Bullyfandom: Was TWCuddleston “Harassed”?

Last night I received numerous tweets and articles accusing me of ‘bullying’ the 17 year old appropriator of the #Milifandom hashtag, TWCuddleston* on Twitter. It would indeed be a serious thing had anybody bullied Ms. Cuddleston – bullying is always a scourge, and always wrong. I was planning to wait to write this piece, but even saying that I planned to wait encouraged a round of left-wing pieces such as HuffPo’s amusing “Louise Mensch Suspends ‘Bullying’ Campaign So Milifandom Founder Can Sit Her Exams.”

These accusations of bullying of TW- by me and several others – however, deserve a response, and it’s clear that if I don’t give one, left-wing websites will say that I ‘backed down’ and ‘admit my bullying’ or words to that effect. Therefore, I will put up this reply and thereafter ignore her and those tweeting about her. I blocked her account itself yesterday morning, my time, and therefore cannot see what she is writing.

Ms. Cuddleston was not bullied by me nor, as far as I can see, anybody else from the right, in any way. She  – and her supporters – have, however, claimed truly extraordinary levels of harassment. So in this piece, I examine what this alleged ‘bullying’ consists of.

I wrote about Ms. Cuddleston positively in my Sun column last month, where I examined the different response to her clever campaign and the abuse heaped on a student accused as posing of a schoolgirl to set up the ‘Cameronettes’ account (he didn’t).

SOCIAL media may persuade a few to vote but I doubt it will have much of an impact.

Yet the #Milifandom moment was clever social campaigning from young activists.

A 17-year-old student called Abby started the meme as an attempt to counter the media being mean to Ed. Then student Charlie Evans suggested a #Cameronettes hashtag — and a 13-year-old girl took it up with a Twitter account.

Lefties were soon accusing Evans of being a pervert, pretending to be 13 — and no matter how often he said “no”, they didn’t stop.

At the time, that was what I believed about Ms. Cuddleston. Like most, I noticed the #milifandom hysteria after the hashtag started on April 18 and was trending for a couple of days; Ms. Cuddleston had taken the credit and it was taking off. Shortly after that Labour Party Press Office announced that they had taken over Milifandom’s media affairs. This seemed pretty odd to me and several others – wasn’t MF a spontaneous teenage love-in with Ed Miliband?

I was asked ‘u mad bro’ because the @cameronettes copycat account was said to be fake. I replied, reasonably enough I hope, ‘Let’s see if the kid is real and milifandom is run by Labour press.’ ‘Not it’s not,’ replied @MissLauraMarcus, and another Labour supporter, they and copied in the @TWCuddleston account whom they said was the founder. I’d never heard of, nor sought out Cuddleston; her name was copied in to me.

So I asked a question, and as a reply to a tweet that included TW, her handle was automatically cc’ed in. Was Labour helping? I got two replies. The first was ‘Of course they are, they are trying to win an election.’ The second (from @MissLauraMarcus) was “Have you really sunk so low you are trying to smear a teenager?”

(At this point you can picture me making confused “Hm’roo?” Scooby-Doo noise). You what? Smear a teenager? How? Since that day Labour Press said they were taking over the account, I actually didn’t think Ms. Cuddleston would even be reading her own twitter. This seemed to me a totally legit question. Nobody was being accused of anything – well, other than the male student falsely accused of impersonating a thirteen year old girl and founding @cameronettes, being a pervert etc.

To this, my first question of MF and Labour handling it, I got responses that would become par for the course where Ms. Cuddleston was concerned over the next few weeks: “She’s a young girl doing some of the most important exams of her life!” “Thank you for proving how scared the Tories are of a 17 year old! Get a life, Louise!”.

Note the immediate accusations of bullying, ruining exams etc. @MissLauraMarcus continued to answer the question on behalf of Cuddleston and Labour and in almost every reply accused me of bullying for answering it. No amount of reasoned debate, or even praise for milifandom, could sway her.

It’s a great, well-executed, fun political meme,” I said. “The question is did the party co-ordinate it. If yes, admit.”

(I can certainly see how this brutal grilling and attack-dog style tweeting is a disgrace to feminists everywhere :) ) When Laura replied yet again with more “bullying” attacks, I said “Laura, all I hear is you talking for her and Labour Press who are handling her thing.”

At this point it was already getting wearisome of being accused of bullying for asking this legitimate question, and Laura’s claims of bullying were attracting others. “I’m an elderly lady older and wiser than you,” said one Labour supporter. “What would you call me for joining the #Milifandom?”

A hot babe with a sense of humour?” I replied. “No problems with any in #milifandom – only if Labour co-ordinated it and lied. And even then, the problem is not with the originator but with Labour using her.”

I confess that even upon rereading these tweets, they do not come across to me as inhuman pressure on a politically engaged young woman, or as attacks on the hashtag and its pictures: quite the opposite.

On this day, April 22, when I had accused Ms. Cuddleston of precisely nothing, and indeed praised the MF campaign as a ‘well executed fun political meme’, I got a ton of tweets accusing me of “bullying” her: just a few examples here, here, here, here and here. (My favourite might be “Mensch interrogation again? Wonder how long til the waterboarding #classy”)

However, at this point Ms. Cuddleston did reply to me and it was perfectly friendly.

“They [Labour] didn’t, I can promise you,” she said.

Thank you. Excellent bit of social media campaigning,” I said. ‘Feel like I should now make you a Milifandom-meets-Hiddleston fandom but not good at meme gen :)”

So far, so reasonable on both sides, you might say. But no. This mild response was met with more accusations of being “contemptible” and demanding I set the record straight, which I promised to do:

I’m going to write about the campaign, praising her work, this Sunday in the Sun,” I said, and did so, as excerpted above.

I then forgot about Ms. Cuddleston, as far as I was able to. I was bombarded still with utterly false accusations that I had ‘bullied’ her by asking if Labour press, having taken over her campaign, had assisted it, but I tried not to @ her name in reply. Bullying is a very nasty thing to do, a horrible accusation to have to counter, and clearly, I had not bullied Cuddleston. But I tried to tell myself that she, herself, was not responsible for all these shrieking lefties comparing my question to “water boarding” and crying about “bullying” a young political activist by, er, asking her a question.

During the election campaign I was no longer thinking about Ms, Cuddleston. All of my energies were focused on investigating George Galloway and Respect’s apparent violations of S106 of the Representation of the People Act in Bradford West, and as a columnist, I was particularly interested in Nigel Farage and Thanet South, as well as all the other issues that arose in the campaign from a feminist point of view, like the gender segregated rally in Birmingham organised by Labour.

Milifanmageddon arrived back on my TL when I replied to a tweet by (again) @MissLauraMarcus. It should be said that prior to the milimoment, Laura and I were tweeps, often agreeing on anti-semitism issues, so I frequently notice what she writes, and she had specifically addressed her tweet to me.

Laura asked me if I thought it was unethical that a reporter had knocked on Cuddleston’s door. ‘No it isn’t,’ I said. ‘She isn’t a child.‘ I would ask readers to note that this reply had no period in front of it; it was sent directly to Laura; nobody who didn’t follow both of us would even have read it. ‘Did you fulfill your promise and write about her in the Sun?’ Laura asked, accusing the reporter of ‘going after’ Cuddleston. ‘Yes, last week,’ I replied. There followed a discussion between the two of us and one other tweeter as whether a 17 year old is or is not a child and whether or not they can be asked for an interview. My position was that the press code of conduct wasn’t broken and that Ms. Cuddleston was a minor, not a child. ‘Legally can wed and serve in the Army,’ I pointed out. ‘Perfectly fine.’ Laura wasn’t having it: ‘What would your reaction be if it was a teenage Tory activist doorstepped by the Mirror?‘ she asked, ironically, as it would turn out. We debated the issue between ourselves. I did not @ TWCuddleston’s account at any point, nor was I even publicly tweeting about her; I was having a one-to-one conversation with Laura, visible only to our mutual followers. By this time, I found Cuddleston’s actions very distasteful. She was falsely complaining of harassment by reporters – a very serious charge, enough to get a reporter fired post Leveson, or to blacken their names for simply doing their jobs.

Yet TW’s prior timeline consisted of a massive string of self-glorifying tweets in which she directed her followers to RT her press, or exulted about another opportunity she was getting or mention that she had received. Media – handpicked media – was everywhere. She was first featured in a Buzzfeed interview on the 21st and posted a succession of shrieking tweets of joy about it in ALL CAPS, which she has now deleted


This was followed by “please RT” and “OMG I’m dying” as she exulted with her friends that Buzzfeed had made her famous. It was also followed by a  Guardian interview which TW gave after her tweet saying “No interviews please, I am doing my AS Levels” on the same day


Given also that Labour press had said they controlled her, it was quite possible that requests given in were being ‘curated’ and would not reach her. I saw no problem with a reporter knocking on the family’s doors, requesting an interview and leaving a business card – provided that when and if they got a ‘no’ they left. I had not been there that day, so I can’t say for sure what happened, but on May 2nd and 3rd when Laura asked my opinion on the incident (as publicly described on Twitter), that was it.

However, I was pretty surprised to find that my one to one conversation with Laura had resulted in a seemingly endless stream of stop-bullying-Cuddleston tweets directed at me, when I wasn’t speaking publicly, or even naming or @-ing her. It was probably because Laura added the #milifandom hashtag to this tweet to me:

Bit of advice love… I REALLY wouldn’t go after a very popular 17-year-old. Makes you look mean, nasty & bitter

Well, I thought Cuddleston’s wrong claims against a woman doing her job were disgraceful, and said so to Laura; but I was not tweeting my public TL, mentioning the girl’s name, or @-ing her into the conversation (and Laura had asked me my opinion of the incident). Again, this was apparently “going after” Cuddleston, as by now anything other than fawning praise was deemed to do.

