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Satanic Ritual Abuse Protestors Block London Traffic

A Tweet from the City of London Police, yesterday:

Traffic on @TowerBridge is currently at a standstill due to an ongoing protest.

Please avoid the area if possible, and check back here for updates.

The protest did not generate any media coverage, but a livestream shows that it was the tail-end of a QAnon-adjacent anti-Satanic Ritual Abuse march led by Jeanette Archer, who has become a familiar figure at recent anti-vax events in central London. The group of a hundred or so had gathered in Bow Street, adjacent to the Royal Opera House, and then proceeded along to Freemasons’ Hall, where they harassed security guards, covered the door in stickers, and made speeches in doggerel (“…all your evil deeds / now God has called his people / to bring you to your knees”).

They then moved south down Drury Lane to Aldwych and across Waterloo Bridge, and then east along the South Bank towards Southwark Cathedral. People dining al fresco were subjected to a barrage of lurid claims shouted through megaphones, including “paedophile pizza place” outside a Pizza Express. Further speeches followed outside Southwark Cathedral, during which sceptical laughter from passers-by was met with verbal aggression. They then made their way to City Hall, base of London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Here, there was a half-hearted attempt to break in, January 6 style, but security guards were unmoved by the promise that they would be held accountable for “crimes against humanity” for protecting Khan and the attempt fizzled out. By the time the mob had reached Tower Bridge, they had been on the move for several hours.

A leaflet given out by the group advertised Joan Coleman’s notorious RAINS list, and referred readers to an online interview between “SRA expert and wrongfully imprisoned Wilfred Wong and EX DC Jon Wedger” – Wedger has also previously interviewed Archer, but in recent weeks he has been conspicuous by his absence at protests he has done so much to fuel. Wong was recently convicted of abducting a child a knifepoint during a botched “rescue” that he disavowed in court, shamelessly lying that he had simply been accepting a lift from his co-conspirators.

The leaflet also included a quote taken from a recent Facebook post by the forensic psychologist Dr Jessica Taylor:

Satanic sexual abuse is real I’ve worked with victims myself. I’ve also worked with covert terms who investigate these cults and organised groups.

I hate the way people invalidate and ignore victims of satanic ritual abuse – so I’m publicly standing up.

Taylor did not have any involvement in the protest, although one of the speakers outside Freemasons’ Hall identified herself as a psychotherapist and told the crowds that SRA has academic standing, with books having been published by Routledge.

Further Notes on the Lies of Wilfred Wong

Sussex Live has some more details about Satanic Ritual Abuse fanatic Wilfred Wong’s explanation for his involvement in a child kidnap conspiracy (previously discussed here):

Wong maintained he travelled by train to Bangor for a short break, to do some walking and enjoy the scenery.

He’d arranged a lift back south with husband and wife Edward and Janet Stevenson, a counsellor from Crawley…

Wong had slept under a tree and then crossed into Anglesey, he said.

Near the Britannia Bridge he found some apparently dumped items including a knife, mask and cable ties.

Having got into the back of the Stevensons’ car, alongside him were two strangers – a woman and child. “I didn’t have any cause for concern,” he remarked.

This, of course, was a pack of lies: Wong owned the kidnap kit items, and he used the knife both to terrorise the child’s foster mother and to slash her tyres. The other woman in the car was already known to him, and was also part of the conspiracy. Wong had plotted the kidnap with the Stevensons and others – his account in court was flatly contradicted by other testimony and forensic evidence, and was so transparent that one wonders why he thought it would do him any good.

Of course, some criminals may tell obvious lies in court out of desperation or simply because dishonesty is a way of life, but in this instance I wonder if the reason was because Wong’s self-regard is so grandiose that he expected to be believed. After all, his outlandish claims about Satanic Ritual Abuse have been taken at face value by evangelicals for years, and in recent months he had been fêted by online conspiracy mongers such as Jon Wedger and Shaun Attwood.

Wong’s lies are also significant, though, in that they make a mockery of his supposedly devout evangelical Christianity. I had every expectation that he would offer a defence of justification, doubling down on his Satanic Ritual Abuse claims. Instead, he threw his co-conspirators under the bus, despite having led them into disaster.

An article on North Wales Live (syndicated from the Daily Post) has further details about testimony from an unnamed Brighton man who was approached by Wong but declined to become involved in the conspiracy. The man’s wife apparently believes she was subjected to Satanic Ritual Abuse as a child, and she had found Wong online:

Barrister Justin Hugheston-Roberts, defending Janet Stevenson, asked him: “Were you or your wife praying for a man that you said was trying to abduct a child?”

