As regular visitors to the Ministry will appreciate, I’ve got a bit of unfinished business with Chris McGrath, the idiot who unsuccessfully tried to sue Amazon, Richard Dawkins, the Richard Dawkins Foundation and a blogger named Vaughan Jones over comments made in a review thread on the Amazon website and in an article and comments posted at the website of the Richard Dawkins Foundation.
On this occasion I don’t propose to go into the full ins and out of the court case, which has left McGrath facing legal costs of £75,000. The full judgement has now been published on Bailii and I stand by everything that I’ve written in the three previous articles I’ve written in regards to McGrath.
What I am going to address in the rather bizarre and disreputable behaviour of Chris McGrath in the nine months or so since I first write about this case and, in particular, his efforts to play the victim by smearing Vaughan Jones as a BNP supporter and, by extension, anyone who has supported Vaughan over that time as supporter of fascism. McGrath has also posted remarks on his website, which have since been removed, which implied that Vaughan condones Holocaust denial, which is particular nasty smear as Vaughan is a secular Jew, a matter that McGrath drew particular attention to when making the Holocaust denial smear.
I should point out, for the record, that although the judgment in this case was only finalised last week, it was actually given to all the parties in the case, including McGrath, last December. McGrath has known perfectly well for the last four months that his case would be stuck out for abuse of process and, during that entire period, he continued to publish comments on his own website which aimed to smear Vaughan while knowing that his libel case was almost certain to be struck out when it next came to court. I should also point out that I have never met Vaughan Jones in person, nor have I even spoken to him about about his background or past activities. What follows is based entirely on my own investigations into McGrath’s allegations.
So, let’s start with the claim that Vaughan in a BNP supporter – is that true?
McGrath’s main pieces of evidence to support this allegation are a couple of brief remarks that Vaughan posted in comments – in 2008 – under a couple of Youtube videos which attacked the BNP, and in the interests of clarity those remarks were:
“And people wonder why we turn to the BNP”
“”If white people are becoming a minority in some boroughs of London why are there no support groups to tackle their issues? Double standards. Protect the interests of the immigrant population and fuck the indigenous.”
These remarks were, of course, carefully cherry-picked and presented entirely outside their original context on McGrath’s website in order to make them look as damning as possible.
At various points, McGrath also chose to highlight a comment in which Vaughan had admitted to having read ‘Mein Kampf’ which, on its own, might sound a little damning until you understand that he’s a historian – and for the record I should point out that I’ve also read ‘Mein Kampf’ while I was studying the sociology of the Holocaust and that no more make me a fascist than the fact that I’ve also read Caesar’s ‘History of the Gallic Wars’ makes me a Roman general.
And to cap it all, McGrath also tried to make a meal of a comment that Vaughan had made in a Facebook discussion thread on holocaust Denial in which he admitted to having friends who were BNP members:
I have three friends who are in the BNP and to call them racist is an insult to me personally because of the amount of work they do voluntarily in a deprived area of Nuneaton that consists of many ethnic minorities.
Again, this comment was presented by McGrath entire out of context, which matters a great deal as it is this discussion thread, which also dates to 2008, which provides the us with the clearest picture of Vaughan’s actual views, which I will quote at some length and, in places, annotate using square brackets:
You need more than to visit the place Tyler… you need to read the evidence in full to understand the full horror of the Holocaust.
[‘the place’ is Auschwitz-Birkenau, which Tyler has referred to in the previous comment to assert his ‘credentials’ as follows – “michael iv been to auswitchz – birkenhaur u dnt need to tell me the facts and figures”]
That said. in any organisation you will have nutcases; because the BNP is a marginal party with a significantly lower membership base than say New Labour the activities of its members are highlighter more often. If I set up a dedicated organisation determined to root out every misdemeanour of New Labour or the Conservatives I could make them look equally as bad as the BNP: any day of the week mate.
But because I am not vindictive and do not have a heightened sense of absurd moral duty I do not follow the line of Searchlight or the UAF. The people behind for supporting these organisations think Britain will succumb to a style organisations think Britain will succumb to a style of fascist government like Germany in the 1930s.
With regard to the persecution of the Jews by the BNP; as a Jewish fella I do not feel particularly hard done by because of my religion. My rights and freedoms have been eroded by both the Conservatives and New Labour in the past 20 years. The British people have been seduced into a radical idea of multi-culturalism that simply does not exist in any other country in the world. Other countries are multi-racial but you would never see a New York district banning the word Christmas in case it offended her Muslim population. How this occurs in Britain is beyond me?
But hey, lets have a go at the BNP for having a problem with the imagined threat of world Jewry and forget what the British government is doing to her own citizens.
What’s most obvious here is that Vaughan has clearly bought into the prevailing tabloid narratives of the time on immigration and multiculturalism but otherwise he appears to regard the BNP as something of an irrelevance. He also has some issues with organised anti-fascist groups, i.e. Searchlight and UAF, which we’ll come to shortly.
