Dishonesty Dorries Rides Again


4:48 pm - July 1st 2008

by Unity    


      Share on Tumblr

If there’s one thing worse than a cover-up, its a badly executed cover-up, and you’ll find no better example of the latter if you take the time to visit the website of Nadine Dorries.

To give a quick recap of the story so far, a short while back, Sunny put forward a formal complaint to the Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards in regards to Dorries’ ‘blog’ – i.e. the bit of her website that used to have a comments facility until she got caught making false allegations about Ben Goldacre in a parliamentary committee report.

The complaint, itself, raised two basic issues.

The first was that the home page of her website stated that it was funded from her Incidental Expenses Provision, a parliamentary allowance given to pay for the running costs of her parliamentary and constituency offices.

The second was that the header graphic on her ‘blog’ included parliament’s portcullis logo, indicating that the blog (and the rest of her website) is/was published officially in her capacity as a Member of Parliament with the official imprimatur of the House.

In both cases this meant (and still means) that Dorries was bound by rules covering the use of allowances and of the portcullis device which, amongst other things, precluded her from publishing explicitly party political content, using her site to run political campaigns and publishing content which denigrates political opponents, rules which she had been persistently and repeatedly in breach of pretty much since day one of her ‘blog’.

And, as I noted, about three weeks ago, the complaint has been accepted by the Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards, who has written to Dorries asking her to respond to the letter of complaint.

Quite what her formal response to the Commissioner’s enquiry may be is, as yet, unknown – we’ll have to see if she gets formally referred to the Standards and Privileges Committee for that – however it does seem, from a number of ‘changes’ to her website, which can only have been made in the last week or two, that her likely response may well be to plead guilty and ask for several counts of rank stupidity to be entered as mitigation, not least of which being her absurd attempt to reconfigure her website to bypass the substance of the complaint.

1) Let’s start at the beginning – pop along Dorries’ website at its usual address of www.dorries.org.uk and you’ll notice, first of all, that the reference to it being funded from her Incidental Expense Provision has now disappeared – all of which proves nothing as, although she’s claimed in her defence that she pays for the site out of her own pocket, she has yet to produce evidence to that effect and or indicate when she started to pay for it herself and it remains to be seen whether she will produce that evidence in responding to the Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards.

2) However, to some extent that’s a minor issue as even if she has been paying for the site herself, that doesn’t get her off the hook when it comes to using the portcullis device.

3) The next thing I want you to do is click on the link for her ‘blog’ and take note of the javascript pop-up that tells you that you’re now leaving her .org.uk domain and being redirected to her blog at blog.dorries.org. So, she’s separated her ‘blog’ from her parliamentary website, right down to removing the portcullis device from the header on the ‘blog’ – yes?

Ah, if only it were that simple because, in reality, and despite the javascript message, all you’ve done is move from one page on her website to a different page on the same website – everything else is a bit of DNS server trickery devised to fool the unwary but which any halfway decent techie will see through in microseconds.

Here comes the techie bit…
Way back in 2005 – June 16th to be precise – Dorries, or rather the provider of her site, Acidity, registered both dorries.org.uk and dorries.org, the first through Fashhosts and the second via Tucows.

The Nominet entry for the .org.uk domain tells us very little as she’s using its privacy facility to keep all information but the registrant’s name private, but as – for historical reasons – the WHOIS system for US top level domains falls under the US Freedom of Information Act, so a search at Internic tells us that it was registered by Acidity.

Now the fact that she owns both domain, on its own, doesn’t prove that this is all a smoke and mirrors exercise – the proof of that comes, in the first instance, when you run a reverse DNS search on both domains to find the IP address of the server on which her site/blog is hosted – and in both cases the reverse DNS search give the same IP address, 85.13.224.58.

This, in turn, leads us back to the London-based company called Coreix, who actually provide the servers, telling us that Acidity are a reseller.

However, the real giveaway comes by way of a stupidly simple mistake – try visiting www.dorries.org for starters and… whoops, there’s Dorries’ website on the same top level domain as her supposedly separate blog.

And if you need further confirmation, try using www.dorries.org/blog.aspx instead of blog.dorries.org… yep, there’s her ‘blog’, although the graphical banner at the top is missing.

Of course, if you try blog.dorries.org.uk, you get a server not found error – credit Acidity for at least covering the obvious, but it doesn’t take too much brain power to get from there to www.dorries.org.uk/blog.aspx and back to her ‘blog’, which is now accessible on the same domain as the rest of her website, just as it always was.