The Brighton man said: “She had an emotional relationship with Wilfred and Janet. As time went on, she became more detached from him, and saw things in a different light.”

The barrister, quoting from a statement, asked if he was “praying that prison staff would see what a kind and generous man he (Wong) was”?

The Brighton man said he was not aware of that but it “sounds like my wife. She regarded Wilfred as her godfather.”

The barrister: “Were you concerned at what you perceived to be the influence he was having over her?”

The Brighton man: “After a while, yes.”

The barrister: “She was looking for someone to help her because of the sexual abuse she had suffered as a child and she believed it had been sexual abuse by Satanists?”

“Yes.”

This gives some sense of the group dynamic, and how it was that Wong was able to persuade several mature adults with decades of life experience and previous good character to enter into a self-destructive criminal conspiracy. Had they evaded arrest, they would all have been even more under his power. His paranoid stories of the ubiquity of Satanism remind me of how the conman Robert Hendy-Freegard persuaded a group of people for years that the IRA were after them, as well of a case I encountered in which a man claiming expertise in Islamic extremism persuaded activists to embark on fools’ errands around the country.

The consequences of Wong’s scheming have been grave. First and foremost, of course, a child has been traumatised. However, the Stevensons at their time of life ought to have been looking forward to years of retirement together, rather than public disgrace and lengthy separation in prison. In the case of another couple who were suckered in, the male partner, Robert Frith, died while on remand – he was 65 years old and a retired nurse, and doubtless never imagined ending up in such a place.

Some Notes on the BBC Television Centre Protestors

From the Guardian:

Confused anti-vaccine protesters stormed what they thought was a major BBC building on Monday, apparently unaware the corporation largely moved out almost a decade ago.

Rather than target the BBC’s news operation, which they hold responsible for promoting Covid-19 vaccines, a handful of protesters gained access to Television Centre in west London, which is now predominantly rented by ITV to film its daytime shows such as Good Morning Britain and This Morning.

This takes at face value that the protest organisers made a mistake, but we shouldn’t discount other possibilities. One video clip I saw on social media shows Piers Corbyn telling some of those present that the building is easier to get into than Broadcasting House; if the point is primarily to build a movement and create a symbolic spectacle (and perhaps to trial for something bigger later), then the location was a softer choice. A smaller number of protestors did proceed to Broadcasting House (as also happened in June on the back of an earlier anti-vax protest), but it doesn’t look like they attempted anything there. (1)

The Guardian report is less informative than an article from Mail Online, which has screenshots and details about some of the organisers:

The protest, organised by anti-lockdown group Official Voice, is believed to have been directed against vaccine passports and jabs for children.

…One of the ringleaders appeared to be DJ Pat Wilson, who proudly posted a picture of himself on Instagram holding up his ‘demands’ inside the building.

…On its Instagram page, Official Voice said the ‘media is the problem’ and proclaimed that ‘the lies will end’ as it urged supporters to descend on London for today’s protest from as early as July 27.

There, they were filmed clashing with police outside the building, with at least one of the protesters wearing a beret as they tussled with officers.

The protest seems to have been carefully “branded” – most of the crowd wore black or dark grey, and a few wore t-shirts bearing an Official Voice logo. Notably, there did not appear to be any placards.

The report also notes “at least one of the protesters wearing a beret”, by which the authors mean a maroon beret bearing the badge of the Parachute Regiment. There were two individuals dressed this way; according to the Daily Telegraph, the “airborne forces community” has identified them as Marco Bruin, who “was a member of Support Company in 2PARA”, and Ricky Regan, who “was discharged from the army in 2011 for refusing to deploy to Afghanistan”. One of the two men appears to have confronted Piers Corbyn over the recent sting in which Corbyn was filmed accepting what he thought was a brown envelope of cash, and a social media clip shows Corbyn talking him round. Another clip shows that the man was also wearing a jacket bearing the words “Sin Eaters Guild”, which denotes a mainstream veterans’ charity.

The crowd’s hostility to the BBC was also apparent as the crowd headed along Oxford Street towards Broadcasting House, during which a TV reporter and camera-operator were abused on the assumption that they were with the corporation. The reporter complained on Twitter that she was “booed and harassed by masses, told to go back to where I come from and having my camera op almost assaulted if it wasn’t for a fellow journo saying we are not the BBC” – in fact, she actually identified herself as being with RT, after which the crowd became more supportive, referring to the channel’s reporting on Julian Assange. The incident recalls the harassment in June of the BBC Newsnight editor Nick Watt.

Some of the abuse was simply crude, but the insult “pedo-protector” was also thrown – presumably this refers to claims about the BBC and Jimmy Savile, and given that the upcoming tenth anniversary of Savile’s death has already provided a hook for new documentaries about him this line of attack is likely to intensify in the weeks and months ahead.

