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Has Rachel Riley libelled defenders of Michael Rosen? Will they sue?

Michael Rosen.

It seems Rachel Riley is playing her old games again – and this one appears to be in very poor taste.

She has responded to a piece of – journalism? – by someone called David Hirsh, raking over the behaviour of a person who is no longer alive and therefore unable to speak for himself. It is not clear to This Writer whether the deceased’s family were involved.

The piece about Peter Newbon, who was a leading figure in an organisation known as Labour Against Antisemitism (LAAS), appears to have made certain claims about the beloved children’s author and poet, Michael Rosen – on which Ms Riley commented as follows:

Note that she did not provide any information explaining the reason her “stomach turns” at the mention of Mr Rosen. This is familiar behaviour; by allowing others to draw their own conclusions, it may be possible to deny those conclusions later.

But is it possible to work out what one may reasonably deduce is the reason Mr Rosen has such an effect on Ms Riley’s digestive system? I have not read the Hirsh article – but I believe I have enough information from the following exchange between him and Mr Rosen:

(I’m not going to refer here to the Jamie Wilson court case, in which Newbon was also involved. If you want more information on that, details are available here.)

So the claim is that the late Mr Newbon was bullied by people including Mr Rosen, and that this led to his suicide.

In that case, we need to examine how Michael Rosen knew Peter Newbon. And we find this:

The image, tweeted by Newbon, shows former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn apparently reading the anti-Semitic book The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to children.

In fact, he had been reading Mr Rosen’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, and the words with which Newbon accompanied the image paraphrase that work: “Oh no! A J-…er, I mean a ZIONIST! A nasty, horrible Zionist! We can’t go over him, we can’t go under him, we’ll have to make an effigy…” instead of: “We can’t go over it, we can’t under it. Oh no! We have to go through it”.

Hirsh has said Newbon did not create the image; he merely shared it. But every share is a new publication of the image and any message it conveys. Furthermore, the words above the image appear to have been typed in by Newbon. Were they his words, or those of whoever created the meme? Either way, if he typed them into his tweet, we may infer that he agreed with the message that they convey.

Mr Rosen had contacted Newbon’s employer, Northumbria University, to complain about its lecturer sharing the image, which he described as “loathesome and antisemitic” – and he was not alone; the university received around 4,000 complaints in total.

I think we may reasonably infer that this is the “bullying” to which Hirsh referred. How he can describe Mr Rosen’s complaint in that manner, or as “antisemitic”, is a mystery as Mr Rosen, being Jewish, may quite clearly be seen as the victim of anti-Semitism here; the tweeted image links him – a Jew – with an anti-Semitic book which was once said to have been written by Jews and which makes claims calculated to provoke hatred against Jews.

I have no information on Newbon’s own ethnicity. If he was Jewish himself, then for Mr Rosen to have been anti-Semitic towards him, Mr Rosen’s complaint would have to have exhibited hatred towards him because he was a Jew – and we have no evidence of this.

And a complaint about a tweet that may clearly be taken as an attack on Mr Rosen may not be described as bullying in any way. Or so it seems to This Writer. It seems to me, based on the evidence, that he is the victim:

So I can find no clear basis for Ms Riley’s apparent comment that the Hirsh article reminds her of any reason her “stomach turns” at the mention of Mr Rosen.

Her tweet certainly appears to have turned the stomachs of people who enjoy his work or have personal experience of him. A few hours after her initial tweet, Ms Riley followed it up with this:

To This Writer, the comment is very strange – firstly because I can only find two responses to her previous tweet on the subject, that criticise her. Is that really enough for her to pass comment as though there was a large backlash?

Secondly, it does not make grammatical sense – and this leads me to suggest that it may be taken to mean something else: not that she isn’t bothered by people she claims are antisemites being upset at her comment about Mr Rosen, but that if people do criticise her for that comment, she is not bothered because they are all antisemites.

Again, there appears to be no evidence to support a claim that every respondent is an anti-Semite.

It strikes This Writer that these tweets may create something of a difficulty for Ms Riley, in legal terms, because anyone defending Mr Rosen in response to her comments – either before or after her “Antisemites upset again” tweet – may reasonably infer that tweet to refer to them. And they may consider it to be libellous against them.

