Disgusting Staines: Guido Fawkes is a sewage pipe and the British media gobbles up its filthy product...

His hit piece about Nadia Whittome's mental health is merely the latest vile move from this over-stuffed bin bag.

Paul Staines is 54 years old and makes his living from two things: Political blog advertising and internet bullying. Staines, a man convicted of drink driving on four occasions, who looks like the evilest estate agent you have ever encountered crossed with a man cosplaying as a Musketeer cruelly inflated with a bicycle pump, is Guido Fawkes.

While he has been assisted by a revolving cast of Muttley-like sidekicks — who have been able to launder their time with him into ‘mainstream’ jobs — the scabrous gossip site is all Staines; its focus and tone defined entirely by his nasty drunk pub bore obsessions and aggravations.

Yesterday, after Nadia Whittome, the youngest MP in the House of Commons, made the brave decision to go public with her PTSD diagnosis and the fact that she’s taking a brief period of medical leave, most people — even her political foes — expressed admiration for her honesty. Not Staines.

Guido Fawkes published a piece headlined Nadia’s Shell Shock Shows Politicians Need Life Experience: Nadia’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, illustrated with a colour image of the politician in the foreground and a black and white picture of World War I soldier behind her.

After some guff about the composition of Parliament in the past — a time when it was far whiter, maler and staler than it is even now — Staines writes:

… Guido always advises young people intent on a career in politics to go and do something else for a decade, something productive. Guido has no insight into what ails the youngest MP in parliament, Nadia Whittome, such that she needs to take a break from parliament due to PTSD.

Parliament may be daunting though nothing akin to the trenches of the First World War. The shells lobbed on social media may ruin your day, they don’t kill. The human mind however can be fragile and politics is a contact sport, which social media makes feel like a 24/7 activity.

Taking a break may help one gain more perspective. Having more years of life experience outside the political crucible might just give aspiring politicians more much-needed perspective.

What Staines deliberately and despicably omits to mention is that Whittome was working part-time as a carer during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. She blew the whistle on the PPE shortages at her workplace in a Newsnight interview in April 2020 and was let go shortly afterwards. She said she had been accused of “spreading misinformation” while her employer ExtraCare claimed it had simply “no longer needed” her services.

In September 2020, however, ExtraCare issued a statement in which it admitted that there had been PPE shortages at the care home and that Whittome had helped to resolve them by making the issues public in March and April.

The notion that PTSD is something that is only experienced by people who serve in the armed forces is a fallacy and a dangerous one at that. There is extensive research evidence of PTSD among medical staff and care workers, with the pandemic period showing evidence of a spike in cases.

But Staines considers Whittome a political enemy so it was fair game to open her up for mockery by his jackal pack of commenters. He is not alone in these snide efforts; he’s merely the most brazen.

While Whittome didn’t talk about the triggers of her PTSD in her statement and nor should she have to do so. That hasn’t stopped The Daily Telegraph taking a similar line to Staines, slapping this headline and lede on its news story —

Britain's youngest MP is battling PTSD

Nadia Whittome, the 24-year-old Labour MP for Nottingham East, has previously complained about social media abuse

Like Staines, The Telegraph heavily implies that the issue is that Whittome just can’t hack it in the heat of politics and makes no mention of her time as a care worker. The body copy is written straight but the implications are clear.

And while The Times avoids making a cheap link with social media, it has done something almost as vile — it’s left the comments on beneath the news story, inviting the most vicious of its subscribers to have free rein in offering their views on a young woman’s mental health.

At the time of writing, there are 40 comments the story headlined Nadia Whittome: Youngest MP takes time off for PTSD. Here is a selection of statements that The Times considers acceptable to have up on its site (I haven’t corrected any spelling or grammar):

Smuggs
6 HOURS AGO
Not fit for purpose.. end of. Too Woke.. Welcome to the real world

Lost the plot
7 HOURS AGO
Has she just defended her office from an attack by terrorists? Why the PTSD?

the-irony-of-it-all
8 HOURS AGO
If she isn't up to it she should resign. Any PTSD she has is probably from spending much time courting attention on social media. Her constituents deserve better.

