Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kevin Maguire & Ray Collins Were Behind Red Rag Blog

The News of the World has a stonking story tomorrow which calls into question how many more lies those close to the Red Rag/McBride story have told. The Labour Party General Secretary has been forced to admit he was at the meeting which agreed to set it up. And, what's more, so was Brown lackey Kevin Maguire. And he calls himself a journalist...

THE VILE website at the centre of the vicious plot to smear top Tories was set up with the help of the boss of the Labour Party, the News of the World can sensationally reveal today. A new email shows that Labour’s General Secretary Ray Collins chaired a secret meeting to create the Red Rag website now ensnared in the Smeargate scandal.

The email’s existence links the dirty tricks site to the very TOP of the Labour Party. And it exposes the LIE, put out by Downing Street, and repeated by government ministers this week, that the smears project was just a minor aberration cooked up by a couple of renegades acting alone—and which would never have seen light of day.

The new email, written by Labour’s then internet campaign chief Derek Draper, PROVES that the meeting took place, reveals WHO was there, WHERE it was held and WHAT was on the agenda. It shows that Collins travelled across Westminster for a summit in the offices of trade union bigwig Charlie Whelan. Whelan, one of Gordon Brown’s closest friends and his former chief spin doctor, was described last night by a Labour insider as the Prime Minister’s “unofficial Mr Fix-It”.

Joining Collins and Whelan at the meeting were the two men whose leaked smear emails later brought the scandal to light: Damian McBride and Draper.

Also in the room was the man who was to be the public face of Red Rag, Unite press officer Andrew Dodgshon, as well as political journalist Kevin Maguire, who was there in a private capacity. News of the meeting, and the presence at it of the Labour Party’s General Secretary, will horrify and appal senior party workers and Labour MPs who have already been disgusted by the smear campaign.

The email reveals the meeting took place on December 1 last year at Unite’s London HQ, on King’s Street, Westminster, seven weeks before McBride sent an explosive email to Draper outlining “stories” for the site.

Last week, after the News of the World’s revelations about the shocking extent of the smears, Collins slammed McBride and Draper, while he avoided mentioning his own role in the scandal.

Collins carefully followed a line taken by Derek Draper, husband of GMTV’s Kate Garraway, and McBride that they acted alone. Draper claimed: “The idea that it was a big project orchestrated in Downing Street is ridiculous.”

However, our revelations show that Collins knew about the Red Rag site more than four months ago and did NOTHING to stop it—in fact he did the opposite. Collins also tried to distance himself from Draper last week.

“I want to reiterate that Derek Draper does not hold a position or role with the Labour Party and this will remain the case,” he said. Yet the General Secretary himself recruited Draper last year to try to set up a unit inside the Labour Party to attack the Tories using the internet.

We can reveal that despite internal opposition Collins granted Draper a pass to Labour Party HQ in Westminster, and even allowed him a Labour Party email account. Both were quietly rescinded by Collins this week after furious protests from staff following our Smeargate revelations.

The Red Rag site was borne out out of those foundations, and was set up on November 4, 2008, weeks before the secret meeting. A shocked Labour party insider told us: “It is devastating that Collins was there. It was a meeting called to set up, run and work out how to finance the Red Rag site. “It’s no coincidence either that it wasn’t held at Labour Party HQ, or that it was at Charlie Whelan’s offices in Unite. Whelan is back as Gordon Brown's unofficial Mr Fix-it, and he’s now so powerful that he’s effectively running the party. If anyone in the party was still daft enough to believe the Downing Street line about this being minor, this email finally exposes that lie." Whelan was copied in to the vile emails between McBride and Draper and his role in the meeting at the Unite HQ raises further questions about how closely the union was involved in the dirty tricks campaign.

He is political director of Unite, which has two million members. It is now one of the largest donor to the Labour Party, and it’s cash is effectively paying the near-bankrupt party’s wages as it struggles to manage debts topping £16million.

Last night Collins, himself a former assistant general secretary of Unite, admitted he attended the Red Rag website meeting but insisted he did not know about the McBride smears. He told us: “I have had no knowledge whatsoever of any smears and found the stories and reports of the last week absolutely disgusting.

“I did attend a meeting at the Unite Head Office on December 1 to discuss online digital campaigning and how we could support and encourage left of centre websites and bloggers.

“This meeting was not about scurrilous rumour, personal attacks or smears as I would have been furious that such things could be seen as legitimate tools of political debate.”

Oh dear. It's now clear why Collins went to such great lengths to diss Draper last week and to distance himself from him.

The meeting was held on December 1st, only a fortnight after Derek Draper had lunch with the Prime Minister at Chequers. Are we really supposed to believe that none of this was discussed at that lunch?

I very much look forward to Kevin Maguire's next blog or Mirror column. Presumably he will be explaining his role at this meeting and what his role in the Red Rag Website was to be. the NOTW story says he was attending the meeting "in a private capacity". Oh yeah? Perhaps that's why he now feels compromised by the whole thing and has so far failed to explain why he was copied in on the "dirty" emails.


Simon Gardner said...

Oh dear. All this top down command & control stuff is why it was never going to work.

New Labour really can’t help being control freaks. And Dolly presumably saw this as his route back to the centre of things.

Neil James said...

Can we have some more resignations this week please

Richard Havers said...


Ben Landless said...

Come on Iain, you'll have to do better than this.

Guilt by association doesn't work, although you seem to think that smear by association does work.

There's no evidence here at all that Ray Collins knew of the contents of the McBride emails. Try again.

trevorsden said...

Maguire has been economical with the truth during his recent TV appearances then.

Iain Dale said...

Ben, er I never mentioned a link between Collins and the emails. You did.

Martin said...

I have never liked Maguire, not just because he's a geordie (I really hope Newcastle get relegated) but because he's a favourite of the BBC.

I really hope it turns out the BBC are involved in this as well. Please!!!!!!

Humpty Dumpty said...

That's no doubt why McGuire quickly put up the article on his blog last Sunday night, mocking the seriousness of the emails.

Ooops, Kevin - still, with all these jobs ZanuLiebour keep saying they're creating, you won't have a problem getting another job. You won't, will you?

John said...

WOW, this is golden!

There is no way Gordon's hands can be said to be clean anymore.

Kevin Maguire should also get the sack.

As someone with more media experience in your little finger than i'll ever have, how precarious would you say Kevin Maguire's job is Iain? Or are his employers at The Mirror likely not to care about him being involved in this?

Anonymous said...


Collins has issued a statement on Sky news saying that he was there to discuss the Red Rag website but not the content of the smear emails.

What do you all take us for? Why discuss setting up another website if it wasn't going to print anything different to the existing labourlist?

Kevin Maguire !! Well words fail me what an odious piece of filth. If the Mirror continue to employ him they won't have any readers left by the end of next week.


Jimmy said...

"Guilt by association doesn't work,"

Of course it does, that's why they're doing it. Without this the tories would have to fall back on debating policy.

Jabba the Cat said...

Another thoroughly enjoyable Sunday ahead of us.


Anonymous said...

You guy are becoming the leading political commentators in the UK. Aiming for the UK version of Huffington Post? Not a bad aspiration!

ranger1640 said...

In Northern Ireland Maguire is a regular on BBC radio Ulster and his Nu labour bile and diatribes just flow.

Was he making the Tea the meeting, it’s about all he is good for?

I bet Tony B,liar is laughing he nuts off at all this.

David Boothroyd said...

Now let's be clear here. It's not a surprise that Ray Collins met Derek Draper to discuss electronic campaigning, since Draper had been an unpaid assistant to Labour Party HQ since November. Nor is it a surprise that Damian McBride should also be involved since he was the chief political person in the Prime Minister's private office and the link to party headquarters.

The only way this amounts to a serious issue is if there is any suggestion that RedRag was the subject of the meeting. The News of the World suggest that in a graphic but the story does not quote the email and relies on an anonymous "Labour Party insider".

What we might have here is a routine meeting and a great deal of spin by the News of the World.

Bardirect said...

Come on, come on, Come on, come on, Come on, come on, Come on,

D'you wanna be in my gang , my
gang, my gang, D'you wanna be in my gang, Oh Yeah!

I'm the leader, I'm the leader, I'm the leader of the gang I am I'm the leader, I'm the leader, Well there's no one like the man I am.

Who'd ever believe it, Come on come on

D'you wanna be in my gang, a my gang, my gang,

Oh, sorry I thought this was the top 50 thread.

No Gary Glitter then? My only experience of him was that he got too pissed to meet his (many at that time - 1982/3) fans.

Still appropriate though.

DWaterson said...

This was the top story on the ITV News at 21:55. So far, not a single mention on the BBC News at 22:20.

DaveA said...

Can this get any better?

DWaterson said...

Oh well, to give the BBC credit, they did eventually notice and give it a 5-second mention.

Jabba the Cat said...

@ Anonymous said...

"You guy are becoming the leading political commentators in the UK. Aiming for the UK version of Huffington Post? Not a bad aspiration!"
I think most normal people would consider that an insulting aspiration. Who on earth would want to emulate the Greek Polly Parrot?

Arianna Dahling!

Mark Reckons said...

I think Labour are now in meltdown.

I also agree with John that the more that his senior lieutenants are implicated, the more it becomes difficult for Brown to distance himself. Either he is completely incompetent and all of his senior advisers are out of control or he is implicated.

Nietzschesghost said...

Hee! Hee! Hee! From a little lie to a bigger lie to a really big lie, like a game of Russian dolls for bullshitters. And now the web they wove, made of fear and malice and ambition, has caught them. Two scandals tomorrow? That's almost greedy. Now...where's that champagne..

Cynic said...

