First, I would like to draw your attention to the picture in this poster. It quite obviously purports to show a picture of Collier after he has been beaten up, the implication being that this was done by Guppy's thugs (rather than with Photoshop).
Collier was never beaten up by Guppy agents (that isn't meant to be sophistry: I just don't know if Collier has actually ever been beaten up by anyone else).
Next up, is (being kind) a clear and undisputed factual... er... error.
... but the transcript of the call, as reported by the Mail on Sunday, can be read online.
The call was not recorded by the Mail On Sunday. In fact, the linked article clearly states, [emphasis mine],
The tape recording was made by Peter Risdon, the man hired by Guppy and his partner Ben Marsh to help them fake a jewellery ‘robbery’ in the Halloran House Hotel, New York, in February 1990.
So, how seriously should we take the other information on this site when they clearly haven't bothered to read their own source material?
Further, the whole incident has been given an entirely false spin by opponents of Boris; I have dealt with it twice before, when Polly raised it and then when Neil Harding attempted to push it forward.
You see, one of the interesting things about this whole incident is that said Peter Risdon is, in fact, a blogger and he decided to set the record straight some time ago. [Emphasis mine.]
As I mentioned in an earlier post, when I suspected Guppy might have framed me for a robbery in New York, I tapped his telephone - or more accurately, caused it to be tapped - and I released one of the tapes to the press. I know something of the background to this plot. I did at the time. I knew the heavies Guppy had commissioned to carry out the beating. They had a simple plan: take a 50% payment up front, then never do anything further. This is obvious when you listen to the tape, in fact. "The other chap's a bit impatient," explains the contact. "A bit of cash would calm him down". It's quite funny.
Less funny is the possibility that this episode could unjustly affect Johnson's candidacy for Mayor of London. I don't especially support Johnson, though I loathe Livingstone, but I'd like to see a fair contest. So let me just explain Johnson's role, as far as I can make it out from the tapes I made at the time.
He didn't know the heavies were planning to rip Guppy off. It must have seemed a serious plot. Guppy made it clear that he could try other means of finding the journalist's address. Johnson assured him he didn't have to - and did absolutely nothing at all to find it himself. I actually had that confirmed by Clive Goodman, the now disgraced formed News of the World royal correspondent who listened to the tape. Johnson said he would approach a specific third party. He specifically didn't. The only conclusion I can draw is that he was trying to make sure Guppy didn't manage to have the man attacked. Rather, he was stalling, waiting for Guppy's attention span to expire - a safe bet for those who knew him well.
I have to admit, grudgingly, that it is to Johnson's credit that he stood by his friend during his subsequent trial and conviction. I'd have prefered it otherwise, for personal reasons, but Johnson didn't abandon his childhood friend when it would have been convenient. I'm not aware he subsequently had much to do with him, but he wouldn't join in the pecking party.
Perhaps it would be more accurate to say Johnson took the approach "never explain, never apologise". The full quote is: "Boldness has genius, power and magic in it... Never contradict. Never explain. Never apologise".
When I quoted this last time, Neil attempted to gainsay this evidence, which, I'll remind you, comes from the man who was involved in the whole thing and made the damn tape in the first place, and imply that I was spinning for Boris (like Peter Risdon, I am not (and never have been) a Conservative: I am a libertarian).
Peter replied very clearly to this comment.
If Guppy had found some willing thugs, and Johnson had not behaved as he did, the Screws journalist would have been beaten up. Johnson went to some lengths to stop Guppy trying other means of finding the address. He undertook to speak to two specific people in News International, where he had worked (at that time he was in Brussels working for the Telegraph). Clive Goodman made enquiries several months later and established that Johnson never approached these people.
It is, as DK might say, pretty fucking clear cut. The tapes have been in the public domain for years and there's no point my trying to distort this.
I don't think that you can actually get clearer than this, really. That the Stop Boris lot are attempting to wheel this out, whilst clearly implying that Collier was beaten up, borders on the libellous.
Of course, first one would have to find out who is behind the site, because they have gone to some lengths to hide their identities. The domain is registered through a proxy company in the US, and the Q & A section reveals only this:
- Who are you then?
Boris has a lot of big money and powerful interests behind him. We don't. So we'd rather not say.
Well, that's all very well, except... Surely this site is trying to influence the outcome of a political election? As a result, should it not be registered with the Electoral Commission? Certainly, the identities of those behind it should be known, and certainly there should be a proper imprint on the posters.