There are worse examples there but I don’t feel the need to thrust them under your nose. As another commenter on The Times rightly says:

None
6 HOURS AGO
I would have thought that comments should not be allowed on an article about someone who has just announced they are having MH problems. Surely allowing her to be a target in your comments is not going to help…

It’s also notable that The Times, which ran a major interview with Whittome back in May 2020, written by Rachel Sylvester and headlined Nadia Whittome: Britain’s youngest MP on her sacking as a frontline carer, doesn’t mention that experience at all.

It’s also notable that Staines, The Telegraph and The Times all ignore that Whittome donated her care home wages to charity and takes only £35,000 of her MP’s salary, donating the rest of the almost £80,000 figure to charity. If Whittome were an ally of these outlets that fact would be trumpeted loudly, but then if she were an ally of theirs, she wouldn’t donate a penny.

Staines talks highhandedly about politicians needing more ‘life experience’, so let’s look at his life experience:

When he was a student, Staines was chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students at Humberside University. He made his first appearance in the national press in The Guardian on 31 May 1986, in an article headlined Tory student leader in ‘racist ‘ party link1

A leader of the Federation of Conservative Students wrote to an organiser of the British National Party proposing joint ‘direct action’ to disrupt the meetings of leftwing students.

Secrecy, he emphasised, was essential: ‘The Reds would simply go wild if they got to hear of a BNP-FCS link. I would personally be in danger of being expelled from the Conservative Party.’

The author of the letter is Mr Paul Delarie-Staines, the chairman of the federation’s 50-strong branch at the Humberside College of Higher Education.

Mr Delarie-Staines, who is in his first year of a degree course in business information studies, wrote on May 22 to Mr Ian Walker, a BNP organiser in Hull.

He was, he said, against several of the aims of the BNP, which campaigns for the repatriation of black citizens. Several of its members have been convicted of offences under the Race Relations Act, and others for crimes of violence against ethnic minorities. Its leader, Mr John Tyndall, is a former chairman of the National Front.

Mr Delarie-Staines said he did not share the BNP view on immigration: as a member of the ‘libertarian’ faction of the FCS he advocated the free movement of labour, albeit with the caveat that ‘you come here to work – or starve. ‘

He went on: ‘I share a lot of your objectives.‘ These included a return to leadership and statesmanship, the abolition of the welfare state, and ‘the elimination of Communism in Britain – the mass media, the trade unions, and the schoolroom. ‘

Mr Delaire-Staines continued: ‘Nevertheless, even though we have our differences, I know a lot of BNP people at college do support the FCS (some are members of the FCS). I can certainly envisage some degree of cooperation.

‘For instance, we are moving away from just the normal political debate and towards more direct action – anti-Communist slogans on bridges, disrupting the leftist meetings by posing as leftists and then causing trouble, and also convincing individual leftists of the error of their ways.

‘Perhaps members of the BNP would care to join us in our anti-leftist activities. We can arrange a meeting to discuss possible joint future activities. ‘

Other examples of Mr Delaire-Staines work reached the Guardian, including a number of songs. One, entitled FCS Bootboys, reads: ‘Gas them all, gas them all, the Tribune group trendies and all. Crush Wedgwood Benn and make glue from his bones, Burn the broad left in their middle class homes.

‘Yes we’re saying goodbye to the Left, as safe in their graveyards they rest. ‘Cos they’ll get no further, we’ll stop with murder, the bootboys of FCS. ‘

… Mr Delaire-Staines told the Guardian that he had not meant violence by direct action at leftist meetings, only ‘causing as much noise as possible’. He said that he had tried to forge links with the BNP because ‘we share their anti-Communist view’.

