Monday, October 22, 2007

You May Think You're Anonymous...

Just a warning to those 'anonymous' commenters who think they can say anything they like on a blog and get away with it. Well you can't. I've always maintained that anyone on the internet is subject to exactly the same laws as anyone else, and just because you post anonymously, that doesn't mean that you can't be traced.

The Guardian carried a very revealing report today about a case involving a football website where fans of Sheffield Wednesday expressed their views on the owners of the club in a libellous fashion. The Chairman, Chief Executive and five directors of the club have won a High Court ruling forcing the owner of the Owlstalk website to reveal the identity of those accused of libelling them. It's worth reading the whole article HERE but here's an extract...

The club's lawyers asked the judge, Richard Parkes QC, to order disclosure about the identity of 11 fans. But the judge decided some fans, whose postings were merely "abusive" or likely to be understood as jokes, should keep their anonymity. The judge ordered that three fans whose postings might "reasonably be understood to allege greed, selfishness, untrustworthiness and dishonest behaviour", should be unmasked. Their right to maintain their anonymity and express themselves freely was outweighed by the directors' entitlement to take action to protect their reputation, he said. Court orders obliging websites to disclose the identity of users posting anonymous defamatory remarks began in 2001.

Dominic Bray, of K&L Gates, Sheffield Wednesday's solicitors, said: "There seem to be quite a lot of websites that are using their anonymity to make comments about people and think that there shouldn't be any liability for it. But the internet is no different to any other place of publication, and if somebody is making defamatory comments about people then they should be held responsible for it. What these cases do is just confirm that's the law - the law applies to the internet as much as it does to anything else."

This ruling has huge implications for blogs and websites and may well force us all to introduce full registration. If there are any libel lawyers reading this, do give us your take on this ruling and how it may affect blogs like mine!

71 comments:

Ordovicius said...

Blogspot is American, so the High Court can't really do anything to blogspot blogs, only to UK websites.

Anonymous said...

I would just like to apologise.

Anonymous said...

anonymous, above is a sock puppet. I am the real anonymous.

rampant dale fan said...

Ooohh! I'd love you to unmask me, Iain dear!

Raedwald said...

It's all getting very silly. There was a blog link today to a new EU law that could see an English blogger prosecuted for calling the Hun, er, Huns, even on an American server.

I think we're safe enough saying 'Gordon Brown's a vagina', though - I think the law classes that as 'fair comment'.

Iain Dale said...

Someone just left a comment asking why they weren't allowed to call me a poof, but Gordon Brown could be called a vagina. Easy. The Gordon Brown comment was made by a nmaed person. The poof comment was made anonymously. Call me what you like, but at least have the guts to put your name to it.

Anonymous said...

I posted anonymously earlier today in response to some of the bollocks you had written about school budgets. I didn't say anything libellous but as a governor it protects my school. Since your blog is moderated then presumably it's your responsiblity to edit out any libellous comments. Others like Mike Smithson have the nerve to run unmoderated blogs and it works pretty well.

Anonymous said...

So Raedwald is the (Gordon Brown is a vagina) poster's real name, is it?

political gynaecologist said...

Are we sure that Gordon Brown really is a vagina? IMHO they're normally much more relaxed, accommodating and give a great deal more satisfaction than Brown's grudging, anally retentive performances.

I would like to propose the thesis that Gordon Brown is actually an a***h**e.

Chris Paul said...

That Iain is a ridiculous excuse. Certainly nothing to do with the issue of libel. Merely hypocrisy about sock puppets as you have some acting in your interests whether you like to officially disown them or not.

You are gay are you not? Gordon Brown is not a vagina. The latter is not something that is likely to be considered a libel anyway. Just rude, juvenile, immature etc. And as this thing mostly appears on blogs of the right a refreshing reminder of the true nature of the Tory Party and fellow travellers.

On this blog very likely the defence might be that no-one believes anything here anyway and that could well work.

But if it were and statements here ARE potential libels (see comment one) then YOU are as liable as the person who first uttered the libel as you published it, in this case knowingly after wrestling for half a second with your conscience.

The fact that Raedwald has signed it and may even be more identifiable with a real person is neither here or there. they could decide to go for you or R or both.

I don't think you understand this libel law one little bit do you?

Kamm, Unity, Ireland and others have posted some good stuff recently about what a bad law (and practices) we have in this country? Read those perhaps.

descartes said...

I think I am anonymous therefore I am anonymous.

kelvin mckenzie said...