On May 3rd, I was utterly bombarded by hundreds of “Don’t bully the milifandom founder” tweets; they were  by now beyond tiresome. But I was also perplexed as to where they had come from. Were I and Laura Marcus so interesting as all that? I saw it as a left-wing attempt to stop me tweeting all day long on #EdStone, which was the story of that day and (joy!) proved even more successful as a vote-influencing meme than #Milifandom.

Not til the end of the day on May 3, therefore, did I  check out Cuddleston’s timeline: Mystery solved:

Just an open message to Louise Mensch. I don’t care what you think. Thanks.

This had got 300 RTs, and presumably explained the tsunami of “stop-bullying-TW” tweets. As Ms. Cuddleston had not @-ed me, I had no idea she was talking about me, as I have never followed her on Twitter. A bit late therefore I replied to her:

just an open message to you. We have something in common. I don’t care what you think, either.

But Ms. Cuddleston was not done. She was deconstructing my conversation with Laura Marcus (remember, I’d been asked for my opinion on the reporter by Laura) for her followers on the left:

According to Louise Mensch, I am “asking for press.” Oh clearly, practically begging you to knock on my nans door.

She included the tweet of herself saying ‘no press’ because she had exams. But as I had discussed with Laura, her actions indicated a firm desire for press, even a relish for it, in my opinion, and the press code tweeted at me showed a division in the code between approaching children under 16 and those older minors.
It is also worth saying that @TWCuddleston’s supporters repeatedly claiming that she is “a child” are wrong in law. Under S 107 of the Children and Young Person’s Act, a “child” is under 14. Those over 14 and under 18 are defined as a “Young Person.
  • Child” means a person under the age of fourteen years;…..young person” means a person who has attained the age of fourteen and is under the age of eighteen years.”

This distinction is also in the IPSO press code, which treats those under 16 differently from those over 16 (the age of consent). TW herself argued she should have the vote at 16. So, not a child then. A young person.
Apart from my reply to Cuddleston, however, I still took care not to @ her directly. From the first non-threatening question, literally everything thrown her way had been called bullying. The difference for me pre May 2nd, was that I tried not to ascribe that false accusation to Cuddleston herself. After May 2nd I was pretty disgusted to see her making what based on public description of the incident  was not at all harassment into harassment. Having sat on the hacking inquiry on the Select Committee, I know what a severe and solid charge it would be had a newspaper bullied, threatened or otherwise harassed a young woman doing her exams; and the reporter in question would be a pariah. It was a serious thing indeed Cuddleston said this woman had done to her. And therefore at this point I started actually looking at the activist’s TL to see what had really happened versus the persecution that she claimed happened – and as somebody wholly falsely accused of being a “bully” to Cuddleston, I was now reading her claims with a skeptical eye.
And woah, did TW make some claims. She hysterically demanded ‘answers’ from Rupert Murdoch as to why reporters had turned up at her door and tracked her down. She praised herself for standing up to Murdoch. She tweeted at former AG Emily Thornberry of white van fame who also tweeted in all caps “Rupert Murdoch call off your dogs.” And this was May 2nd! A long time after TW had tweeted ‘no interviews’ before giving one to the Guardian! Have these people no respect…?
But then TW’s air of sanctity started to unravel a little bit. It emerged she had tweeted, then deleted, a photograph showing TWO reporters’ cards – one with the Sunday Mirror on it. When called out on that, she hastily said that all press intrusion was wrong. Reporters stated they did not believe her. ‘It’s just that you are going on a rant without mentioning  the Labour supporting Mirror who also contacted.”
TW excused the Mirror with the very odd excuse that “Mirror however contacted after part of my location had been revealed.” What did that mean? Part of my location? She was accusing the Sun reporter by repeatedly questioning all and sundry how the reporter could possibly legitimately have obtained her address. Sadly for her, this was a ‘harassment’ accusation too far. A bunch of different journalists either rebuked her, or, as supporters, attempted to set her straight: these are not ‘Tory scum’ but Labour supporting writers with Tony Benn in the bio.
Urgh. @twcuddleston reporter bashing is a bit tiring. If reporters weren’t rude and just knocked the door what’s the problem?

@twcuddleston before they came around did you give any other journalists or political party members any identifying details?

@twcuddleston It’s easy to do, tbh, social media footprint, couple of surnames then check electoral register, phone data. Nothing illegal.

@twcuddleston @JonDennis @rupertmurdoch Journalists in following-up-well-publicised-story-and-trying-to-interview-someone-involved shocker.

@twcuddleston Of course not! But not illegal to try to interview you either. Addresses are easy to find lots of ways – basic journalism.

@sarahlansell @twcuddleston Depends. Not sthg I’ve had to do a lot myself but I’ve found people eg from first name, context plus Googling.


But of course, Ms. Cuddleston was not interested in that – she wished to claim major persecution (but only from the disliked media group).

“Please Retweet! Shame on you @rupertmurdoch. Call off your dogs & leave @twcuddleston,17 yr old creator of & her family alone!

  •  Said Emily Thornberry, former Labour Cabinet minister. Once again, the Labour party are handling TW’s press.

This description of a reporter who knocked on TW’s door, was polite and friendly (by TW’s own account), left her card, and left – as a “dog” – finally brought a few protesting journalists into the open. “Slight overreaction?” asked Isabel Oakshott mildly. “Sounds like legitimate pursuit of a story, unless there’s something I’m missing.” She was one of many to suggest that electoral roll look up of the parents and googling could have brought up the address. With immense hypocrisy, @MsJenniferJames, who we see above telling TW ‘nobody is out to get you’ on the identical issue, now , tells Oakshott “Either through stupidity or malice you’re attempting to provoke a child. Do one.” “Zzzz,” Oakshott responded (hooray). By this time, TW had twice posted the Sun reporter’s phone number in two separate tweets (both now deleted). In the first picture, she uses the Sun reporter’s details to obscure the name of a Mirror card. In the second, she removes the Mirror card altogether, clearly displaying the reporter’s number yet again. Advice to remove a phone number is, once more, ‘harassment.’ A lawyer who points out to her that under the law she is not a child, and that she supports votes for 16 year olds whilst calling herself a child, is accused of not only harassment, but sexual perversion.

Meanwhile that night, a mentally disturbed woman going by the handle @SherbetLemon1 – her profile said she had PTSD – was telling TW she could be “sued”. Everybody around her, including Peter Jukes, was assuring her what utter nonsense that was:

https://twitter.com/peterjukes/status/594663964258238464 Murdoch never sues.

Yet the next night, as I argued with him – again, not with Cuddleston directly – Jukes was trying to claim mysterious and non-existent “legal threats”, as if they had come from a journalist, or somebody connected to the paper that asked Cuddleston for an interview. Jukes knew full well that literally nobody other than the poor mentally ill woman, whom TW’s fans ironically bullied off Twitter altogether, had ever suggested she would be sued or attacked.

So, there we have it. Nobody ‘harassed’ TW Cuddleston. Some reporters disagreed with her, and were characterized as a “baying pack of tabloid hounds” when they were lefties working at the Oxford Mail, for example, by Jukes. Cuddleston displayed extraordinary hypocrisy as she twice doxxed a reporter, then ranted for days against non-existent “bullying” by the Murdoch empire. Cuddleston excerpted a one-to-one tweet conversation I’d had with her supporter and broadcast it to her followers, to feed a victim complex when she wasn’t even being named, @’ed, or publicly addressed. Cuddleston  claimed that the Mirror were somehow less guilty than the Sun because “part of my location” had been revealed even when her address had not. Cuddleston stated that her tweet saying ‘no interviews’ mattered, then totally contradicted herself as her May 2-3rd rant about a polite interview request showed a text from her Dad (posted by her) dated April 22 – the same day as her tweet, and the same day that despite it she was talking to the Guardian. In all likelihood then, the Sun reporter could have left to knock on Cuddleston’s door as or before that tweet was made – she would have been traveling and unlikely to see it – whereas the “days later” Mirror reporter must, by definition, have known full well she had “requested” no interviews.

Not only myself, but any person disagreeing with Cuddleston was falsely accused of harassment or trolling of a young woman who is not a child under either IPSO or the Children and Young Person’s Act, and who can already vote in some UK elections, like the Scottish referendum, had she lived there.

And Cuddleston had sunk to the level of tens of hysterical tweets against a woman who – by her own account – did her job politely, in a friendly way, and simply left a card – whilst casting herself as the scourge of the evil empire – and yet not @ -ing even one single tweet to the Mirror group, who had committed the identical “offence” only days after her ‘no interviews’ tweet was made, not on the same day.

Harassment IS serious. Bullying IS serious. The reporter did not do it to Cuddleston, nor did I, nor did anyone else. The lawyer who pointed out her status as a ‘young person’ not a child said he received “hundreds” of abusive tweets from her fans… “worse than UKIP,” was his amusing verdict.

In the same conversation in which a left-wing journalist fan of TW’s was accusing Isabel Oakshott of “stupidity or malice, attempting to provoke a child”, the journalist Katie Glass also dared to venture an opinion, and I think it’s a good one on which to end:

@HadleyFreeman @LouiseMensch I resisted criticising her because she’s young. But can she be in public debate but outside comment?!