Note

1. A Twitter feed claiming to represent Official Voice states that “they are not an anti-vax movement, they are a TRUTH movement”. They also reject the claim that they targeted the old BBC Television Centre in error.

Satanic Ritual Abuse Fanatic Wilfred Wong Guilty of Conspiracy to Kidnap a Child

From North Wales Live:

A man who helped abduct a child and threatened a foster mum with a knife claimed the courts and social services are “infiltrated by Satanists”.

Wilfred Wong’s outlandish claims where made on a YouTube video and played to a jury at a Caernarfon Crown Court trial.

Wong, 56, from London was later convicted of conspiring to kidnap a child who he wrongly believed was at risk of falling into a Satanist’s hands.

Sentencing will take place next month. It is notable that the devout evangelical Wong did not offer a defence of justification, or even of mitigation that he had made an honest mistake. Instead, as reported by the BBC, he

denied any involvement, saying he was in north Wales for a short walking holiday and had arranged to get a lift back…

He told the court: “I’d have been more of a liability than a help with any abduction plan. I would have been too old and too slow for that sort of thing.”

The “lift” was with Janet and Edward Stevenson, who have also been found guilty. Janet Stevenson, according to the BBC, is “a counsellor who specialises in working with victims of satanic abuse” – an unfortunate phrase that takes at face value a victim identity that is often coaxed into being by therapists obsessed with the subject (as I discussed here). Several other individuals who were drawn into Wong’s kidnap caper have also either pleaded guilty or been found guilty, and one, a former nurse, died while on remand last November.

Wong is a veteran Satanic Ritual Abuse fanatic; he featured in a sceptical Daily Telegraph article (“The People who Believe that Satanists Might Eat Your Baby“, by Damian Thompson) way back in 2002 as the organiser of a conference on the subject that took place at the Palace of Westminster while he was working for Lord Alton as Parliamentary Officer for the Jubilee Campaign (1). In recent years, he has contributed articles about SRA to religious outlets such as the English Churchman and Heart Publications, and in 2017 he also presented at a pseudo-academic conference on the subject in London.

So why was it only recently that Wong decided to cross the line from merely going on about Satanic Ritual Abuse to actually breaking the law in such a serious and tragic way? Perhaps he had reached a time in his life when he felt he had to do something to make his mark in some concrete way before he really does become too old; but he may also have felt spurred on and validated by the mainstreaming of conspiracy thinking over the last decade. In 2019 he was sought out by Jon Wedger, and their interview was promoted by David Icke. In 2020 he also did two interviews with Shaun Attwood. And even now he has his supporters within the conspiracy milieu, who can easily assimilate any counter-evidence into a grand theory of Satanic manipulation.

Note

1. A 2018 profile of Wong in the evangelical magazine Prophecy Today states that his interest in SRA “began in 1993 when he was approached by an MP on the matter”. It’s not clear why the MP is not named, but Louise Dickens (var. Lou Dickens) has reportedly confirmed on a podcast called the Jimmy O Show that this was her grandfather Geoffrey Dickens.

The Prophecy Today profile, by Paul Luckraft, adds that

SRA is far more prevalent than is ever reported, and… is growing in the UK… Since the revelations concerning Jimmy Savile became public knowledge there has been an increasing acceptance that SRA does exist and needs to be countered. Some of the UK media have reported on Savile’s involvement in Satanism and SRA.

The profile also includes a well-known photo of Savile with Edward Heath.

Li-Meng Yan Accuses Former Associate Wengui Guo of Persecution

From Li-Meng Yan‘s Twitter account:

Miles, Wengui Guo 郭文貴 sent his followers to my home for “protest”, using the same smears as CCP’s propaganda!
Police/FBI are investigating.
Miles threatened to “send”me back to HK & @lude_media to China.
How could he do it without help from CCP Ministry of State Security?!

Yan is famous as the proponent of the most far-reaching Covid-19 “Wuhan lab escape” scenario. According to her, the the coronavirus was created and released deliberately as a bioweapon, and its artificial and chimerical nature is blatantly obvious. Scientists who say otherwise are likely beholden to the Chinese Communist Party.

The above Tweet is of interest because it was Guo who originally brought Li to the public’s attention – with the help of Steve Bannon – via a shadowy “Rule of Law Society” and “Rule of Law Foundation”. The reason for the apparent fall-out remains opaque. The reference to Lude Media is also significant: “Lude”, who was famous for promoting the most sensational claims regarding Hunter Biden’s laptop ahead of the last election, has been one of Guo’s closest allies. On 1 August Yan also Tweeted:

LuDe Media is under huge attacks from CCP agents Miles Guo, YanPing Wang & cyber army!
As the 1st media revealed CCP’s unrestricted Bioweapon #COVID19, LuDe keeps telling the truth to millions of Chinese and the world!

