On the referendum #24M: Carole asks me questions, I answer — can MPs handle the truth?

After I published the DCMS report on fake news which itself spreads fake news, misunderstandings, wrong ideas about GDPR and the law etc, Carole commented on my blog. I replied. Both are below unedited for those following the twists of this farcical story…

Remember, the Electoral Commission REFUSED to interview me or any of the 7 Vote Leave staff over 2 years and 3 inquiries. I offered to give evidence to Collins’ committee. He refused to negotiate over dates and demanded a date he knew weeks earlier I could not do. I have made an open offer to MPs to give evidence to any other committee they want on condition only that all of us are under oath. They can make the whole committee Remainers, that’s OK with me, but they have to promise not to lie. Everybody interviewing Collins should ask him — ‘Why don’t MPs call Cummings’ bluff and get him in and all of you do it under oath to get to the bottom of all this once and for all? Wouldn’t it be good for once for MPs to promise not to lie?’

As Jack Nicholson said, ‘The truth? You can’t handle the truth!’

And everybody who interviews Wylie should ask him:

‘You tried to sell Cummings the exact same stuff you now claim is a threat to democracy and he turned you down, YOU admit YOU had access to the notorious Facebook data but Facebook has confirmed that Vote Leave COULD NOT HAVE used that data in their advertising, contrary to what you explicitly claimed, so why should anyone believe a word you say and whom did you flog all that to after Cummings told you to get lost in November 2015?’

FACT: Wylie is a liar, a fantasist and he presented himself to the media as a ‘whistleblower’ without disclosing he tried to sell me his snake oil and assured me he would keep it all ‘secret’. It’s all in writing if a proper court or the MPs ever fancy finally doing a proper investigation of all this…

I see Lionel Barber, editor of the FT which told us repeatedly that our economy would collapse unless we joined the euro, is also yapping about lies and facts. FACT: Barber is happy to publish lies when they’re his lies — I’ve seen him do it many times including about me. During the referendum when an FT’ hack was criticised by a Cabinet Minister for a lack of integrity in the FT’s coverage, his response was a shrug and ‘we’re in campaign mode’. Barber like many mentalist Remainers (and Leavers) lives in a fantasy world where his side are LIGHT AND TRUTH and the other side are DARK AND LIES. Unlike them, I’ve always thought it reasonable to support Remain. I don’t make the mistake of thinking those who disagree with me are evil morons. This is one of the reasons Vote Leave made more rational decisions than the other side which fooled themselves about their environment. These guys are used to getting their own way. They got screwed on the biggest issue in politics when they thought they couldn’t lose. They’re mad partly because they’re rightly embarrassed. And they keep fooling themselves every day…

I see Best for Britain is fundraising for a judicial review demanding a second referendum. This has no prospect of success because the relevant provisions of the EU Act 2011 have been repealed. Raising money for it is arguably fraudulent and criminal behaviour. A hack should investigate…

(For those REALLY interested in this story… There is some comment and I’ve got some emails about why there seem to be VL Facebook ads placed in India/Sri Lanka in June. I haven’t looked at the FB data dump but it’s very likely these were part of the testing for our football contest where we offered a real prize of £50 million if you could predict the Euro football tournament — £50 million a day, you see, because we couldn’t persuade an insurance company to insure us for £350 million prize which is what I wanted to do (we even got in touch with Warren Buffett’s office given he self-insured a  similar prize for his own PR stunt which had given us this idea, but being Buffett’s office they made the smart decision not to get involved damn it). We had to test the infrastructure live without the media seeing so we advertised in Asia including on Asian porn sites to see if the website worked properly, gambling that the British media would probably not see such carefully targeted ads in the middle of the night. This is probably why these otherwise odd looking ads have turned up in the FB data.)

CAROLE COMMENT

Dom. Great to have your input. If only you could have given that in person to MPs as they repeatedly asked you to. You still have not provided any cogent or reasonable answer about why you refuse to answer parliament’s questions. You campaigned for parliament’s sovereignty and yet you do not respect British laws and you deliberately seek to undermine its authority. Can you explain why?

I was posting on Twitter as I looked through those files last night It would have been great to have had yours or Matthew Elliott’s input at any stage. He was online – smearing Damian Collins – why didn’t he chip in? I knew that the law required imprints on political advertisements. I went and read the guidelines to referendum campaigners and that included digital adverts too…but as others pointed out this morning – and as I updated to make clear – the ones for digital ads are different. They *do not have the force of law*. So, you’re quite correct. There is a loophole.

