Every now and again in life someone surprises you and today that has happened to me. That someone is John Hirst, the blogger that goes by the name JailHouseLawyer. He's come in for quite a big of stick over the past year or so in the comment sections of some blogs. This is because he was convicted of manslaughter, served his sentence and took the Government to the European Court of Human Rights.
The usual attacks on him have consisted of the words "axe murderer" and the like. He's also had a pop at me more than once on my blog, but I've always just took it as water off a ducks back really, had a little flame war and left it at that. This is because it's just the Internet, and a bit of argument and name calling is just that.
I've rarely agreed with him that's for sure, and to be honest, sometimes he has said things that I've personally found offensive. That said, I don't have the right not to be offended so you just let it go. Today I have seen a side of John Hirst (who for all his faults in relation to where I disagree with him) that was both honourable, honest and basically thoroughly decent. So let me explain with a back story first.
Last November, a certain blogger by the name of Tim Ireland was engaged in a one of his campaigns against a Tory. In this case it was Nadine Dorries MP and related in someway to abortion and something she had said or written. The left wing blogosphere - of which Tim belongs even though he proclaims himself politically neutral - was raging against Nadine.
To be totally honest I can't really remember what all the fuss was actually about apart from that Nadine turned comments on her blog off and it caused lots of chest puffing and indignation. The detail is meaningless to tell you the truth, because it is what followed that this post is really about.
You see, an anonymous blog appeared by the name of Ironed Sardine (an anagram of Nadine Dorries) which carried potentially actionable content about Nadine's private life. At the time, Tim Ireland, posted about the site, and made an insinuation (rather than an accusation) that it was me that had created it.
The theory went like this. I or some other nasty evil right winger, and ergo a friend of Nadine's, had set the blog up and posted about it on left wing blogs in order to associate the Left wing blogosphere with it and thus frame them and hopefully make Tim link to it and become liable. The basis of Tim's insinuation was that because I was online arguing on his blog a few hours before the site appeared I was "in the frame".
As soon as I saw Tim's post I telephoned Nadine in order to assure her that the site was nothing to do with me and to also offer my support and help to her if she needed it on anything relating to her website and the like. I did this even though she's a Liverpool fan and her great grandfather was a founder of Everton.
I didn't bother saying anything at the time because I didn't see the point, Tim's hinting at his view was bollocks anyway so why bother? However, today, Tim Ireland has posted once again about this subject, and in his usual style has done so in a way that implies I had something to do with the site which has since been removed and issued a challenge to me about it.
He's done this because I have published the email exchanges he had where he tried to set me up, and, being so convinced of his theory about the fake Nadine blog, has pondered upon why I have "so far managed to contain [my] outrage about that attempted set-up". The reason is of course simple, there was no set up unlike his attempt directed at me. Here are Tim Ireland's own words about this today
The creator [of Ironed Sardine] was attempting to pose as an opponent of Dorries under comments on several weblogs, thereby establishing those bloggers as co-bullies and publishers of links to clear libel. If it were left at that, it would be potentially damaging to all opponents of Dorries.The IP address in question was 184.108.40.206. A quick whois informs you that it is part of a dynamic broadband pool owned by Kingston Communications. Those unaware, Kingston Communications are basically like BT were, only their monopoly is/was purely in Hull and most people there use them (or have no choice).
If I blogged about the joe-job and/or followed the trail that was so obviously dangled, there was clear risk of repeating the libel myself and making false claims about the person(s)/organisations using the relevant IP address.
Now, I wish to stress here that this was an effort to damage the opponents of Nadine Dorries with no thought for the damage it might cause her; the claims made about her sex life were quite specific and quite explicit.
Now, as already mentioned, Tim has challenged me saying "What are your thoughts on the unknown author of the 'Ironed Sardine' weblog?". Presumably he is expecting silence, because I'm guilty, or I know which evil right wing bastard is right? Well I'm afraid to inform him that whilst I do have a thought on the unknown author of the 'Ironed Sardine' weblog it wasn't some nasty right winger.
The guilty party emailed me today you see, he is a regular commenter on Tim's blog, he's also someone who regularly attacks the same people Tim does. In fact, Tim, on his "Guido 2.0" blog even went so far as to write lengthy posts defending him. So with no futher ado I hand over to John Hirst's emails.
Hi DizzyDid I mention that John lives in Hull? Anyhow... I replied to John asking him if I could publish the emails (after having a little problem with Gmail) and his response was as follows,
I don't know what your thoughts are on this...
[link to Tim's post today]
It is not clear whether Tim is suggesting that you were somehow implicated in the setting up of the Ironed Sardine blog.
In any event, I was the author of that blog. The joke backfired. Initially set up as an anagram of Nadine Dories, and attack the Right, the Left instead got upset and I closed the blog.
Hi PhilThis evening John has also kindly sent me an old Statcounter traffic report for "s20ironedsardine". That is the traffic counter that Tim saw his IP address in. At the time Tim also sent an email to the Kingston abuse department and today noted he "got nothing back from that report, BTW." That is because abuse departments don't reply to the person filing the report, it's standard practice, but I digress, let's get back to the plot.
No the original email did not get through. (Now 2 have followed this one, must have been sent first!).
If you want to run with it, it's up to you. I stick by my original email as being the author of Ironed Sardine.
I am at a loss at to Tim's research over the IP address and my being anonymous. I have a lot of time for him. However, if he is blaming you, he's got the wrong bloke, and I don't like to see the innocent accused of wrong doing especially as in this case I am the guilty party.
One of the things I have quite regularly said is that Tim Ireland deals in pure conjecture. Today he also insinuated that I was making dropped calls to his home when his wife answered and suggested that I would not respond to such questions beyond "screaming 'conjecture'". Funnily enough I did respond to him via email saying
Fuck all to do with me mate. I don't expect you to believe that of course, and clearly I cannot prove a negative, but I suggest having your telco provider bar withheld number at their switch for a start. You have my landline number so feel free to have the records checked. I have called you on two occasions with six calls where we have both hung up on the other. That was one day in March and then one day in June. That's it. Feel free to publish this email if you want, and also feel free to say that you don't believe me if you must.At the time of writing he hadn't published it, presumably because I did not scream conjecture. However, right now I'm not going to scream that word I am going to calmly explain what it means. You see conjecture occurs when presumptive and defective evidence leads to dangerously flawed inference, and that, I'm afraid to say, is what Tim Ireland has done here.
So I guess, what I'm trying to say to Tim in this post is that my "thoughts on the unknown author of the 'Ironed Sardine' weblog" which smeared someone I consider a friend is that Tim.... you're a great big numpty.... me old mucker!
The lyrics to 'It's A Fact!" seems appropriate again at this point.
With thanks to John Hirst for his honesty
Update: John Hirst comments
Update II: Mr Ireland has admitted his mistake whilst refusing to apologise. He has again suggested that I have been calling him constantly as well, which is completely untrue, but hey ho, I would expect nothing less.
Oh, and Tim, just to clear up this little thing about how I got your phone number. I told you before, someone gave it to me. I didn't say that I hacked a database, or anything like that. That was yet another of your inferences. What I said was merely that there is no such thing as an ex-directory phone number and you have leapt to the conclusion of a changing story.
Now, seriously, let it go and move on.