John le Carré’s great spymaster George Smiley said that there was no such thing as a coincidence. Le Carré’s great Smiley magnum opus, the “Karla Trilogy”, was all about how he ultimately prevailed over his opposite number in the then Soviet Union, a state which may be long gone, but whose appetite for espionage lives on in present-day Russia.
What Smiley would have made of the current rash of Russia connections is an interesting prospect. He might not have approved of the amateurish nature of so many of them, including, it now seems, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog. Yes, they too have a Russia connection.
Cole: tell-tale overreaction
In late 2011, Staines’ then tame gofer, the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, flew in to Moscow with Jag Singh, the latter being linked to Staines via MessageSpace. Cole was especially sensitive about comments made on his visit, so much so that he went off the end of the pier in no style at all when I tweaked his tail on the subject.
OH WHAT A GIVEAWAY
Why these two less than totally august individuals should feel the need to visit Moscow in the depths of the Russian winter was unclear. But we do know that in July 2012, the Fawkes blog went after Labour MP Chris Bryant because he had a column in the Independent, accusing him of taking bungs from Russians (this despite the Indy being owned by a British citizen) in an exercise of routine hypocrisy.
That was because the Fawkes blog really was taking money from the Russian Government - as witness the adverts for their embassy appearing on the same page as the attack on Bryant. But this could have been no more than a coincidence.
The Fawkes Russia hypocrisy in one screen shot
It seems it may not have been: a Zelo Street source, speaking on condition of anonymity, has joined up the dots. This person had, in early 2012, been working alongside a number of Russian and Russian speaking media people. One of those people, a young woman, also worked with Julian Assange, and took my source to meet The Great Man, who was presenting a programme for Russian state broadcaster RT.
Yes, he's here, too
It has been put to me that the young woman’s online contacts included not only Staines and Cole, but also Mark Clarke and André Walker. In the words of my contact, “they would speak to her online … as if they knew her and were a little bit frightened of her” [my emphasis]. The Fawkes blog began to take Russian ads soon afterwards.
On top of that, another account I’ve had related on the subject tells how the usually aggressive Staines became noticeably defensive and even upset when the Zelo Street post pointing out his taking Russian adverts (and therefore Russian money) was put to him. It’s as if, for once in his life, The Great Guido had developed a guilty conscience.
It wasn't a coincidence there, either
Then, in the wake of the Tory bullying scandal, in which he was heavily implicated, André Walker went off to work for the New York Observer. This move, although perhaps unexpected, did not garner too much attention at the time. But the NYO is co-owned by Jared Kushner, who is now … heavily implicated in the Trump-Russia affair.
All of this could be a series of coincidences. But George Smiley, for whom there was no such thing as a coincidence, might have concluded otherwise.