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Friday, 27 February 2015

Guido Fawked - FoI Hypocrisy

Press Gazette has been rebuffed by the Metropolitan Police in its latest effort to find out if the rozzers have been accessing the magazine’s phone call records, on the bizarre grounds that they are part of some kind of conspiracy: “Earlier this month, the Met accused Press Gazette of being ‘vexatious’, ‘disruptive’ and ‘annoying’ for sending six FoIs requesting information on journalists' being targeted under RIPA in six months”.
Fart in lift Inquiry experiences squeaky bum moment

There was more: “Since, seven other forces - Northumbria, West Mercia, Gwent, Northern Ireland, Humberside, Northamptonshire and Norfolk - have rejected Press Gazette FoIs on RIPA and journalists on the same grounds … Press Gazette will be complaining to the Information Commissioner”. Dead right they will be. And so will another party who was similarly rebuffed rather more recently.

The Guido Fawkes website has been accused of ‘working collectively’ with Press Gazette and branded ‘vexatious’ by the Metropolitan Police after filing a Freedom of Information Act request to find out if its staff’s telephone records had been secretly obtained by the force. The Met accused the website of a ‘vexatious and repeated request’ and claimed that it was linked to previous questions about RIPA asked by Press Gazette”.

The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines may be many things, but being barred from making FoI requests is not one of them. As a result, they were most put out: “For the avoidance of doubt, Guido is not 'working collectively' with Press Gazette on sending FoIs to the Met. This strange allegation by the Met is completely untrue. He sent just one batch of three requests, which in no reasonable terms can be described as vexatious or repeated”.

So Staines and his rabble are unhappy that the Met may have obtained telephone information about them. One might think that they must, therefore, be more than happy to respond to any request to their good selves about how they have come by personal information on others. Like, oh I dunno, phone numbers, full addresses and full names, even where these are not routinely available.

I mean, fair’s fair, eh, Fawkes folks? So perhaps Staines and friends would like to let me know how they have managed to obtain my full address (it’s not on the electoral roll), my phone number (it’s not in any directory) and full name. And, for removal of any doubt, there has not yet been an honest or credible explanation offered up. I suspect the details were not just obtained so they could wish me a happy Christmas.

There’s always an outside chance that A Big Boy Did It And Ran Away. Or perhaps the details fell off the back of a moderately sized commercial vehicle. Maybe I shouted them out in a crowded pub and forgot the incident immediately afterwards. But none of these are remotely believable. So come on, Fawkes rabble, and let me know how you got all that information. I’m sure it was all in a good cause.

Until then, they shouldn’t expect any sympathy for their FoI rejection. Another fine mess.


rob said...

Are you still sure Ms Mensch isn't our greatest living émigré?
With all those contacts giving her information on the contents of The Guardian's hard disk that had to be destroyed I'm sure that a little information gleaned from those sources and passed on as a favour to her fellow right thinking colleague on The Sun wouldn't have gone amiss.

Pure supposition on my part - a bit like a WikiGuido report from Manhattan I guess.

Gonzoland said...

Not on the electoral roll? Are you one of these illegals getting a house, a car and £800 a week in benefits?

Tim Fenton said...


One can opt for one's address not to appear on the readily available published electoral roll.

SteveB said...

Full name (and name of sister), address (and how much you paid for it) was published in 2012 by a blog which gave up shortly afterwards. Not that difficult to find, they probably used the same sort of tactics as me when I looked into Michael Jones' offshore history. Phone number, possibly a source which has since been deleted but that suggests they've had it while, leads me to think they were behind the closed blog. The photo used by the blog is the same one recently used by Stuart Parr which presumably means he also has your address, now that is worth worrying about! Staines et al are never going to venture north but Parr may have some dodgy friends.

Most of the blog post was ripped off and republished a few weeks later by a New York libertarian website that described you as a left wing extremist!

Your digital footprint is quite big and the "infinite number of monkeys" principle also applies to using Google.

So does this mean you know who sent the dodgy letters a while back?

Anonymous said...

I , gonzoland, imagine that was pretty fucking obvious to anyone who chose to look. Obviously.

Gonzoland said...

Your local council library has a copy of the full electoral register and, here's the interesting bit, political parties can buy the full registers in a format that can be viewed as a database. Credit reference agencies have digital copies of every electoral register in Britain.

SteveB said...

@Gonzoland, right about credit agencies, right about political parties, wrong about libraries. Here in Cheshire East the libraries don't have them at all, you have to go to certain council offices but hardly worth it as they only have the edited version. But the details published in 2012 went way beyond what was on the full version even if you could get access - someone put a good deal of work into that research.