@PatrickStrud @HadleyFreeman @LouiseMensch complicated though. Can someone expect to express+ influence opinion but remain outside comment?

No. They can’t. Absolutely nobody has harassed Ms TW Cuddleston. I think she has an enormous future ahead of her in the Labour party. I do not mean that as a compliment.


* Yes, I realise this is not her real name. As she has said that my engaging with her ‘makes her cry’ I will simply use her Twitter handle for this piece. I do not care who she is or what her real name is; it isn’t relevant to the principle of whether or not a 17 year old can be debated by an adult. Also in order not to ‘make her cry’, I will close comments on the blog, and will not respond to her nor to any of her surrogates on Twitter. Although she has not been a child since she was 14, if she wishes to be treated like one, I can accommodate her.

Axis of Evil J

Galloway’s Staffer, The Serjeant-At-Arms and Release of Parliamentary Data

Yesterday the news broke that IPSA, the Parliamentary regulators, having reviewed two complaints against George Galloway, the former MP for Bradford West, had referred them to the police.

It goes without saying that a referral is neither a conviction nor even a prosecution. But it does mean that Ms. Ali Khan’s complaint cannot be described as trivial, and that Parliament’s watchdog body agreed with her that there was a case the police should look at. Her lawyers, in statements, described ‘thousands of pages’ worth of evidence. Much of this evidence I have seen myself. Ms. Ali-Khan approached me last year and asked me to look at her case and see if I could help her.

As a footnote to the various articles, it was added in that I had also made a complaint which had been referred. The assumption by journalists was that I had complained on the same grounds. That assumption was incorrect.

Tom Newton-Dunn in the Sun broke the story that there was a pre-existing investigation by police into possible data protection offences which is currently being investigated after ‘a third party made a complaint’ in March. That third party was me.

On the same day that I made a complaint to the Metropolitan Police, I made an expenses-based complaint to IPSA against Mr. Galloway. This complaint, IPSA told me yesterday, they have also referred to the police (on the expenses grounds under which I made it).

It has nothing to do with how Mr. Galloway used the time of Ms. Ali Khan when she worked for him.

It has to do with how one of Mr. Galloway’s then parliamentary staff, Mr. Rob Hoveman, used his parliamentary email address and may have used parliamentary equipment and facilities, to seek data about Ms. Ali-Khan from various sources – including her parliamentary data as a House of Commons employee from the Serjeant at Arms, and including her Muslim divorce certificate – and passed that data to the Guardian newspaper.

If indeed this did happen with Mr. Galloway’s knowledge, it would be an appalling misuse of the powers, funds and office of an MP against a private citizen of the UK.

I regarded that as wrong both on grounds of data protection and on grounds of use of expenses.

My complaint to IPSA was rather different than Ms. Ali-Khan’s in that it did not contain thousands of pages of evidence. It contained one page of evidence – the email sent to me by the staffer in question from his then parliamentary email address, which I reproduce here, redacted as to references to third parties to protect their privacy:


From: Louise Mensch
Sent: 18 July 2014 16:45
Subject: Press Enquiry: Aisha Ali-Khan personal information

Dear Mr. Hoveman,

My name is Louise Mensch, and I am a journalist who writes for the Sun newspaper.

I have heard allegations that you improperly requested personal information on Ms. Ali Khan from the Serjeant-At-Arms, and that you passed on private and personal information about her to the Guardian newspaper.

Can you tell me if either of those allegations are true?

[redacted – questions about other allegations not relevant to this case]

I hope to receive a reply very shortly from you as to your personal actions relating to Ms. Ali-Khan’s data. If I do not receive one, I will send a Freedom of Information request to your office, to IPSA, and to the Serjeant-At-Arms’ office.

I will be most grateful for a contact to whom I should put my questions about Mr. Galloway, and/or if there is a direct and private email by which I can contact Mr. Galloway, or a good time at which I can speak to him directly.

I will give your office until this coming Monday, at 5pm, to respond to me.

Yours sincerely,

Louise Mensch


 Email received in reply:

Dear Ms Mensch,

I would not normally respond to any approach from a “Sun journalist” given what an atrocious paper the Sun is. I only have to recall the grotesque insult this paper made to the victims and the families of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster to feel almost physically sick at the thought of dealing with someone from this particularly unpleasant part of the gutter press. Nonetheless, I think it is incumbent on me to correct the tissue of lies and disinformation that you have been fed regarding matters concerning Aisha Ali-Khan.


Ms Ali-Khan was employed by George Galloway between April 1st and December 10th 2012 when she was summarily dismissed for gross misconduct. She was suspended from work on October 14th 2014. A police investigation into her activities and those of her lover former Detective Inspector Afiz Khan followed concerns raised in parliament and directly with the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and the Home Secretary. The result of this investigation was the summary dismissal of Afiz Khan from the Metropolitan Police and the conviction of both Afiz Khan and Aisha Ali-Khan for criminal offences. The two will be jointly sentenced on 31st July this year.


[redacted as reference to 3rd party]

On October 19th 2012, the Guardian published an article largely based upon the testimony of Aisha Ali-Khan. We raised objection to the bias in this and another article published on 15thOctober by the same journalist. In response to this complaint we received a reply from the then Managing Editor of the Guardian, Elisabeth Ribbans. In that response reference was made to the Guardian journalist having been shown information contained in Aisha Ali-Khan’s Security Vetting Questionnaire which Aisha Ali-Khan had been obliged to complete in order to receive her security pass giving her access to the parliamentary estate.


The specific claim made by Ms Ribbans was that the SVQ contained details of Afiz Khan as her spouse. Subsequently it was established that an Islamic but not civil marriage between Aisha Ali-Khan and Afiz Khan in 2009 had been followed by an Islamic divorce in 2010 confirmed by a Sharia Council. In the light of this information, I raised with Serjeant at Arms concerns about aspects of the security vetting of Ms Ali-Khan. Serjeant at Arms wrote back to me saying that the SVQ contained no reference to a serving police officer, from which I concluded that there was a prima facie contradiction between what Ms Ribbans had written to us in 2012 and the information provided to me by Serjeant at Arms in 2014. Naturally I raised this apparent contradiction with the Readers’ Editor at the Guardian, who is, for your information, a kind of Guardian ombudsman. His investigations into this matter are currently ongoing, but as a Sun journalist, you will no doubt be aware of just how serious a misdemeanour it would be for a journalist to fail to check the veracity and the credibility of a source properly, and even worse give false information regarding the checking of the veracity and credibility of a source, when false information could cost a newspaper very dearly.


As regards any potential breach of the Data Protection Act, I would say this. The divorce certificate confirmed by Sharia Council [redacted for a reference to a third party ]are documents in the public domain not covered either by the Data Protection Act or legal privilege. Serjeant at Arms sought advice from Speaker’s counsel before responding to me. I cannot imagine that any breach of the Data Protection Act would have occurred in such circumstances. I raised my concerns in the light of the information provided by Serjeant at Arms privately and in confidence to the Guardian Readers’ Editor. I am extremely surprised that any legitimate party to my exchanges with the Guardian Readers’ Editor would then have shared any or all of that information with the likes of a “Sun journalist”.


I trust this will correct some of the misinformation and misrepresentation to which you have been subject and ensure that you do not waste any more of your or my time on this particularly fruitless line of enquiry. As for other matters of which I have no knowledge but which relate to George Galloway and the Respect Party, I would advise you email your questions to, respectively, george.galloway.mp@parliament.uk in the former case and contact@respectparty.org in the latter.

Yours sincerely,

Rob Hoveman



Ms. Ali Khan provided me with a copy of her SVQ form. It is absolutely clear on the form that the data an employee provides thereon can only be used for parliamentary purposes. This is written on the form itself. I am unsure about the legality of reproducing a parliamentary data form, even a blank one, so at this stage I am not going to do so. However, that warning is written on the form. I do not believe that when the Serjeant-At-Arms sought advice from Speaker’s Counsel they knew that the intention was to give this data to a newspaper. Be that as it may, I nonetheless believe this was not proper and hence my twin complaints.

As to whether this Muslim woman’s private religious documentation was covered by the Data Protection Act, I am not sure. That it would be improper to use parliamentary time and resources to seek this out on a private citizen and pass it to a newspaper, I most certainly believe. Eagle-eyed readers will note that that is not the first time allies of Mr. Galloway have used a Muslim woman’s religious documentation against her.

Clearly, I am stating here that I believe expenses were wrongly used and data was wrongly passed on. It is for the police to decide if they agree that is so. What I can confirm is that the police did decide to investigate my data protection complaint of March 25, and that IPSA did refer my expenses complaint, that of improper use of staff time of this staffer on Ms. Ali Khan, on separate grounds to the Met, yesterday.

I should say that when I put various allegations to Mr. Galloway directly, his lawyers responded to me. One of my questions was if he knew of or approved of the actions of his staffer in the matter of Aisha Ali Khan’s information. Although his lawyers answered several of my questions, they declined to answer this one either to confirm or to deny it.

I am grateful to IPSA for looking into my expenses complaint and referring it to the Metropolitan Police. Despite Mr. Galloway describing me as part of a “New York-Tel Aviv axis of evil,” I will not be deterred in my reporting.

(as the matter concerns one ongoing police investigation, and possibly another should the Met Police decide to take up IPSA’s expenses referral, I am closing comments on the blog today).