He’s quoted in a 2018 Guardian profile by Anne Perkins as saying…

I never wore a ‘Hang Mandela’ badge, but I hung out with people who did …

… and he was raking muck about political opponents from early on, working as a ‘foreign policy analyst’ with Thatcherite headbanger David Hart at the hard right-wing pressure group Committee for a Free Britain. In Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House by Matthew Collin and John Godfrey, Staines, who also did PR for acid house parties, recalls:

I was lobbying at the Council of Europe and at Parliament; I was over in Washington, in Jo'burg, in South America. It was 'let's get guns for the Contras', that sort of stuff. I was enjoying it immensely, I got to go with these guys and fire off AK-47s. I always like to go where the action is, and for that period in the Reagan/Thatcher days, it was great fun, it was all expenses paid and I got to see the world.

I used to think that World Briefing was a bit funny. The only scary thing about those publications was the mailing list – people like George Bush – and the fact that Hart would talk to the head of British Intelligence for an hour. I used to think it was us having a laugh, putting some loony right-wing sell in, and that somebody somewhere was taking it seriously. You've got to understand that we had a sense of humour about this.

That’s what Staines thinks he is — a shit-stirrer, a ‘mischief maker’ as glib profile writers insist on calling him — but he’s really just a bully and a troll, a man who is willing to twist and distort with impunity.

The problem is that the ‘mainstream’ of the British media treats Guido Fawkes as a legitimate source of both stories and staff. Former Guido accomplices are scattered across the British media:

Jim Waterson — who denies he was ever at Guido for long — is at The Guardian, Alex Wickham is ensconced at Politico and Harry Cole is The Sun’s political editor, having also spent time at The Mail on Sunday. Staines’ latest Muttley, Tom Harwood, will start as GB News political correspondent imminently.

People like The Mail on Sunday’s Dan Hodges, The Independent’s John Rentoul, and even BBC New’s overgrown paperboy Chris Mason retweet Guido regularly. The site’s staff are invited onto paper reviews, its stories are often discussed in media roundups and laundered by newspapers who often take the site’s line after it has picked the scab off an issue.

Staines keeps most of his assets in his wife’s name after an earlier bankruptcy, is resident in Ireland — flying into London to do his dirty business three days a week — and keeps Guido Fawkes and his advertising network MessageSpace registered in the Caribbean tax haven of Nevis, where plaintiffs are required to deposit $25,000 with the courts before they can commence any legal action. All very much the actions of a good-faith actor.

To list all the lies, distortions and examples of bullying perpetrated by Guido Fawkes, Staines, and his merry band would take far more space than one email allows. But here are two facts that shed a little light on the reality of Staines’ claims to be a scourge of the establishment:

At the Leveson Inquiry in February 2011, Paul Staines revealed that he had been paid £20,000 by the News of the World for a picture of William Hague’s special advisor in a gay bar. The picture was never published. Staines told the Inquiry:

We also had pictures of the special adviser in a gay bar … We took the photos to the News of the World. They bought them for £20,000 and never published them. I don't know very much but I know you don't pay £20,000 for photos not to publish… The News of the World was in regular contact with Downing Street, and perhaps to curry favour or for whatever reasons, they chose to buy up those pictures and take them off the market.

And in 2014, at a party celebrating the Guido Fawkes sites’ 10th anniversary, then London Mayor, Boris Johnson, called it “the dung on the rosebush of politics” and simpered, “We cringe and simper around Guido in the pathetic delusion that we may thereby encourage him to be merciful to us.”

That cringing by politicians is why Guido Fawkes has been able to get away with being a brutal bully for so long. But the rest of the media has indulged him too. His attack on Whittome yesterday reminded me of something:

In August 2019, Sky News invited Staines onto its breakfast show to talk about “online civility”. Satire, long dead, and often dug up and abused, jumped up that day and danced a demented jig.

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The article is not on The Guardian website but is preserved and transcribed on Tom Pride’s blog and accessible in several historical newspaper databases.