The Guardian's libel of me
By Stephen Pollard
April 23, 2012
I've just heard from the Guardian at last that they accept the need for a clarification and will be posting this:
"In a diary item about the presence of blogs by Carlos Cortiglia, the BNP's
mayoral candidate, on the Jewish Chronicle website we stated that the blogs were
still available on November 23. We went on to say that this "conflicts" with the
editor of the JC, Stephen Pollard's, account "that he became aware of
Cortiglia's blog and deleted all trace of it 'last September' ". To clarify: he
told the Guardian's reporter that "in September we were alerted to the fact that
Cortiglia had set up a user blog and the moment we were told, we blocked him and
changed [the] entire system". Mr Pollard has asked us to point out that this was
not meant to imply that all traces of the blogs had been deleted in September –
in fact the measure he took at that time was to block Cortiglia's access. He
ordered the blogs to be deleted more recently."
I've had a very instructive week, seeing at first hand how Israel's enemies will lie entirely brazenly in order to further their own ends.
The JC, as many of you will know, used to have an open access policy for its blog hosting. Anyone who wanted to could simply register and set up a blog. (The idea was quite trendy among media outlets when we started it, years ago). We had no involvement at all in the process - any more than, for instance, the Guardian does when people register with it in order to leave comments on its site.
Last autumn, we were alerted to the fact that a man with BNP affiliations had set up a blog. We immediately barred access to the site to prevent him posting.
That was the end of the matter until earlier this month, when someone searched our archives and found his 3 posts buried inside.
Gleefully, the antisemitic MPACUK site, along with Stephen Sizer (the vicar whose views we have covered in the paper) ran posts that we had a BNP blogger - without of course checking the context or mentioning the fact we banned him - the message was that we had invited him to blog.
This then went into the realms of total fantasy when a fanatically anti-Israel blogger called Richard Silverstein simply made up a story that we had announced the BNP man (who is now their candidate for Mayor of London) as our latest columnist.
See what I mean about lying for the furtherance of political ends? These people will do anything to smear the reputation those of us who support Israel's right to exist.
All sorts of rumours went round the blogosphere and Twitter. And they led a Guardian journalist (Andrew Brown) to get in touch to - perfectly reasonably - ask me if it was true. I told him exactly what I've written above.
On Friday, the Guardian published a diary story under the byline of Hugh Muir which, in its own way, defamed me and the JC even more than anyone before. It said I had told them that we had removed all trace of the BNP blogs in September - and then said that because they had seen screen shots of the blog earlier this month, I had lied about this.
That is itself a lie. At no point did I ever say we had deleted all trace of him then. Patently, we didn't - the story only broke because someone saw the archive posts of his in April.
I pointed this out to the Guardian on Friday, and how defamatory it was to suggest I had lied. Their response so far has been to do precisely nothing. I have been told that the 'readers editor' will investigate. I am still waiting for the results of that investigation.
In the meanwhile, that diary post, effectively accusing me of lying, has gone viral - and because it is in the Guardian, some people assume it must be true.
It isn't. The Guardian has published a libel of me and - so far - refused to do anything about it, despite being given the full version of the facts.
Two explanations are possible. First, that somewhere in the passing on of the story from Andrew Brown to Hugh Muir, words were garbled and they made a mistake. Most of us accept that errors happen - and when pointed out, we correct and apologise.
That they have so far refused to make any correction or apology makes me wonder if the second possible explanation may be more accurate - that they know exactly what they are doing and have deliberately chosen to libel me.
I'll update this if and when they do the right thing.