Gordon Brown is the anus horribilis of British politics.

hammer said...

To the tune of Who the F*** are Man Utd:

Gordon Brown is a vagina
Gordon Brown is a vagina
Gordon Brown is a vagina
And Iain Dale is an iron hoof

Newmania said...

I sometimes think you take it all a little seriously Iain , but then you do have a relatively well thought of blog to protect.
I was unimpressed with the whole Mumsnet episode when the words " Poo face " were considered actionable, I think a few thou was handed over in the end.

Raedwald
I usually refer to the Germans as the Bosh ..is that a good compromise?

Anonymous said...

If you're keen on free speech (or if you suffer from paranoia) you may want to install a few software packages:-

FIREFOX
www.firefox.com
Alternative to the Explorer browser

TORBUTTON
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2275
Allows your web browsing to be routed through the TOR network. All data from your PC goes through a series of intermediaries before reaching the web server. Hence the web server never knows who you are.

'rampant dale fan' who posted at 8:34 pm could even use Tor to stop news of his browsing habits getting back to his mum.

VIDALIA
http://vidalia-project.net/
Lets firefox access the Tor network

All the software is free and it's easy to run, although it will slow your browser a fair bit.

There's a good installation guide on the Electronic Frontier Foundation at http://tor.eff.org/docs/tor-doc-win32.html.en

Next week - I'll be showing you how to make a hat from tin foil in order to stop the government mind control rays.

attention seeker said...

It'll be dead boring if we post a really libellous anonymous comment but then we've got to wait three hours to get published so we can be outed.

I'd be more inclined to bugger off and trash a lamppost or summat.

j. twat said...

Proof, if proof were needed, that Crisp Haul is a humourless tw@

Anonymous said...

This is because the 'corporate' world hate and detest the internet, because they can't control it.

Ryanair jumped up and down very hard on a site which was initially called 'RyanairSucks'. And sites which are purporting to offer restaurant reviews are being targeted.

Alisher Usmanov targeting the Craig Murray website [and the collateral damage for Boris Johnson] is yet another.

Before long the mission will have been accomplished with latter day 'Capn Bob Maxwell' and 'Lord' Conrad Black able to silence dissent all across cyberspace.

Only then will the politicians be happy, because their paymasters will have gotten what they want, and self-censorship will take the sting out of those investigative blogs they detest so much...

So enjoy it while you can, folks..

Atlas shrugged said...

Saying Gordon Brown is a homosexual firstly has to be untrue.

There has to have been a material loss.

The statement has to not be in the national interest.

The material loss has to be attributable to the statement.

Although there are still plenty of ways to avoid the thought police at least at the moment.

For example

Dear Iain

I have read on many internet sites that Gordon Brown is a 33degree Grand Master Accepted Scottish rite of free masons. I find this completely untrue revelation that our beloved prime minister is involved in devil worship and ritual animal sacrifice to be truly reprehensible.

Gordon Brown could not possibly be a free mason and I am shocked anyone could be so rude as to suggest such a thing. If it was true I am sure the BBC or the police would have mentioned something about it by now. As we can trust the good old boys in blue and the top brass at the BBC would never get involved in such a inhuman heresy such as Devil worshiping free masonry.

I think we should start a campaign to ban silly ordinary people putting anything on the internet at all. Better still, just let The Party run the www for the great unwashed own good.

IMO its about time the people started showing more respect for Big Brother and the great things he is doing for them.

Your opinion would be welcome.

Yours

Clumsy, but I am sure you get the point.

Anonymous said...

Iain, I would never be graceless enough to call you a silly name.

But don't you see the irony of saying
"The poof comment was made anonymously." - when surely the whole point of this blog post is that we are not really 'anonymous' but can be 'unmasked' in certain extreme cases ?

Or have I missed the point, in that you have to go to court to have a third party [the blog host?] do the unmasking ? In any case I think you maybe selling our email addresses to some American dodgy corporation at a bottle of whisky per thousand.

silly ordinary person said...

I'm still going to say what I think, and to hell with the (pretend) consequences.

Johnny Norfolk said...

As always the few spoil it for the many. Its all about personal responsibility and self control. The more people that fail to do this brings the day closer for more control of the internet. i believe in as much freedom as possible, but with freedon comes responsibility that many do not have or refuse to be reasonable.

So grow up. Give Iain some respect

Al Edged-Lee said...

In regards to sidestepping the libel laws, can't we just utilise the 'Merton Defense'?

Namely saying whtever we want, but putting 'Allegedly' after it.