The first Yan Tweet quoted above also embedded a Tweet by one Lawrence Sellin, a former reserve colonel who served in Afghanistan but who in 2010 was reportedly “kicked out of that country for writing an editorial about how much he hates PowerPoint”. Sellin now contributes to fringe-right websites, and he is looking forward to election audits that will lead to the return of Trump to power and Joe Biden fleeing to Beijing. His Tweets in support of Yan include criticism of Bannon:

Bannon has done & said NOTHING to defend his “War Room 2020 Woman of the Year” Dr. Li-Meng Yan, who was forced to obtain armed security & relocate after being viciously smeared & threatened by Bannon‘s close associate reputed CCP agent Miles Guo Wengui & his cult followers

One reason why Sellin believes that Guo is a “CCP agent” despite his ostensible opposition to China’s regime is because he has apparently recently pivoted to supporting Biden, stating that

Confirmed by our intelligence, the Biden Administration didn’t collude with the CCP. We therefore suggest our fellow fighters not to post any negative content about President Biden and his family.

Assuming this statement is genuine (and there is a subtitled video), this looks likes “Vicar of Bray” opportunism more than anything else.

Yan has also expressed gratitude to Sellin for having “defeated the active CCP agent 张洵 @ericxunzhang”; this is a reference to Eric Zhang, apparently a Chinese Christian based in Chicago. Last September Zhang Tweeted at Franklin Graham after Graham referred to Yan, writing:

Dear Brother, I’ve been following this case closely & can tell you Dr Yan is a sheer liar, and the whole thing is a setup by Steve Bannon. I’m a Christian, a conservative Chn American & a 100% Trump supporter (in that order). I was also serving at board of OK Baptist (BGCO) …

Zhang has since deleted his Twitter account, but on his website (in Chinese) he says that he has quit Twitter because of false CCP allegations by Guo rather than by Sellin (Guo has also famously accused the Texas-based Pastor Bob Fu of being a CCP agent – Fu has reciprocated, and is suing).

Note

Yan’s original Twitter account @LiMengYAN119 was suspended last year; a new account using the name @DrLiMengYAN1 was created in October. Although it does not have a blue tick, it has been cited extensively in the media (including e.g. this trailer for a Fox interview with Tucker Carlson) and can be taken as genuine.

A Note on Chris Fay, the Media and Mark Williams-Thomas

From ex-police officer turned journalist Mark Williams-Thomas on Twitter:

Article : Labour were REAL villains of child sex abuse scandal. I have not spoken formally about this before but whilst in police we investigated Chris Fay’s many allegations in the early 2000’s and established their [sic] was no evidence to support his claims [Link to Daily Mail article by Dominic Lawson]

The Lawson article linked to by Williams-Thomas responds to recent findings by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse that abuse and exploitation had been rife in children’s homes controlled by the notoriously left-wing Lambeth Council in the 1970s and 1980s. As Lawson notes:

The IICSA concluded that Lambeth council ‘treated children in their care as if they were worthless’ and showed ‘callous disregard’ by ‘putting vulnerable children in the path of sex offenders’ who infiltrated those institutions.

Lawson goes on to discuss similar failings in Islington, which had been covered by the Daily Mail in mid-2015 as part of the paper’s campaign against Jeremy Corbyn, the local MP and before that an Islington councillor. Both situations are then contrasted with the concocted allegations against prominent figures in the Conservative Party:

Yet one Labour MP did ‘weaponise’ the issue of child sex abuse: this was the then deputy leader of the party, Tom Watson. He was tireless in linking it to the Conservatives, at the highest level.

…what was the origin of the spurious claims against the blameless [Leon] Brittan? It turns out to have been a concoction of a former London Labour councillor called Chris Fay, who also invented the hoax that child abuse by leading Tories took place at the Elm Guest House in South-West London.

…Fay, who in 2011 was jailed for fraud after conning pensioners out of almost £300,000, admitted in 2015 that he had passed his allegations about Leon Brittan to Tom Watson. He also confessed he had been ‘a very Left-wing Labour councillor’ who enjoyed ‘on a political level’ the accusations of child abuse made against prominent Conservatives.