Advice to Ex-MPs

My sympathies to every MP who lost their seat, except George Galloway, over whose loss I rejoice with all my heart.

When I resigned my seat, for reasons I will never be able to be wholly forthcoming about, the Labour supporter and rugby legend Brian Moore reached out to me on Twitter and advised me to get counseling for the traumatic loss. He compared it to the effect on athletes after their careers finish, after they win, or lose, an Olympic medal say, and then life reverts to normal.

For all MPs, Westminster is a high-stress, high-octane environment. It is full of hard work and excitement. Life there is lived on the edge. You devote your life to public service, the public detest you, and then you lose your seat and for many, a great chunk of your life’s significance in the public eye. In that way, this post could be for anybody who loses a big job, a sports career, or other professional role. [Edited to add – the same applies to MPs staff who lose their jobs, to councillors and several police officers and servicemen/women have tweeted to say it applies to them too – even losing candidates who are no longer PPCs].

For the first year after resigning I thought I was cracking up*. No wonder how much I talked to myself, was sensible and got on with life, my subconscious had other ideas; I had a Parliament-related dream almost every night for a year. It was pretty awful.

In the end, the way I put it behind me was twofold. Firstly, and most importantly, I was able to replace Parliament with another job that is hugely significant to me and which has a component of mission. That’s the single biggest lesson. Secondly, I rededicated myself to political and Conservative activism, on Twitter, with opinion columns, and with this blog which, in the case of Mr. Galloway, I believe has had some impact. I truly flung myself at the campaign and targeted effort on Bradford West (as a feminist and principled case) and South Thanet. If you are Labour or a Tory or a LibDem you are likely a true believer. Remain a true believer and get to work.

However there are also short-term things you can do, and here’s what I think ex-colleagues ought to do for themselves now, in order.

1. Acknowledge that the full impact of this loss will not hit you for several months.

2. Firstly, get the tasks out of the way that need doing – write to your team and thank them all.

3. If possible, take a short break away with friends or a loved one.

4. Do not ruminate. You get more of what you focus on. Ask yourself constantly ‘What’s next for me?’ and have several answers. It will be a long five years til the next election. Do not think in terms now of another seat, but a different job and role. [Adding – psychologically, fixating on a new seat, or other identical role to the one you just lost, is really an attempt to wind back the clock and “fix” what just happened – that cannot be done, so a new role at least for a year or so is wise].

5. Acknowledge you will be prone to depression. The way to combat this is to spend a lot of time outside, especially as the summer comes up. Take up meditation, I recommend the app “Simply Being” here. The effects of meditation, which is 20 minutes clearing the mind of thoughts, are medically proven. Go for walks in green spaces; the countryside, and parks. There are benefits to losing your seat. You have time for yourself, your family, your friends.

6. Take up an exercise programme however moderate. Exercise diminishes stress and produces endorphins not just in the moment, but long-term. It is clinically effective for mild to moderate depression and is a preventative of depression. As you may develop depression it is VERY important to start this at once. Go for a brisk walk or a jog tomorrow and repeat every day, if physically able to do so. You will lose weight, look better and your self-esteem will improve and this will have a knock-on effect of further moderating any sadness.

7. Alcohol is a depressant. Stay away from cheap joy. Try very hard to go for a dry May-June while you regroup. [Adding – as you will be sad you will be more vulnerable to alcohol abuse – that will stop you exercising and being in the sunlight – stay well clear for a month or so] See a therapist if you need to, too.

8. See a lot of comedies. Go to museums, enjoy yourself.

9. Reinvention of the physical self must however be matched with the sensible realization that you will never get over it until you have something as good or better in your life. Look for a job, a charity, a role, that  can replace the adrenaline and octane of Parliament. We are all Type A. Don’t kid yourselves on that one.

10. Tell yourself the truth – you did something important in your life and the only ones who never suffer a defeat are those who never join the field of battle. You should be proud of your public service, and whether you stand again or not in the future, these summer days will not come your way again, nor these fallow years. Do not waste them – go and build a new world and climb a new mountain. We are more than what we do. Be more than your job; be a person and tie your self-esteem to your efforts, not the results of your efforts. You can control the former, not the latter.

PS – I was deadly serious about the magic bullet of exercise, fresh air and green spaces. One of the easiest wins, most in your own control, and implementable instantly, is to get on the scales and then go build a better, stronger, healthier body. New achievements are the antidote to ruminating and looking back. I might add that while you pursue a big new job, which takes time, you can also usefully add other achievements such as learning a language which is an immediate challenge and gives you something to pursue. I loved learning German and Italian with Pimsleur, which are half hour a day audio lessons on iTunes that test you as you listen. Walk in the park while learning French – it gives you a sense of power and achievement right away; after one big role you need new challenges and goals while you try to land the next one.


* “cracking up” here relates to my persistent dreams rather than my mental health in general. I was able to stave off depression by flinging myself into exercise and fitness in New York as I advise in this blog. Once you have become depressed it is hard to get out and exercise, so the key thing is to get going before it hits.

Open letter

The Tainted Election in Bradford West: Part Three

The relentless smear campaign against the personal character of Naz Shah, Labour candidate for Bradford West, has continued apace, and indeed intensified over the past weekend.

With, apparently, no attempt at contacting Ms. Shah in advance to put their character smear allegations to her – a violation of basic press ethics – the Asian Sun, a free newspaper widely read among Bradford’s Asian community, published two articles falsely attacking Ms. Shah on the basis of her character. This was long-planned by the paper’s editor, Fatima Patel, who along with Ratna Lachman, the moderator of the hustings at which George Galloway was allowed to call Naz Shah a liar and wave her Nikkah around, has repeatedly slurred the character of Naz Shah by falsely stating that she made a personal attack on George Galloway at the first Bradford hustings – and therefore, Mr. Galloway’s wild character slurs against Ms. Shah were two sides of the same coin.

The first piece in the paper included this character smear by Fatima Patel in her “open letter to Bradford West Constituents”. I have asked Ms. Patel if she can sustain her charge that Naz Shah personally attacked the character of George Galloway, before publishing this article – which is more journalistic notice than she gave Ms. Shah. She has not replied.

Instead what I was getting was a Naz Shah and George Galloway engaged in a highly personal attack and counter-attack against each other

She adds:

I have felt despair watching people from outside the district taking to social media in the Shah versus Galloway mud-slinging match.

Yet again, Patel repeats her smear on Naz Shah’s character, stating that Ms. Shah has based her campaign on ‘personal attacks’:

However, my problem lies when both Galloway and Shah are defining their campaigns in terms of personal attacks against each other rather than giving us an agenda for positive change.

In fact, this is a wholly false accusation. Ms. Shah’s opening remarks at the hustings made no personal attacks on George Galloway at all; she made political attacks on his absentee record in Bradford West, and his high outside earnings. (Mr. Galloway votes and speaks the least of any active MP in the House of Commons, and is one of the highest outside earners). The local paper, the Bradford Telegraph and Argus, covered this pretending Ms. Shah’s wholly political remarks were a personal attack and they entirely omitted Mr. Galloway’s brandishing Shah’s nikkah and calling her a liar on her forced marriage.

Ms. Shah’s remarks can be seen here. Slide cursor to 3:43. Here is a transcript:

I was going to talk about our absentee MP, but he’s here – and I remembered it’s election time. Bradford deserves better. I believe Bradford West needs a Labour government, and a Labour MP. Let’s be clear about a few things for Bradford West. This government has been a complete disaster for the schoolchildren in Bradford. They have taken out the money where we needed it the most, and spent it on free schools. Not only that, it is also worth pointing out that Labour put forward a motion for targeting of schools funding, so that we could target the funds where we needed it the most. But our absentee MP wasn’t there to cast his vote on that one. For children and families, we need a Labour government, because we are committed to increasing free childcare from 15 to 25 hours, capping class sizes for six and seven year olds, and abolishing the free schools status. Bradford deserves better. We need a Labour government for families because under the Coalition, every family is worse off by £1100. We are committed to increasing the minimum wage, increasing the minimum wage over the term of the next parliament to £8, freezing energy bills, and we will be doubling paternity leave. [applause] We need a Labour government, because the average weekly take-home pay in Bradford is approximately £360. That’s low in comparison to everywhere else, where it’s over £500 a week. Bradford deserves better! We have a coalition government which has failed miserably to reduce the deficit as promised. I tell you, my three year old could hit the back of that net better than the Coalition government! The only table Bradford West has gone up in, since the coalition, is the employment table. What we will do, a Labour government, is put £6bn through the L.E.Ps, through the ‘LEP’s, to spread that money from central government. So that £6bn will come to us to decide where we want to spend it the most, so nobody in London is telling us how we need to grow out community – our businesses. 99% of businesses are small businesses. For every one corporation tax cut that the Tories are offering, 17 small businesses will grow, will flourish. That’s where we need to put our investment. Over the last three years, Bradford West has been badly served. We have an absentee MP, and for me, the role of the MP is to be Bradford West’s voice in Parliament. But he’s never there, because he’s too busy earning loads elsewhere.

This opening speech is almost entirely about Labour policies for Bradford West and attacks on the Coalition government. At no point whatsoever does Naz Shah, as Fatima Patel accuses her, ‘sling mud’ at George Galloway or attack him personally. Her points about his outside earnings and absentee voting record are both fact-based and purely political.

In additional to the character smear against Ms. Shah, one repeated by Ratna Lachman of Just West Yorkshire in a blog post she has now hastily deleted, that Ms. Shah has personally attacked George Galloway, Fatima Patel willfully lies about Naz Shah’s politics. Under the law, this is not illegal, as the Woolas judgement made clear. It is however, disgraceful.