Which comes as no great surprise as I’d already long since figured out from the source code that her ‘blog’ was fully integrated into the site and not an additional featured bolted on to it that could easily be hived off to another location.

But the rules say…
The guidance on the Communications Allowance states quite clearly that:

Scope of Websites funded from the CA

The CA may be used to pay for setting up and/or maintaining a website only if its purpose is to inform or communicate with constituents about your work as a Member and/or to provide contact details. It must not be used to fund party political activity or campaigning. You may not use the Communications Allowance to pay for individual web pages or parts of websites, where other parts of the site are paid for from other sources.

So, when it comes to funding a parliamentary website, its an all of nothing deal – you can’t simply section off part of it using a bit of smoke and mirrors with DNS pointers to a subdomain, or even a full domain, and pretend that its not part of the same system. Dorries’s site is a fully integrated system not matter how its DNS entries are arranged and, as such, she has either to pay for it in full from her own funds or operate within the rules as these related to permissible and impermissible content.

As regards the use of the portcullis device, the rules are somewhat open to interpretation, as what the guidance says is that:

The principal emblem of the House is the crowned portcullis. It is a royal badge and its use by the House has been formally authorised by licence granted by Her Majesty the Queen. The designs and symbols of the House should not be used for purposes to which such authentication is inappropriate, or where there is a risk that their use might wrongly be regarded, or represented, as having the authority of the House.

Now, were we dealing with a printed publication, like a newsletter, then the likely presumption would be, I suspect, that the use of the portcullis device anywhere in the publication in an official looking manner would bring the whole publication under the rules governing its appropriate and inappropriate use, although there might be a bit of wiggle room if, say, it was used in the context of advertising an event taking place in parliament and in a manner in which the device could clearly only be seen as applying to the advert and not any other content in the newsletter.

When it comes to websites, there is as yet no clear precedent on misuse of the portcullis device, largely because most MPs tend to play by the rules with their official website and make use of an entirely separate blog, hosted in a separate location, if they want to do a bit of on-line politicking. Dorries has attempted here to create the appearance of doing the same, all be it in an extremely ham-fisted manner and one that I think, personally, fails to apply the regulations properly. If, as the rules on use of allowances suggests, websites have to be paid for on an all or nothing basis then it seems reasonable to me to conclude that this same principle should apply to the use of the portcullis device.

In short, if you use the portcullis device on your homepage then you indicate that the whole site is published under the House emblem, even if you don’t use the portcullis on every page, and must abide by the regulations. If you don’t want to stick to the rules, then its not an official site and should not be branded as such anywhere, least of all on the homepage.

Dorries has made what amounts to a pretty shabby attempt to bypass the regulations and circumvent the complaint against her, presumably in the hope of avoiding censure, only to make such an incompetent job of it that it was instantly obvious what she’s trying to do and stupidly easy to prove it.

Or as we say out here in cyberspace… pWned.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
'Unity' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He also blogs at Ministry of Truth.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,e) Briefings ,Media ,Nadine Dorries ,Westminster

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


I love this latest post by her:

If I have achieved anything as a blogger, it has been my ability to unite left wing bloggers, who are by nature a divided and argumentative group (as one recently told me).

Their poor writing, viscious invective, bad language and inter-group warfare fades into nothing whenever my name is mentioned or written about, as they all dive in for the attack. I am apparently the absolute hate figure of the left wing bloggers.

Now, why would that be I wonder?

I pointed this out recently of course – how bloggers came together against her. Now… why would that be I wonder… any ideas?

You’ve got to love it. Nads accuses us of poor writing and then promptly spells vicious wrong. Why could it be that we dislike her so? Could it possibly be that she’s a serial liar, relies on distortion to make her political points, is completely in bed with fundamentalist Christians and is in general everything that ought to disqualify someone from being a member of parliament? No, surely not.

What a conniving sack of shit that MP is.

I am going to be a sour old cow and ask why tearing strips off this admittedly silly bitch Dorries reached such a lofty position on the agenda? Can’t stand the old cow myself, but this is starting to feel like women-bashing to me.

Going to slope off into my menopausal corner now.

Etc.

Merely reinforcing the general dishonesty meme.

Its a bit of techie/old school netiquette thing, Kate, and something that would get any blogger lashed from pillar to post, male or female.