Vaughan’s next comment is a reply to a lengthy comment by someone called Neil, and its his response to this comment which I think shows us where Vaughan is actually coming from – and where has quoted from Neil’s comments in this next part, I’ll put the quotations in italics.
I am not denying the case that within the BNP membership there is a statitical anomaly concerning thuggish, criminal behaviour. But because of the nature of the BNP’s political leanings these cases are quite often sensationalised over and above what the courts have found to be accurate.
All this week there has been talk from Searchlight and the UAF about the Liverpool 12/13/14 who have been arrested for allegedly distributing racist material. However, they have been very quiet considering the fact they were released without charge.
“have you actually considered the logistics of repatriating every non-Northern European in Britain – cost, time, resources, loss of tax revenue, people of mixed race who are as Northern European as they are African/Asian etc and many other such problems.”
I have never agreed fully with any BNP policy and probably never will. But they do have a point on freedom of speech and they do have a point on the enforced idea of multi-culturalism within Britain. Is it not odd to suggest that somehow Christmas offends minorities for example?
“For instance the BNP claim that we as a nation are exposed to a dangerous threat of Islamic jihadism/terror etc. This is plainly rubbish. There are Islamic fundamentalist terrorists yes, but they only represent a very minimal % of the Muslim population of Britain, and as mentioned above, every population has its nutters.”
Ok… 2,974 people died in the 9/11 attacks not including 19 Mulism terrorists committing the atrocities. If you do the math then you will realise a small number of Islamic fundamentalists can kill an unimagined number of people should they so wish. The 7/7 events killed 52 people and 700 injured conducted by 4 Muslim men. So the risk numerically is very severe concerning the amount of damage that can be caused by a small number of nutcases. The majority of Muslims are bloody hard workers and the stalwarts of British industry and enterprise. But do you cover your pin number up when you pay for things? Will a woman make sure her bag is closed when walking around town? Will you strap your child up in the recommended EU child seat? These are all government directives designed for the majority to adhere to in order to cover a minority of historic events. What the BNP is doing is no different really in my opinion and all political parties do it.
“For me personally I also fear a BNP govt”
Which will never happen. If you look at the history of British politics no far right party has even come close to pricking the bubble of Westminster. The British political system will never allow Britain to become a one party state as there are too many controls in place to make sure it doesn’t happen. I know that you are referring to the Nazis when you make these comments and rightly so because of the history of far right parties. But this is the problem; rather than people addressing the actual flaws in extreme right wing ideology people try to stamp out any traces of extremist parties with prejudices based upon historical events. I have three friends who are in the BNP and to call them racist is an insult to me personally because of the amount of work they do voluntarily in a deprived area of Nuneaton that consists of many ethnic minorities.
From here the discussion goes on to refer to incident on Facebook in which Vaughan and other had a bit of run in with a small number of fairly boneheaded UAF supporters/activists which appears to have involved a fair bit of trolling and the use of sockpuppets to hassle people on Facebook and to ended with those responsible having their Facebook accounts disabled.
What emerges most clearly from this discussion is that Vaughan has some serious issues with a bunch of UAF activists whose general approach to countering the BNP seems not to have stretch much beyond shouting ‘Fascist!’ at people who disagree with them. This was certainly a hot issue at the time and one that provokes a great deal of debate due to the BNP’s short-lived success in cynically exploiting disaffection in the white working class that was being fuelled by the scapegoating of immigrants and immigration in the media.
Without wishing to offend Vaughan I’d be inclined to characterise his position here as one that was politically rather naive, but certainly not that of a hardcore BNP supporter – and because I happen to have copies of the both the BNP membership lists that were leaked at around this period I can say, for an absolutely fact, that he certainly wasn’t a member of the BNP at any point.
That’s the truth here, and for having made a few comments which appear questionable when taken entirely out of context, Vaughan has had to put it with comments like this one from McGrath:
He claims Jewish descent — again to try to evade the fascist charge, for how could one possibly be a fascist and a Jew? That’s his reasoning that he hopes will hoodwink yet more people. He simply dishonours the millions who died at the hands of that repellent ideology and one only has to look here [link to Guardian article on far-right] to see how fascism in this country has attempted to drive a wedge between Islam and the West by cynically marshalling a recruitment drive among the Jewish community (who have surely suffered enough in history). Some, it seems, fell victim to that fascist ruse for which we are paying a heavy price, despite Chris McGrath not being political or especially religious (though he is happy to acknowledge his firm belief in God): we wrote and published a satirical parody of religion versus science and of the marketing deceits surrounding the publishing industry and as a consequence we suffered a truly repugnant and vicious attack from a truly militant atheist steeped in fascist ideology.