So not only is it possible that she and her employers at Channel 4 may receive a complaint about her behaviour from Mr Rosen – they already have from at least one other person…

… but she may also receive a “letter before action”, either individually or as a group, from a large number of people, some of them celebrities in their own right.

Oh, and Jeremy Corbyn might also consider getting involved, considering the fact that he was also attacked in that doctored image, that an innocent person has suffered harm because of it, because of the Hirsh article and because of the Riley tweets, and that Hirsh himself has challenged him to take such action:

It seems clear that this kind of behaviour – that may harm the reputations and ruin the lives of good people – may continue until somebody with the wherewithal finally puts a stop to it.

Is it forlorn to hope that this could be the catalyst for that to happen?

While we wait to find out, please remember that I am one of those whose reputation and life has been harmed – and I’m still trying to pay my legal team after my own four-year battle with Ms Riley. If you have been moved by the story above, then please help in any of the following ways:

Make a donation via the CrowdJustice page. Keep donating regularly until you see the total pass the amount I need.

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On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.

And don’t forget that if you’re having trouble, or simply don’t like donating via CrowdJustice, you can always donate direct to me via the Vox Political PayPal button, where it appears on that website. But please remember to include a message telling me it’s for the crowdfund!

ADDITIONAL NOTE: a few people on Facebook have suggested that people could not sue Ms Riley because “in order for a libel action to stand, the court has to be convinced that it could be interpreted as referring to a specific individual”. This is not true.

From my copy of Essential Law for Journalists:

“The test of whether the words identified the person suing is whether they would reasonably lead people acquainted with him to believe that he was the person referred to.” So, for example, Robin Ince (of The Infinite Monkey Cage on Radio 4) may have a prime facie case because he published a popular tweet defending Michael Rosen and Ms Riley tweeted words that may be taken as meaning anyone supporting him is an anti-Semite.

To continue: “During the late 1980s and 1990s the Police Federation, representing junior police officers, made good use of this aspect of the libel law in many actions against newspapers on behalf of their members… Many of the officers were not named… The test of identification is not whether the general reader knew who was referred to, but whether some individuals… did.”

Also, the person suing doesn’t even have to prove that the words they’re complaining about actually refer to them: “A journalist sued successfully over an article… which neither named nor described him. A person reading the article carefully would have noted various details which were inconsistent with a reference to [him]. However, the court said ordinary people often skimmed through such articles casually, not expecting a high degree of accuracy. If, as a result of such reading, they reached the conclusion that the article referred to the plaintiff, then identification was proved.”


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Jewish Labour chief called out over false claims about Keir Starmer and racism

Mike Katz is a fine one to criticise others about the way they handle “cranks”, “racists” and “extremists”.

When he was vice-chair of the Jewish Labour Movement (a misnomer as you don’t have to be either Jewish or in the Labour Party to be a member), he ran a “training” session on anti-Semitism at a Labour conference that deliberately linked criticism of the policies of the Israeli government with anti-Semitism.

At that same session – billed as a “safe space” for attendees to discuss their understanding of anti-Semitism without fear of criticism – people speaking up were recorded. One of this recordings was then leaked to the press, to tar then-Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker as an anti-Semite.

She had criticised the definitiion of anti-Semitism that Katz had put forward.

After Katz became chair of the organisation, the Jewish Labour Movement has run at least one more training session on anti-Semitism (in 2021). Before it happened, Ms Walker commented: “Undertaking AS training led by the JLM? Ask for assurance you won’t be filmed, reported to the Party or the media.”

Katz was also among those who accused then-Labour MP Chris Williamson of anti-Semitism after he made a speech in which he said the party had been “too apologetic” over the mere accusation of anti-Semtism.

Mr Williamson’s point had been that the party should have collected evidence and made a decision on whether any anti-Semitism had taken place, rather than automatically apologising as if it had, without any evidence at all.

Katz suggested that a decision to reinstate Mr Williamson’s Labour membership after he had been suspended for making the statements was because he represented a marginal constituency and there might be a snap election (this was in 2019).

He was quoted as follows: “It’s good to know that a party of anti-racists, led by an avowed anti-racist decides it’s OK to ignore anti-Jewish racism if there’s a vote to be won.”

But of course there was no anti-Jewish racism in what Mr Williamson had said.

And when Ken Loach announced that he had been expelled from Labour in 2021, for refusing to disown people who had already been expelled under false pretences, Katz accused him of “Holocaust inversion; tropes about a lobby controlling media & politics; claims Jews exploit the Holocaust for political ends.” None of these were in Mr Loach’s statement as reported in The Guardian (Katz’s source).

Katz has also attacked Jeremy Corbyn after The Guardian ran an editorial in support of him. In a letter to that paper, he claimed: “Your assertion that he had “a formidable record fighting against racism” will elicit a hollow laugh from the many Jewish Labour Movement members who suffered racist bullying and harassment – let alone the Jewish MPs hounded out of the party – all under his watch.

“His reluctance to show any remorse and his continual denial and downplaying of the problem makes him the author of his own demise and negates any claim he can make to actually being anti-racist.”

Jeremy Corbyn has been, and remains, probably the most committed anti-racist in Parliament, with a formidable record of support for those suffering racism that spans more than 40 years:

How pleasant it is, then, to see Katz’s latest attempt to spread falsehoods about anti-Semitism and racism trashed by members of the public!

On Twitter yesterday (May 19), he published the tweet you see at the top of this article, in which he praises comments made at last week’s National Conservatives conference.

“Keir Starmer has stood up to the cranks and racists in Labour. Rishi Sunak is happy to indulge the extremists in his party,” he tweeted.

Referring to a link in the tweet, he added: “Me for @timesredbox today on the lessons Sunak should learn from this week’s National Conservatism conference.”

Perhaps it would be best to skirt around the issues raised by a man claiming to support Jewish people endorsing comments made by the organisation This Writer describes as the Nat-Cs (think about it).

But his comments about what Keir Starmer has done are certainly fair game – especially considering his own poor record as described above – and Twitter now provides what it describes as “context” added by readers, that absolutely shreds Katz’s credibility.

“Labour’s own Forde Report details how anti-black and anti-GRT racism, and Islamophobia have been allowed to flourish unchecked within the party,” states one such addition.

The other seals it by pointing out: “Labour have not engaged with Martin Forde KC about the report.”

So not only has Katz allied himself with people who might as well call themselves fascists, but he has done it for the sake of a very large falsehood. This Writer thinks he should apologise and resign his position at the JLM. Does anybody agree?


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Starmer stands ‘by every word’ of Sunak child sex attack ad. Hypocritically?

Keir Starmer has said he stands “by every word” of a Labour attack advert accusing Tory prime minister Rishi Sunak of not wanting child sex criminals to go to prison – but isn’t this hypocritical, as he was on the sentencing council that devised the relevant penalties?

In a widely-reported Daily Mail article (and doesn’t it speak volumes about how far the Labour leadership has sunk that he is willing to write an article for the paper that once supported the Nazis), he made “absolutely zero apologies” for the advert:

I make absolutely zero apologies for being blunt about this. I stand by every word Labour has said on the subject, no matter how squeamish it might make some feel.

When 4,500 child abusers avoid prison, people don’t want more excuses from politicians: they want answers.

But Keir Starmer was on the sentencing council that set the current guidelines for sex crimes, back in 2012.

At that time, Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry wrote to him, objecting to a different part of those guidelines – so she was aware that they were passed by Starmer:

But on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she made a remarkable display of selective amnesia:

And all the while, the public outrage against Labour’s position continues to grow, both in the mass media…

… and in the social media:

And it is leading to hard questions about Starmer’s strategy and the likely end result of his bizarre choices:

This could be the scandal on which Starmer loses not just the local elections next month, but also the next general election.


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Labour bigwigs deny knowledge of controversial ‘child sex’ attack advert

Keir Starmer: did he really not know about a highly-inflammatory attack advert that went out in the name of his Labour Party?

Do we believe neither Keir Starmer nor Yvette Cooper knew anything about the Labour attack advert accusing Rishi Sunak of opposing prison sentences for sexual assaults against children?

That’s what the Labour leadership wants you to think, it seems:

Asked on Saturday whether Starmer had approved the graphic or knew about it in advance, a Labour source said the leader had not been aware of it and stressed Starmer would not usually be expected to sign off individual campaign materials.

The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, was not informed or consulted… The Observer has been told.

One well-placed party insider said they understood the digital poster was produced as part of a policy push by the shadow justice secretary, Steve Reed, whose team was keen to highlight the way in which too many criminals were receiving community sentences rather than custodial ones.

So it seems if anybody is going to take a fall for this, it’s likely to be Steve Reed. This is reminiscent of all those times Tory leaders have been accused, only to have a subordinate fall on their sword instead – isn’t it?

Meanwhile, Labour has released a second advert:

And it seems more are likely to follow.

But if large numbers of frontbenchers are denying prior knowledge of this one and disowning it, as the Observer article suggests, then I can only concur with former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s question:

“If any of this is true… why hasn’t the ad been taken down?”

Source: Yvette Cooper was ‘not told’ about Labour’s Sunak attack ad in advance | Labour | The Guardian


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Latest Labour attack advert lowers the party below gutter-level

Keir Starmer: yet another own goal to add to his impressive collection.

How can we best sum up the political mood this morning? Like this, perhaps:

James was responding to a new attack advert from the Labour Party. It looks like this:

Twitter provided “added context” from responses by readers, as follows: “Tweet implies that the PM, Rishi Sunak, doesn’t support prison sentences for sexual assaults against children. The current sentencing guidelines for this crime has a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment. sentencingcouncil.org.uk/offences/crown… There is no conservative party policy that plans to remove this. conservatives.com/our-plan

And economist Richard Murphy added the following in an outraged blog article: “Politicians do not sentence criminals, as Keir Starmer should know.

“They do not even bring cases to court, as Keir Starmer should know.

“And the provisions for sending abusers to prison for up to 14 years do exist, and have for a long time, as Keir Starmer should know. If they are not used we have to assume judges do not use them for good reason. As Keir Starmer should know.”

Skwawkbox went further:

Exploiting abused children to posture as the ‘party of law and order’ is not only disgusting, but also hypocritical: Keir Starmer was Director of Public Prosecutions when his department decided not to prosecute notorious serial rapist and abuser Jimmy Savile – and Starmer even went on to say that he thought this had been the right decision (Jimmy Savile: DPP to review 2009 police evidence | Jimmy Savile | The Guardian (archive.org)).

One of Starmer’s chief advisers, Peter Mandelson, was also close to child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein and has been pictured socialising with him.

The post was also at least arguably racist, feeding into stereotypes pushed by right-wing extremists such as the so-called ‘Tommy Robinson’ of ‘Asian grooming gangs’ – a stereotype thoroughly disproven this week when 21 white British paedophiles were convicted at Wolverhampton Crown Court – by showing a brown-skinned man next to a claim he doesn’t care about protecting children from sexual assault.

Labour politicians are already being hard-pressed on the issue in media interviews – and their answers are somewhat lacking:

Former Labour MP Chris Williamson tweeted: “Under Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership, Labour is now giving lessons on how to swim in the gutter.”

Solma Ahmed tweeted: “I’ve seen many things in politics but this is just beyond belief. Who’s taken over Labour? The nasty party is back.”

Yes, but this time it is not the Conservatives – it’s Labour.

And only weeks ahead of an election, too.


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Jewish ‘representative’ organisation makes offensive mistake over GaryGate

Marie Van Der Zyl: The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews may need to ask some serious questions of the other members of her organisation.

“I do not like the Board of Jewish Deputies,”

writes Martin Odoni in his excellent article about this incident.

“As a body, it falsely claims to ‘represent’ British Jews, but hardly ever consults any of us before arriving at its official position on any matter. They no more represent Jews than Mary I represented the people of England.”

This seems clear from its treatment of Rachel Shabi, who also happens to be Jewish, and who tweeted a response to Karen Pollock of the Holocaust Educational Trust, who in turn had claimed that Gary Lineker had been wrong to make Holocaust comparisons to current events:

Mr Odoni wrote,

I agree with Shabi, most particularly in light of the many, many examples, during eight years of anti-Semitism hysteria directed at the British Left, of wildly hyperbolic and irresponsible Holocaust comparisons being misused – think of Margaret Hodge – to which the HET ‘mysteriously’ never responded. (Once again, the outrage only follows when the comparisons are made with the modern British Right.)

But such comparisons can be accurate, and the horrid rhetoric the current Tory Party are using when discussing asylum seekers is indeed barely distinguishable, at least in tone, from the sort of anti-Semitic propaganda that was omni-present in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

However, the Board of Deputies of British Jews was apparently outraged. It published a (now-deleted) tweet, to which Ms Shabi responded… actually in thoroughly reasonable tones, considering the content. Look:

“Rachel Shabi telling the head of the Holocaust Education Trust that she’s “plainly wrong” about, er, the Holocaust, is the definition of chutzpah. The shamelessness of this asshole.”

Is that really appropriate language for the body claiming to represent all British Jews?

After the inevitable public backlash, even the BoD agreed that it isn’t, with an apparent claim – clarified by Ms Shabi – that the tweet was intended to go from a member’s personal account rather than the organisation’s official Twitter feed:

Mr Odoni has information about the person apparently responsible for the BoD’s Twitter account, but I’ll leave it to him to explain it to you, over in his article.

But I will pass an observation by an onlooker about what the apology says about the BoD:

Whatever happened here, it is likely to tarnish the reputation of this organisation for some time to come.

BoD president Marie van der Zyl may need to explain what’s going on – because if Gary Lineker can be removed from his position at the BBC over a tweet he published on his personal Twitter feed, then surely a member of her organisation should be removed for publishing a tweet containing inappropriate language and inaccuracies, on its official Twitter feed rather than their own.

Or will we see some more double-standards in this increasingly twisted saga?


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Labour leader Keir Starmer backpedals over GaryGate (VIDEO ARTICLE)

After days in which Labour politicians have lambasted BBC Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker for publishing entirely reasonable comments about the Tory Illegal Migration Bill on Twitter, party leader Keir Starmer has changed course radically.

Mr Lineker said the rhetoric used by Home Secretary Suella Braverman was similar to that of Germany in the 1930s.

He has since been shown to be right.

There is no stipulation in his BBC contract to suggest that he, as a sports presenter, should not be allowed to discuss politics on his own personal Twitter feed.

But Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper had this to say about it when she was interviewed on LBC, after the row initially broke out…

Contrast her words with Keir Starmer’s comment, after the BBC suspended Mr Lineker from presenting Match of the Day, prompting a huge walkout by his fellow sports presenters that critically hampered the Corporation’s sports coverage and brought its decision-making into question.

This was just bandwagon-jumping by Starmer.

He saw an opportunity to hammer the BBC for pandering to Conservatives and he took it – never mind the fact that he was speaking in opposition to his own shadow ministers.

With acknowledgement of the video work by:

Jonathan Pie – https://youtu.be/jXqVGtxFppQ

Kernow Damo – https://youtu.be/eedogABKFec

Also LBC and the BBC.


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More on GaryGate: there’s nothing in Lineker’s BBC contract to stop him tweeting

Here’s another great analysis of what’s coming to be known as GaryGate, or LinekerGate:

The big take-out from this one is the passage from Gary Lineker’s BBC contract – on personal opinions.

It states, “The Conflicts of Interest Guidelines on Public Expressions of Opinion set out the position for all BBC staff:

“Public expressions of opinion have the potential to compromise the BBC’s impartiality and to damage its reputation. This includes the use of social media and writing letters to the press. Opinions expressed on social media are put into the public domain, can be shared and are searchable.

“The risk is greater where the public expressions of opinion overlap with the area of the individual’s work. The risk is lower where an individual is expressing views publicly on an unrelated area, for example, a sports or science presenter expressing views on politics or the arts.”

So Gary Lineker was well within his rights to express an opinion on politics, from his position as a sports presenter, it seems.

The revelation of these guidelines also highlights a glaring double-standard at the BBC, where hard right-winger Andrew Neil – for many years the Corporation’s most high-profile political presenter – was allowed to tweet his highly-partisan opinions willy-nilly for years without ever being called into question under these guidelines.

