Guido Fawkes, the full story


by Sunny
15th February, 2007 at 6:57 pm    

On Sunday 11th Feb I published an article here that was first written for the Guardian on May 31st 1986. The article related to what Paul Staines, aka blogger Guido Fawkes, may or may not have been up to while at Hull university when leader of the Federation of Conservative Students (FCS). I’d wanted him to explain the article – given he is commonly regarded as an influential blogger in political / media circles and extensively courted by the Conservative Party.

Shortly after publication, Guido Fawkes emailed myself and several other bloggers stating it was an attempt at defaming him and issued a legal notice to take the posting down. He also sent a letter dated 1990 that seemed to be from David Rose, the journalist who wrote the original article, apologising for the way the original story was written. There was nothing in the letter to suggest the Guardian had retracted the story. I checked with the newspaper before publishing to ensure there was no legal notes on the article or any retractions associated with it on the internal editnet system. There weren’t.

But I will take Paul Staines’ word that the original article was in bad faith and he is not a racist. I never called him a racist at any time and I never do so lightly in anycase. I managed to speak to David Rose (who is out of the country) and he couldn’t remember whether he had or not written the apology (it was 20 years ago). So I took down the article in good faith.

There is obvious hypocrisy here – a self-confessed libertarian who criticises others for issuing legal notices to suppress information about their past, while doing it himself. But the story doesn’t stop here.

Paul Staines didn’t specify exactly what was untrue in the original article. Instead he offered to meet me and do an interview explaining his side of the story. I agreed on the condition I could re-publish the 1986 article and the 1990 David Rose letter. He agreed and we met on Tuesday morning.

Except – at the interview he said his lawyers had instructed him not to offer any explanation on the 1986 article. I said it was a big copout and his actions were hypocritical since he is usually the first to demand explanations of others. Either way his only response to questions about the article was a ‘no comment’. I wasn’t happy. He later sent an email saying that if I published the 1986 article or the 1990 letter then he would sue for defamation.

I’m not going to write up the interview here; merely post up a recording of the interview within a day or two because Paul Staines broke his side of the agreement.

And I no longer consider him to be a principled blogger holding the political classes to task for their misconduct. He is as hypocritical as them, as this espisode has shown. He is unwilling to talk about his past and willing to use the law to stop others from doing so.

Writing on the same issue, Justin McKeating explains more on the legal side:

At the end of the day, this boils down to money. The libel laws in the UK are a plaything of the monied – you can’t get legal aid to fight a libel action. It’s often said that ‘it’s not libel if it’s true’. That is incorrect. It is, actually, ‘it’s not libel if it’s provable‘. To fight my case would take more resources than I have.

So we are in legal no-man’s-land. But running vendettas against other bloggers is not my style as I have bigger fish to fry.

I will end with this however. Iain Dale recently called for the ‘blogwars’ to end, and I sympathise with his view that there is nothing to be had from people on opposite sides of the political spectrum hurling mud at each other for no reason as they do in the United States.

But it’s amusing to watch bloggers on the right to point fingers at organisations on the left in the name of cleaning up politics if they are unwilling to ask the same uncomfortable questions of their own people. This is the real reason for the mud-slinging and I don’t expect it to stop unless people stop being so hypocritical.

Final word on the issue also from: Unity, Clive, Tim and Justin.

Other commentary from: Obsolete, BSSC World, Tygerland, Not Saussure and politicalhackuk

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Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Chicken Yoghurt » The last laugh (Update and further updated)

    [...] Update 15/2 @ 7.30PM: For those seeking further information and context, I would urge you to read this from Sunny and follow his links. Filed under pooterism, bloggerdom See also It was the best of times tables, it was the worst of times tables, Who’s to argue? and Stuart Jeffries:The Hungarian prime minister has been remarkably honest this week. What if he wrote Blair’s farewell speech? permalink • trackback • print this • leave a comment [...]


  2. Bread and Circuses » Blog Archive » Another final word

    [...] Others more involved than me have drawn this affair to a conclusion in an eloquent fashion. I think a picture tells a thousand words. [...]


  3. The Sharpener » Blog Archive »

    [...] Pickled Politics Guido Fawkes, the full story [...]


  4. Shock horror: Guido's a dick - thebadrash.com

    [...] This story has been developing somewhat over the last week or so. What happened was that Pickled Politics posted a Guardian article from 1986 which alleged that Paul Staines, AKA Guido Fawkes of the eponymous and higly influential Tory blog, tried to form some sort of 'joint action' team between the Federation of Conservative Students and the British National Party. Staines then threatened Pickled Politics and other bloggers who'd carried the story with legal action, suggesting that the man who likes to root around in Labour MPs' histories ought to have some sort of immunity himself. [...]


  5. Adam Bienkov

    RT @pickledpolitics Tory bloggers are outraged Sugar is abusing libel laws. It’s not like Guido Fawkes would do that… http://bit.ly/ozlj2


  6. Oliver Heath

    RT @pickledpolitics I see Tory bloggers are outraged Sugar is abusing libel laws. It’s not like G Fawkes would do that.. http://bit.ly/ozlj2


  7. sunny hundal

    @dpjhodges http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/1009


  8. sunny hundal

    Perhaps @guidofawkes shouldn't try & smear others as having a racist history or people might ask questions about him http://bit.ly/dQfYH7


  9. Jonathan Haynes

    Interesting RT @sunny_hundal: Perhaps @guidofawkes shouldn't try & smear others or people might ask questions about him http://bit.ly/dQfYH7


  10. sunny hundal

    Also, if you think blogging is more intercine or 'insane' now, then you clearly weren't around in the good old days http://bit.ly/dQfYH7


  11. sunny hundal

    @fleetstreetfox http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/1009


  12. sunny hundal

    Wait, this is the same @GuidoFawkes railing against ppl using lawyers to stop their activities being talked abt right? http://bit.ly/dQfYH7


  13. Church of Labour

    Brother Hundal doth EXCOMMUNICATE Paul Staines from the Blogosphere http://bit.ly/dQfYH7 Such powers hath he! #ahbenn


