Allison Pearson is a bully: How the Telegraph columnist terrorised a Twitter critic

She used the perceived power of her position to threaten someone else's livelihood and it was monstrous...

Allison Pearson is a bully. I’m confident that there’s enough publicly-available evidence for me to express that opinion, and big enough and ugly enough to run the risk of turning the gorgon’s gaze on me.

A man who may have got a little overheated in his criticism of Pearson was not. After seemingly accusing Pearson of being part of an orchestrated anti-NHS campaign — based on her repeated columns and Twitter posts making unfounded assertions about the health service — he found himself the focus of her not inconsequential ire:

Even after the man had deleted the offending tweet — so quickly that no one seems to have a screenshot of his words — Pearson ploughed on with threats of lawyers and professional destruction. She named his employer and told him she would get in contact with the CEO. When he apologised again, begged her not to threaten his livelihood, told her that he was his family’s only breadwinner, and said he was feeling suicidal from the stress of this encounter, she told him: “You’re finished.”

After a few more hours of hanging a sword above this bloke — who has no profile, no newspaper column, no megaphone to make his point — Pearson relented, accepting the man’s apology with the tone of an emperor deciding to switch a thumbs down for a thumbs up at the last moment, the lions still snarling at the gate, the murderous Praetorian Guards just out of shot:

Allison Pearson has a Telegraph column and a matching podcast, the unhinged Planet Normal. She’s been a columnist for almost 30 years and has also had a lucrative side-line as the author of lacrymose romance novels. She’s also on the Media/PR Advisory Council of Toby Young’s laughable Free Speech Union, which exists predominantly to give him a job title during TV appearances.

Pearson has a history of saying horrific things; she was among the journalists who promoted the discredited theory that the MMR vaccine caused autism, she said the Belgian bombings in 2016 were justification for the Brexit cause, she called for the introduction of internment camps after the 2017 Manchester bombing, she claimed a photo of a child lying on the floor at Leeds General Infirmary in December 2019 was “staged” and “100% faked” (it wasn’t), and that was all before Coronavirus.

Since the pandemic began, Pearson has positioned herself as one of the most ferocious “lockdown sceptics” in the British media, a whirlwind of half-truths, conspiracy theories and ‘revelations’ from anonymous sources that collapse quicker than a cake in a rain. Here’s my summary of her output during the crisis, taken from a newsletter published last week:

Back in April, at the height of the first wave, Pearson claimed unemployment was a bigger danger than the virus. In June, she wrote the quarantines for travellers and the closure of pubs were excessive because Covid “exclusively existed in hospitals and care homes”, writing later that month that she would not “demean" herself by wearing a mask. On September 22, Pearson published a column saying she hoped her son and everyone in his student house would get Covid, having written earlier in the same month that not seeing granny was more likely to kill her than exposure to the virus. In November, as the death toll was rising again, she wrote that the government is “pretending a deadly pandemic is sweeping the land” and castigated MPs for not voting to stop the second lockdown.

I wouldn’t accuse Allison Pearson of being part of an orchestrated campaign to attack the NHS. I don’t think the former bankrupt and current worst columnist at The Daily Telegraph — an accolade akin to being the most shit-covered pig in the sty — is that organised. I think she’s a freelance danger whose opinions just conveniently fit with the favoured line of her billionaire bosses, the Barclay Brothers.

Pearson had no real intention of taking the man who offended her to court. And even if she had her case would have been undermined significantly by the mafia-style threats she was throwing around. He pled for mercy and even made charity donations to appease the angry god of commentariat mountain.

While the man himself has 23k followers on Twitter now (most acquired after Pearson came for him)*, Pearson has over 84k and the bully pulpit of a weekly slot with the Telegraph. She knew she had all the power in their interaction and seemed to take so long to accept his apologies because she enjoyed seeing how terrified her quarry had become.

I’m not afraid of Allison Pearson because I know she’s part of a dying breed of columnists who can get away with this kind of behaviour. While she may believe she was the victim in this case — she thinks she’s always the victim — her behaviour revealed something her columns rarely do — a truth: Allison Pearson is a bully.


*Thanks to Gemma for this additional information: