Behold the face of cowardice and hypocrisy
“Humour plays some part in our success … We campaign on issues we feel strongly about, mainly political hypocrisy, lying and dishonesty … Editors, pundits and journalists are surprisingly thin skinned and there is much sport to be had in teasing and taunting prominent media figures”. As to legal action, “We have repeatedly ignored injunctions and orders issued in the UK courts”. This is sanctimonious claptrap.
What was that about his reputation?
And then came Staines’ clinching argument: “aside from my role at Guido Fawkes, I am an investor in and developer of a number of internet oriented businesses. The baseless accusation that I engaged or engage in wrongdoing of the nature alleged and/or implied by you … goes to the very heart of damaging my business reputation. Metrics, particularly online reach, being a key part of any internet business. To that end, I cannot this time allow you to act unchallenged without any regard for my reputation”.
We are very surprised at your decision to threaten libel proceedings against our client. You clearly do not consider your own writing to be bound by UK libel laws, (see for example your blog post about press regulation ‘None of the forthcoming regulations will make a blind bit of difference to me. I realised early on that the British libel laws were too oppressive and based the Guido Fawkes Blog site offshore from the outset. Lord Black’s draft proposal on behalf of media proprietors for a contractually based regulator is not even designed to govern offshore sites like mine. In truth it would be in my commercial interest and distinct competitive advantage to see the British media heavily regulated, draconian privacy laws enacted and politically correct “media standards” enforced. All of which I would cheerfully ignore.’). You are, at least publicly, an advocate of free-speech and a vocal opponent of libel laws.
A large part of your letter is taken up by anxious attempts to prevent our client from publicising your letter. This section is no doubt an attempt to avoid the embarrassment you would face were your hypocrisy to be exposed. You are of course well-known for publishing confidential legal correspondence on your own blog.
Our client’s blog describes a practice whereby fake Twitter followers are bought. He explains that some politicians had used this practice and been exposed, and that some journalists had been subjected to a related practice where fake Twitter followers were bought by a third party and the journalist then falsely exposed. He speculated as to who was responsible for this in relation to Owen Jones’ account, described some coincidences involving you and your associates and said that his Occam’s razor concluded that Guido Fawkes was behind this. The words complained of are obviously comment. Occam’s razor is a fourteenth century philosophical principle which explains the probability or likelihood of a given explanation being correct. The use of the principle in this context indicates that the words following it are theories, opinions or hypotheses, not statements of facts. That applies to both versions of the statement.
Accordingly, our client does not consider it appropriate to remove the statement, or to apologise. He has already amended the word ‘conclude’ to ‘wonder if’ and he will now publish the following on his website [wording added to post].
We trust that this will be an end of the matter”.
There you have it: Paul Staines, ostensibly libertarian and free speech advocate, supposed outsider, but in reality an establishment sellout, a libel bully, a hypocrite, and an unprincipled charlatan. Another fine mess, once again.
[My sincere thanks to all at Bindmans, and others who have rallied to my cause this week. You know who you all are]