By far the most despicable of McGrath’s efforts to smear Vaughan is to be found in this comment:
Mr. Jones is a secular Jew and a militant atheist. On the Holocaust, which he knows is beyond doubt, he agrees it existed and was an absolute tragedy and acknowledges its ‘full horror’, but in the same breath he states:
“I am yet to be convinced of the entire episode.”
“I find it odd how it is the only massacre in mankind that there is no room for debate, examination of the facts or dispute over evidence without fear of jail, violence or ridicule.”
“Quite simply the degenerates who are mocking the BNP and forcing strange ideas of Nazism upon their members could potentially be mocking the very people feeling their views on a number of issues”
Again we have comments which are being presented entirely out of context, so hears what Vaughan actually said:
I find it odd how it is the only massacre in mankind that there is no room for debate, examination of the facts or dispute over evidence without fear of jail, violence or ridicule.
I debate the Armenian Genocide on a daily basis; I daren’t say a single word or write a single sentence about the Holocaust.
It happened without question; my ancestors were caught up in it. But why the “no platform”? Is it really only to keep the extremists and Hitler worshippers at bay? Many of their claims are ridiculous and could be debated with easily. But evidence works both ways and I am yet to be convinced of the entire episode purely from a historical perspective. Absolute tragedy though without question.
And – from an entirely separate comment with, again, the comment that Vaughan is replying to in italics
“It is a historical fact that many people who initially voted for the National Socialists did not consider themselves racist or for one minute thought that voting for Hitler would lead to the gas chambers, they merely wished to express their concernes and the nazi’s at the time, exactly like the BNP addressed the ordinary concerns of ordinary Germans, using these concernes to gain power, but they turned their backs on these concerns post election.”
Hardly the truth… in any case Hitler addressed all of the concerns of the German people post Weimar such as kick-starting industrial production, squashing hyper-inflation, setting up public service schemes that Roosevelt copied in the US. Hitler, before the war, was very much an admired man both in Europe and across the pond. This is not Nazi wish-washy Hitler loving speak… it is what is taught at university in order to understand the nature of the Nazis. It is used to teach the idea that extremism has a place in politics but therein underlies a belly of hate. It was not the German peoples fault, the Nazis simply betrayed their mandate and destoyed the newly formed Weimar democracy.
The lesson that can be learned is that time after time the Nazis were beaten at both the polls and in the courts. They were scorned… picked on… made a laughing stock. That was until they seized upon a number of truths the people of Germany took to heart (personal pride for one, nationalism the other). When the politicians scorned these ideas the people rejected their new form of government and felt like the government were not listening. Hence the increase in support for the Nazis.
So what am I trying to say? Quite simply the degenerates who are mocking the BNP and forcing strange ideas of Nazism upon their members could potentially be mocking the very people feeling their views on a number of issues are being ignored by the mainstream parties. No wonder they are turning to the BNP, especially when the rational debate that IS going on within the government is the one of out of control immigration.
So what we actually have is Vaughan arguing against ‘No platform’ in relation to actual Holocaust denial while acknowledging, quite correctly, that the study of the Holocaust remains a field in which there is still considerable room for legitimate critical inquiry and debate before going on, in a completely separate comment to point, again quite correctly, that the German political class grossly under-estimated the Nazi’ ability to mobilise popular support on a large scale while assuming that they could suppress the party by means of heaping ridicule and scorn on the Nazi movement, the same assumption on which some antifascist activists operate to this very day.
All of which McGrath manipulated and cherry-picked to fabricate support for his delusional allegation that Vaughan is a BNP supporter.
This is high-order scumbaggery, no more and no less… and it gets worse.
In addition to smearing Vaughan with the baseless allegation that he is a BNP supporter, McGrath has also sort to use these claims as the foundations for an equally baseless and shameful attempt to capitalise on the one genuine error that Vaughan made throughout this whole sorry episode, a comment that Vaughan posted while engaged in a flame war with McGrath and his sockpuppets in which he expressed sympathy for McGrath children and referred to them by name.
Vaughan has admitted that this was a mistake and removed the offending comment, however McGrath has persisted in making delusional claims about supposed threats to his family.
To illustrate what I’m talking about here I stick to just one of McGrath rambling comments, not least because the Ministry gets a mention:
The issue raised by Chris McGrath in open court at the end of the hearing is perhaps the most incendiary for all concerned; and one of the reasons all bar the Fourth Defendant have struggled to contain the issue in public. The Fourth Defendant clearly has his own motives for prosecuting the case in public over the preceding months, gathering support on the back of continued lies, on which so much growing internet commentary is feeding, to the detriment of truth and justice – and now to the potential threat (again) of Chris McGrath’s children, which takes priority. The issue must therefore be addressed openly, and immediately.