Call it a ‘code of honour’ if you like, but the general gist is that reverse-engineering your way out of an embarrassing situation is a no-no and a major breach of ethics in a medium in which reputation and transparency of behaviour are part of the social glue that keeps the medium ticking over.

Explanation accepted, Unity. Just setting you my own little test, like so:

http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2008/06/26/on-open-source-campaigning/#comment-14311

Now that I’ve got your attention, can you do one of your good long blogs on the importance of Evan Harris’ amendments? Then I’ll do another one. Then you can do another one.

That’s what us girls want. That’s the campaign.

Go get ’em.

Probably one of the reasons why us “boy bloggers” don’t immediately jump to support the feminists is because whenever someone who just happens to be a women gets excoriated there’s always someone who pops up and shouts misogyny.

I hate to piss on everyone’s chips here, but I detest this obsession with nit-picking about how elected politicians spend their expenses, no matter who they are. If you want to have a go at someone for being rude about Ben Goldacre, then stick to THAT subject, and not some procedural bullshit about which website they did it on.

It’s a fundamentally anti-democratic obsession and it’s not something that should (or ultimately will) give any comfort to left-leaning politicians or their suppoters. It may be against the rules, but the rules are idiotic. If you are an MP and you are given an allowance to communicate with people, you should spend it how you like.

It’s not as if anyone is goin to go to a Tory MPs website and say to themselves, “You know, I’ve voted Labour all of my life, but that bit of explicitly party political content, especially the political campaigns and the content which denigrates political opponents has completely turned my head and I’m voting Conservative now”, is it?

MPs have a vast aray of competitors. Not counting the twats that constantly demand referendums on everything, there are the dishonest lazy journalists, well-heeled pressure groups, commercial lobbyists and their customers, the civil servants, and other substrata of society that are subject to no restrictions and no scrutiny on how they conduct themsleves and how they communicate. In most cases, they are unscrutinised because it’s difficult or impossible to scrutinise them.

MPs on the other hand are constant and easy targets. Can anyone make the case that liberal democracy has got any better now that we can scrutinse the behavour of politicians more closely?

If this site wants to establish it’s liberal and democratic credentials, could you possibly find ONE regular poster that is prepared to regularly support the only position that has consistantly delivered progressive liberal democratic values – the strong independent body of elected representatives in parliament?

Nitpicking about politicians is Guido’s work. Guido, and his useful idiots….

I hate to piss on everyone’s chips here, but I detest this obsession with nit-picking about how elected politicians spend their expenses, no matter who they are.

Hate to piss on your chips Paulie, but for somewho wants bloggers to stop being so nasty and more constructive, maybe ppl in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones…

‘Probably one of the reasons why us “boy bloggers” don’t immediately jump to support the feminists is because whenever someone who just happens to be a women gets excoriated there’s always someone who pops up and shouts misogyny.’

Yeah, well – fair point in some ways. I do talk a lot of shit, especially when it’s convenient.

That said, my mate Unity HAS asked for a strong womanly lead from a strong womanly type on the direction we should take on the abortion debate. I’d rather we put Evan Harris’ pro-choice amendments at the top of the agenda, so that’s what I said. I also tend to agree with Paulie’s point about MPs’ communication expenses. It’s political point-scoring that tends to detract from the bigger arguments. Entertaining, but who gives a stiff one, really. The money we spend butchering Iraqis concerns me more.

Which is not to say people should stop writing about whatever they want. Censorship is bullshit.

Think I’m totally digging a hole here. Enjoying it, though.

I’d have sympathy with your view Paulie if Dorries was simply using her blog like other MPs do theirs, without specifically attacking other politicians on the flimsiest of grounds, but she doesn’t. She’s repeatedly used to it host fantasies, such as her “hand of hope” posts, launched attacks on a number of female Labour MPs simply because they disagree with her over abortion, and then after the abortion vote continued with her baseless allegation that the vote was whipped. Most MPs manage use their blogs without engaging in such scurrilous attacks, and they’re not state funded. Dorries’s is and does just that.

You aren’t digging a hole Kate. Censorship is bullshit – and individual non-frontline politicians are censored more effectively than almost anyone.

If she wants to attack other politicians on flimsy grounds, she can.

If they want to attack her back, they can.

If she wants to host fantasies, she can.

If you want to expose those fantasies, you can.

If she wants to attack women MPs over abortion, she can.

If she wants to make baseless allegations about how her rivals conduct parliamentary business, she can.

There are over 600 other MPs who can contradict her using the same medium if they want to.