Could anyone with a better knowledge of our electoral laws advise me here? Or should I just contact the Electoral Commission directly?
It's not that I hold a particular candle for Boris: I don't. But this site is attempting to influence the outcome of a democratic election and doing so by peddling lies, and I dislike that as much amongst "grassroots campaigners" as I do in politicians.
UPDATE: I've found this at the Electoral Commission website. [Emphasis mine.]
A third party is an organisation or individual who are not standing at an election, but who wish to campaign for or against a party or group of candidates. They have traditionally been subject to limits on the amount of money that they can occur opposing or supporting a specific candidate, but the limits introduced by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) were the first attempt at controlling national third party activity.
The pages in this section give information about:
The Stop Boris campaign quite clearly comes under the definition of a third party; so, are they on the register of third parties?
No, and they do not have to be. Third parties only need to register under the following conditions.
Under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (PPERA) 2000, third parties that wish to spend more than £10,000 in England, or £5,000 in each of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland supporting or opposing a party or group of candidates must register with us as a recognised third party. Once registered as a recognised third party, a third party can spend more than these limits, but is required to manage its finances in accordance with the PPERA's regulatory regime.
Donations in kind to third parties must be declared.
When an organisation or individual is registered as a recognised third party, it is subject to controls on the donations that it can accept. These controls regulate any donations made to a recognised third party for the purpose of meeting controlled expenditure by or on behalf of it, and are similar to the controls binding on political parties.
Acceptance of donations
Recognised third parties are only legally allowed to accept donations of more than £200 from 'permissible donors'. Permissible donors are defined by the PPERA as:
- an individual registered on a UK electoral register
- a UK registered company
- a UK registered trade union
- a UK registered building society
- a UK registered Limited Liability partnership
- a UK registered friendly/building society
- a UK based unincorporated association
Recognised third parties are prohibited from accepting donations of more than £200 other than from the above sources. Any donations of more than £200 from impermissible sources must be returned, and donations from unidentifiable sources cannot be accepted.
Types of donations
As for political parties, the PPERA gives a number of different examples of what counts as a donation. As well as straightforward cash gifts or bequests, the provision of non-cash support to help support controlled expenditure—such as providing free advertising space for a recognised third party to use to advertise—sponsorship must also be treated as a donation.
So, Stop Boris must only be registered as a third party if you can argue that the website and any other resources that they use amount to more than £10,000 (even if they were donations in kind, they'd have to be declared). Which I doubt.
Still, interesting stuff, eh? Just for your amusement, here are those that are registered as third parties.
The usual suspects then, but also some unusual names. Who on earth, for instance, is Mr Zaccheus Gilpin...?
UPDATE 2: Stop Boris responds and points out a few errors of mine.
The poster "quite obviously purports" to show Collier does it? Why would we, as John Trenchard has pointed out, have clearly credited the picture as being of Jon Snow then? The picture, like pretty much all the other poster pictures, are supposed to be representative, in a provocative way, of the kinds of things Boris stands for. Is the first of our posters 'obviously purporting to show' a statue of Bush in Parliament Square on the site of the Mandela statue because that is something Boris has built? I don't think so. The image of Jon Snow appearing to have suffered a beating represents the principle that Boris doesn't seem all that bothered by the idea of a journalist being beaten up - certainly not bothered enough to go to the trouble of, say, reporting Guppy's illegal intentions to the police.
You have also completely misread the first quote you have taken from the site and used your own misreading as an example of our factual error! It says the transcript of the call we have linked to is "as reported by the Mail on Sunday", not as *recorded* by the Mail on Sunday.
Nowhere has the site claimed anyone beat up the journalist. Indeed we even link to a video of Boris talking about it on Have I Got News For You, in which he clearly states that the journalist was not in the end beaten up.
You might want to read things more carefully in future before you make ridiculous accusations about factual errors and deliberate misrepresentations based on your own mistakes.
"So, how seriously should we take the other information on this site when they clearly haven't bothered to read their own source material?"
It seems the same could be said of your site!
Whoops! Mea culpa, and I apologise. I don't know my MSM journalists well enough it seems: I must watch more telly!
My substantial point stands, however; Boris did not assist Guppy and so to conclude that he "doesn't seem all that bothered by the idea of a journalist being beaten up" is mildly erroneous.
And what, precisely, would Boris have reported to the police? And with what evidence? Boris did not know that the phone call was being recorded.