'Gordon Brown is a vagina. Allegedly.'
Or...
'All MP's are corrupt.
Allegedly.'
Or even...
'The Daily Mail is a newspaper of high quality. Allegedly.'

Actually, I think the last one is pushing it...

Ed said...

I usually refer to the Germans as the Bosh ..is that a good compromise?

I have that down as laudatory rather than discriminatory - the Krauts do make rather good washing machines after all.

Ed said...

I think you maybe selling our email addresses to some American dodgy corporation at a bottle of whisky per thousand.

I hope so! Iain's got to pay his way somehow!

ps Iain if you feel the whisky is piling up a bit, you know where to find me :-)

Anonymous said...

Just a thought, Iain. Introduce full registration and you lose the point of your blog. Your choice.

Jamie [http://mypoliticalweb.com] said...

this is partly why my website (http://mypoliticalweb.com - shameless plug) only allows comments and forum posts when you've registered.

*begs people to register* haha.

seriously tho, conservativehome had to end up making all their comments moderated before they were posted. with people having to register for my site before they post, people are then able to post things straight away, without them having to be moderated, cause everyone knows who has posted what.

Diablo said...

You're not a website owner, Iain. You're a blogspot - how can you reveal my identity or anyone else whatever we call ourselves?

I am sure GCHQ, MI5 and the CIA already know but they are not going to tell you.

So, chill out, enjoy the humour (j.twat I salute you!) and occasional pearls of wisdom. You're lucky you don't have all the nutters who visit Guido's site!

Reactionary Snob said...

As an advocate, I'd love to comment. As a Scot, well, I'm hardly going to give it out for free...

RS

Anonymous said...

You can out anonymous posters, but only up to a point. When a post is left the IP address is captured, but someone has to keep a log of who had what IP address on what day, and not everyone does this.

If you have broadband, then your IP address is fixed and stays the same always. If you log on via an office network, then you will be assigned an IP address each tme you do so.

Someone coming along 3 years down the line wanting to know who 111.222.333.444 was thus faces some challenges. The ISP may no longer know, or they may only be able to name the organisation. Thus, if I wanted to know why those BBC pricks waste so much time editing wikipedia, I could use wikipedia to find out what IP addresses did it, but I'd need the BBC's sysadmins to tell me who had those addresses at the time. And the BBC might not know. I don't think it has a duty to know, either.

I found this out a few years ago when a gym sent bailiffs after me. They argued that because of the date I'd resigned my membership I owed them more money, and they forwarded a forged copy of my email to them showing the IP address and a date. They had taken my email and altered the date on it, the crooks. I asked the techies at work if they could show the IP was not mine on the altered date, and the answer was no, they couldn't, because they didn't keep records.

As for calling Gordon Brown gay, well, I'm not sure that's actionable. He'd either have to show it was bad to be gay and thus a libel to say that he was (not an easy one to argue); or he'd have to say the sting of the libel was in his having supposedly lied about being gay (the Jason Donovan argument of 1990-odd). He'd then have to argue that to call him a liar damaged his good name. One could then have a pretty good stab at showing he had no such good name to lose, using all kinds of evidence from his speeches and his career. And unlike in politics and the media, a court would not let him get away with bullshitting his way out of any of it.

At best he'd end up with a QBVII outcome, where he'd get a technical victory at ruinous reputational cost.

John Trenchard said...

my ip address changes every time i boot up my adsl modem. so little chance they can actually prove who i am.

anyway blogspot is based in the States, and they'll have the IP address records - seriously doubt that the Americans would hand those records over to a foreign juristiction , unless we're talking about serious matters like terrorism or espionage.

and of course I know nothing about Gordon Brown, nappies and a rocking horse.

Anonymous said...

So are you beginning to get the hang of this libel stuff now Iain?

If a libel has been committed, and you moderate the site, you are just as liable as the poster irrespective of whether the poster is annonymous or not. Your best chance of avoiding an action is to undertake no moderation at all.

An anonymous posting may be more troublesome or impossible to trace and may therefore make an action less likely than with a named poster.

danvers said...

I am a litigator, but not a libel specialist.

It is difficult to comprehend how someone could be forced to disclose information they do not have. In fact, it would be a pretty solid defence to a disclosure request. At most, records actutally held (e.g. traffic logs) could be ordered to be disclosed.

It is conceivable that the court could order a website operator to install registration procedures, but given that a website operator would have difficulty in verifying users' identities, what would be the point?

