The exhibition of horror by Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore as they realise the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr has in her possession a trove of emails that could do them serious damage has now spilled out very openly into the social media arena. It is also an exhibition of panic and desperation, as they try every dirty trick at their disposal to smear Ms Cadwalladr. And I have to tell them that it ain’t making it.
Banksy and Wiggy have decided to pretend that Ms Cadwalladr, and Peter Jukes of Byline Media, came by the email trove improperly. This premise, although false, allows them to spin a whole web of malicious smears as part of their efforts to shake off the pursuit of that kind of proper investigative journalism that does not meet with their approval.
This, sadly for the less than dynamic duo, involves such glaringly amateurish idiocy that it is easy to debunk - and easy for Byline Media’s lawyers to add to the charge sheet. Wiggy kicked off his futile gesture with “Dear @carolecadwalla @peterjukes @Byline_Media did you offer a vulnerable source money in exchange for confidential information about us?”
Peter Jukes replied simply “Dear Andy. We had the material handed to us, without payment, by a source, in the public interest”. Wiggy ignored that. “Again @peterjukes do you deny offering a vulnerable source money in exchange for confidential information on us???? Come on Pete what have you got to hide ???”. He already did.
And then, guess what? Right on cue, along came Isabel Oakeshott, not that she’s in this up to her neck, you understand. “Curious as to the answer to this @peterjukes ?” Also adding a touch of pantomime menace was Leave EU’s CEO Liz Bilney, another to threaten legal action and then not take it. “All I see @carolecadwalla is that you have had access to @Arron_banks emails up to October 2017. I’m sure we all look forward to the explanation on how these were legally obtained”. You already got it.
At this point, the game changed as Wiggy - note that he has his location shown, which was previously showing as “Catbrain”, suggesting he was at Banksy’s place near Bristol, but now showed him back at home in Kensington - decided to up the ante. “So stolen then without our permission and you are absolutely sure you did not pressure this vulnerable individual to accept a payment to hand over our confidential information and that’s not yours or carole voice on the tape?” Complete pack of malicious lies.
Note that Wiggy had also invented a “tape”, which probably doesn’t exist either. “So you didn’t offer any money and threaten a vulnerable source to hand over confidential information on @Arron_banks and I and it’s definitely not you and @carolecadwalla on the tape and you don’t work for @Byline_Media ?? Aah Ok”. More escalation. More lies.
By now, he had added “stolen” and “threatened”. And by this morning, Wiggy had gone totally gaga as he snapped at Ian Dunt “Story written from material obtained in violation of the Computer Misuse Act, a criminal offence, unlimited fine and a prison sentence and also based on a journalist anti-Brexit, Anti-Trump opinion.- utter rubbish”.
And just to show Wiggy that he was not alone, Banksy was there with more of the Fantasy Island rubbish. “I’m reliably told that the source has recorded on tape , email & text the efforts to encouragement to steal the info. They also used a well known hacker to break into our emails & the details are being handed over to the police”. So now it’s just “encouragement to steal”, but a “well known hacker” is involved. Wow. Who might that be? Le Chiffre? Moriarty? Boris from Goldeneye? Colonel Stok of the KGB? Has Banksy been for an imaginary stroll across Primrose Hill with George Smiley?
Seriously, this is sad stuff. We have two grown men, and two of their pals, spinning the kind of puerile fantasy that would be laughed out of court. The Police to whom they claim to have reported the matter will be looking like extras from a Smash advert as they NFA the claims. Andy Wigmore and Arron Banks are not waving, but drowning.
And the defamation claims might just have got a lot more expensive. Serves them right.