The inherent threat surrounding those websites and their owners in naming the children is now brought into sharp relief – in possibly more disturbing ways than potential extreme political violence, as any investigation into “Gottfried Svartholm” will suggest. It is his website (according to ICANN) that has triggered this decision to try to limit the contagion taking place, but he draws on a previous website, MinistryofTruth.me.uk (a name with frightening overtones, however ironically intended) for much of his inspiration, a website whose owner is already the subject of an impending legal claim by the Claimants. Gottfried Svartholm is, we discover, the co-architect of BitTorrent/ThePirateBay and he is, we understand, a wanted criminal, on the run from the police, using a PO Box for his website registration.
And his sudden interest in this Libel case speaks volumes.
There are three points to address here.
1. The reasons that the names of McGrath’s two children are in the public domain, along with the name of the school that one of them attends, is because in 2007 McGrath self-published a children’s book called ‘South Pole Santa’ via Lulu. The dedication in the book names both children, which is where I presume Vaughan got their names from, and I wrote about the book in my first article about this case as part of a section which gave an overview of McGrath’s unsuccessful efforts at forging a career as an online entrepreneur:
McGrath’s first appearance on the Google radar dates to December 2007 and a report in his local newspaper about a children’s book, cowritten with his then-seven year old son, entitled ‘South Pole Santa’.
A father and his seven-year-old son have re-invigorated the spirit of Christmas by writing an action-packed festive story.
Chris McGrath and son Milo, of Newport Pagnell, have together penned South Pole Santa, in which a rival Father Christmas sets out to wreak havoc by wrecking festivities across the world.
Chris, aged 36, a local government consultant, said: “It’s about an anti-Santa of the South Pole who is given an opportunity by the Santa of the Northern Hemisphere but falls foul of the Lord of Happiness and Joy.
“He puts the Southern Santa to sleep for 3,000 years but a witch wakes him up 1,000 years too early.
“They then set about to destroy Christmas altogether by stealing the chimneys of the world, so presents cannot be delivered.
“Only the courage of a young boy can stop them, but will he make it in time?”
The report goes on to add that:
The collaboration began in February when Chris came up with the original idea and Milo, a pupil at Cedars School, helped develop the plot.
I ran a search on the book’s title and found it for sale via Lulu with the following blurb:
Father Christmas has a rival! Out of action for the last two thousand years, the oldest enemy of Christmas is back to claim the festive season as his own in this spectacular struggle between the forces of good and evil. In a worldwide battle to save Christmas from total catastrophe, only the courage of a young boy, Milo, can defeat the enemies of happiness and joy; but will he make it in time?
However, McGrath’s book wasn’t the first thing I turned up with the name ‘South Pole Santa’.
That was an online Flash Adventure/RPG game released with a 2004 copyright notice which is described on one online games site [3rd ranked on Google for this search] to which it was uploaded in December 2006, in the following terms:
In this Christmas adventure game you are a female elf called Devi. You accidetly find out that someone steals toys from kids all over the world. You try to notify Santa about this situation, but it seems like you just can’t do it, which means that you have to solve the problem yourself.
2. The only thing that McGrath actually has to fear in regards to anything I’ve written about him is the possibility that his kids will run across my article on the web and learn that their dad is basically a bit of a twat.
3. So far all the nonsense about Gottfried Svartholm goes, its would appear that all that’s actually happened is that someone associated with Anonymous picked up the story of McGrath’s libel, possibly from the Ministry or maybe from somewhere else (who cares?), and created a section on one of Anonymous’s anti-Scientology website to troll McGrath by, amongst others, posting personal information about McGrath and other members of his family – all of which is in the public domain – together with cached versions of Vaughan original review of McGrath’s book, a repost of my own article and a few unpleasant homophobic comments about McGrath which were entirely uncalled for, not to mention irrelevant.
The site, itself, may be registered in the name of Gottfried Svartholm but the chances of his actually taken an personal interest in this case are next to zero, for all that this served – unfortunately – to feed McGrath’s delusions about a far-right threat to his family.
The only threat to McGrath’s family is the one that exists in McGrath’s own febrile and narcissistic imagination…
…actually that’s not entirely true.
The real threat to McGrath’s family is the fact that, based on comments that McGrath posted on his website a couple of months ago, he’s having problems with paying his mortgage and yet has chosen to spend the last fuck knows how long pissing his life away on futile and utterly misconceived litigation.
Oh, and he’s just copped for £75,000 in costs from his libel action against Vaughan et al when he reckons he’ll be able to pay in three monthly installments.
And I shouldn’t forget that most of his similarly hysterical trademark action against Nike was struck out, in a ruling published on 28 March, leaving with only a case in which he opposes the registration of a mark by Nike and no prospect of a payout from that either.
And that is the real story of McGrath’s attempts to smear Vaughan Jones… and Chris, if you do happen to see this then you already know my answer to anything you might have say about this article… Arkell vs Pressdram. Have a happy easter!