However despite the elections being imminent, I am still none the wiser about Naz Shah’s policy platform.

Well then, it is clear she did not listen to Ms. Shah at the first hustings or at any of the subsequent hustings. Indeed, Ms. Patel’s bias in writing this tripe is abundantly clear from her tweets and Facebook posts praising all candidates for ‘sticking to issues’ at other hustings, in which she clearly states she has heard nothing but policy from Naz Shah and all the candidates:

Fatima Patel policy J

Fatima Patel also falsely states in her article

Although Shah has made the issue of her childhood and her forced marriage prominent, I have not known her to champion the issue despite the fact that it has blighted so many women’s lives in Bradford.

This is false on its face. Ms. Patel has known Ms. Shah’s campaigning on women’s rights issues all too well. She has published work by her about the matter in her own paper.

Indeed, the character slur with which Ms. Patel seeks to influence the election in Bradford West – that Naz Shah used personal attacks and mud-slinging against George Galloway – is matched by her knowingly false political slurs. Her ‘open letter’ states:

As a Bradford voter I was looking for someone who has an action plan for getting inner-city Bradford out of the bottom of the educational league tables; someone who has a business and jobs growth-plan for the district;

As eagle-eyed readers will note, these issues are exactly and precisely the ones addressed by Naz Shah in her opening speech at the first hustings; education, schools, business and jobs, with solutions offered for all of them.

So much for the disgusting ‘Open Letter to Bradford West Constituents’ in which Ms. Patel smears the character of Ms. Shah.

The Asian Sun has a second article, which I will not link to, as it contains malicious falsehood and defamation of my character; I can confirm that contrary to public interest journalism, the paper never contacted me in advance for a response to the heinous lies they printed about my attitude to men of Pakistani heritage, intended to defame me to a BME community; they made no checks with me against the malicious falsehood they published about me.

The article is about Naz Shah. It attacks and falsely smears her personal character of Naz Shah, again, accusing her of lying about her upbringing and her false marriage. It attacks her mother Zoora Shah, saying that Ms. Shah senior was not being abused by her bigamist husband Abid Shah, and yet the account it gives of Ms. Shah’s childhood confirms Zoora and her children’s appalling suffering at the hands of Abid Shah.

In a stunning passage that seeks to justify the hellish emotional abuse heaped on Zoora Shah by her then husband, the writer Anne Czernik describes Abid Shah as ‘the handsome business man’ who was courting a 15 year old underage girl when he was 29, and married to Zoora Shah who had young children:

She [Nasim Shah, the second wife and widow of Abid Shah] said Abid and Zoora Shah lived next door with their two young children. Naz, his much loved daughter was about six years old when Abid noticed Nasim. She said Abid told her “they had their problems but he didn’t set out to have a relationship with me.”   Nasim said “Abid said he liked me. He was showing me some attention which I hadn’t got when I was young. I was flattered. He was 29, I was 15. He would come to our house to eat “

The handsome business man told her that his marriage to Zoora had been arranged.

It is utterly sickening that grooming of an underage girl should be described in this way. “I was 15.” Whether or not there was sexual intercourse, the 15 year old child was too young for an adult relationship and too young to “marry”. It is admitted that Abid proposed to Nasim “on her sixteenth birthday he went down on one knee.”

The article further describes Nasim as “married” to Abid when Zoora Shah was still his only legal wife; it excuses his bigamy; it describes Abid as “He had sold his business and risked his life for the young woman he loved.”

Certainly it seems that Nasim Shah, as well as Naz Shah, was to be forced into “marriage” in Pakistan by her family, and of this, she too was a victim. But Nasim was not at all the wife of Abid Shah at that time in any legal way. A hellish situation for Zoora Shah and her children is described, albeit in terms seeking to exculpate the bigamist husband who required his wife and children to live with his teenage fiancee in the same house (Zoora and Abid Shah were not legally divorced until several years after he took up with his teenage partner). The abusive bigamist’s brother, Zaf Shah, describes Zoora Shah as being forced to borrow a deposit from a friend of her father-in-law’s, dependent, clearly, on the family of her husband who was now in a bigamous relationship with a teenage girl. The torment that Zoora must have been put through is hard to imagine.

The article quotes Zaf Shah repeating the character slur against Naz Shah that George Galloway made on Twitter about the hustings: that Ms. Shah is a racist, and that she is giving the account of her own forced marriage, and her hellish childhood at the hands of his bigamist brother, to smear the community. He is quoted as saying:

 “This isn’t about Respect or the Labour Party. This is about not duping the people if you are going to stand in a position of influence. I accept that people have a past. But you don’t play to all the horrible stereotypes of Pakistani men.”

Here then, Mr. Shah accuses Naz Shah of lying “duping the people” and of being a racist “you don’t play to all the horrible stereotypes of Pakistani men.”  This is an attack on the personal character of a candidate in a General Election, made to influence the result of that election. It uses the same form of words George Galloway used when he falsely slandered Ms. Shah as a racist.


Nasim Shah, however, needs further examination. Firstly and simply, she too has attacked the personal character of Naz Shah in an attempt to influence the result of the General Election: she has spread the smear site against her ex-husband’s daughter. Here is a screenshot from 31 March from her Facebook in which she does so. On this basis I have filed a report against Nasim Shah to the police.

Nasim smear sitte 2 J

This is completely incontrovertible evidence that Nasim Shah has spread the repellent smear site against Naz Shah.

However, Ms. Nasim Shah’s public slurs on Naz Shah’s character predate March 31. On March 11 she posted to Facebook that ‘Maybe it’s time to go to her level’

Nasim shah level J

and on March 10th she posted:

Nasim 3 J

On the Facebook of the Respect sock puppet ‘David Humphreys’ whom I believe to be a lawyer connected to the Respect Party she was allowed to post staying that Naz Shah was lying about being forced into her marriage:

Nasim shah on DH TL J


Meanwhile the smear site itself has separate tags – Naz Shah and Nasim Shah, despite the fact that Nasim Shah is never mentioned by name in the text anywhere:

Nasim shah tags 2 J


The site has been re-created on WordPress, and under the wordpress blog are some sock puppet comments. If you click on one of them you will find the smear site under another url. Within the home url there is a sub url that contains the word ‘Nasim’. Again, the name ‘Nasim’ is not mentioned anywhere in the text of the smear blog:

Bradford West Nasim in URL J


Whether or not Nasim Shah co-operated in the writing of the horrifically abusive smear site, I do not know. That she has personally smeared the character of Naz Shah in order to influence the result of a general election is however absolutely certain, as she has shared the smear site on her Facebook directly. The fact that the Asian Sun has chosen to co-operate with a woman who has personally shared the smear site against Naz Shah is also repellent, as is their description of the grooming of a 15 year old child and their defence of the emotional abuse Zoora Shah suffered at the hands of her bigamist husband and his father. I have asked Fatima Patel in person and the Asian Sun as a newspaper if they can sustain their false allegations against the character of Naz Shah, or if they contacted her for comment or rebuttal before publishing this wretched hit piece with its slanders of racism and lying made by her uncle. They had an opportunity to comment and rebut that they did not afford the Labour candidate, contrary to any public interest journalism defence. I am adding all the individuals whom I believe have breached S106 of the representation of the people act to my criminal complaints to West Yorkshire Police. It is to be hoped that the Electoral Commission will do a better job in Bradford West than they did in Tower Hamlets.


The Ashcroft Polls and UKIP’s Non-Voter Problem

A short one this.

There have been three sets of constituency polls lately which I believe, taken as a whole, look bad for UKIP. The first is the ComRes polling across UKIP target seats, including both Thurrock and South Thanet. It showed the party third overall in those seats, second to Labour, on 21% to the Tories’ 39%. UKIP complain that some seats polled are not their targets, but it also included Grimsby, where Labour have a significant lead. The overall numbers for the Conservatives therefore, are going to be a lot better.

This matched up with the ‘buried’ Thanet poll showing Farage losing to Craig MacKinlay, the Conservative candidate. (No poll has ever shown Labour leading in Thanet).

UKIP’s bacon seemed to be saved in Thanet when Survation, the pollster that previously gave them an outlier lead there, did so again with a poll giving them 39%. Its raw numbers had them on 35% before weighting.

Lord Ashcroft came in with a third poll that included two UKIP marginals. It showed Mark Reckless would lose Rochester and Strood but gave a narrow lead to UKIP in Thurrock.

How can we explain such wild discrepancies?

I asked his Lordship a question, having looked at the data-set, and he said he would dig into it, so I’m hopeful of maybe getting a response. It seems to me that the difference in the numbers comes down to how you count people who have not voted in the past election.

It is axiomatic in polling that those who have not voted before do not vote in the future – or are far less likely to do so.

Survation had come out with another outlier poll that showed a UKIP lead in Thanet. It would appear that the donor commissioned ComRes to try to confirm this unlikely number. ComRes put the Tories in the lead instead. Survation then got the same result next time they polled (from another donor).

Was this a big change due to dislike of Farage’s lack of work in the seat – for example, he missed every single meeting and rally held by the local cross-party Save Manston campaign. Or was it merely the way the pollsters count?

I have heard that Survation do not penalize on the basis of non-voting. This seems to me vitally important if you want to get an accurate number. Survation have a bad record overstating UKIP support, probably because of this. In the Rochester by-election, as one tweeter pointed out to me:


Rochester Survation polls: Oct 9% Ukip lead. Nov 12% Ukip lead. By-election result 7% winning margin.