It seems the BBC cannot be trusted to apply its own guidelines.

Perhaps an independent body should be assigned to oversee it?

Ah, but that would require bureaucracy and red tape – and Tories are against that.


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Lineker off MOTD because of “migrant” tweet; co-presenters join him. What will the show look like?

Empty chairs: is this how Match of the Day will look tomorrow?

The BBC has dug a hole for itself after dropping Gary Lineker from its flagship football show, Match of the Day, over his tweet linking government rhetoric on Channel migrants with that of Germany in the 1930s.

Mr Lineker will not be presenting Match of the Day this week – but the reason is not clear. The BBC is saying he’s “stepping back” until an agreement is reached on how he should use the social media – but Sky News reckons he has been forced off the programme for refusing to apologise.

Now, fellow presenters are lining up to refuse to take part. So far, Alan Shearer and Ian Wright have said they will not appear, in “solidarity” with Mr Lineker.

Jermaine Jenas has said if he were asked, he would say no.

Is Saturday’s edition of the show going to be a shot of empty chairs around a desk, with some football clips interspersed intermittently?

Elsewhere in the BBC, Good Morning Britain host Richard Madeley made himself both a hero and a villain in the eyes of the public when he talked about the row surrounding Mr Lineker’s Twitter comments on the BBC’s Question Time.

First, he stood by Mr Lineker’s right to say anything he wants on his personal Twitter account – to applause from the audience.

Then he said what had actually been declared on Twitter was “preposterous” – and received a less enthusiastic reaction.

See for yourself:

What do you think? Should Gary Lineker have his right to free speech curtailed, simply because he presents a programme that is not remotely related to the subject he was discussing?


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‘Jew-hate’ scammers send police to harass man over Twitter message

We’ve seen this tactic time and time again from the fakes who pretend there’s a huge rise of anti-Semitism in the UK – particularly focused on the Labour Party.

They take a line from an article or message, out of context, and present it as proof of a campaign of hatred.

So here’s Simon Maginn’s Twitter message: “Attention Jew-hate scammers: you try it on here, you will be confronted and you will lose, publicly. There are more and more of us all the time, we are informed, we are organised, and we are coming for you. Things have changed.”

Perhaps it’s not the most diplomatic message. But then, Mr Maginn has been accused, threatened and otherwise abused by these hate-filled manipulators for a long time, now. After a while, it tends to wear away one’s willingness to use neutral language.

But people who considered themselves to be addressed by his message – in other words, people who deliberately lie that anti-Semitism is more widespread in the UK’s left-wing politics than is actually the case – cut the message down and reported it to the police.

The words they reported?

“We are coming for you.”

Out of context. Misrepresentative. Misleading.

Mr Maginn duly received a call from a member of Sussex Police, labouring under the belief that he was dealing with an offence under the Malicious Communications Act, and was subjected to a “words of advice” sermon.

He has complained to Chief Constable Jo Shiner – and has publicised his complaint on – where else? – Twitter’

In an article, he elaborated:

All any Sussex Police officer had to do was read the tweet and understand what it meant. They could then explain to the complainants that, they might not like it, it might make them angry, but it was perfectly lawful, was not abusive or insulting or threatening, did not mention ‘Jews’ at any point, and was obviously a reference to a long-running political campaign on Twitter, #ItWasAScam, and not a ‘threat’ of an angry mob attacking Jews.

We see ‘evidence’ that is plainly wrenched out of context and wholly misleading, we see a histrionic over-reaction to a perfectly innocent event, we see a fraudulent accusation of antisemitism, we see an immediate and furious demand for action, and we see that action take place.

The scam, in miniature, over just a few hours.

They screamed loud enough, and they got heard. That’s how the scam has operated from the outset, and that’s how it’s continuing to operate.

Personally, I’d like to know what Sussex Police are doing about the people who contacted them to misdirect their attention to an innocent man with a lie.

No innocent people were threatened by Mr Maginn’s tweet, and those guilty of spreading vile lies about innocent people were only under threat of having their lies exposed.

For that, these liars called the police and wasted officers’ valuable time.

Has any action been taken to reprimand them?

Source: So The Police Rang Me Up. About A Tweet…

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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