That would be the same hoax that the Daily Mail reported in early 2013 as “Timebomb at Elm Guest House: Pop stars, a bishop and a top politician appear on a list seized by police investigating child abuse at the London hotel in the 1980s”. Fay does not appear in that particular piece (by Stephen Wright and Richard Pendlebury), although a follow-up article two days later (curiously without any byline) refers to

former child protection worker Chris Fay, who says he was shown photos of children dressed up at ‘Kings and Queens parties’ at the guest house. One photograph is said to show a former Tory Cabinet minister in a sauna with a naked 14-year-old boy.

Nearly two years later, in late 2014, an article by the paper’s crime correspondent Rebecca Camber and headed “Officers claim covert investigations were shut down as they closed in on Establishment figures” included the detail that

child protection campaigner Chris Fay, of the now-defunct National Association of Young People in Care, said a Special Branch detective held a gun to his head, telling him to stop investigating an alleged paedophile ring at Elm Guest House in south-west London.

This was all despite the fact that Fay’s fraud conviction had been reported by BBC News in 2011; it seems it wasn’t realised at the time that this was the same person, although the identification was in the public domain by October 2013. During the same period, Fay was also appearing in other newspapers; in early 2014 James Fielding at the Daily Express ran an article about an accuser who “is being helped by anti-abuse campaigners Bill Maloney and Chris Fay” (in fact, video evidence shows that the the accuser was being aggressively coached by Maloney, with Fay present).

So why didn’t Mark Williams-Thomas speak out the time, if he was already aware that Chris Fay’s claims had been investigated and found to be lacking in substance? Williams-Thomas also posted two other Tweets directly following the one above, which for some reason he then deleted:

Which is why I was totally dismissive and told the Met police this around 12 years later (2012) when they so adamantly believed Carl Beech . I had heard nearly all the allegations before , investigated them and found them almost all entirely baseless [Previously here]

I had audio tapes in 2000 with almost all the same claims Fay was making in 2012 which the Met police took as correct when Carl Beech started repeating them – regarding Elm House , Lord Britain [sic] and murder of child and mass child abuse image ring [Previously here]

The tapes are mentioned in an article critical of Williams-Thomas that was published by the Mail on Sunday (which is editorially independent of the Daily Mail) in 2018 (and previously discussed by me here). The authors, David Rose and Rosie Waterhouse, explained that in 1990 Fay had introduced a source named “David” to a journalist named Gill Priestly:

In a series of taped interviews with her, David made astonishing claims: that he had been sexually assaulted by Lord Brittan, and ‘trafficked’ to Amsterdam, where he was forced to watch as children were raped and murdered to make ‘snuff’ porn movies.

Police documents disclosed by the Crown Prosecution Service and seen by this newspaper say Priestly played her tapes to Williams-Thomas while he was a serving police officer. The papers say that at the time police took no action and that in 2002, after Williams-Thomas left the police, she gave some of her tapes to him for ‘safe keeping’.

According to Rose and Waterhouse, “police records” say that Williams-Thomas played these tapes to Detective Superintendent David Gray at the ITV studies in 2013. However, DCI Paul Settle, the Metropolitan Police officer tasked with investigating Brittan under Gray’s direction, was unimpressed:

Mr Settle said: ‘We had already finished with [the accuser] David, but here was Williams-Thomas apparently trying to reincarnate him as a witness. It was quite apparent the tapes were the musings of a fantasist.’

Settle later quit the force, alleging that he had been pressured into participating in a “witch hunt”. But why would Williams-Thomas have provided these tapes if he was of the view that the allegations were of no value? And how did it then happen – as reported by Rose and Waterhouse – that David afterwards became central to South Yorkshire Police’s disastrous investigation into Cliff Richard?

Covid Conspiracy Rally Embarrasses Anti-Restriction Activists

Last week’s Covid conspiracy rally at Trafalgar Square – where NHS workers were compared by Kate Shemirani to Nazi war criminals executed after World War 2 – is now apparently something of an embarrassment to some activists against anti-Covid restrictions.

First up, James Melville (who incidentally has just settled a libel claim after recklessly promoting a child sex abuse smear sourced from a fringe-right website), who posed with a group of friends at the rally for a photo that can be seen here. He has now repudiated his attendance, using Twitter:

I denounce those appalling comments at that rally. I thought it would have been an anti vaccine passports march and I soon realised that it wasn’t and went to the pub. I have no time for comments like that. [here]

I attended a rally (naively thinking it would be a march against vaccine passports) in London last weekend and I was appalled by some of the extremist views issued by the speakers. I condemn such repugnant messaging and as always, I have absolutely no time for extremism. [here]

The first Tweet above appeared several days after the rally; he explained that he was unable to say anything sooner because he had lost his phone and couldn’t remember his Twitter password. It is difficult to see how it was that Melville was caught unawares; advertising for the rally made it very clear who would be speaking, with David Icke second only to Vernon Coleman as top of the bill (see below). The only unadvertised speaker was Katie Hopkins, who became available at short notice due having been deported from Australia after boasting about her non-compliance with quarantine rules.