I looked up other polls and results. Survation also over-stated UKIP and under-stated the Tories in Clacton (8% differential to result in UKIP’s favour) and in Newark. In one case in October they found a not-very believable 25% for UKIP nationwide leading to predictions of, er, 128 UKIP MPs. Clearly this was always utter rubbish.

Survation 128  J

What worries me is that Survation had a long time after Newark to get their polling right; it was UKIP-favouring in Newark, in Clacton, and again in Rochester. Did not the consistency of the pro-UKIP over-estimation bother the firm?

ComRes, under attack by Kippers for showing the Conservatives leading, published their tables. As Mike Smithson of Political Betting said:

Big worry for UKIP in the ComRes South Thanet poll. 31% of its support coming from GE10 non-voters.

This idea, that #ukip are heavily dependent on people who have not voted before, was confirmed to the Spectator by no less a person than Nigel Farage:

Farage non-voters

Other UKIP supporters on Twitter freely admit that their support is chock-full of people who have never voted before (not just not in 2010)

Turnout in Euros was low. An awful lot more voters this time, a lot of former non-voters now voting

If we take a look at the last-but-one set of Ashcroft polling (his polls out today show a fall in UKIP support to 11%, -2 and down below even ICM), Lord Ashcroft’s raw numbers show the Conservative ex-MP Jackie Doyle-Price ahead in the seat of Thurrock on every table. It’s only when a certainty to vote weight is applied that UKIP move from below the Tories. However, although Lord Ashcroft’s poll does say how many voters are non-voters from 2010, it doesn’t appear to correlate them to present party support as ComRes does.

This is ComRes non-voter data from Thanet South

didn't vote Thanet

As we can see, 13% of Tory support comes from non-voters (the lowest) and 31% of UKIP support from non-voters (the highest).

Therefore, I think since UKIP themselves report the pledged support of large numbers of former non-voters, it would be good to see if Lord Ashcroft can dig out those figures, which might change the weighting in seats like Thurrock. Certainly in a tight race, if Jackie-Doyle price is ahead on raw numbers, a ‘certainty to vote’ would have to be weighed against ‘never actually voted before’.

This is not to say that non-voters will not vote – they may break the habit. But Survation got all the by-elections wrong in UKIP’s favor – every time. As Lord Ashcroft has noted, polls influence results. Hopefully Thanet won’t be fooled by what I think are very wrong numbers from Survation, which will of course, encourage ukip and depress Tories and Labour (even though I allege no political bias there will be a political effect).

ComRes which polled Thurrock has overall Con-UKIP numbers in Con favour, and they are counting non-voters. With Nigel Farage himself calling – a bit late in the day – for people to vote Conservative in Con-Labour marginals like Cannock Chase, being accurate on those margins is important. I hope that if his Lordship can correlate non-voters to parties supported he might consider releasing that data in seats where the polling is tight.

My prediction is that Con will hold Thurrock and South Thanet, UKIP will hold Clacton, and UKIP will lose Rochester. Perhaps UKIP will gain Heywood and Middleton – I say this because it was far tighter for them at the by-election than any pollster predicted, so Heywood may be a special case.

Gallowayist You Tube J

Bradford West’s Unsafe Election: “Gallowayist” Smears Naz Shah

It was announced today that the police are investigating the smear campaign against Naz Shah in Bradford.

Mr. Galloway has continued to smear the personal character of his Labour opponent, Naz Shah, during an election period, for the purposes of influencing an election – directly and on the record.

He stated of her falsely on Twitter:

GG evidence interesting link J

Indeed, the judges said no such thing, as my previous article explains. They said if her mother’s evidence, which they did not accept, was true, Ms. Shah must have been lying.

Mr. Galloway also falsely smeared Naz Shah’s character in yet more intemperate terms on his party website:

 “A jury in the original trial where her mother was convicted on four counts – fraud, soliciting murder, attempted murder and murder – not only unanimously decided her mother was guilty but concluded Naz Shah’s evidence was a tissue of lies, as did the appeal court,”

Lawyers have confirmed to me that juries do not rule on the credibility of witness evidence during criminal trials, nor did they in 1993, still less do they call it “a tissue of lies”; nor did the appeal court.

But Mr. Galloway does not stop at the merely demonstrably false accusation of fact, he goes all-in on Ms. Shah’s character:

Galloway continued: “I deeply regret that Labour has continued to drag this sordid tale and this disreputable candidate and her story across Bradford West voters. There is much more but I have no wish to delve further into the sewer.

Yes, that is correct, that is Mr. Galloway calling the life of Ms. Shah “sordid”, calling her “disreputable” and calling her life “a sewer.”

This next piece of evidence comes from Mr. Galloway’s YouTube channel via @Gallowayism, the uploader, of whom more shortly. It is a longer video of the start of the hustings. Galloway’s speech can be found by sliding the cursor to 12:51, if you have a strong stomach. Here is the relevant transcript:

Galloway: You were a big loser then, and the kind of way that you have embarked upon this campaign has already ensured you’re going to be a big loser again. You have only a passing acquaintance with the truth. You claimed, and gullible journalists believed you, that you were subject to a forced marriage at the age of 15. But you were not 15. You were sixteen and a half. I have your Nikkah [cheers] – I have your Nikkah in my pocket [more cheers as Mr. Galloway takes it out and waves it in the air] – in my pocket [cheers, hooting]. You told that story –

Moderator: Mr. Galloway – [she rebukes him then adds] can we now move on to issues please.

Galloway: You allowed – you allowed three personal attacks on me by my New Labour opponent.

Moderator: Mr. Galloway – I was going to come back to that

Galloway: I’m making –

Moderator: – Can I please ask the emotions to just come down for a while, and I think, Mr. Galloway will you continue please.

Galloway: I will continue. No-one will ever stop me from speaking. [cheers, hoots]. The issue is that my opponent is a liar. She lied about me, she lied about her age, she slandered this community for her own selfish ends. She played into every stereotype – every stereotype –

Moderator and Galloway argue about winding it up

Galloway: I have set politics alight in Bradford [continues to praise himself til end of speech].

In my previous article I suggested that Mr. Galloway had called Ms. Shah a racist on Twitter, and then second-hand by re-tweeting the comments of Respect Party Secretary Ron MacKay in Urban Echo: I did not then notice that he had done so directly at the hustings as well, leveling two character charges that not only did she lie about being raped but that she was being a racist for personal gain.

I gather from reports on the ground that the Respect campaigners are, at this point, getting little support on the street. Of course, under the law, since it is Ms. Shah’s personal character that has been falsely smeared in an election period, no result on May 7th is safe unless she is elected*, as any other candidate would have indirectly benefited from the malicious defamation of her character. There is a danger that if Mr. Galloway loses on the night, that the criminal offence committed by every member of Respect who has falsely smeared Ms. Shah during an election period will be forgotten.

Adrian Longthorn

It must not be. What is normally mere libel becomes an offence during an election period when done in order to influence an election. Justice for Naz Shah and the electorate in Bradford West has wider consequences for women and womens’ rights in a parliamentary democracy.

The Independent’s report on the police investigation, however, contains this manifestly wrong paragraph: I am amazed that they printed it.

The website being investigated by police is not connected with Mr Galloway or Respect, and a spokesman for Mr Galloway said he was unaware of its contents.

Yes indeed, the smear site is intimately connected with the Respect Party. Respect Party members have tweeted it out on the record, and from accounts that are officially connected to Respect, like his YouTube Channel operator @Gallowayism, as well as from sock puppets that are well known to Mr. Galloway and Respect.

Gallowayism smearGallowayism tweets smear site J

Part Two: The Connections Between George Galloway and the Smear Campaign

My prior article examined how many sock puppet twitter accounts that were RTing the smear blog were also being RTed and followed by Mr. Galloway. This is interesting as many with whom he interacts on Twitter find themselves blocked for even minor criticism. But Mr. Galloway was willing to follow accounts whom he could see were smearing Ms. Shah.

The most recent of these, still live as of this writing, is @Gallowayism. As you can see, his follow list includes smear accounts @Nshahbrad and @bradfordrising as well as smear account @kiranknite who is actually the smearing real person @JassiSinger, the creator of @kiranknite, along with anti-semites @GiladAtzmon and @TippleJack. At the very bottom of his follow list is Galloway, meaning this was his first follow, and the list includes Ron McKay, the Respect Party, and Galloway’s election agent @MrAshUK.

In this tweet @Gallowayism thanks @MrAshUK for supplying him with the raw video of the hustings.In this he aims to get the smear site better tweeted out. On April 13, he RTs the smear account @nshahbrad with a live link to the smear site. Here I include only a screenshot, as I do not include live links to that site in any of my articles. He directly tweets out the smear site himself four times.

Nshahbrad gallowayism J

The seemingly innocuous tweet to Ali Arshad, @MrAshUK, is important, as it is a record that he is working with the man behind this account –  who is openly smearing Ms. Shah. I am told that Mr. Arshad is Mr. Galloway’s legal election agent but I cannot verify this as yet. It is however clear that he is official Respect.

Mr Ash  and Gallowayism J

I checked with the @Gallowayism account as to who he was, but made a typo, addressing my query to another account suspended for smearing Ms. Shah, @Gallowayist – the @Gallowayism / @Gallowayist account nonetheless replied to me. At first he tried a deflection but then admitted he was @Gallowayist.
Gallowayism = Gallowayist Mat J

The question then is – why are all of Respect’s senior officers, including the candidate and his agent, following and interacting with a misogynist who endlessly RTs the smear site against Ms. Shah?

