to “Kalama Harris”; this has been silently corrected in the above quote.