Two public figures who were not there but had Tweeted supportive comments have also quietly backed away. Laurence Fox did so by RTing the first tweet in a thread by someone named James Townsend arguing that the organisers “got it badly wrong in London”, with speakers who “are not going to engage the mainstream public”. Meanwhile, Maajid Nawaz, who had Tweeted in “solidarity” with the rally on 24 July, interviewed Sebastian Shemirani, the estranged son of Kate Shemirani, on his LBC radio show. As advertised by LBC:

Sebastian Shemirani’s mother Kate was videoed in Trafalgar Square spouting conspiracy theories and threats at an anti-vaccine passport rally. He tells Maajid Nawaz his mother is ‘too far gone to change her mind’ on the misinformation she believes.

This reads as if Kate Shemirani was some weird outlier, when in fact her rhetoric was representative of the event as a whole and received enthusiastically by the crowd.

Nawaz’s 24 July “solidarity” Tweet had included a video clip of the crowd singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, but despite this attempt to make the event appear innocuous he apparently didn’t notice or care that the camera panned across to show David Icke conducting from the stage – somewhat incongruous content given Nawaz’s “counter-extremism” credentials.

A Note on Dominic Cummings and a 2011 Troll Account

From an editorial in the Observer in early 2013:

Today, this paper alleges that a Twitter feed emanating in part, or wholly, from within the Department of Education is using its anonymity – when not dispensing perfectly reasonable policy analysis – to defame, disparage and damage political opponents and journalists. Contributions to the Twitter feed included taunting opponents about “mental illness” and retweeting remarks suggesting that a journalist had had a breakdown.

According to the associated report:

…the account has likened one respected reporter, the Financial Times‘ education correspondent, Chris Cook, to Walter Mitty and suggested he was a “stalker”. It has also retweeted insinuations about his personal life.

…The Observer understands that two of [Education Secretary Michael] Gove’s special advisers, Dominic Cummings and Henry de Zoete, were approached in 2011 by Henry Macrory, then Tory party head of press, and were asked to tone down their input into the feed which Macrory thought was inappropriate.

The account was called @toryeducation, and this was several years before Cummings had become a household name. Recently, Cummings has begun using social media to give an account of his time when he was at the heart of the Brexit “Leave” campaign and later of Boris Johnson’s government. However, he hasn’t yet returned to the above incident, despite being asked about it on Twitter.

In addition to the articles in the Observer, his 2013 exchange with the paper’s editor John Mulholland ahead of publication was posted online by Paul Waugh on his blog The Waugh Room, which ran as part of PoliticsHome. The blog has since expired and is now consigned to the Internet Archive, which means it can’t be found by search engines. As such, I here take the liberty of pasting the material below.

The exchange is unedifying, but it provides insight into Cummings’s character. Cummings engages in mockery and evasion, and takes the stance that the matter is beneath his notice while going on at greater length than would be required for a simple denial or admission or proper explanation. He also seizes on Mulholland confusing the name of the account under discussion – @toryeducation went by the name “Tory Education News”, and Mulholland accidentally referred to @educationnews. Cummings affects to take this at face value, even though he knows damn well what Mulholland means.

It may be old news, but government advisors misusing their work time (and our money) to engage in social media trolling and composing deliberately uninformative emails in response to serious press enquiries is unfinished business. How widespread is the practice? And what does it say about Michael Gove, who may yet one day take over from Johnson as Prime Minister? The Observer editorial was headlined “Answers, Mr Gove”; we never actually got any.

From: CUMMINGS, Dominic
Sent: 01 February 2013 14:13
To: ‘Jade Amias’ [PA to John Mulholland]
Cc: PERMANENT, Secretary

Subject: RE: Urgent letter from John Mulholland

Dear Mr Mulholland

I’m not wasting time on the tantrums of Toby Helm and Chris Cook over anonymous Twitter accounts. Am I supposed to take seriously anonymous accusations about anonymous Twitter accounts ridiculing journalists with too much time on their hands?

I suggest that your advice to both of them is: take a Twitter detox because it’s melting your brains, focus on what’s important, stop behaving like 8 year olds, and Mr Helm ought to reflect on the bizarreness of twittering foul-mouthed abuse at people while complaining about being abused on Twitter. What would David Astor make of that?

Please feel free to publish this response in any forum you wish including if you intend to run any ‘story’. I will not waste another minute on such nonsense and neither should you.