The blogspot argument is a bit of a red herring in that it doesn't matter where your blog is hosted - as the author based in the UK, the UK courts would clearly have jurisdiction over you personally. It would create difficulties re disclosure of back-end data though.

Alex said...

There are 3 parties who are all potentially liable in a libel suit:

1.The author
2.The editor (or in this case the moderator) and
3.The publisher

Blogger may be hard to go after (but not impossible and they have deep pockets), but the editor and the author are easier targets, and the publisher is likely to hand over the identity of anonymous poster (or give the necessary clues) in order to save its own skin.

The BBC have a guide (I defer from calling it an idiot's guide for fear of litigation):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/actionnetwork/A1183394

Benny said...

Ha, i'd like to see you find out who i am with my face here!

Ed said...

I think in the case that Iain is referring to it was probably a forum rather than a blog. Possibly the forum administrators had registration details?

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Surely all the pontificating about libel laws is a red herring.

The only people that go after the little people in the free world are multinational businesses like Sony or Russian Oligarchs. Sony and their pals do this for purely commercial reasons and Russian Oligarchs do it because its inadvisable to have them killed over here.


Even then, most major individuals are not stupid enough to pursue nobodies through the legal system as it does them no good whatsoever. The net effect of suing somebody for libel is that mud sticks and the plaintiff rarely leaves court with a clean reputation.

Blogs are interesting as targets for libel cases because they are neither an individual entity in law nor are they a corporaton.

I think Iain said last night on 18DS that most liable threats to him fall at the first hurdle. Either he calls their bluff or he decides to take down the offending material and nothing more is done.

The basic rule must be, surely, that the more anonymous you are, the less likely you are going to be a target for a libel writ.

Ironically, this is almost irrelevant when it comes to questions of freedom of speech. The biggest threat to freedom of speech is not the laws of libel, but political correctness and public censure of those who hold controversial views, or indeed an attempt by political activists to control the narrative.

I was astonished that Peter Tatchell recently suggested that Dumbledore should have been portrayed as "more explicitly gay" in a recent interview with the Telegraph. I challenged him about this and our exchange can be found on my blog.

Anonymous said...

I'm Spartacus!

Spartacus said...

I'm anonymous!

Garry said...

What happened to my last comment?

It's almost as if is there's a legitimate debate about the lack of legitimate political debate on your blog and that your reaction in the comments demonstrates that you're afraid of having it. I wonder why that would be then?

Steve Horgan said...

I have never really got the point of anonymous posting. If you have something worthwhile to say then why would you not put your name to it. Otherwise you come across as a cowardly git, who may well be spinning for some purpose or another. For example, I suspect that some of the most verminous anons here are probably card-carrying members of the Labour Party. As for the courts identifying the authors of libellous posts, bloody good job too! Why people should think that they can publish poison about individuals without any comebacks is beyond me.

Iain Dale said...

As you well know, Tim Ireland is banned on this blog. And I am certainly not going to allow comments through which provide links to his blog which slag me off. If you all want to have bitchfest about me, you ain't doing it here. Quite simple.

Paul Walter said...

What's the point of potentially libelling anyone - especially when you can follow the late Sir John Junor's advice and just ask a question rather than make a statement?

By the way, there are plenty of websites which you can use to keep your IP address to yourself (eg. http://www.behidden.com/) or you could use a public internet cafe computer that isn't covered by CCTV and set up a blogger account using false informat.....I'm giving this too much thought aren't I?

The other thing to bear in mind is that it isn't a case of "When a post is left the IP address is captured" as anonymous 12.49 23rd October said.

There is no capturing of the IP address on Blogger for the...er...blogger. You have to have some site statistic software and then match the time of the comment with the site statistic software to see who was looking at the relevant page at the relevant time (or if the comments page was their outgoing page then it can be clearer). This is an inexact science, to say the least. With Iain's venerable blog, which has vast VAST (£5 please Iain) traffic then, for popular posts, it would be almost impossible to find out who posted which comment at which time, without, I would guess, contacting Google in California and asking them to do a forensic search of the files, which they are unlikely to do without the involvement of some fairly threatening and expensive legal beagle.

Fidothedog said...

Re anon - I am anonymous and so is my wife.

About time someone did the Life of Brian comment here....

Garry said...

Ah, the famous ban.

It's not consistent though, is it? Tim Ireland wasn't banned the other day. The conversation between the two of you was deleted only after you'd had second thoughts about leaving it in place for all to see.