  14. Philosoraptor

    “@churchoflabour: Brother Hundal doth EXCOMMUNICATE Paul Staines from the Blogosphere http://t.co/6a5EgYx Such powers hath he! #ahbenn” LOL


  15. kny

    RT @nomoregames: “@churchoflabour: Brother Hundal doth EXCOMMUNICATE Paul Staines from the Blogosphere http://t.co/6a5EgYx Such powers h …


  16. Lisa Ansell

    RT @nomoregames: “@churchoflabour: Brother Hundal doth EXCOMMUNICATE Paul Staines from the Blogosphere http://t.co/6a5EgYx Such powers h …


  17. Ellie Mae O'Hagan

    @GuidoFawkes i'm referring to this http://t.co/VXE0Njj


  18. Terry Allen

    Interesting blogpost on the nasty little troll @GuidoFawkes http://t.co/kopk45d via @MissEllieMae


  19. DPWF

    @GuidoFawkes i'm referring to this http://t.co/VXE0Njj


  20. Tim Ireland

    @unslugged Some background for you http://t.co/8OBxb2pi




  1. Sunny — on 15th February, 2007 at 7:01 pm  

    I’ve left the comments section open but please do not post any libelous comments. If you do, I shall immediately delete and ban you from here.

  2. Roger — on 15th February, 2007 at 7:14 pm  

    ‘The greater the truth, the greater the libel.’ is the other version.
    All the same, it seems a little unfair to dig up what someone is alleged to have said or done as a young and irresponsible student twenty years ago [Copyright David Cameron]. That’s leaving aside the possibility of a misunderstanding. A friend of mine is regularly accused of supporting the National Front in his youth, because he wrote a satirical essay on them which some people took seriously.

  3. Leon — on 15th February, 2007 at 7:18 pm  

    So we are in no man’s land.

    Yep, that’s about the long and short of it…

  4. Planeshift — on 15th February, 2007 at 7:37 pm  

    Perhaps there is a sympathetic foreign based blog that would be willing to publish the article in question.

  5. Justin — on 15th February, 2007 at 7:40 pm  

    Nicely done, Mr Hundal.

  6. Leon — on 15th February, 2007 at 7:42 pm  

    Perhaps there is a sympathetic foreign based blog that would be willing to publish the article in question.

    You should take more notice of the chicken.

  7. Larry Teabag — on 15th February, 2007 at 7:43 pm  

    The Battle-Lines have been drawn. It’s Libertarians Against Feedom Of Speech Versus Leftists For Libel.

    Still, what a contemptible way for a happy-go-lucky anarchist chappy to behave.

  8. Don — on 15th February, 2007 at 7:52 pm  

    Smart move by Staines. Now everyone who has ever heard of him is familiar with the article and his response. And a great many who had never given him a thought have formed their view of him from this incident. Wonder how much his lawyers are charging him.

  9. Eddie — on 15th February, 2007 at 7:54 pm  

    Someone really oughta start up a pledge on Pledgebank.com where we can all chip in to a “fighting fund”, just in case anyone is prepared to take on Mr Staines at his own game. Anyone sought proper legal advice yet, from a real libel lawyer?

  10. Nyrone — on 15th February, 2007 at 8:03 pm  

    I don’t think there are any battle lines.
    The man is a hypocrite, is anyone suprised?

  11. Planeshift — on 15th February, 2007 at 8:13 pm  

    Another way around it would be for Tom Watson MP to use parliamentary privilege and repeat the allegations inside parliament thus outside of the reach of libel laws. Seeing as he reads this blog and all…..

  12. crossland — on 15th February, 2007 at 8:30 pm  

    Its breathtaking in its cheek, id laugh if staine and dales antics didnt leave such a nasty taste.
    Todays ‘free the guido one- its all tom watson’s fault’ posts are amazing.
    Following this spat over the past couple of weeks, I know that they are that awful…but I still can’t believe what Im reading on their blogs right now.

  13. IanWhickham — on 15th February, 2007 at 8:42 pm  

    I’m not going to link to it, but a copy of the Guardian article discussed here appears to be in Google’s cache now. Good luck suing Google, Paul.

    Ian

  14. Kulvinder — on 15th February, 2007 at 8:49 pm  

    Hes a knob*

    *To those representing Paul Staines; vulgar abuse isn’t in itself defamatory, and i meant that in a very very vulgar and abusive way.

  15. El Cid — on 15th February, 2007 at 8:58 pm  

    Is this libelous?
    http://tinyurl.com/yom8hx

  16. marcuse — on 15th February, 2007 at 8:59 pm  

    Mudslinging is Guido’s middle name.

  17. fridgemagnet — on 15th February, 2007 at 9:25 pm  

    Right. So the article was published, there’s no indication that anything in it was untrue, and the “retraction” claimed wasn’t anything of the sort. Basically, there is nothing at all to say that any of it was in the slightest inaccurate.

    I wish I’d saved a copy of the original post now. The Guardian _did_ publish it, didn’t retract it, and there is nothing at all wrong with saying so that anyone can see.

    I don’t actually care what some Tory twat thought or did when they were younger – though it might hold them up to charges of hypocrisy if they then went on to castigate other people for their views when they were younger – but reflex wavers of libel laws are to be despised, especially if they then claim “freedom of speech!” when people call them on their own writings.

    (I do find it funny that a call for an end to blog wars etc appears at basically the same time as the callers are being spanked.)

  18. marcuse — on 15th February, 2007 at 9:48 pm  

    Remember remember The Guardian 31 May 1986.

  19. Sid — on 15th February, 2007 at 9:53 pm  

    This story had no legs in the first place. There was a retraction from the Guardian but the journalist concerned changed his mind about Staines on a personal level.

    Staines is an upright fellow and a thoroughly decent blogger. He is a libertarian and not a BNP affiliate and never has been.

  20. Sid — on 15th February, 2007 at 9:54 pm  

    Saddam had Weapons of Mass Destruction.

  21. Leon — on 15th February, 2007 at 9:56 pm  

    LOL @ Sid! :D

  22. Sid — on 15th February, 2007 at 9:58 pm  

    ;-)

  23. marcuse — on 15th February, 2007 at 9:58 pm  

    What kind of person makes up songs about gassing their political enemies and making glue from their bones?

