How not to kill a good story

9:18 am - January 16th 2010

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contribution by David Hencke

An extraordinary attempt was made just before Christmas to kill off a story of mine to spare the blushes of a rather hapless Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate caught out for living a dual life in cyberspace.

Greg Stone is now toast and has had to stand down as Liberal Democrat candidate for Newcastle-upon Tyne East and Wallsend as a result but the shennaghins surrounding the attempt to make sure this did not get into print is worth recalling.

Guido Fawkes tried to come to the rescue of Greg Stone aka Inamicus by using one of the oldest tricks of ye olde print media -a spoiler before the tale could be published by a rival.

Taking advantage of the internet’s speed over print he published a blog defending Stone for making some pretty nasty and rude comments about female MPs-both Labour and Tory – by releasing details of the tale and saying that calling someone a ”sour faced bitch” was ”tame”.

Accompanying the tale was a copy of document which stood up the allegations and had been sent to the Liberal Democrats following a request from Nick Clegg’s office. Can’t think how Guido got it.

Guido proceeded to spin the tale by blaming Stone’s opponent, incumbent Labour MP and chief whip, Nick Brown claiming it was part of a Labour smear campaign and that the MPs researchers had been touting it around left wing journos.

While some spoilers repel, others attract. The Guido spoiler enhanced the chances of the tale being published – not in the leftie press but in the Sunday Telegraph. So I thank him for increasing my income.

But there were some bizarre side effects. Guido himself claimed not to know the real identity of Inamicus which was rather disingenuous – given Greg Stone’s regular references to him on Twitter.

Nor do either them get the main point. If Greg Stone wants to be an MP he should not use Guido Fawkes to make crude and lewd comments about his future colleagues under an assumed name. And none of this fits with Stone’s other claim to be Mr Transparancy on his official council website.

Here was the early morning exchange between Greg and Guido.

Greg4MP (now defunct):

@guidofawkes where’s my space agency hat tip?!
2:57 AM Dec 11th


@greg4mp consider yourself hat-tipped. Thought you were an anonymous source…
11 December 2009 3:34 AM

David Hencke was previously the Westminster correspondent for the Guardian and took voluntary redundancy in 2009. He now writes for Tribune magazine and other papers on a freelance basis. He blogs here.

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Reader comments

To think – you once used to slay real dragons like Neil Hamilton and are now reduced to policing the netiquette of obscure Lib Dem PPCs.


ace story!

3. astateofdenmark

No denial that Brown and his researchers were involved I see. I wonder how Nick Brown first found out his opponent was using an anonymous name on the net? Anon is anon. I wonder how Nick Brown justifies using taxpayer funded employees to sit on the net compiling dossiers?

4. Alisdair Cameron

FWIW, I don’t really think Stone should have stood down for those remarks: let the voters decide whether they reflect well on him.
However he should never have been selected in the first place: he is easily the worst of Newcastle’s prominent LibDems (Keating, Psallidas,Cooper,Kane even Shipley are preferable by far) and the biggest black mark against him is/was the curious incident or case of his briefing/not-a-briefing of a private firm regarding councillors’ inclinations and insider info/oh-no-it-wasn’t passed on to this firm that employs him.

Stone resigned as portfolio member for regeneration, planning and transport on the Lib Dem-controlled city council executive.
He quit to take up a job as a consultant covering the North and Scotland with London-based company Beyond Green.
The company has been involved in consultations over regeneration plans for the former Tyne Brewery site at Gallowgate and Walker Riverside.

(Newcastle Evening Chronicle)

It all got brushed aside with a rather curious finding that any inside info Stone did or didn’t pass on to his new employers was done as idle pub chatter, and so not an overt offence…All very murky.

@astateofdenmark – Anyone with a more than passing familiarity with Newcastle politics could have figured it out, as Stone used the pseudonym Inamicus – previously his identity whilst running the LabourWatch blog. A quick google shows that the link between inamicus and Greg was well known back in 2007 at the time of the Sedgefield by-election.

FWIW, for all the hatred that has passed between Greg and, well, the entire Newcastle Labour Party, remember that it was the Liberals who threw him under the bus here. Clegg “agreed with” – ie sanctioned – the decision, and the smart money is on this being the closest the Liberals get to fratricide. Stone was an electoral liability, and whilst Wendy Taylor makes Clegg look like Martin Luther King, her lack of baggage must look distinctly attractive to the Newcastle Liberals right now…

I live out a bizarre existence in cyberspace where all around me I see people writing articles about what other people have written elsewhere.

I wonder if there was simply a void here before the first bloggers bootstrapped themselves into existence by writing about each other?

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