A loophole that you knew about and exploited because you make no mention of the framing of the 50 million ads. They didn’t have any mention of Vote Leave, did they? Or at least from the information released by Facebook, there was nothing to say who the advert was on behalf of or what it was for? (Anonymously harvesting people’s data.) Can you please display how these were seen on Facebook and explain your rationale for apparently not disclosing who was placing the advertisement or how it was intended to be used?

You mention nothing about the toxic nature of these adverts. Their overt racism. The scaremongering. The blatant lies. Would you like to comment on those?

And can you comment too on the adverts that were shown after Jo Cox was murdered and campaigning was suspended. It appears that some of these ads – including one labeled “Breaking News” – were scheduled during that period. Certainly they reached millions of people. Can you clarify: were you campaigning during that period? Or is there another explanation?

Which of these ads were posted publicly to Vote Leave’s Facebook page? And which were dark? The majority of these have never been seen publicly before so it seems at least some are the latter. Could you clarify? And specify which.

It is really helpful and important to have input – that’s why I’ve repeatedly sent you questions to which I’ve never had any proper replies. I anticipate your fullest response so that we can be sure to get this right.

Thanks, Carole

MY REPLY

1/ I’ve never ‘refused to answer’ questions as you know. I offered to negotiate a date with Collins and he refused the offer. I’ve also offered to give evidence to a different committee — though I’ve suggested we ALL should do it UNDER OATH. Wouldn’t that be a good way to set an example to the nation — political discussions with everyone forced to be careful about the truth?!

2/ ‘I was posting on Twitter as I looked through those files last night It would have been great to have had yours or Matthew Elliott’s input at any stage.’ That’s not how journalism works. You don’t babble nonsense on Twitter accusing people of being racist criminals and expect that they’re monitoring you 24/7 and leap in to fix your repeated errors. It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO FACT CHECK BEFORE MAKING CLAIMS.

As you know, the Observer and you have had to delete many defamatory claims you’ve made (about others) based on fantasies. Remember how you made claims about ‘deleting the google drive’ that I told you were lies, and you’ve had to delete all that from the Guardian website and your twitter feed AND PAY LEGAL COSTS TO THOSE YOU DEFAMED?

3/ ‘So, you’re quite correct. There is a loophole.’ Glad to see this but how about deleting all your tweets that call us criminals — or do you think it’s OK to accuse people of being ‘criminals’ on the basis of errors and leave the errors spreading across the world?

4/ I don’t remember exactly how the 50m ads were done. I remember there was a separate website. But all Facebook ads have to have a frame so they will have been identified. And remember the POINT of it was to collect data! There HAD to be an identifiable click through for the ads or the whole exercise would have been pointless. So though I can’t remember the detail I know for sure there was a clear identification and a website with a proper legal privacy policy and connection to Vote Leave etc.

5/ ‘can you comment too on the adverts that were shown after Jo Cox was murdered and campaigning was suspended. It appears that some of these ads – including one labeled “Breaking News” – were scheduled during that period. Certainly they reached millions of people.’ Wrong. As I’ve explained on my blog. Ads were not shown in that time. You think it is ‘certain’ — your certainty is unfounded.

6/ Lies? Cameron wanted to ‘pave the road from Ankara’, it’s on film. Fact!

7/ We ran no ‘dark’ posts despite repeated claims to the contrary. Everything you see in the FB data dump was a normal FB ad. Remember, I asked FB to release everything weeks ago. Are you asking Remain to do the same or are you happy for what they did to stay ‘dark’?

If you really care about facts and truth you will stop spreading fake news across the internet time after time.

Although lots of people call you a liar I don’t agree with them. The whistleblowers lied and have given multiple versions of the same events that would be shredded in open court under oath — e.g Sanni claiming he saw me have meetings with Grimes and AIQ (total invention, no such meetings happened but of course the EC never asked me or Grimes about this or anything else). But I think you just want to believe we’re baddies, you trust the wrong people, and you don’t check stuff properly. If you’re going to write about fake news on a website that reaches millions, you have a particularly strong responsibility to stop spreading misinformation about this story. If you want to be treated like Bob Woodward, you should be careful about facts. If you’d done Watergate, Nixon would have been able to trash the story and get away with it.

In the autumn, you and I should do an interview. You interview me for 90 minutes and ask whatever you want. But then I’ll interview you for 90 minutes about your reporting. All on film so no fancy editing.

