Iain Dale costs Mail “substantial damages” for allegations

2:56 pm - May 20th 2009

by Sunny Hundal    

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In April leading blogger Iain Dale wrote an article titled ‘Smears, glowering henchmen-like the Nixon White House’ for the Mail on Sunday – alleging not only that Tom Watson MP was copied into the ‘smeargate’ emails to Derek Draper, but that he “encouraged” them.

It is of course with great sadness and regret I hear that two of this country’s best-loved media institutions – Associated Newspapers and Iain Dale’s blog – ended up with a massive pie on their faces.

Associated now accepts that these “allegations are entirely untrue”, and had to pay out substantial damages to Tom Watson MP.

This is the same blogger who once said,

If I say something libellous on my blog, I’m responsible for paying my libel bills. And that means there is more of an onus on bloggers to get it right, to not post unsubstantiated rumours…

I guess its easier to get someone else to pay your bills. Bizarrely enough, Iain Dale has so far managed to avoid issuing an apology on his own blog.

Justin McKeating: Iain Dale’s entirely untrue allegations
Bloggerheads: Iain Dale tells lies about his political enemies
Matt Wardman: Tom Watson legally vindicated over Iain Dale article in Daily Mail
Sim-O: Ian Dale: Peddlar of untrue allegations

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Humour ,Media

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Reader comments

Why Iain Dale Must Be Ignored, Vol. 26. – most excellent!

cjcjc – I love you dude, you’re like our most predictable Iain Dale champion. It must take real dedication to come here every day and keep repeating yourself like a broken record and championing the stupid. But then someone’s gotta do it. Keep up the good fight!

Mind you, given Watson’s role in bringing down Blair and thus initiating Gordon’s triumphant reign, he deserves a small token of appreciation I feel.

I aim to please!

Next record – Sunny you’re such a tribalist for hating on David Cameron! What has he ever done to you? You should stop writing about Tory expense scandals and focus on Labour! They’re a gazillion times worse!


That’s someone else’s record…

We all have our own records though, don’t we?!

I wonder if there will come a time when people won’t understand what we mean by the noun “record”.

What will it be then? Download?

I doubt it. We didn’t have the noun ‘CD disc’ in between….

9. The Misguided Liberal

Have you ever been sued, Sunny?

I’ve been threatened more time than I can remember. Guido Fawkes / Paul Staines has tried twice. And I earlier had vexatious litigant on my back.

And the LP is making a comeback I believe…

I just went to my “hero’s” site – there is a widget which links to Total Politics blog feed there and this post is top of the list!!

So it IS on his site after all (haha).

13. Simon Leonard

DaleWatch (to be read in a Geordie accent)

11:48am – Iain is fallin’ for an election date hoax and as’nae said ‘owt aboot the rulin’

11:50am – Iain’s talkin’ aboot Geoff Hoon and want’s ‘is ‘friends in Her Majesty’s Press…to quiz him on this. Hard’. Some elements of the press cannae afford the phone bill afta t’day

12:37pm – Iain has bin watchin’ PMQs

12:54pm – Iain spots a spellin’ mistake

2:10pm – Iain slags off sum journo’s

Tune in for more DaleWatch later to see if Iain mentions the rulin’

Actually wasn’t it you Sunny who urged Watson to sue – do it! do it! do it! was how you put it, wasn’t it – on twitter or facebook?

Actually wasn’t it you Sunny who urged Watson to sue

I’m pretty sure Tom’s decision wasn’t based merely on some random posting on a Facebook status. Surely you’re in favour of people clearing up their name using the law? After all, your hero Iain Dale was chatting through his arse, and he got caught out. Perhaps he’ll think twice next time before misrepresenting people.

#7 / #8

Although LPs are quite fashionable, the concept of a “record” has survived because of a continued reliance on physical releases where a substantial body of work is made available in one go. If artists move away from the idea of releasing several songs at once (whether through CDs, a website or whatever) and instead release songs individually as they are completed, we may end up losing the word “record” in common parlance.

I think baiting Dale is fine – urging a scumbag like Watson to sue him another – though of course I’m sure it wasn’t your “do it!” wot swung it!

Anyway, by helping Brown to knife Blair, Watson has played a small part in the Labour wreckage we see before us now, so he deserves some reward for that at least!!

Iain Dale lost the Daily Mail money, you say?

Well then, I suggest that we congratulate him for an act of inadvertent public service…

Bit cowardly not to mention it on his site though, I do agree on that.

cjcjc: Bullies are cowards.

Sunny (#10)

Paul Staines tried to sue you twice? What, seriously?

Bear in mind that comedy threats from Donal Blaney (‘world’s worst lawyer’) really don’t count.

Ok, if that tool doesn’t count, then just once.