When MPs like her start to understand how the internet is read and used as a communications tool, I suspect that she’ll stop doing it anyway.

The state-funding of something that is almost (or IS completely) free is an irrelevant sideshow.

It is time for liberals to start standing up for liberal democracy. It is not time for brown people to turn Tory.

The thing is, we’re just adding to her publicity, aren’t we? The people of mad Beds will vote for her even more now because she’s a high-profile public figure…

Yes yes Jennie!!!! That is exactly right.

Altho I come a bit unstuck here as well. Can hardly tell others what not to write, can i now. that’s censorship and would do my head in if the favour was returned. dunno which way is up anymore, really.

I think the feeling is that we can focus too much on mainstream obsessions, and Dorries is a mainstream obsession, because she plays so utterly to the middle ground.

The thing is, we’re just adding to her publicity, aren’t we?

Isn’t that a little like saying we’ll fight against racism without ever mentioning the BNP?

Mentioning =/= blogging incessantly about

* shrug *

I’m not in a good mood tonight, and probably should not be engaging in debate. I’ll leave this to people less apt to fly off the handle, I think.

You’re a funny man Paulie, why not go to a blog where you can all fantasise together about shooting people in the back of the head or what not. If that’s your version of a “liberal democracy”.

The people of mad Beds will vote for her even more now because she’s a high-profile public figure…

Possibly… or they might find out she’s publishing hoax pictures and trying to pass it on as a legitimate part of a debate… and that she has very dubious friends.

If an MP is publishing absolute rubbish – which Mad Nad does on a regular basis – then we are quite entitled to point out that she’s talking cobblers. She isn’t like other bloggers – she’s an elected member of our parliament with all the privileges and access that brings. We’re entitled to hold her to account – especially when she calls for the sale of all knives to be banned or when she spins her brand of lies and deceit.

Yes – call her to account if she says things that you don’t agree with, or that are inaccurate or dishonest. Argue with her. Highlight her stupidity.

But to use a bureaucratic procedural point to do so would seem to be soooooo pre-blog.

My point is that MPs are hedged in by a huge web of stupid procedural rules that are – in themselves – anti-democratic.

With her, it’s easy enough to play the ball. You don’t need to play the … er … man (oh, you know what I mean). I posted that rant earlier in this thread mainly because I think that the centrality of representative democracy to every aspiration that the centre-left has is hugely under-recognised, and stupid rules about MPs communications are an obvious symptom of it.

Sunny, I believe that the time has surely come for you to start taking yourself, your status as the spokesperson for a generation and for the liberal left, and the whole world of blogging seriously. You are treating it with a cavalier indifference and it offers so many possibilities to a man of your talents.

I think I can speak on behalf of anyone that has ever been rude to you in offering my heartfelt apologies.

Firstly, a round of applause for that piece de resistance. Fantastic post.

It isn’t our fault if the woman is a dishonest, deceitful, misogynist and thoroughly unpleasant individual, is it?

And it is in the public interest for anyone who might be thinking of voting for her to be informed of the evidence for that.

On the other hand, we should be grateful for people like her, as providing very good reasons not to ever vote Tory. If she and others like her weren’t such hateful dunderheads, they might be able to spin their way to power…

The BNP argument is spot on, and actually, I think we should go on incessantly about the woman, until everyone in the land has got the message loud and clear.

I’m inclined to agree with both Kate and Clarice. Yes, the endless coverage of her is tiresome for many reasons, but to quote Clarice: ‘I think we should go on incessantly about the woman, until everyone in the land has got the message loud and clear.’

That way, we can hopefully stop her constituency being such a safe Tory seat and alert more people to the fact that a person as unqualified for the job she’s doing, is doing the job she’s doing.

Wasn’t she parachuted into Mid-Beds by CCO at the very last moment after Jonathan Sayeed’s “retirement” owing to “ill-health”? IIRC she was also parachuted into Hazel Grove at the last moment in 2001 – and lost.

Mid-Beds would be ideal territory for a LibDem decapitation campaign; it would surely be easier to corral all the anti-Dorries support behind a LibDem rather than a Labour candidate, given that there are far more LibDem than Labour voters if the results from the last district council elections are anything to go by. I’m sure there must be a capable candidate living in the area and that the good Lord Rennard and his team of crack by-election shocktroops won’t find it necessary to import any eccentric cat ladies or yachtsmen to contest the seat!