  24. Leon — on 15th February, 2007 at 10:01 pm  

    I see Paul Staines is now trying to spin this whole thing into a Brownite conspiracy:

    http://5thnovember.blogspot.com/2007/02/siths-allies-fightback_15.html

  25. Larry Teabag — on 15th February, 2007 at 10:34 pm  

    I see Paul Staines is now trying to spin this whole thing into a Brownite conspiracy

    No surprise that he’s happy to completely mislead his readers, on top of everything else.

  26. Mike Power — on 15th February, 2007 at 10:45 pm  

    Firstly, I am no supporter of Paul Staines. Secondly, I think this spat has done more harm to political blogging in general than to Guido and thirdly, I would really like someone to explain why this 20 year old article was circulated and published in the first place. Forget Staines’s behaviour, we already know what he’s like, it’s the behaviour of bloggers who cast themselves as honourable and decent that concerns me. It seems to me that some rather unfortunate decisions were made in the heat of ‘battle’ and now we are seeing the consequences. And yet people are still calling for this article to be published. If the article does not show Staines in a bad light publish the damn thing or email it to me and I’ll publish it. If, however there is a possibility that the article could be interpreted in a way which may be damaging to Staines we have to question the motives of those who decided to publish it. You cannot have it both ways. Whatever the outcome nobody has come out of this well, and that is a huge disappointment to me and, I’m sure , many others.
    PS If, as some have said, this article is still in the public domain would someone please provide a link to it? Thanks.

  27. Leon — on 15th February, 2007 at 10:47 pm  

    I won’t link to it here but one of the commenter’s above has a name which does…

  28. Kulvinder — on 15th February, 2007 at 10:56 pm  

    [blockquote]I would really like someone to explain why this 20 year old article was circulated and published in the first place.[/blockquote]

    Thats a circular argument. The simplest answer is ‘because they wanted their readers to read it’. If Paul Staines is noteworthy then the merits of its publication – within context – are obvious. If Paul Staines isn’t noteworthy; why does it matter?

    To put it another way, other than saying ‘it is of interest’ how does Paul Staines justify publishing information about anyone?

  29. Leon — on 15th February, 2007 at 11:11 pm  

    Have none of you noticed that Paul Staines is asian?

    And?

  30. Sunny — on 15th February, 2007 at 11:12 pm  

    If, however there is a possibility that the article could be interpreted in a way which may be damaging to Staines we have to question the motives of those who decided to publish it.

    Hence I wanted to interview him to let him explain his side of the story. But he says his lawyers didn’t want him to. I have it all on tape and you’re welcome to listen within the next day or two.

  31. justforfun — on 15th February, 2007 at 11:13 pm  

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Paul_Staines

    Is any of this true? Please tell me the bit about “…..where he admits to enjoying deliberately mixing politics, dance music and drugs.” is not made up. Sounds abit like our Kismet’s lost twin. Sort of Arnie and Danny seperated at birth.

    How can anyone work for Rupert Murdoch unless they have kids to feed. Pity he didn’t take Lord Black’s shilling .. his is the sort of newspaper I liked to read. The present one is going soft, forcing me to read the Guardian.

    Justforfun

  32. Rumbold — on 15th February, 2007 at 11:32 pm  

    I completly agree with you justforfun. Bring back Lord Black- and his wife. And Charles Moore. That was the golden era of the Telegraph. Now there are all these podcasts and ‘lifestyle’ sections abounding. But the Guardian? Hardly a step up.

  33. Mike Power — on 15th February, 2007 at 11:48 pm  

    Sunny, I was asking about the motives of those who decided to publish the article. Interviewing Staines has no bearing on that whatsoever. Either the article is fair and reasonable, in which case can someone please have the balls to re-publish it or it clearly WAS expected to be seen as damaging to Staines in which case please tell us WHY the decision was made to publish it. Jeez, it’s not rocket science!

    Kulvinder, it’s not a circular argument for several reasons (you can brush up on the definition of’question begging’ yourself if you like) the main one being, of course, that it is not an argument at all, it’s a question, plain and simple. I asked, in plain, clear language: What was in the minds, what was the reasoning, what was the motive blah blah blah for deciding that this 20 year old article would interest anyone? To suggest that, in the middle of a blogwar, several of the main protagonists just decided to publish something because it seemed ‘interesting’ is risible and stretches disingenuousness to new limits. It’s also an insult to our intelligence. But it’s clear that there will be no answer forthcoming, sad to say, so I’ll draw my own conclusions and – as I have no desire to become embroiled in this toxic battle of egos – I will say good night and good luck.

  34. Kulvinder — on 16th February, 2007 at 12:05 am  

    Kulvinder, it’s not a circular argument for several reasons (you can brush up on the definition of’question begging’ yourself if you like) the main one being, of course, that it is not an argument at all, it’s a question, plain and simple.

    Oh it is, you’re presupposing a conspiracy. The publication implies a conspiracy. The article was published; therefore there must be a conspiracy. What definition of circular logic were you using?

    What was in the minds, what was the reasoning, what was the motive blah blah blah for deciding that this 20 year old article would interest anyone?

    It was of interest, what further motivation do you need?

    To suggest that, in the middle of a blogwar, several of the main protagonists just decided to publish something because it seemed ‘interesting’ is risible and stretches disingenuousness to new limits. It’s also an insult to our intelligence.

    Since i am unable to help you with the conspiracy you obviously wish i am unsure what to say in responce. We post articles on this site that we find interesting; if you do different i wish you well. Why doesn’t Paul Staines publish articles on stochastic calculus? I’d probably find him more interesting if he did.

  35. Leon — on 16th February, 2007 at 12:13 am  

    Mike, you’re right, I must come clean. There was a conspiracy. I was the one on the grassy knoll…

  36. Bert Preast — on 16th February, 2007 at 12:17 am  

    Is Paul Staines on the public payroll? If not, why should he be held to the same standards as those who are?

  37. Leon — on 16th February, 2007 at 12:24 am  

    Is Paul Staines on the public payroll? If not, why should he be held to the same standards as those who are?