See here:

Ben: Well then, I suggest that we congratulate him for an act of inadvertent public service…

I know – though these days the two are becoming increasingly indistinguishable.

I wonder if he’ll post something and accuse me of being increasingly like the Pravda, which he does with anyone he disagrees with.

Sunny, get your facts right. I did apologise to Tom personally by email on 13 April and again on my blog on that date. If you actually bothered to read the contents of that apology you’d be feeling slightly less smug that you clearly do.

Because of course you never ever get anything wrong, do you?

Smug? Oh I’m just happy you forced Associated Newspaper to pay out “substantial damages” and its now on the record that you have smeared people without fully knowing the facts.

You also seem to have written this during that episode:

Hardly looks very apologetic does it? If someone is smeared, you don’t think they should call in the lawyers? Better than people who call lawyers even when the story is true hey?

Comment 19 by BenSix:

Well said. I second that emotion.


Sunny beat me to it. I probably took a bit longer to trawl through your posts of 13 April than him.

I can’t see an apology there. I can see a bit where you claim to have tried to get the claims about Watson receiving emails pulled from the MoS article, but nothing that looks like an apology. Could you copy & paste anywhere you actually used the words ‘apology’, ‘apologise’, ‘sorry’ or any other word that might actually signal an apology rather than just an admission that you cocked up?

Iain Dale: “Get your facts right. I apologised directly to Tom on the evening it happened (11 April)”

Iain Dale: “Sunny, get your facts right. I did apologise to Tom personally by email on 13 April”

Way to get your facts right, Iain.

The fact is, Iain did not apologise immediately, it took the involvement of lawyers to get him to even admit to being wrong, and he later implied* that by using lawyers Tom had something to hide.

(*Paul Staines, the most likely source of this false allegation, did the same.)

Also, while Iain may have withdrawn the allegation from his site rather quickly, it made it to print and was widely repeated, and for over two days he allowed the majority of his readers to continue thinking that Tom had been CCed on those emails. By his own admission, he only brought people up to speed if they emailed him and asked about it.

This afternoon, he responded to someone asking about this press release by referring them to an earlier statement that *again* without evidence alleged Tom Watson’s direct involvement in the ‘smeargate’ emails.

Meanwhile, Iain Dale has not removed the multiple false claims about me on his website, many of which stem from my repeated attempts to address this smear specifically and an earlier smear that he lied to me about. In fact, he refuses to even discuss any of this. I have little doubt that if I resort to using lawyers, the first thing he will do is imply that I must have something to hide.

Iain Dale is a lying, manipulative scoundrel who poses as the moral guardian of the blogosphere. I look forward to boycotting his self-serving (and slightly-less-rigged-each-year) poll of weblogs once again this year. Perhaps this time, Iain will actually honour the boycott instead of pretending to be unaware of it.

Speaking of such behaviour, when will you be blogging this and publishing a more honest account/admission for the benefit of your readers, Iain? Will it be sometime today? Or are you still developing your story?

Sunny, I am really touched by your concern for Mr Watson’s (Tom to you – are you pals?) rep.
This (max food claiming) man is part of Brown’s (whom you claim to despise) inner circle along with McBride.
He is one of the men who has helped (in a small way) destroy Labour.
Now I may want to thank him for that, but I am surprised at your tender concern

Dale gets handed his arse in a libel action and then goes around telling people to ‘get your facts right’. Have a word with yourself, Iain.

How precisely does one honour a boycott?

Oh this is way too funny. In asking other people to get their facts right, Dale even gets his own dates wrong.

By honouring a wish to be excluded from the (rigged) poll instead of including the greatly reduced number of votes and making no mention of the boycott that may have influenced that count, cjcjc, you huggable trollmeister, you.

BREAKING NEWS: Left-wing bloggers far more concerned about attacking conservative bloggers than they are about discussing politics, knowing that they have nothing vaguely political to fight for…..

Oh wait, sorry, my mistake, this isn’t breaking news – it’s been happening for months, if not years. Starved of any political purpose or political allegiance, they try to appear busy by attacking a blogger who dwarfs them in terms of relevance and involvement in mainstream politics. How very sad.

So you approve of what Iain Dale did… or you just don’t care that he’s been telling outright lies, misleading his readers, and refusing to apologise for any of it (while claiming to have apologised already in a story that he has already changed once)?

Help me out here, LFAT, as you appear to be struggling and in need of rope.

LFAT: Of course Iain Dale libelling Tom Watson a Left Wing blogger has got nothing to do with politics.

Run along now…

Whether I agree with Iain Dale is neither here nor there – what I find so sad is that so many lefty bloggers spend so much of their lives (literally, hours and hours) talking about him and piggybacking on his genuine relevance in order to make themselves appear more relevant and to derive some kind of purpose for their own blogging.

Why Iain Dale Should Be Ignored, now up to Vol. 27.