They really should have put a bit more effort into the cover-up. If you click on the “Blog Spot” link on the right hand side of http://www.dorries.org.uk, you get taken to http://www.dorries.org.uk/Blog.aspx, with no warning about leaving dorries.org.uk… oops.

Tez Burke – decapitation requires a head to be taken off. Dorries is more like the arse (although, given her obsession with reproduction, maybe that should be the cunt)

26. Steve Jones

I think the author of this lot appears to be equating a website with an IP address. In the real world of commercial IT that’s a complete nonsense. It’s normal practice for a single server to host dozens, or maybe hundreds of different web sites on the same server on the same IP address. Web servers support virtual sites all the time – they parse the domain header and service the requests through local directory structures. It’s quite possibel that an IP address isn’t that of a single server anyway. Many commercial hosting companies will use front end network load balancers. These in turn distribute requests to back-end web servers using any number of different rules which might involve parsing the content of the request. Multiple web servers are commonly supported by network file systems so an individual request could be served by a number of different servers, all with access to common file store. Now I’ve no idea what this particular service provider does in technical terms, but all this is possible.

In any case, I think this is irrelevant. I would have thought the the definition of a website was something like a consistent, interrelated set of pages under a common domain. Wikipedia’s page on the subject suggests a website is largely defined by a common home page. The intention is surely one of a logically consistent set of pages, and not some irrelevant issues of IP addressing.

I’d freely admit that there is probably no case law covering what does or does not constitute a single website. However, the automatic assumption that the resolution of two different DNS names to a common IP address is not valid. The only thing you can say is that the network request is terminating on a common device somewhere. It may be a common server, it may be a network load balancer.

The real issue is surely who’s paying for what – politicians are always using taxpayers money to further their own political messages, whether overtly or indirectly. The costs of a simple web hosting site are, in the big picture, trivial and there are surely bigger fish to fry. If you want a target, then pick on the messages and real abuse. This is a sideshow using some fairly naive assumptions.

I haven’t followed this one in technical detail (too busy other things), but
I find it difficult to get excited by a £10 domain (did hosting the blog there actually cause any extra expenditure?) when we have MPs across the country from all parties using £10k Communications Allowances to put out barely disguised political newsletters.

Is the real question here that we need to rethink the dividing line between “MP office” matters and “MP party political” matters?

Is it OK for an MP to write for a “political blog” (or a party political post for their “MP website” – they all do it) in “work” time?

Where’s this going? Is it actually the aim to turn Nad into a walking talking political joke like George Galloway?

Matt

Ok. Further questions:

Is it OK for an MP to use their official website to “promote” their political blog?
What level is OK?
Should they even be linking to it?
Is it OK to have a link in the header, and vice-versa from the blog?
Is it OK to have a subdomain of the main “official” website domain that is mapped to a blogging platform?

How many MPs are out there who are using their incidental expenses allowance to promote their websites including (to various degrees) political blogs without telling us?

Is Dorries’ mistake that she put the statement about “incidental expenses provision” on her website?
Is it a requirement to do so?

I can’t find many other MP websites with clear funding information (open to clarification on that as I have only checked a small sample).

Matt

No, Matt, it’s ALL bollocks. MPs are subject to a significant amount of scrutiny on petty little issues like “OOh look and MP is using a publicly funded website to say what they think.”

MPs have rivals. Pressure groups, newspapers, think tanks, commercial lobbies and business interests, civil servants, NGOs and so on and on and on. None of them are subjet to a commensurate level of scrutiny.

If I were to crawl all over you picking at petty shit like this and were to not place the same restrictions on your rivals, you would rightly think that I had it in for you.

All of this obsession with the Westminster Village is petty anti-democratic anti-politics.

“MPs have rivals. Pressure groups, newspapers, think tanks, commercial lobbies and business interests, civil servants, NGOs and so on and on and on. None of them are subjet to a commensurate level of scrutiny.”

There are certainly better things to hate MPs for.

Respectfully,

Ben

Sir, I can’t believe that so much ‘fairy stories’ has been spoken by Dorries ( Bargery ) since 2005
including “Born in a Council House” ( not true ) so nothing surprises me, except how DOES she get away with it ? Doesn’t Cameron check out details ? Obviusly he has never read her earlier blog fantasy stories. There are people still living who do know her background.
Maybe they have yet to read some of her ‘fantasy stories’ from her past.
And she has the gall to speak of how poorer people suffer, and wear six thousand pound earings ( or so she told one particular Newspaper )


Reactions: Twitter, blogs




Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.