There's only one James O'Brien
Angela Richardson. Now repenting at leisure
What happened can be put directly: Dominic Raab had committed himself to making a parachute jump to raise money for Shooting Star children’s hospices. The JustGiving page is HERE. Someone called James O’Brien had contributed a caustic comment to the page but had not donated. But it was not the same James O’Brien as the LBC host.
Ms Richardson, it seems, did not concern herself with name verification: “James O’Brien is an arse! But many of you knew that already [thus attacking the LBC host - there isn’t anyone else well known with that name]. Fancy going onto someone’s fundraising page intended to help make the last weeks and months of a dying child’s life easier, making a sarky comment and not donating. The lengths some will go to is astonishing. Arse!”
Except the James O’Brien whose comment she had identified was not the LBC host. So the one who was the LBC host responded “I & many others think you may be referring to, & therefore clearly libelling, me here [Angela Richardson]. Unchallenged replies to your tweet add to that impression. Please confirm that you are talking about a different James O’Brien or delete & apologise immediately. Thank you”. What say Ms Richardson?
“I have not tagged you. But I am happy to delete my tweet if your assumption that I meant you has caused you offence and I apologise as requested”. It’s intercoursing obvious who she meant, and the idea that she would have had to tag him to make it defamatory is just talking the piss. O’Brien was less than totally satisfied with the response.
So he tried another gentle nudge. “Thank you for deleting your libellous tweet, [Angela Richardson]. Please apologise & explain to your followers in a tweet of similar prominence that you were wrong to post it. Thank you”. This time, she apologised properly. “Earlier this afternoon I posted a tweet attributing behaviour to [James O’Brien] that I now accept was not him. I would like to unreservedly apologise to him for the implications of that tweet and promise not to repeat those remarks again”. After dragging her feet a little too long.
The serially tenacious Tim Ireland reminded her - and everyone else - on that point. “Angela Richardson took far too long to arrive at this point, and her behaviour in the first instance was a shocking departure from what we should expect from a Member of Parliament. Even if she posted it thinking it true, what does that say about her judgement?”
Guildford Lib Dems will need no prompting to redouble their efforts to remove Ms Richardson at the next election. Not only is the Tory majority fewer than 3,350 votes, before becoming an MP, she defended one of three Tory seats in the Cranleigh East ward of Waverley Borough Council. She lost it. To the Lib Dems.
Angela Richardson may think she has drawn a line under this little local difficulty. On the contrary, she has just opened it wide for the Lib Dems. She chose … poorly.
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