Best wishes

Dominic

From: John Mulholland
Sent: 01 February 2013 14:33
To: CUMMINGS, Dominic

Subject:

Dear Dominic,

Many thanks for your speedy response. I note however that you are not denying contributing to @educationews. I would like to give you that opportunity now, again. On one other specific point, can you confirm, or deny, that a senior Conservative Party official – in late summer 2011 – voiced concerns directly to you about the tone of the contributions you were making to @educationews.

Many thanks,

John Mulholland

From: CUMMINGS, Dominic
Sent: 01 February 2013 15:12
To: ‘John Mulholland’

Subject: RE:

Dear Mr Mulholland

Have you lost the plot? Now you’re accusing me of being something called @educationnews. Have you even looked at that twitter account? I did just now for a laugh. It has tweeted twice and has 5 followers. What next? What else are you going to invite me to ‘deny’? Am I secretly doing Rupert Murdoch’s twittering while working for Mossad on the side? I strongly advise you to take the advice I gave before or you will embarrass a famous institution even more. This really is my last word on this puerile rubbish.

D

From: John Mulholland
Sent: 01 February 2013 15:28
To: CUMMINGS, Dominic

Subject: Re:

Dominic,

Many apologies, and thanks again for your reply.

My previous email should have referred to @toryeducation – as it did in my first email. I suspect you know full well the feed we are referring to – it also has the line ‘Tory education news’ as part of its Twitter account. Shall we leave aside your references to Mossad and Rupert Murdoch for now and return to the matter at hand?

I noted how your first email did not deny contributing to @educationews. I would like to give you that opportunity again.

And on the other specific point, can you confirm, or deny, that a senior Conservative Party official – in late summer 2011 – voiced concerns directly to you about the tone of the contributions you were making to @educationews.

They seem to me relatively simple questions to answer. We note that the feed in question – hardly an ‘anonymous’ Twitter feed – is listed as one of just four Twitter members by the Conservative HQ Twitter account.

Many thanks

John Mulholland

From: CUMMINGS, Dominic
Sent: 01 February 2013 16.10
To: ‘John Mulholland’

Dear Mr Mulholland.

You write:

‘Shall we leave aside your references to Mossad and Rupert Murdoch for now and return to the matter at hand? I noted how your first email did not deny contributing to @educationews. I would like to give you that opportunity again.’

You really MUST look at that account, you’ve now repeated your bizarre accusation! Then confiscate Toby’s phone, send Chris Cook a ‘How to boost your self-­esteem’ book, and stop sending such emails.

Best wishes, and over and out

D

Ps. Once you’ve chillaxed, I would be happy to chat some time about education policy.

Trafalgar Square Packed for Conspiracy Rally Featuring David Icke and Katie Hopkins

From the Independent:

Thousands of anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protesters gathered in central London for a “Worldwide rally for freedom” – five days after restrictions were lifted in England.

Conspiracy theorists David Icke, Gillian McKeith and Piers Corbyn, the brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, were among the speakers at the demonstration in Trafalgar Square.

The event also attracted far-right commentator Katie Hopkins…

…Kate Shemirani, who was struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council last month for spreading Covid misinformation, said: “Get their names. Email them to me. With a group of lawyers, we are collecting all that. At the Nuremburg Trials the doctors and nurses stood trial and they hung. If you are a doctor or a nurse, now is the time to get off that bus… and stand with us the people.”

London major Sadiq Khan described her comments as “utterly appalling”. He tweeted: “I have raised it directly with the Met Police. Our NHS staff are the heroes of this pandemic and Londoners from across this city roundly reject this hate.”

Videos of the event were shared on Twitter; in particular, there was a useful thread by the BBC’s Shayan Sardarizadeh, who also noted the involvement of fringe political candidate David Kurten and the anti-5G campaigner Mark Steele. Steele also took part in last week’s protest, during which he chanted “paedo scum” at the Houses of Parliament in support of a contingent of Satanic Ritual Abuse protestors led by Jeanette Archer. Shemirani’s speech was captured by Marc Lister, and scenes of the crowd show that Trafalgar Square was packed to capacity.

The Independent article also refers to the event as being part of a “World Wide Rally for Freedom” taking place in several locations around the world; the fact-checking site Logically has delved into this here, reporting that the rallies “were entirely astroturfed and coordinated by a small group from Kassel in Germany” called Freie Bürger Kassel (Free Citizens of Kassel).