If you all want to have bitchfest about me, you ain't doing it here

Well, that's inconsistent with your previous contribution to this thread ("call me what you like") but that's not important right now. I'm not here to make cheap jokes about Richard Gere or anything like that.

There's a serious issue here about the way you engage with your critics (or don't as the case may be). In this case, I thought your readers deserved to be given the facts of the deleted conversation and be allowed to make up their own minds. In light of the deletion of the comments, it might have been foolish of me to imagine that you might share this view.

Anyway, just to clarify, is it a blanket ban on links to all posts which criticise any aspect of Iain Dale's Diary or is it Bloggerheads specific?

Scary Biscuits said...

Iain,

I agree with the previous poster that there are three people who could be sued joint and severally on this blog for an allegedly libelous comment: the mong, the blogger (you) and the publisher (Google UK Ltd).

I think you are at far more risk of being sued than the other two. Google is too rich and the individual mong too easy to ignore. You are a more tempting target, however.

The most interesting point is about moderation (see anon 9.25). If you have no moderation, all you would need would be a small disclaimer somewhere (comments here are not necessarily those of the blog owner etc.)

However, if you moderate you are actively approving and propagating a particular comment and therefore could be prosecuted for that. You should therefore be very careful when moderation is on.

Brownbadger said...

You think you've got problems. They're going to cull me.......and I didn't even vote for TB.

Iain Dale said...

Garry, Tim Ireland has been banned from leaving comments here for several weeks if not months. Sometimes he leaves comments when I don't have moderation on. When I notice them I delete them. It's my blog. It's my prerogative. I don;t need to rehearse the history of this. Regular readers know it and it is incredibly tedious.

You write: "There's a serious issue here about the way you engage with your critics (or don't as the case may be). In this case, I thought your readers deserved to be given the facts of the deleted conversation and be allowed to make up their own minds. In light of the deletion of the comments, it might have been foolish of me to imagine that you might share this view."

If people wish to go to Bloggerheads they're very welcome, but I don't see why I should provide a link (even in comments) to a site which persistently slags me off. And frankly, the subject matter had F all to do with Ireland.

You wrote...

"Anyway, just to clarify, is it a blanket ban on links to all posts which criticise any aspect of Iain Dale's Diary or is it Bloggerheads specific?"

If you are a regular reader of this blog you know full well that every day on every post I am subject to intense criticism. I have a very liberal approach to deleting comments, and if I said I deleted one per day that would prbably be an exaggeration. Sometimes criticism is valid, and sometimes it isn't. Even when it isn't I recognise that people have very different views to me and they have every right to express them. But if someone calls me a liar, says I am corrupt or worse, then don;t expect me to allow it on this site, or to allow a link to another site which accuses me of those things. Bloggerheads and Jailhouselawyer are sites which delight in doing that. I now ignore them because you cannot enter rational discussions with them. Believe me, I have learnt that lesson over the course of this year. I have told Ireland directly that he can email me as much as he likes (and believe me, he likes), and leave as many comments on this site as he likes, but he will never get a reply. What I write on this site is to do with me, not anyone else.If people don't like what i do they will not return. There is a free market in blogs. People visit the blogs they like and ignore the ones they don't. However, there are some people who do the opposite and spend their time visiting blogs they hate. What a waste of their time.

The fact is that I must be doing something right or the number of visitors to my blog would not be increasing. It would be declining. Even today we have had a number of people comment on the blog saying "it's rubbish", "not what it was" etc etc. Isn't it funny though how traffic has increased by 30% this month compared to last month and also 35% year on year. I am sure you will find an argument to say that this must indicate a failure , or a tabloidisation, but the figures speak for themselves.

I think that's enough!

Garry said...

Iain, your stats are very impressive I'm sure but could we stick to the point?

This is a post about standards of behaviour on blogs and the internet. As such, it seems like a perfectly reasonable place to discuss your own standards. Can't see the problem there unless you don't want people participating in an informed discussion of your own behaviour.

You say "I have told Ireland directly that he can email me as much as he likes (and believe me, he likes), and leave as many comments on this site as he likes, but he will never get a reply."

That's an illustration of the problem I was trying to highlight. Contrary to your suggestion, you did reply just the other day and then deleted the exchange afterwards with no explanation. I would link to the relevant post but I'm apparently not allowed to.

I'm going to have to tread on thin ice with this but you're being economic with the actuality in your reply. In fact, this seems to be a central theme of your responses to some of your critics.

Anonymous said...

Dear Agony Aunt. I am a poof who wants to be anonymous but love to post bitchy comments. Can you help?