Of course Sunny’s magnum opus is tiny in comparison with Tim Ireland’s:

Why Iain Dale is a Scoundrel Who Won’t Honour my Boycott, now printing Vol. 10652.

Tom Watson is not just a “left wing blogger” is he?
He is at the heart of the Brown machine.

As I said, though, since he has helped Brown destroy Labour we all owe him a vote of thanks!

Try instead: why Iain will stand aside and allow his enemies to be smeared and/or smear them himself while he appears on television as a champion of truth and honesty in blogging.

OK, so that’s a total of three trolls for Iain (counting Hendren’s tweet). Does anyone else have anything else to say in defence of Iain, what he did, how he did it, and how he continues to behave about it?

41. Richard (the original)

I feel as if I’ve just entered a playground.

#37 – LFAT describes Iain as a blogger who dwarfs them in terms of relevance and involvement in mainstream politics.

Regardless of political allegiance, a person with the degree of influence that Dale has should strive for a higher standard. Or are you saying that our expectations of decent civil conduct should be reduced when looking at any political figure of note, be they elected or not?

If it was wrong for McBride to smear (and I think we’re all agreed on that), and that the consequences of the email fiasco were fair, then is it not wrong too, for a high-profile player in the political media arena to commit libel without even apologising?

Iain is always harping on about his readership figures, yet whilst a daily newspaper pays the price for publishing a libellous smear, Iain just blithely goes on his merry way. We’re all critical of the declining standards in many areas of the old media, yet try and hold a new media player to account and all of a sudden we’re being partisan.

Ever thought it might have more to do with concern for the health and integrity of blogging rather than some tribal rant?

Bloody hell, Clive. I apologised privately to Tom at the time and on my blog. Perhaps I should parade myself naked in front of the Cabinet office with a banner round my neck too.

“I feel as if I’ve just entered a playground.”

libel + substantial damages = “He pushed me!”

Like it.

Three posts from Iain “If I find out that a story is wrong I will hold my hands up” Dale this morning, but not a word about this on his site.

And here he is now. Hello, Iain.

Iain, you did not publish an immediate apology, your story when you are supposed to have done so has already changed once, you were extraordinarily slack in following up, and just yesterday you *again* claimed without evidence that Tom Watson must have been involved in the ‘smeargate’ email(s).

Private Eye has to pay libel damages frequently.
That is the risk of running “gossip”.
Overall though I believe – perhaps others disagree – that they are a valuable publication.

I have no idea whether Dale meant to “smear” Watson – though how you destroy the rep of one who has already destroyed it himself is a moot point – or not, i.e. I have no idea whether he knew what he wrote to be false.
Clearly Dale was not able to show that Watson was copied on those specific emails.
OK – I agree he should admit that on his site. It is rather cowardly not to do so.
However does anyone believe that Watson and McBride – who sat next to each other at the heart of the Brown machine – did not dicuss the kind of stuff which Red Rag might contain, inclduing the smears?

Still, I repeat, in helping bring down Blair and replacing him with Brown, Watson has helped destroy Labour for a generation, so I don’t want to be too hard on him.

Gossip?! He stated it as fact when the story was hot and the stakes were high. Based on a single source. Gossip?

Get lost, cjcjc; grown-ups are talking.

grown-ups are talking


He didn’t present it as rumour, he stated it as fact. If you cannot or will not acknowledge that, then you are wasting* everybody’s time, cjcjc.

(*I suspect that you know this and do it quite deliberately. Goodbye.)

So I guess you won’t be attending this otherwise interesting event.
(This club does have a very good current affairs programme by the way.)


Bloody hell, Clive. I apologised privately to Tom at the time and on my blog. Perhaps I should parade myself naked in front of the Cabinet office with a banner round my neck too.

Funny you say you’re so apologetic Iain – you refused to publish my comment on your blog pointing to this story.

If you’re so apologetic and willing to admit your mistake, why not post a story on your blog saying so, or why not allow comments that point that out?

Unfortunately your mendaciousness is open for everyone to see.

Sunny – I tried to post a comment there too, in fact it was my first ever attempt at commenting over at Dale’s place, but it never got published.

Anyway, never mind, despite not letting your comment through Dale was unable to stop you taking centre stage in his feed widget, so for several hours you did kind of have a comment up pointing to this story.

Is anybody keeping scores on the blog-xing match between Iain and Sunny? This might even make CiF, no?

Dale is crying foul on David Dimbleby on Twitter. I think if the bullying Tory blogger cannot stand the heat he should stay out of the kitchen…

“libel + substantial damages = “He pushed me!””

Tim, not trying to wind you up here but can you honestly say that you can’t see how some people might perceive your attitude towards Iain as at least slightly obsessive?

Iain and I have outstanding business. I will be in his face until he deigns to speak to me.

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