    Who said he should be? Also should only those who are elected by held up to scrutiny (seems a great logic for those who want corporations/private sector to get away with anything they want!)?

  38. Kulvinder — on 16th February, 2007 at 12:30 am  

    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘standards’ but noone has implied that he should be as accountable, as say an MP. His involvement in the political scene warrants an interest; that interest may not be comparable to Tony Blair, but it does exist. Aren’t you at all interested in say newspaper editors or journalists? I certainly don’t care about his private or family life.

  39. mutleythedog — on 16th February, 2007 at 12:33 am  

    Sorry mate. You are on a loser on this one if “no one really cares about the article. Sunny himself is willing to accept the article was written in bad faith. The article is quite literally besides the point.” then what the fuck are you going on about? The article was fake old man bollocks born from incomprehensible FCS factionalsim. If the point is how Paul reacted, then for fucks sake say that! Also explain how you would react to such offensive crap – oh maybe you would over react by making a big public show then later remove it? from your blog when you realised that “YOUR FRIENDS DONT CARE AND YOR ENEMIES WILL NEVER LISTEN” .

  40. Kulvinder — on 16th February, 2007 at 12:40 am  

    If the point is how Paul reacted, then for fucks sake say that!

    Re-read Sunny’s article and the links he provides.

    Also explain how you would react to such offensive crap

    I’d write an article.

  41. Chris Stiles — on 16th February, 2007 at 12:55 am  

    mr dog —

    Have none of you noticed that Paul Staines is asian? That whole BNP crap was made up by somone in the wets side of the FCS in about 1745 when Walpole was PM, to score a election victory for some long forgotten FCS factional crap or another.

    Walpole might well have been the first PM, but let’s not forget that he was a vindinctive and rather unprincipled example. The FCS is not as much of an episode of past history as you would make out. The Revolutionary Communist Party is these days reduced to pedalling itself as the ‘Spiked’ magazine.

    Afaik Paul Delaire ‘The Guido’ Staines is actually Anglo-Indian/half asian/. In any case being an Indian – self loathing or otherwise – does not preclude being racist. In a similiar manner, it appears that being a libetarian doesn’t preclude invoking big government to save ones arse when it’s convenient.


    Is Paul Staines on the public payroll? If not, why should he be held to the same standards as those who are?

    He shouldn’t be, Bert my dear old fruit. But when he comes up with the agenda of ‘being the British equivalent of Matt Drudge’ it’s worth asking exactly which axe he’s trying to grind. In this context, the fact that he might have been a member of the Tory party is certainly *not* newsworthy. That he might have been a member of the FCS – a body disbanded by Lord Tebbit for being ‘too extremist’ – almost certainly is.

  42. Clairwil — on 16th February, 2007 at 1:00 am  

    Whatever The case GF has zero credibility as an anti-establishment, libertarian blogger.

    Running to the law at the first sign of trouble pathetic.

    He has enough of a profile and had the credibility to defend himself against the allegations made until he ran to the law like the worst sort of grass.

    Anyway I own nothing, care not a jot for serious possessions. Send me the text of the article I’ll put them up on my blog. What’s he going to do, repossess my hairbrush? I handle bankruptcy everyday in work, if he sues me I’ll still have my rented flat and I’ll get to write off all my credit card debt. Suits me, losing one’s credit rating is nothing!

    clairwil123@hotmail.com

  43. Kulvinder — on 16th February, 2007 at 1:00 am  

    Spiked online is generally lovely :)

  44. Clairwil — on 16th February, 2007 at 1:06 am  

    I should stress that I had nothing against the guy and was only dimly aware of his blog until this kicked off.

    It’s the bullying run to the lawyers bit that riles me.

  45. Mike Power — on 16th February, 2007 at 1:30 am  

    Where the fuck did ‘conspiracy’ come from? Talk about a straw man. Listen, I’ll be happy if just ONE of the bloggers who published the article could tell me why HE, acting alone (in the book depository, Leon, wink, wink – ooh you ARE a card!) posted the wretched article.

    Kulvinder, “Since i am unable to help you with the conspiracy you obviously wish i am unsure what to say in responce.”

    As I haven’t the foggiest idea what that sentence means I’ll admit defeat and take my leave of you and your incoherent little world.

    PS: “What definition of circular logic were you using?”

    Oh, you know, that one used by all intelligent people in the real world out here. You must visit sometime. Take a wander around. I know, you could call it ‘Brownian Motion’ if it made you feel more comfortable.

    Oooh! Stochastic calculus, Jeez, do me a favour!

  46. Sunny — on 16th February, 2007 at 1:33 am  

    I’m sorry but some of these comments are too close to the bone and have had to be deleted.

  47. Leon — on 16th February, 2007 at 1:35 am  

    Leon, wink, wink – ooh you ARE a card!

    That’s the second time that’s been said about me, still don’t quite get it…

    As for conspiracy, it wasn’t me that claimed that. It was Paul Staines.

  48. Clairwil — on 16th February, 2007 at 1:47 am  

    I have put the article up on my blog which I won’t link to here incase Sunny get’s cross with me.

  49. Mike Power — on 16th February, 2007 at 1:50 am  

    Leon: “As for conspiracy, it wasn’t me that claimed that. It was Paul Staines.”

    I wasn’t aware that I said that you had. I don’t give a toss what Paul Staines thinks or says, I’m responding to comments HERE.

    Kulvinder: “you’re presupposing a conspiracy. The publication implies a conspiracy. The article was published; therefore there must be a conspiracy.”

    Kulvinder the mind reader?

    That’s three mentions in a single sentence and not one of them from Mr Staines.

  50. Leon — on 16th February, 2007 at 1:57 am  

    Mike, take a step back. Do you really think anyone can answer your (slightly suspect line of questioning) here and stay within the libel laws [that are keeping Sunny up watching this thread]?

    If you want the truth I’m afraid you’re going to have to campaign for a change in the law or conduct your affairs elsewhere.

  51. Tim Ireland — on 16th February, 2007 at 1:58 am  

    “I’m responding to comments HERE”

    But never at your own website, I note. Smooth.