Garry said...

I'm guessing the "I think that's enough" bit means I won't be getting any more replies.

Shame. I'd have been interested to see whether you'd try to justify the demonstrably untrue claim that "he will never get a reply". It's not demonstrably untrue on this blog of course but that doesn't change the reality of the situation.

It is your blog as you say. Unfortunately, it appears that you believe that misleading your readers is part of your prerogative. What concerns me is the fact that what you do has a wider influence (as you never fail to point out when it suits you).

So I'll ask again. Why did you write "he'll never get a reply" when you had replied just a few short days ago? Unless there's some part of the picture I'm missing, it wasn't an entirely honest description of the situation.

(Of course, attempts to conduct honest debate on a blog which claims to allow it is a clear indicator of obsessive behaviour and probably also a sign of serious mentally illness...)

Iain Dale said...

Garry, so I am now mentally ill. You people never know when to stoop low enough do you. Debate over.

Garry said...

Ha ha. You know that's not what I meant but I'll spell it out anyway.

I did not at any point suggest that you are mentally ill. I don't stoop so low. Never have.

The comment is a sarcastically framed paraphrased version of what has been written in the comments on this site about Tim Ireland. It's what I'm half expecting will happen to me too if I keep trying to press you to answer the question.

Iain Dale said...

Well that's how it read to me. If you meant it sarcastically it was lost on me.

I said "he'll never get a reply" because I meant it. I meant it in relation to emails. In a moment of weakness I responded to one of his comments on here. All it did was produce yet more vitriol. As usual, I should have known better. If you don't know the history to this you can't possibly understand the sequence, and I am not going to catalogue it here because even I am bored by it. It's entirely up to you who you believe. I try to do my best on this blog. If my best os not good enough for you, Garry, there are plenty of other blogs out there.

Garry said...

I know the history Iain which is precisely why I assumed the sarcasm wouldn't be lost on you. It's a reference to stuff like this. Or this. Remember?

As for your "reply":

...he can email me as much as he likes (and believe me, he likes), and leave as many comments on this site as he likes, but he will never get a reply...

...I meant it in relation to emails...

Sigh.

I'm going to explain in the simplest terms I can why "there are plenty of other blogs out there" doesn't do it for me.

You are compiling a book called "100 People Who Are Screwing Up Britain". If I was to say "if these people are not good enough for you, there are plenty of other people out there" or "why don't you pay attention to the people you like and ignore the ones you don't" it'd be very silly indeed. Scrutiny is an essential part of the democratic process, you'd rightly point out.

You are one of the UK's highest profile political bloggers. As such, it is perfectly reasonable to expect that you'll be subjected to a reasonable level of scrutiny by other bloggers.

The fact that you seem very keen to discourage people from doing so - "what a waste of their time" - tells a story all on its own.

Garry said...

Iain, your responses here demonstrate exactly why I started posting on this thread about standards of behaviour on the internet. Let's go back to the original exchange which you deleted and which you won't let me link to.

You say "All it did was produce yet more vitriol..."

You have to bear in mind that I, unlike many of your readers, have actually read the exchange. As such, I, unlike many of your readers, know that there was no "vitriol" in Tim Ireland's comment, just statements of fact and a slightly exasperated tone due to your months long failure to remove Tim's images from your Flickr collection as requested.

Again, I could link to it to prove that your use of the word "vitriol" was entirely unjustified but you won't let me. I could quote the exchange but since you've already deleted it once, I don't fancy my chances of getting that past Mr Moderator either.

No, your rules ensure that your false claim cannot be challenged with the actual facts of the case.

It's your blog and you can do that if that's the way you want to play it but if you do, you're going to continue to be called on it, especially when you're lecturing others on standards of behaviour on the internet.

Iain Dale said...

Garry, first of all, it is not me who is lecturing others on how to behave on the internet. I make clear how I expect people to behave on my blog, as I am sure you agree, is my right. Tim Ireland is the one who expects us all to bow and scrape to his own particualr code.

On the Flickr page, I have asked Tim Ireland to tell me which images are his. There are no watermarks on them so it is impossible to tell. I have deleted several featuring Tim Yeo, but unless he tells me which ones they are there's nothing I can do. And he knows that, which is why it suits him not to tell me.

If you really think Ireland doesn't display vitriol when he wrotes about me we're obviously reading different blogs. First he went for Ann Milton, then he went for Guido, now he goes for me. Fair enough. If that's what floats his boat.

