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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dirty Tricks

This morning's Western Mail reports that the former Secretary of State for Wales and Neath MP, Peter Hain, is claiming to be the subject of a dirty tricks campaign to discredit him and his campaign team.

The paper tells us that in recent weeks, the text of damaging e-mails purporting to have been sent by members of Mr Hain’s campaign team have been circulated. Some have been sent to the Western Mail while others have gone to Guido Fawkes. They say that it now appears that many of the e-mails have been faked:

The RSPCA has this week investigated the content of some of the e-mails which falsely suggests that one of its employees in Wales was using its premises to campaign for Mr Hain.

They were identified as fakes because they purported to come from an e-mail address which included the domain name @rspca.co.uk.

A check with the charity’s IT department confirmed that the employee concerned could not have sent e-mails from such an address. The domain name included in the charity’s e-mail addresses is @rspca.org.uk.

One of the fake e-mails relating to the RSPCA also suggests that former Cardiff council leader Russell Goodway – who played no part in Mr Hain’s deputy leadership campaign – had offered to allow campaign workers to use his office “after hours”.

Other faked e-mail material purports to show another Cardiff member of Mr Hain’s campaign team attacking Rhodri Morgan and Assembly Cabinet Minister Andrew Davies for their “treachery” in failing to support the former Welsh Secretary in his bid for Labour’s deputy leadership.

The supposed recipient of most of the damaging e-mails, public affairs consultant Andrew Stallard, said he did not recognise their content at all.

This is not the first time that Mr. Hain has been the victim of dirty tricks of course, though it is unlikely that the South African secret police were involved in this particular campaign against him.

In his comments to the Western Mail, Mr. Hain says that "Someone has persistently been sending material designed to discredit me to the right wing Guido Fawkes website. Some of the material has also been sent to the Western Mail. In the main it has been fabricated.

“My campaign failed and as a result of this scapegoating and these dirty tricks, I have lost my Cabinet job. The whole thing is a surreal nightmare and I don’t know what is behind it."

He has every right to be annoyed, but the Electoral Commission may well disagree on the reasons he gives as to why he was forced to resign from the Cabinet.
Bloody hell I think we may actually agree on something Peter!

The emails (if they are some dirty tricks campaign against Peter Hain) cannot be excused and they are awful. However that is not the reason he lost his Cabinet post. The only thing he was a victim of in that issue is his inability to disclose hundreds of thousands of pounds.
I can give you an exclusive scoop Peter.

I didn't publish any of the fake emails or use them. It became clear to me very early on that as much as I wanted to believe the tantalising tale they told - they mixed bits of truth with what became obvious was somebody pursuing a disinformation agenda.

There is someone who has a keen interest in muddying the waters regarding emails. It is not Peter Hain and it is not me. The faker wanted to lure me into publishing a story based on the emails, probably to discredit a genuine email that is causing them acute legal difficulties.

Oh the scoop - it was me who gave the story and examples of the faked emails over to the Western Mail when the faker realised that Guido had discovered the truth.
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