  52. Leon — on 16th February, 2007 at 2:00 am  

    Well, he’d have to turn the comments on first…

  53. Lobster Blogster — on 16th February, 2007 at 2:14 am  

    Mike Power? Name sounds familiar to me. Hi Mike, I think you and a colleague said “Hi” to me in a dinner queue a week or two ago. “Stravei” more accurately. If it is you, pop over to Lobster Blogster and I can point you in the right direction for the article and players you seek.

    Dobre doshli!

  54. Old FCS Hack — on 16th February, 2007 at 8:15 am  

    Listen carefully and you’ll understand:

    FACT – Paul Staines starts digging around some extremely dodgy activities of the Gordon Brown-controlled Smith Instituted. Guido Fawkes blog publishes material – and threatens more.

    FACT – Person or persons unknown pass to AB on the Observer a story from 20 years ago (a smear at the time and since retracted by the journalist concerned).

    FACT – AB cannot persuade his seniors of the merits of the story. He (and others?) pass it on to certain bloggers who are anti-Guido. One of them (Tom Watson MP) is a close associate of Gordon Brown.

    FACT – Libel is published similtaneously on several blogs. Staines, realising that he’s the victim of a politically motivated attack designed to discredit him at a vital time calls in the lawyers.

    This idea that no liberarian is allowed to protect his reputation through the courts is weird. I’m a libertarian and if someone calls me a paedophile I’ll use civil remedies to silence them and gain compensation. Staines had every right.

    As an additional point, Sunny should remove the reference to John Bercow MP. It’s defamatory because (a) there never were any Nelson Mandela t-shirts – only stickers produced unofficially by a senior FCS member with southern African connections (b) Mr Bercow never wore one or endorsed the sentiments.

    The best thing about libel trials is that the truth almost always comes out, usually at the time but if not then at some point in the future. I think they are a force for good.

  55. Old FCS Hack — on 16th February, 2007 at 8:20 am  

    Sunny – as a postscript, unless the Telegraph is lying Staines has been now been threatened with imprisonment by the Charity Commission (headed by a Brown ally) unless he reveals his sources for the Smith Institute story. Don’t you think that genuinely *IS* a bigger story rather than a Staines-inspired diversion as Brownite bloggers and others are suggesting?

  56. mutleythedog — on 16th February, 2007 at 8:31 am  

    I am sorry to have become involved in this – but just one more point. When i was at college got involved – as one does – in a heated political row with a person who is now a leading official with a third world charity. I accused him print of being (blushes in shame) a “firm supporter of the IRA”. Obviously, he wan’t then and I would be horrified if anyone were to drag up that nonsense to attack him today, over 20 years later. I guess he would have to take legal action if people took that seriously. I can’t recall all the things directed at me by the press – but I am sure some of them would require legal steps if repeated.

  57. Unity — on 16th February, 2007 at 9:20 am  

    The facts in this matter, in terms of what Staines did are not in dispute.

    What is disputed is the interpretation of those facts and there are THREE possible interpretations.

    One is highly damning but untrue.

    One is entirely exculpatory but implausible, however this is the one that Staines got the journalist who wrote the original story to concede several years afterwards – and the journalist was not working for the Guardian by the time but the Observer (and this was before the Observer was taken over by Guardian Newspapers)

    One sits in between, is very plausible, is very revealing of his political views at the time and reflects heavily on his motives for his current actions – what it counters is the facade that he treats all politicians and parties equally.

    That third interpretation is the one that we were interested in, but were prevented from making public. That interpretation is not libellous, but it would show that he did something pretty stupid at the time.

    The Telegraph story is no more than spin – he had no intention of refusing to cooperate with the Charity Commission nor is the threat of legal action if he fails to hand over documents anything new. He was told as much before the CC officially announced its investigation.

    You can decide for yourself whether he was tardy in handing over the paperwork for his own stated reasons (has finished stripping information that would ID his sources) or simply because he knew the threat would be made and could be turned into a bit more publicity.

  58. Kulvinder — on 16th February, 2007 at 10:23 am  

    FACT – OK, here’s what we’ve got: The Rand Corporation… in conjunction with the saucer people… under the supervision of the reverse vampires… are forcing our parents* to go to bed early in a fiendish plot to eliminate the meal of dinner**

    * bloggers in search for truth justice and the libertarian way

    ** brunch the existence of which has increased 10 fold under new labour.

    We’re through the looking glass, here, people…

  59. Bert Preast — on 16th February, 2007 at 10:34 am  

    Leon/Chris Stiles: I’m not saying Staines’ reaction here was right, he should have just been “What? Over 20 years ago I might have had some dodgy political affiliates? Did I break any laws? Is that the best you can do? Publish and be damned to you, sirs.”

    His digging provides a public service and as he’s not on the public payroll I don’t see any hypocrisy in either his libertarianism or his continuing to hunt down dirt on those who are. The libertarian way of dealing with such problems as these may be to visit your detractor and knock him flat on his arse, but as that’s illegal there’s also no hypocrisy in threatening legal action – that makes him look a twat, but still not a hypocrite.

    The important thing is most of us harboured some rather cringeworthy political views as youngsters so there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Part of being young is living a rather irresponsible and insecure existence, both of which make for dodgy politics – just look at most of Africa. As we settle we become more rational, that’s something that needs encouragement and nurturing as people don’t like having to admit they were wrong. We need an amnesty on political views held before the age of 25, maybe age 28 for White Van Men.

  60. sonia — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:01 am  

    Hmm. i personally find it disappointing that the blogger world seems to be descending into such ‘flamewars’. Hypocrisy? Surely we’re all guilty of that – there’s something rather witchhunty about the way it’s all gone and the way people have ganged up. It’s fair enough if someone points out something about someone else – (though – i do think bert has a point – about university days.) but the ganging up aspect of it? rather tabloidy and i can’t say it’s impressed me at all. All got a bit childish I think. And anyway – last time i looked, who said we all have to have the same aims in blogging? It’s a very individual thing – I think the whole business of how people understand ‘political blogging’ or not is up to them – not something that has – or should – be ‘enshrined’. That’s effectively the criticism i had of Iain Dale’s list of ‘political bloggers’ – it was a very narrow interpretation.