With these kind of events it is also worth noting who was not there. In particular, the vocal anti-lockdown activist Laurence Fox (who also scoffs at the vaccine, despite denying that he is anti-vax), who was present at last week’s protest, declined to be seen sharing a stage with the likes of David Icke and Katie Hopkins; perhaps it would have embarrassed his donor/patron Jeremy Hosking or undermined the continuing free publicity he gets from sympathetic media.

However, Fox took to Twitter to convey a general impression of support without committing himself to specific claims: he RTed a Tweet from a third party expressing “solidarity” with the protestors, and then shared a video via Paul Joseph Watson of a protestor being arrested, which he described as “tyranny” despite the lack of any context, and the man’s ludicrous theatrics of shouting “I’m going to die” as he was pinned to the ground and then screaming as he was handcuffed. He also denounced Dan Hodges for referring to “incitement to murder” – this was an obvious reference to Shemirani’s “Nuremburg Trials” comment, but Fox claimed that it was an unfair mischaracterisation of lockdown sceptics and opponents of “medical apartheid”.

Anti-Vax Protest in London Includes “VIP Paedophile” Conspiracy Rhetoric

From the London Evening Standard:

Police have made a string of arrests as anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination protesters caused mayhem outside the Houses of Parliament on Monday.

…Anti-vaccination protesters chanted “shame on police” and “arrest Boris Johnson” as the demonstration moved from Parliament Square to spread onto the road and up to the gates of the Palace of Westminster.

…Nigel Farage was forced to cut short a segment on the protests during his first flagship show on GB News.

A woman shouted “Nazi paedo protector w****rs” at the camera as reporter Tom Harwood was trying to describe the violent scenes to Mr Farage back in the studio.

The clip can be viewed here; the woman also called him a “Nazi cunt”, and there was also some similar abuse from a man off camera who can be seen here. Watching the segment, I was put in mind both of a June 2019 London protest, where James Goddard denounced “Satanic paedophiles” in No. 10 at a “Free Tommy Rally”, and an incident opposite Downing Street in June 2015 where an activist named Bill Maloney told a crowd that “your Prime Minister is protecting 76 MPs that are being investigated”. The abuse aimed at Harwood in part reflects the importation of American Pizzagate and QAnon conspiracy rhetoric, although it has also been fostered by the lasting impact of a slew of credulous newspaper articles accusing British public figures that only ran dry when Carl Beech was exposed as a hoaxer.

In fact, there was an entire “Satanic Ritual Abuse” contingent at the protest – this was same group that had also protested last month, led by Jeanette Archer. Hoaxtead has the details; they met at the London Eye south of the river before progressing over Westminster Bridge to Parliament Square, where they were greeted by the anti-5G activists Mark Steele and Graham Steele (both men shown acting aggressively towards police in a video clip here). Archer’s banner has been amended; when it was debuted last month it proclaimed opposition to “Satnic Ritual Abuse”. According to Sardarizadeh, Archer claimed that there are “160 MPs on the padeophile sex offenders register” who drink children’s blood, which is an advance on Maloney’s 76.

The main crowd was addressed by various speakers – on Twitter, the BBC’s Shayan Sardarizadeh noted “retired police officer Mark Sexton”, who advised the mob that “if all Covid restrictions are not lifted and vaccinations are not ceased, citizens have a right to arrest ministers and MPs by force and set up common law courts”, as well as “former nurse and anti-vaccine activist Kate Shemirani”, who claimed “Covid vaccines are ‘bioweapons’ and ‘surveilance systems’ with an ‘electrical charge’ that can transmit and receive signals from 5G towers. She adds people who have been vaccinated will likely die ‘within two years’.” The Times notes the presence of Piers Corbyn and of “actor turned aspiring politician and anti-lockdown campaigner” Laurence Fox.

Meanwhile, some lesser-known figures have been logged on Twitter by Mark Lister: he observed “Tommy Robinson Flying Monkey’s Gavin Malone, Mark and Tyrant Finder”, and “Ginger Toni with TR security Mark”, which he says “shows the definite Tommy Robinson influence on this movement”. Disgraced former town councillor William Coleshill was apparently among those arrested. Lister also draws attention to the presence of a white pendragon flag at the protest (perhaps generic or maybe indicating a group of that name), as well as at least one protestor wearing a yellow star in appropriation of Holocaust iconography. Two yellow stars were also included on a large banner that appears on a video taken by journalists with JOE.

Ahead of the protest, Archer promised that “we’re going to fight back in a way that will be different than we’ve ever done before” and that the day “will go down in history, what we’re gonna do”, although despite the hype it seems to have been more of the same as last month. Archer (like Maloney, who has disappeared from view since 2015) has been heavily promoted by self-described “police whistleblower” Jon Wedger, who  given his ubiquity was conspicuous by his absence.