But please don't expect me to feed his obsessions. For that is what they are. Look at his blog in the last 2 days. Is it 3 or 4 posts about me? That's almost more than Chris Paul manages. I would have thought his readers must be fed up to the back teeth with it. Judging by the few comments people bother to leave, that would indeed appear to be the case.

Bearing in mind you are obivously a friend/close ally of Ireland I think I have been more than candid with you. If you do not agree, well that's up to you. it's your right.

Garry said...

Garry, first of all, it is not me who is lecturing others on how to behave on the internet...

Just a warning to those 'anonymous' commenters who think they can say anything they like on a blog and get away with it...

Sigh again.

Replace "lecturing" with "discussing" if it makes you feel better. Either way, it doesn't change the point I was making.

I was just looking at the Flickr page and easily identified several "Backing Blair" watermarked images which obviously belong to Tim. Took about five seconds. The suggestion that Tim should be the one who has to identify his clearly marked images is baffling. I'm assuming it was you and not Tim who loaded them up to your Flickr page. I thought Conservatives believed in personal responsibility.

And it is interesting that you have indeed broken out the "obsessive" tag. What were you saying about stooping? Somehow, I doubt you'd say the same about Tim Worstall, a blogger I respect who has very different political views from my own. And yet, there's hardly a day goes by that TW doesn't have a pop at Polly Toynbee. He's been doing it for years...

Anyway, as you've skirted round the issue again, can I just ask whether you are withdrawing the claim that the exchange you deleted contained "vitriol"?

(By the way, I make no secret of who I am, whose blogs I like, or what my views are. I did, perhaps mistakenly, assume that at some point you'd have clicked through to the link to my blog which is attached to each comment I've made here. I also highlighted the Richard Gere incident early on in an attempt to make sure you knew who I was. To be fair, I suppose you might not remember the time you told me to "go play with Richard Gere" when I was posting as CuriousHamster. It sticks in my mind because it seemed a very odd response to a perfectly legitimate question.)

Garry said...

To borrow a phrase, I'm not a huge admirer of people "who think they can say anything they like on a blog and get away with it".

Let's just stick to one example from this thread. Here's the question again. Are you or are you not going to withdraw the claim that the exchange you deleted contained "vitriol" directed against you?

It demonstrably isn't true (not here, of course but we've covered that) so it's clearly relevant to the wider point of this post.

Iain Dale said...

Garry, There are so many blogposts on his blog featuring me I've rather lost track of which one you are referring to, but if it is the one regarding the Kerron Cross photo, which started it all off again, no I don't withdraw. He calls me an 'outright liar'. if that isn't vitriolic I don't know what is.

Garry said...

Heh. Earlier today, I tried nailing jelly to butterflies. It was relatively easy...

The comments in question have been at the heart of this whole conversation. I asked why you deleted a recent exchange between the two of you on your own blog. After initially attempting to deny it - "he will never get a response from me" - you then said:

In a moment of weakness I responded to one of his comments on here. All it did was produce yet more vitriol.

It's all already on this thread.

Bearing in mind that I have read the exchange, unlike many of your readers who didn't get to see it because you deleted it, do you want to withdraw this claim?

Garry said...

Hello?

Garry said...

What are we to make of your sudden lack of interest in addressing this perfectly straightforward question?

Garry said...

In the absence of the retraction of your claim or any other response, I can only conclude that you think you can say anything you like on your blog and get away with it.

I wonder if I'm allowed to use the "H" word. Perhaps that'd be considered "vitriolic" too, despite the fact that I've patiently tried to discuss this stuff with you over the course of a couple of days and been repeatedly fobbed off.

Iain Dale said...

Gaerry, as you may or may not have noticed, I haven't posted on the blog since this morning. This is because I have been in back to back meetings all day. I have just got home.

I withdraw nothing. I have the emails from Ireland. You do not. Unlike him, I do not publicise the contents of other people's emails.

Garry said...

Iain, as you may or may not have noticed, I posted the question at 6.29pm yesterday. In the intervening period, before your latest reply, you've posted this, this, this, this and this. As is your right, of course. It is, as you say, your blog.

Anyway, back to the point. You say "I withdraw nothing. I have the emails from Ireland" but I'm not asking about emails so this isn't much of an answer.

I've made it perfectly clear what I'm asking about. When you forgot the last time, I politely reminded you. I can't see how I could make it any clearer but I'll give it a go.

First of all, we're talking here about comments between the two of you on your blog which were publicly visible for a short time on the morning of October 22nd in the year 2007. After the exchange had occurred, you subsequently deleted it with no explanation.