    If you ask me, all this stuff is starting to liken blogging to journalism – a bit too much for my liking. I think we all know what political journalists are like ..

  61. sonia — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:04 am  

    Sorry for not joining in the ‘solidarity’ against Guido – I don’t find it comfortable sitting on moral highground in that way. Im sure im probably a big hypocrite myself in so many ways.

    And I am curious – why does everyone say someone is ‘a racist’ – rather than ‘racist’. I’m interested in the implications. Isn’t racist supposed to be an adjective? seems ever since the jade goody scandal everyone is using that term ‘a racist’.

  62. Refresh — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:06 am  

    Sunny lin this context we’ve no idea what is and what isn’t libellous.

    What else can we say?

    Can’t you place the original article back up along with this David Rose’ letter , whether David remembers it or not. By the way the implication you leave us with is that that too may not be genuine. I’d be careful around that.

    And these bigger fish you are talking about – can you tell us what they are? Or is it like another Eastenders episode where the end-credits start rolling just as we think we know what’s going on?

  63. sonia — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:10 am  

    Hmm, seems there’s a lot of bullying going on on all sides in this matter. why should someone resorting to the law be considered ‘running’? everyone has the right to access the law if they so choose. there is something about kids saying to other kids they’ve bullied – oh now you’re going to run to the teachers – na ni na ni na na about all this – which seems to be in the air about this.

    Anyhow – who really cares now? Guido’s been taken down a peg or two – which let’s not fool ourselves in the moral highground position – was obviously the intention in the first place. ‘oh he’s getting too big for his boots’.

    Surely there are more important things to think about – it’s gone on long enough. its’ like when journalists spend their time writing about what other journalists in other newspapers said to them. i’m bored with hearing about this.

  64. Sid — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:12 am  

    Sonia – voice of reason as always.

    Guido was a c*nt in his university days and is a c*nt today. And?

    To paraphrase Jesus (pbuh): Let s/he who has not been a c*nt throw the first stone and all that.

  65. Inders — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:13 am  

    Tom watson reads this blog ?

    Hello Tom, I’m a member of your contituency. Keep up the ok work.

  66. Sid — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:17 am  

    bono’s the biggest c*nt of them all.

  67. Chris — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:29 am  

    Guido/Staines should have taken the “20 years ago, so what?” line, and it is disappointing that he didn’t do so.

    But why exactly is he c*nt?

    His blog has driven some good stories ( especially cash for honours and Smith Institute) along and forced the MSM to pay greater attention than they might have done.

    Indeed, a nice example of the MSM responding to a blogger rather than the other way around.

    If the only way the Brownies can fight back is by dragging up a 20 year old story it shows Guido is beginning to hit home.

    I repeat, I don’t think legal route was the best way to go, but that’s up to him. I don’t think his “reputation” amongst most of his readers will be diminished however, and if he continues to come with the goods his blog will thrive, and deservedly so, while those who already thought him a c*nt will just have to continue to impotently gnash their teeth!

  68. sonia — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:30 am  

    the establishment courting some bloggers clearly has caused a problem in this instance. jealousy from other bloggers – why is so and so ‘well respected’ when we aren’t as well known and not as dodgy? well quite. {now probably no one is well respected anymore what with all the playground style fuss.} no doubt the tories and other political parties are all off giggling in some corner or other.

    institutions courting blogs – well we’ve seen a bit of that. can’t say i’ve ever been impressed by the way Global Voices shimmies around with Reuters and other big corporate media in the whole ‘WeMedia’ thing. ‘WeMedia’ my foot – should be titled ‘SomeofUs Media’ – would be more apt. The more this kind of stuff happens, what was so special and ‘flat’ about blogging is a little bit lost.

  69. Sid — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:32 am  

    But why exactly is he c*nt?

    The outing of Mark Oaten, for me at least, was the ultimate in c*ntism.

  70. sonia — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:36 am  

    face it, politicians are all c*nts. how could they not be given the system ? stab ‘em in the back / sycophantic climbing to the top/toeing the ‘party’ line? if they weren’t at the start they sure as hell are by the end. yes yes we hear we have to ‘engage’ to change – but it’s not that simple – often the person finds themselves being changed in the process. it’s like the crap you hear from people about sending soldiers off to war and then pretending that the soldiers haven’t been changed by the process. Ha bloody ha. ( oh yeah you take off your uniform and with that goes the memory of all the bloodshed – Sure – We wish!)

    so what – they’d better legalize weed – then they won’t have to worry every time some politician’s past comes out.

  71. sonia — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:38 am  

    i don’t like that word ‘outing’ i must say. gives me the shivers. just cos some people go around blogging using their real name, and it’s a full time job for them, and clearly – their whole life – for some! doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t want to keep our anonymity.

  72. Captain_Savaho — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:38 am  

    Just wondering…is there any SERIOUS danger of sunny being sued? come on seriously…

  73. sonia — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:39 am  

    yes i think Chris has a good point – all this may have ‘tarnished’ his reputations in some circle – but will only make his blog more popular. i think the teeth gnashes should probably focus their energies elsewhere – like maybe on some politicians themselves.

  74. sonia — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:41 am  

    ..heh, meant the ‘teeth gnashers’ ..lost the ‘r’..

  75. Kulvinder — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:56 am  

    why should someone resorting to the law be considered ‘running’? everyone has the right to access the law if they so choose.

    Well quite except hes been critical on more than one occasion of the very law he now uses.

    You’re all ripping apart a strawman by referring to the article itself. I more than anyone here defended him from the beginning. I stand by that. It would be grossly unfair to say or imply this blog has been one sided.

    Debates about hypocrisy, principle and the ‘moral highground’ (whatever that means) are hypothetical, and academic until you do something that causes others to question. Noone is persecuting the man to the nth degree they’re simply seeking to clarify his opinions.

    If anyone on this blog says or acts in a way that is contradictory they’re asked to explain.

    Besides if we’re all hypocrites then Paul Staines blog is redundant.

