After foolish Murdoch pundit David Aaronovitch suggested yesterday - but only by nudges and winks and not naming anyone, you understand - that he, or someone known to him, was looking to link Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to the 1993 IRA Warrington town centre bombings via the supposed common link of far-left splinter group Red Action, a number of revelations followed, generating difficult questions for one of his colleagues.
The article that linked Jezza to Red Action had appeared in the same paper for which Aaronovitch writes - the Murdoch Sunday Times - on August 19. The author, as with so many routine smears of anyone to the left of the Tories, was Andrew “transcription error” Gilligan. Soon after Gilligan’s article went out, the Wikipedia entry for Red Action was edited to include a section mentioning Corbyn (since deleted).
This could have been no more than coincidence. But the Gilligan article also mentions a group called Anti-Fascist Action, to which he also attempts to link Corbyn. And the Anti-Fascist Action Wikipedia page was also edited on August 19. Moreover, both the Red Action and Anti-Fascist Action edits appear to be mainly the work of the same contributor, identified only by the IP address 18.104.22.168.
All that a WHOIS lookup of 22.214.171.124 reveals is that the address is one of a block allocated to EE. But this contributor has made one more highly relevant edit to Wikipedia in the recent past. A few days before the Anti-Fascist Action and Red Action edits, on 10 August, this user edited the Wikipedia entry for UKIP leader Gerard Batten, and specifically the section “Views of multiculturalism and Islam”.
Why should that be of interest? Well, Batten has been a recent target for none other than … Andrew Gilligan. On July 15, he co-authored an article titled “Far-right weighs in as Trumpists and lefties clash”, mentioning Batten’s presence and speech during gatherings and counter protests in London. The following week brought “Fuelled by US money, extremists and Ukip are converging to woo Generation Z”, solely by Gilligan.
Here, he told “Islam is a ‘death cult’ and ‘the most regressive force on earth’. The prophet Muhammad ‘was himself a paedophile who kept sex slaves’. Tommy Robinson, the jailed former leader of the English Defence League, is ‘heroic’. The prime minister’s real name is ‘Treason May’ … The views of some fringe far-right figure? No: the words of Gerard Batten, the leader of Ukip”. Then on August 5 came another mention.
That was in an article on Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson. And that August 10 edit of Batten’s Wikipedia entry? It begins “In July 2018, Batten described Muhammad as ‘a paedophile who kept sex slaves’ during a speech at a protest in London calling for the release from prison of activist Tommy Robinson”. But the Sunday Times article with those same words is not cited.
All of which suggests that someone not unadjacent to Andrew Gilligan may know more about this mysterious Wikipedia editor. After all, he does have form for sockpuppeting.
Or it could be complete coincidence. And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.
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