Is it not time for a vote of no confidence?

The counter view is that it might unite them in adversity.

Undoubtedly Brown would still win but it would put Labour backbenchers on their mettle on this issue. Vote for the Government and you vote for lies and smears, especially if timed just after disastrous European election results

cherami said...

Considering the malicious tripe he spreads through the Mirror it is totally unsurprising that McGuire was there.

Did Guido really mean to loosen the wheel nuts to this extent?

Makes one quite nostalgic for Tory sleaze!

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. In fact, oh dear!

jon dee said...

Maguire's presence at the Red Rag meeting in a private capacity is indeed intriguing. Lets hope a good story comes out of it,or if not,a full explanation of his role in the affair.

Surely The Mirror have sanctioned the part he is playing,however private.

Cynic said...

Some useful extracts from the Press Complaints Commissions Code - just in case the Mirror needs to refer to them tomorrow:


All members of the press have a duty to maintain the highest professional standards.

It is the responsibility of editors and publishers to apply the Code to editorial material in both printed and online versions of publications. They should take care to ensure it is observed rigorously by all editorial staff and external contributors,

1 Accuracy

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information,


3 Privacy

i) Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications. Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual's private life without consent.

4 Harassment

i) Journalists must not engage in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit.

iii) Editors must ensure these principles are observed by those working for them and take care not to use non-compliant material from other sources.

10. Clandestine devices and subterfuge

ii) Engaging in misrepresentation or subterfuge, including by agents or intermediaries, can generally be justified only in the public interest and then only when the material cannot be obtained by other means.

Then of course there is Trinity Mirror's own code of ethics which includes:-

The continuing development and well-being of our business depends on all of us maintaining the highest standards of integrity and personal conduct in all matters which involve the company.

The company recognises its obligations to those with whom it has dealings, namely its employees, shareholders, readers and advertisers, suppliers and the communities in which its businesses operate.

The reputation of the company, inspiring as it does the trust and confidence of those with whom the company deals, is one of the most vital of resources, and depends for its protection upon the honesty and integrity of each and every one of its staff."

I am sure of course that the Mirror and its Journalists will have fully honoured both and not engaged in any plan to smear individuals with lies and false stories or with anything that even Gordon Brown said was "totally unacceptable in politics"

Cato said...

Boothroyd, you are a fatuous idiot. You'd spin a turd if you thought you could turn itinto fruit cake.

Conand said...

Collins' Ratf***ing of Draper in the last week really was unsavoury.
It looks like they're all going to poison each other and Maguire is trying to be the last man standing.
What was it that the Mirror told Tim Montgomerie on the phone yesterday?: 'We're a Labour paper not a Labour Party paper.'
Maguire is trying to decapitate the party for its own good, and from within> Watch that space. (I'm sure Brown will be.)

WV: lament (quite)

Tone made me do it - he's a bad influence said...

The airwaves are deafened by the sound of Murdoch leaving the sinking ship.

Chris Paul said...

Have you actually read the story carefully? I did so imagining it was the Tories and the CBI instead of Labour and the Unions. I must say I emerged from my reverie thinking that this was an incredibly weak story. Incredibly weak. Not a stonker.

I'm thinking that for all the sound and fury the Guidoisation of the MSM Lobby has completely hit the buffers: So weak! as Balls might say. Or So What! even.

The Balls story has more going for it. Only problem is that it actually relies on some of the famous internecine briefing that we're all so agitated about. It is so written that it could very easily be based on McBride himself bragging to some of his journo mates.

Only a couple of days ago we had everyone in the MSM getting close to a mea culpa over the briefing culture and yourself Iain and Guido and all saying how they really msut all stop picking up these stories from sources.

Now you're cock-a-hoop. Next it'll be more Nokia throwing, rocking horses, and Brown is gay psycho smears. That one's done for actually. Nadine has a private letter analysed by a charlatan and it basically said Gordon was cool.

The Grim Reaper said...

Well, this would explain Maguire's rather dreadful blog post about this subject a few days ago, wouldn't it?

The Red Rag said...

Verity said...

Open-necked shirts with jackets.


The Governor of California, where it would be normal, does not wear such an atrocity. What Labour doesn't understand is, people want formality in their lives. They (we) want our transactions formal and according to rules. We want to be addressed by strangers by our formal, familial names. Not "Bob" or "Pam".

On the other hand, this is a forced informality is a further advance on Labour pulling down the structure of our society on the sly.

Dilog said...

Maguire just been on BBC Breakfast for paper review.

When questioned as part of the top story said he attended the meeting but can't remember whether RedRag was mentioned but knew about it anyway but of course anything published on it had to be legal ...

Unsworth said...

@ David Boothroyd

If this is a 'routine meeting' as you assert then no doubt for clarity they'll be prepared to publish unexpurgated minutes.

Oh, that is assuming minutes were taken, of course.

Now would you care to comment on the subsequent e-mails?