I would like to know why you did this. After first attempting to suggest that it hadn't happened - "he will never get a reply from me" - you then said:

In a moment of weakness I responded to one of his comments on here. All it did was produce yet more vitriol.

Now, this isn't very convincing to me because, unlike many of your readers who didn't have the opportunity to read the comments before you deleted them, I have read the exchange. I can't see any vitriol in it. I've even looked up the definition of vitriol to make sure I knew what I was looking for.

So, are you going to withdraw this claim and provide an alternative explanation? Or are you going to stick to an explanation which I know isn't accurate?

Garry said...

Well, just checked to be sure and see that you have again been online several times since the last post. Despite the implication in your last reply, I think I'm being more than patient here.

Iain Dale said...

Garry, it is clear that Ireland is using you and Scotch as his sock puppets. If you want to lower yourself to that level that's your decision.

I had just written a long explanation of everything. But I have deleted it, because it will just set Ireland off again, and you know, life is too short. I'm drawing this exchange to a close because whatever I say will never satisfy you and you will just keep coming back for more. I learnt that error many months ago.

If you, Scotch and Ireland wish to continue your little campaign against me feel free to do so. But unless you are capable of discussing real issues rather than email exchanges which are of no interest to anyone else, I ain't playing.

Political blogs are supposed to discuss politics. Perhaps it's about time some people reminded themselves of that fact, rather than writing essays about email exchnages which are of no interest to anyone beyond three or four people who seem to obsess about such things.

Bye bye.

Garry said...

Iain, you say:

Garry, it is clear that Ireland is using you and Scotch as his sock puppets. If you want to lower yourself to that level that's your decision.

No-one is pulling my strings. I read Bloggerheads and IDD, come to my own conclusions and take action accordingly. I object to your unjustified characterisation of me and politely request that you withdraw it.

I'm drawing this exchange to a close because whatever I say will never satisfy you and you will just keep coming back for more.

Well, it appears that there is an element of truth in that. You certainly can't provide a satisfactory answer by making demonstrably untrue claims or refusing to supply any answer at all. I agree that this does not provide a great deal of satisfaction.

Political blogs are supposed to discuss politics.

How far back through your archives do I have to go to find you posting about the behaviour of political actors rather than politics? Not far. At All. A couple of hours before you posted the above reply, you posted this:

Ashcroft accuses Labour Minister of being "cowardly"

And, of, course. there's the post I'm actually commenting on here. I could ask you to explain this extraordinary inconsistency but would I get any sort of answer? Past experiences would suggest not.

three or four people who seem to obsess about such things.

You're now accusing me of obsessive behaviour because I believe that it is perfectly reasonable to examine the behaviour of one of the UK's highest profile political bloggers. We've been over this already. You have not provided any sort of counter to that but have instead resorted to calling me obsessive.

I politely request that you withdraw that unjustified claim.

I would conclude by again requesting that you answer the question I've asked which, for the upmteenth time, had nothing to do with emails, but as you say, it's not likely to be a satisfactory experience.

Iain Dale said...

Garry, at least you are far more polite than certain others. I will give you that.

You do indeed have a right to ask questions, just as I have a right to answer them in my own way, or indeed not at all.

I also have a right to form a view as to the motivation for those questions and I have a right to express that view.

It's my view that you and Scotch are in communication with Ireland, as evidenced by his latest round of posts and the comments contained therein. I may of course be barking up the wrong tree, but I am free to voice my suspicions, just as you are free to deny them.

I have allowed all your comments through moderation, except ones linking to Ireland, just as I have with Scotch. I have responded politely in each case. You don't like what I have said. Fair enough, but that really is it, I'm afraid. I am not accountable to you, Ireland or anyone else. I am accountable to myself. People can form their own judgements on what I write and if they don't like it they will presumably not visit again.

So, you may well have asked three questions and asked for two withdrawals, but I have said all I have to say.

Garry said...

It's my view that you and Scotch are in communication with Ireland...

Heh! Infamy, infamy, they've all got it infamy...

For the record, I have not at any point denied that I've had email conversations with Tim. I didn't realise it was illegal...

And it doesn't negate the fact that I'm a rational human being able to examine the evidence of both blogs, make up my own mind and act accordingly. There was no secret conspiracy which prompted me to start commenting on this thread

Anyway, you'll be pleased to here that I'm off now. I have to say that although I have not received answers to my questions, I have found this whole conversation most illuminating.