Here, @Muqadaam, who runs the @TeamGeorgeG, takes a tweet of mine about Galloway himself and calls for help from @Gallowayism clearly stating – Louise Mensch is harassing US (wherein he includes @Gallowayism). It should be clear enough then that @Gallowayism is part of Mr. Galloway’s and Respect’s team, and as he regularly tweets out the smear site, it is false on its face to say that Respect has nothing to do with the smear site.

Senior members of Respect are tweeting the smear site out on a regular basis, including today.

Harassing US muqadaam J

In my prior blog I connected the dots between the smear accounts that had been tweeting out the attack on Ms. Shah. I was able to show that one account was renamed again and again, and used, variously, @ClarenceBeaks_, @bolitics2000, @newsdesk01, @evilsockpuppet1, @strawnmankiller, and @bfdwest2015.

bolitics smear

Sources inside Respect (I have several at this point) suggested to me that I investigate whether this user was a business partner of Mr. Galloway’s (and I mean partner as in works closely with), Jay Stewart.

NS smear fav electorate J

The @strawmankiller account was RTed, with a link to the smear blog, by a now-deleted account @Knowledgeboy75, which was previously @KnowledgeboyJay.

Galloway knowledgeboyjay J

Mr. Stewart posted under his own name as @JayStewart75 (now deleted), with profile quote “In your face, fuller!“. He has locked, but not yet deleted, his movie account @newpoltergeist.

JayStewart75 1 JOrgan harbesting Jay Stewart 18 J

Meanwhile, @Gallowayist/ism helpfully links us to his YouTube channel, in which he helpfully gives his past YouTube names as MegaChairmanMao and GeorgeGallowayForPM. The latter has amongst its channels Red Molucca, (which as an aside gives hilarious extra evidence of Mr. Stewart’s sock puppet obsession, as I said to the Respect lawyer @ericcartmanfat, he has more socks than Dobby the House-Elf. Among its “liked” videos is “George Galloway and Anti-Semitism” uploaded by the convincing “John Smith”).

Red Mulucca Molucca Jay Stewart j

Red Molucca was mostly careful about who they were but not, alas, careful enough. At the bottom of the videos is a “podcast playlist”. Here is the unintentionally hilarious first episode – do slide the  to 40 seconds in and enjoy to 56 seconds in as Mr. Galloway lights his cigar and stares soulfully at the camera in black and white. Mr. Galloway attacks the “lamestream media” [sic] and states very clearly “This channel, this Red Molucca – is the only official George Galloway channel.” In addition to the funky black and white TV stylings, the podcast credits (at 54:33) give us the name “Produced by Jay Stewart, Edited by Jay Stewart.” It also thanks Dead House Productions. Dead House Productions is hoping to make “The Enfield Poltergeist”, hence Mr. Stewart’s surviving @NewPoltergeist twitter account.

There is no doubt whatsoever that Respect are officially working with the Twitter user @Gallowayism formerly @Gallowayist and that it tweets out the smear site and related smear accounts now, while they follow and watch. There is no doubt that Respect and Mr. Galloway himself have knowingly RTed sock puppet accounts from the same user, well-known to them – and no doubt in my mind that this person is at the very least, closely connected to Mr. Jay Stewart. I have more evidence even than I am posting in this blog and which I can only supply to the police. It is time however to look at the officially used and assisted @Gallowayism account and You Tube Channel and stop denying the smear website had “nothing to do with Respect.” Journalists might wish to ask Mr. Galloway, as I did before publishing this story, if he knew all along the identity of the @bfdwest2015 et al sock puppet, and if that person is connected to Jay Stewart, and knowingly RTed him even as he followed his account and saw him tweeting out the illegal smears against Naz Shah.

As Mr. Stewart himself so poignantly says at the end of his thrilling cigar-smoking podcast with Mr. Galloway –

In your face jay stewart


In your face, corperate media!!!






* I report the above as a journalist. As a citizen, I note that of course everybody in Bradford West should vote, as despite violations of electoral law that can be seen from space, nothing in life is certain. Vote George Grant for Bradford West!

Naz Shah Bradfordrising j

The Election In Bradford West Has Been Hopelessly Tainted

Gallowayism smears again j

I believe that the orchestrated campaign of smears on the character of Nas Shah, Labour candidate for Bradford West, mean that the election has been hopelessly tainted by George Galloway and the Respect Party. Should Mr. Galloway “win” on May 7th where the electorate has been so thoroughly compromised, I cannot see how an election court could allow that result to stand. In this blog I will lay out evidence of this orchestrated and long-running smear campaign.

The smears that have been taped at the Bradford West hustings – where no cameras were supposed to be allowed – have already caused the Labour party to tell Respect that they are making a complaint under the Act. However, their complaint thus far is limited to the smears on Ms. Shah at the hustings. However, Respect have so maligned the character of this rape victim, and for so long, that I believe that according to section 106 there is no way this election can be held in a free and impartial manner if Mr. Galloway is the candidate.

Before I found the video of the Bradford West hustings on the Twitter feed of the rabid anti-semite Amar Rafiq, a friend of Mr. Galloway’s – in which Galloway waved Naz Shah’s nikkah and called her a liar over the age at which she was raped, it had received precisely 11 views on YouTube. I am grateful to BBC Trending for crediting me for breaking the story – other papers did not do so. I am proud of my work as an investigative journalist on this matter in the public interest, and would appreciate it if fellow journalists using evidence provided here would credit it.

This blog is necessarily long as it involves production of a large amount of evidence. But I believe the misogynistic abuse of a woman standing for office, based on slurs around her private life and to influence an election, is wholly illegal, and that as a feminist, a journalist, and a citizen, it is my duty to investigate and expose it. I do not support Ms. Shah’s candidacy as a private person – I am a supporter of the Conservatives and I hope George Grant wins Bradford West. However, that is completely irrelevant. I believe election law has been broken to such an extent that no free and fair election can now take place on May 7th in the Bradford West Constituency.

The abuse of Ms. Shah’s character is exactly what section 106 of the Representation of the People Act is supposed to prevent.

In 2010, Phil Woolas won the seat of Saddleworth and Oldham. His victory was overturned because an election court found him to have smeared the character of his opponent.

In this instance, the smearing of Ms. Shah is done in the textbook way that a Judicial Review of the Saddleworth Case determined was necessary, under Section 106, to invalidate an election result. In particular:

  1. In our view, the starting point for the construction of s.106 must be the distinction which it is plain from the statutory language that Parliament intended to draw between statements as to the political conduct or character or position of a candidate and statements as to his personal character or conduct. It was as self evident in 1895 as it is today, given the practical experience of politics in a democracy, that unfounded allegations will be made about the political position of candidates in an election. The statutory language makes it clear that Parliament plainly did not intend the 1895 Act to apply to such statements; it trusted the good sense of the electorate to discount them. However statements as to the personal character of a candidate were seen to be quite different. The good sense of the electorate would be unable to discern whether such statements which might be highly damaging were untrue; a remedy under the ordinary law in the middle of an election would be difficult to obtain. Thus the distinction was drawn in the 1895 Act which is re-enacted in s.106 and which is reflected in the decisions to which we have referred a paragraph 87.ii).
  2. In our judgment, as Parliament clearly intended that such a distinction be made, a court has to make that distinction and decide whether the statement is one as to the personal character or conduct or a statement as to the political position or character of the candidate. It cannot be both.
  3. Statements about a candidate which relate, for example, to his family, religion, sexual conduct, business or finances are generally likely to relate to the personal character of a candidate.

You will note that the Judicial Review states that “a remedy…. in the middle of an election would be difficult to obtain.”

The Electoral Commission guidance on personal character smears, made in order to influence an election, is also clear:

1.49 It is an offence to make or publish a false statement of fact about the personal character or conduct of a candidate in order to affect the return of a candidate at an election.

At the Bradford West hustings, Mr. Galloway produced a document that he claimed was the Nikkah of Nas Shah. Ms. Shah was forced into marriage, and therefore raped, when she was a teenager. He later admitted sending a supporter to Pakistan to obtain this document. He also said she had ‘only a passing acquaintance with the truth’ because ‘you were not fifteen. You were sixteen and a half.’

His claim was that Ms. Shah was a liar and unfit to be an MP because she entered into her marriage at 16 and a half instead of at 15.

He later claimed that Ms. Shah’s marriage was not forced, as she says, because it was arranged by her parents. Forced marriages are, in almost every case, arranged by her parents.

News reports have, in my view regrettably, concentrated on the fact that Ms. Shah does have an earlier nikkah from the age of 15. This is not material to a slur on her character under section 106. Whether or not Ms. Shah was raped at 15 or 16 does not matter; the essence of her story is that she was forced into marriage. Her family removed her from school at the age of 12 years old.

Mr. Galloway stated the following things about Ms. Shah, at the election hustings and afterwards: that she is a liar; that she lied about her rape in order to win votes; and that she did so for a racist purpose, in order to ‘slander of her own community‘. He made the latter accusation, that Ms. Shah was being a racist, (the tweet linked to there shows men watching at the Bradford West hustings) and that she invented the story of her rape in order to smear Muslim men, several times on Twitter.

it wasn’t she wasn’t it is slander of her own family community and city. We won’t have it. Might have impressed you but none locally


Respect: we’ll allow no-one to slander people of Bradford West or peddle their racist stereotypes

Her squalid sorry life was put front and centre of her campaign by her not me. And people of Bradford West are sick of it.