  76. Kulvinder — on 16th February, 2007 at 12:04 pm  

    i don’t like that word ‘outing’ i must say. gives me the shivers. just cos some people go around blogging using their real name, and it’s a full time job for them, and clearly – their whole life – for some! doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t want to keep our anonymity.

    I don’t think you quite understand dear. Everyone knew who Mark Oaten was. We didn’t mean ‘outed’ in the sense his web persona was revealed. Read that and that

  77. Jagdeep — on 16th February, 2007 at 12:35 pm  

    Are there words to describe what a *@%! this Staines is? Can I be sued or banned if I describe him for the maaderchod he is in Punjabi?

  78. Jagdeep — on 16th February, 2007 at 12:44 pm  

    Yeah Kulvinder, reading those posts about him and Mark Oaten makes me want to puke. What a scumbag.

  79. Jagdeep — on 16th February, 2007 at 12:45 pm  

    Well done Clairwill!

  80. El Cid — on 16th February, 2007 at 1:24 pm  

    Sorry to break ranks, but Oaten deserved to be outed.
    Any man who has that in his closet and yet puts his family in front of the cameras to launch his candidacy, is an increadibly callous and selfish c*nt to the power of 10

    You need to get your morals prioritised.

  81. Katherine — on 16th February, 2007 at 1:42 pm  

    El Cid, I believe that a lot of the criticisms of Guido at the time focussed less on the fact that he claimed to have “outed” Mark Oaten, and more on the fact that in the drunken podcast that he used to do it, he appeared to equate homosexuality with paedophilia. I believe the blame was put on the booze, rather like Mel Gibson’s recent little rant.

  82. Jagdeep — on 16th February, 2007 at 1:45 pm  

    Egg zactly

  83. Leon — on 16th February, 2007 at 2:03 pm  

    Kulvinder @ 61: Excellent! :D

  84. sonia — on 16th February, 2007 at 2:04 pm  

    “If anyone on this blog says or acts in a way that is contradictory they’re asked to explain.”

    huh? whats that supposed to mean? contradictory to what?

  85. sonia — on 16th February, 2007 at 2:05 pm  

    well im entitled to my opinion Kulvinder dearie… :-) perhaps i don’t “understand” – but that’s fine, im happy in my ignorance.

  86. Larry Teabag — on 16th February, 2007 at 2:14 pm  

    Katherine, yes, and

    1. He did not out Oaten, The News of The World did. His contribution was all vanity and self-promotion off the back of someone else’s misery;

    2. he appeared to equate homosexuality with paedophilia. More than that, he and his mate Recess Monkey taunted Oaten with paedo jokes: “Do you know what? I would be quite concerned if I saw him hanging around outside a playground.” “He does have the look of a paedo about him.”, etc. etc. If you can find a more revolting example of kicking someone when they’re down, I’d like to see it.

    3. I believe the blame was put on the booze – not very plausibly since he made the same paedophile smear on two occasions, 10 days apart (see here: http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2006/01/our_legal_advic.asp ).

    Basically he realised that Oaten’s career was screwed, and he wasn’t going to be suing anyone any time soon, so he stuck the boot in.

  87. jailhouselawyer — on 16th February, 2007 at 6:21 pm  

    I don’t fear legal action from Paul Delaire-Staines (aka) Guido Fawkes and have published the Guardian article by David Rose on my website. It is not that I am brave, only that I know that the law has its limitations. For example, it would be very expensive to sue me for libel and as I am a “man of straw” this puts me in a strong position. It is only worth suing somebody who has the money to pay out. Therefore, its publish and be damned. In the unlikely event that the story is libelous and I was ordered to pay damages for harm to reputation, I suspect that the judge would only award the nominal sum of 1p to Delarie-Staines.

  88. douglas clark — on 16th February, 2007 at 8:50 pm  

    There is one odd thing that has come out of this whole sorry saga. Mr Staines seems to be of the view that, because his company is registered in Grenada, or wherever, he is not subject to UK libel law. Given the tale of the Barclay Brothers suing in France because their case was stronger there than here, and the newspaper could be read on line anywhere, I’d have thought that an author publishing in the UK and resident in the UK could be sued as could his publishers? Perhaps our barrack room lawyers could tell me if I’m right or not?

  89. douglas clark — on 16th February, 2007 at 9:07 pm  

    Oops, that didn’t come out right.

    For:

    “Perhaps our barrack room lawyers could tell me if I’m right or not?”

    Please read:

    Perhaps anyone more knowledgeable of the law could tell me if I’m right or not?

    Apologies.

  90. marcuse — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:01 pm  

    “Have none of you noticed that Paul Staines is asian?”

    Did you notice that any leading Afrikaner white supremacists in South Africa had mixed race ancestry?

  91. Rab Trenator — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:04 pm  

    jailhouselawyer @90: what’s your website? I don’t know who Mr Staines is but I just want to read the bloody article now and find out what the fuss is about!

  92. Sunny — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:11 pm  

    I’m afraid I’ve had to take out links to websites publishing the article. You’re welcome to search Technorati or Google Blog search however.

  93. Leon — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:23 pm  

    Rab the answer is closer than you think.

  94. vt Das — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:36 pm  

    sunny: “running vendettas against other bloggers is not my style as I have bigger fish to fry.”

    Talk about Ego.

  95. William — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:39 pm  

    I have searched the net a bit to try and understand what the issue is. If it is what I think it is I don’t understand why the guy can’t just be upfront and honest. Then, if he is not that now he can just say that he is not like that now. If there are distortions or misrepresentations just point them out.
    It just not seems serious enought to warrent libel manouvres.

    “At the end of the day, this boils down to money. The libel laws in the UK are a plaything of the monied – you can’t get legal aid to fight a libel action”

    and it’s crap especially since what a judge may decide can depend so much on interpretation/feeling.

  96. douglas clark — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:52 pm  
  97. Rab Trenator — on 16th February, 2007 at 11:55 pm  

    I just found a copy of The Guardian original article.
    I still cannot see what all the fuss is about, to be honest. Young people do stupid things and Staines is no different. A normal person would just be upfront about it, come clean and then move on.