And in the meantime you should ask the MPs — why not call Cummings’ bluff and accept his offer for a multi-hour session, no questions banned, with all of you under oath so you can finally nail him?

Best wishes
D

11 thoughts on “On the referendum #24M: Carole asks me questions, I answer — can MPs handle the truth?

  1. You say that the Electoral Commission REFUSED to interview you or Vote Leave staff. According to para 3.2 of their investigation report: “We offered interview dates for representatives of Vote Leave, but Vote Leave did not respond to our suggested dates.”. Similarly, Collins’ Parliamentary committee publicly invited you to give evidence, which would have been recorded in Hansard.

    According to the EC investigation report: “Vote Leave expressed an intention to cooperate. It gave some explanation of its position on the suspected offences. It also asked procedural questions about the proposed interview and objected to the investigation being opened.” According to your comments above you refused to attend a given date for the Parliamentary committee and then you made a stipulation about it being “under oath”.

    To summarise, the bottom-line here is that you and Vote Leave will only give evidence a) when it’s convenient for you; and b) under your own terms and conditions. You then complain about it being “a farce” when neither Parliament or the EC succomb to or are unable to meet your demands.

    Based on the evidence above, you and Vote Leave are seemingly using ‘procedure’ to obfuscate and avoid close scrutiny. Your comments complain that your evidence was not heard, yet anyone in this position would have dropped everything if they were being serious and were genuinely seeking a platform to give their version of events. You asked to give evidence under oath – as you know, you can only do that were this a judge-led inquiry or a criminal investigation. Perhaps it’s a shame that the police and security services aren’t involved to make this one or the other, bearing in mind the damage, cost and division this referendum has caused our country thus far, with more undoubtedly to come. You describe yourself as a strategist, is this all part of your strategy?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said, seems disingenuous of Dominic to say ‘I’m willing to give evidence’ when really it’s insisted that they are under oath, a sharp break from procedure. And whether it should be that way or not, disingenuous for him to suggest he’s being perfectly accommodating and willing. As you suggest, surely he’d love the opportunity to get the facts straight.

      Like

  2. Carole, can you explain to me why it is OK to run your ‘exposes’ on front pages but tuck your clarifications and corrections away in the depth of the Guardian. I’m sure it is not because you are happier if people stay misinformed so I’m curious? Thank you.

    Like

  3. I much admire your strength and fortitude in choosing not to ignore but totally demolish these claims, more power to your elbow, thank you.
    kind regards
    Roger Hague

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You really are scum, and as this plays out the damage done to UK and Scotland now and looking forward is tragic. Worse it is down to Leave lies and illegalities, per Electoral Commission.

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  5. Old comment “Don’t believe everything you read in the (news)papers.” In fact we have almost got to the stage of don’t believe any politician. This is a dreadful state of affairs. MP’s voted to have a referendum and let the people decide on Europe .Some of them have now reneged on that deal and talk about another referendum: were you listening? the majority of people voted OUT. So stop manipulating and complaining and just get on with it. It’s like watching a group of spoilt children arguing over who won the hopscotch, except it’s our nation the MP’s are destroying. Next time we have a General Election how many MP’s in Opposition will demand a re-run after a year or two – as far as I am concerned it’s the same illogical course they are pursuing now.

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  6. Keep fighting the good fight, Dominic! I didn’t love the ads, and I’d have voted Remain for any number of reasons (were I British), but that doesn’t excuse the lies, obfuscations, and attacks on your character from people on “my side”. You’re a brilliant writer, and I hope that soon this nonsense will pass and you can get back to blogging on more interesting topics.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dominic, can you respond to Chris Hayes comment above? Your assertion that the Electoral Commission refused to interview you or Vote Leave staff is not easy to reconcile with the EC’s report saying they invited Vote Leave to an interview. Are you saying they did not invite Vote Leave to an interview?

    Like

    • The explanation is careful choice of words. The EC refused to speak to me and the other crucial VL staff. They invited ‘Vote Leave’ in the form of the then ‘responsible person’. I was not part of those discussions and do not know why they broke down. Both what I said and what the EC said is true but the EC’s words were carefully chosen to give a misleading impression…

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  8. The convoluted logic and arguments made by Umunna and others for a second vote are unnecessary; why bother with the easy target claim by Leave of subversion of democracy, when May/Hammond are on course to Remain in any practical sense anyway?

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