Asked whether Galloway disputed Shah’s claim to have been forced into a violent marriage as a teenager – be that at 15 or 16 and a half – and was repeatedly raped in that marriage, McKay said: “In what sense was it a forced marriage? Her mother attended the marriage in 1990 as well as other family members and many witnesses did also, signing and giving fingerprints, so if it was forced presumably her mother and the others were part of that coercion?”

The government’s Forced Marriage Unit makes clear that parents are often the instigators of forced marriage, coercing their offspring to marry against their will.

McKay said that if Shah’s first husband had been violent to her, “then as a British citizen in Pakistan she could have jumped on a plane and left him behind, although I do appreciate that is often extremely difficult. If he was violent to her here – I’m not aware when they came back to Britain – then she could have gone to the police, social services, an imam or whatever. I am not aware, are you, of any such report by her to anyone, here or there?”

Ron McKay, the Respect Party spokesperson told Urban Echo, “Naz Shah has claimed in all the media she has trailed her story across – Times, Telegraph, Mirror, Mail and Guardian, and of course Urban Echo – that she was fifteen when she married. This narrative plays into the racist line of Pakistani men grooming/sexually abusing under-age girls.

“Recently when I pointed out to a Guardian reporter the true date of the marriage, based on Supreme Court evidence that her mother had gone to Pakistan in May 1990 for the wedding, Naz Shah’s response was to add a further lie, that her mother’s visit was for the wedding celebration – some 18 months at least after the alleged wedding! Naseem Shah has deliberately and cynically bent the truth in order to manipulate people’s emotions in an attempt to win personal support for her candidature. She is unfit to represent Labour or, heaven forfend, the people of Bradford West,” he concludes.

Note the reference to the Supreme Court and her mother’s case.
The Urban Echo piece, with its accusation that Naz Shah not only lied, but used the story of her rape for racist purposes  – two personal character slurs that Ron McKay stated should influence electors, during an election period – was also directly RTed by Mr. Galloway, and by his official “Team George Galloway”, when tweeted out by the personal account behind @TeamGeorgeG – it has thus been directly promoted by the candidate.
Urban echo RTed by George
All of that is on the record smears about the personal character of Nas Shah, promoted during an election period, by a candidate, and by his agent, in order to influence the election. It is more than enough to make any election result in Bradford West in which she is defeated, unsafe.
Having followed Mr. Galloway and Respect’s accounts on this matter for some time, incidentally, I have yet to discover even one tweet or attack on Naseem Shah from them that is policy based.
More than enough direct evidence appears of an attack on personal character to violate section 106 of the Representation of the People Act in the precise way the Judicial Review found should invalidate an election:
  1. Statements about a candidate which relate, for example, to his family, religion, sexual conduct, business or finances are generally likely to relate to the personal character of a candidate.
However, there is, unfortunately, more.
Part Two: Smear Accounts, blogs, and sock puppets
For weeks, a vicious, anonymous blog, tweeted and shared by several anonymous, pretending to be Naz Shah twitter accounts and fake Facebook accounts, has been circulated around Bradford West. It is incredibly vicious and it is libelous to the personal character of Naz Shah. It smears Ms. Shah’s mother, even her brother and sister. It calls her every name under the sun.
NS ss 1After the Labour party made a complaint under section 106, some sock puppets took their site links down, but others left them up. [EDIT – as I am composing this, all the links to the smear site with all the urls have been removed. As of last night, they were still live. Somebody removed the last of them just yesterday night. ] I should say that I have copies of the site in full, in screenshots, and copies of all known URLs for the website. Taking it down will be pointless. The site links back to this Urban Echo blog and quotes Mr. McKay:
NS ss 2 Ron McKay j
The link in the above screenshot led back to the Urban echo post.
Under the Urban echo blog story you find more Respect-supporting sock puppets directing you to the smear site:

P Simmons

11 days ago

I have been shocked at the untruths Labour’s Naz Shah, the Respect Party’s rival for the Bradford West seat, has been spreading in order to be selected for the constituency, gain publicity, attract sympathy from gullible people, and ultimately to try to win votes.
We all have a duty to spread the truth and not let crookedry infiltrate British politics. Please refer folk to this website on Naz Shah so they can find out what she really is all about! It exposes how she ended up getting selected when she polled by far the lowest number of votes in her local constituency’s Labour Party membership ballot.


P Simmons

11 days ago

The link to the website is here: http://nazshah.eu.pn/ – a must read and highly shocking!


P Simmons

11 days ago

Lies indeed as Urban Echo reports.
With the UK election campaigning period officially launching today, an exclusive exposé of the ‪Labour‬ Party’s candidate for Bradford West, ‪NazShah is being published‬. Researchers have spent weeks trawling through two decades of legal documents and interviewing Naz Shah’s family as well as grassroots Labour Party members in Bradford to reveal Naz Shah is a highly duplicitous character who has spun a fraudulent account of her life and her mother’s controversial past to a trusting media and Labour Party hierarchy.
Read the new, exclusive exposé – the first report ever to counter nearly 20 years of lies by ‪NazShahBfd‬ – here: http://NazShah.MediaNewsOnline.com
Spread the truth. Please refer people to the website!


Update: In my haste to take screenshots of the links, and similarities, to and from the smear site and official Respect party sources, I missed the significance of the content of the above sock puppet’s comment. I draw Labour party lawyers to this now:
Researchers have spent weeks trawling through two decades of legal documents and interviewing Naz Shah’s family
Two decades of legal documents. The “legal documents” “court” line is taken up in the smear site BUT IT IS ALSO TAKEN UP BY MR. GALLOWAY AND RESPECT THEMSELVES.
Surely it beggars belief that these two things are a co-incidence. Again and again, “court documents” referred to in the smear site are referred to by officials of Respect. Mr. McKay says, on the record, in his interview with urban echo, that Respect attempted to “prove” a sixteen year old had given her consent to being trafficked abroad and forced into rape by looking at the testimony in the trial of her mother. That said testimony is referred to over and over in the smear blog. More importantly the sock puppet “P Simmons” says his smear site researchers have “spent weeks…. interviewing Naz Shah’s family”. On the record, Respect tell the Guardian and Helen Pidd that:
Asked where and how Galloway had obtained the nikah he waved around at the hustings, McKay said: “We were first given a copy of the nikah by a close family member in this country. We wanted to verify that it was authentic so we arranged for a person in Mirpur to obtain a copy directly from the registry office.
he said Respect was in contact with Shah’s first husband
Well then – Mr. McKay’s on the record comments have identical research claims to the P Simmons sock puppet underneath the Urban Echo blog (in which McKay first adduces the nikkah – you can see it on that blog) – and the P Simmons sock directs us to the smear site – which quotes Mr. McKay and directs the reader back to McKay’s interview in, er, the Urban Echo blog.
As Private Eye might say – could they possibly be related?
Update Ends – more Updated material below
These identical lines are taken up across the board by smearing sock puppets who RT the official respect accounts too. Language used in the smear blog is used to attack Ms Shah on Facebook and Twitter. For example Ms. Shah is said to have had a “chavvish obsession” with “washing her family’s dirty laundry from twenty years ago” and a big picture of the Jeremy Kyle show is used, with a gif:
Jeremy Kyle NS ss
This line about Jeremy Kyle is used by Respect supporters smearing her on Facebook, like one “Aky Ali”. The Facebook address on his profile uses the name Riaz Mahmood.
Aky Ali Jeremy Kyle NS
The Aky Ali account also makes the smear site references to her “murderer mother” as do the fake twitter accounts.
Aky Aki mother FB Naz Shah
Sometimes Respect party thug supporters like Amar Rafiq openly smear Ms. Shah under their own names: more often they use sock puppets. Here is the fake Facebook page created in her name. The contact details were a link to the smear site, now deleted; of course, I have screenshots. The fake “Jane White” also links to the smear site – the avatar is one of Ms. Shah’s face.
I hope the police will investigate very thoroughly, with a raid on computers, the explicit link to the court case described with lawyer-like referencing at the bottom of the smear site. Respect and George Galloway called – as a shoddy and obvious smokescreen – for Ms. Shah to prosecuted for perjury. The case of her poor mother is dissected all over the Naz Shah smear site in legal terms again and again. Look at the link “Jane White” makes in her post of four hours ago:

‪#‎NazShah‬ is extremely unwise to continually drag out her past, as she has been doing for well over a decade now. I confess it does help win over sensitive and gullible folk, as her story seems to be tragic. But politics should be contested on policies. This is not the Jeremy Kyle show.

Unfortunately Naz Shah has spent weeks relaying an inaccurate sob story to the press and barely touched up mentioning policies until recently.

The comprehensive report at http://nazshah.byethost10.com provides empirical evidence of her deceitfulness – including lying infront of the courts, a very serious offence as per today’s Respect Party announcement – and the best thing for Naz Shah to now do would be to give up on the campaign and, at the age of 42 try to be begin a respectful life.

Information about Naz Shah, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Bradford West
The Respect Party announcement tweeted by Galloway is here.
Compare to the lawyerly nature of the smear site’s postings about Ms. Shah’s mother: there is more, these are just two excerpts.
NS ss mother court 1 NS ss mother court 2
Various smearing twitter accounts have tried to change their names. The @Bfdwest2015 smear site changed its name to “Strawmankiller.”
Beeks = Bfdwest2015