  98. Clairwil — on 17th February, 2007 at 12:26 am  

    In my opinion the whole thing is a non-story. It’s his reaction that’s made it interesting. Though I suspect that has more to do with ‘blogwars’ than the story itself.

    It’s a shame because he’s rather distracted attention from his fine work on Labour corruption.

    The silly billy.

  99. douglas clark — on 17th February, 2007 at 1:01 am  

    Clairwill,

    I have been thinking for a while about the moment the lawyers would see the blogosphere as lucrative.

    I suppose it was inevitable that letters would be sent, etc. They must have exhausted the ‘whiplash’ scam.

    We police ourselves pretty well. We don’t need lawyers. But lawyers need money. So the obnoxious get their way.

    It’s not the free exchange of ideas I thought I was signing up to. Thanks for being brave, btw.

  100. El Cid — on 17th February, 2007 at 8:54 am  

    Katherine,
    Thank you for the clarification

  101. Alan — on 17th February, 2007 at 11:26 am  

    You quote Justin’s “it’s not libel if it’s provable”.

    My understanding (IANAL) is that that’s not quite right, and in certain circumstances a true (and provable) fact can still be defamatory due to inference. I think the example I once heard was “X celebrity was seen leaving Y rehab clinic”. It’s true, but there’s no proof there that they were actually there for treatment. But people could infer that simply from that line. My memory’s a bit fuzzy on this now, it’s been about 8 years since I was looking at libel laws.

    While not the same as this scenario, it could (highly tenuously) be made into a similar situation. I shaln’t expand for obvious reasons.

    All in all though, I hate libel laws. I’d much rather see all libel laws scrapped with a right of reply enshrined in law. And this is the kind of thing you were trying to offer to GF, who duly turned it down. While I can understand his reasons why, it really really makes him a total hypocrit. Shame, I used to enjoy his blog.

  102. John — on 17th February, 2007 at 11:45 am  

    “In my opinion the whole thing is a non-story. It’s his reaction that’s made it interesting. Though I suspect that has more to do with ‘blogwars’ than the story itself.”

    Just consider a few things:
    (1) It shows he was hanging out in extreme right-wing circles in his student days, and with organisations which had dubious sources of international funding.

    [edited out]

    For someone who spends his time digging dirt on other people this is almost a gold-mine!

  103. Clairwil — on 17th February, 2007 at 2:18 pm  

    John,
    I’m aware of the allegations referred to but some of that isn’t mentioned in the 1986 article.The funding thing, financial activities and drug use aren’t mentioned.

    The activities of the FCS were a bit before my time but from what I’ve read over the years they seem to have been as much about winding up left-wing students as anything else. I don’t think his involvement makes him the devil. At worst he’s someone that’s taken reactionary,lefty baiting a bit far. At best (for GF) the article was total bollocks.

    His reaction has made it look like he’s got something to hide. He’d have been better dealing with it on his blog and moving on. Had he done so I doubt anyone would still be talking about it.

    As for the alleged use of illegal drugs -so what? If he did he certainly wasn’t the only young person in the late eighties and early nineties to do so. Let’s remember he is a blogger, not an elected representative.

  104. Osama Saeed — on 18th February, 2007 at 2:49 pm  

    How come everyone was very brave last year in saying they’d take on the govt by publishing the Al-Jazeera memo, but now noone can publish and article about a blogger?

  105. Sunny — on 18th February, 2007 at 3:17 pm  

    Because that was in the wider public interest and frankly this is not worth that hassle. Go ahead and publish it if you want to Osama, would love to see how good your lawyers are :)

  106. Osama Saeed — on 18th February, 2007 at 3:54 pm  

    Whatever happened to the spirit of Spartacus? :)

  107. El Cid — on 18th February, 2007 at 4:15 pm  

    Spatacus — what a great movie, even if Kubrik refused to put his name to it. It still gives me goosepimples to remember Mrs Spartacus lifting up her baby to the dying, crucified Spartacus at the end: “It’s your son, Spartacus. He’s free.” There’s a tear in my eye now. Only the memory of Michael Thomas in 1989 and of personal family matters do that to me.

  108. Katy Newton — on 18th February, 2007 at 4:25 pm  

    “Your eyes are full of hate. That’s good. Hate keeps a man alive.”

    That wasn’t Spartacus, that was Ben Hur. But it’s the same sort of thing.

  109. Chairwoman — on 18th February, 2007 at 4:42 pm  

    El Cid @ 110. I’m sure that when I saw Spartacus in the cinema, a very long time ago indeed, after Mrs Spartacus held the baby up, she said something along the lines of ‘Now die, my love, please die’. But it’s never in the televised version.

    Did I imagine it?

  110. El Cid — on 18th February, 2007 at 5:11 pm  

    Did she really? i guess it’s a fitting thing to add under the circumstances, makes it a little less maudlin. It’s not quite “job done”, seeing as most of them perished, but some considerable consolation.

    Others might see it as pointless heroism. Maybe I’m old-fashioned. As Osama has hinted at, we live in an age where heroism is looked down upon as something reckless, machista, fake, and possibly illegal. Still, there’s nothing quite like it to stir the soul — as many of our favourite films testify.

  111. Not Saussure — on 18th February, 2007 at 5:50 pm  

    I once heard Jo Brand tell a lovely story on the radio about how she was in a comedy club where one of the performers (presumably the late Eric Douglas) was being given a hard time by hecklers in the audience. He rather rashly said, jokingly, ‘You can’t treat me like this; don’t you realise I’m Kirk Douglas’ son?’.

    One of the hecklers stands up, stretches out his arms and says, ‘No. I am Kirk Douglas’ son!’ Then another one stands up, stretches out his arms and says … and another one…

  112. El Cid — on 18th February, 2007 at 6:24 pm  

    :)

  113. John Christopher — on 18th February, 2007 at 6:46 pm  

    I’ve tried to get an angle on this story and for the sake of me, I’m lost. I must be one stupid motherfucker.

  114. Lobster Blogster — on 20th February, 2007 at 7:41 pm  

    Careless talk costs lives – get busy the corporal is on his way!!!!

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