Guido Fawkes

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Guido Fawkes
Gudio Fawkes.jpg
Type of site
Blog
EditorsPaul Staines
URLwww.order-order.com
Launched2004
Current statusActive

Guido Fawkes is a right-wing political website published by British-Irish political blogger Paul Staines.[1][2][3]

History[edit]

In September 2004 Staines began writing an anonymous blog about British politics, under the name of Guido Fawkes, an alternative name of Guy Fawkes, one of the group that plotted to blow up the Palace of Westminster in 1605.[4] In February 2005 the online version of The Guardian reported that the Fawkes blog shared a fax number with Staines.[5] Although he subsequently refused to confirm the links, further media coverage continued to name Staines as Fawkes until the airing of a BBC Radio 4 documentary[6] about him on 10 February 2007, which gave a fairly comprehensive history and background, and prompted his blog post "So Much for Anonymity".[7]

In 2005, Guido was voted the best in the Political Commentary category of The Backbencher Political Weblog Awards, run by The Guardian. This was an online poll linked to the Guido Fawkes site, and not a poll of Guardian readers specifically.[8] In May 2006, Staines (as Guido Fawkes) co-authored a book with Iain Dale, which was critical of the Labour Party's practices since taking office in 1997.[9]

In April 2006 Staines was one of numerous bloggers subject to an injunction[10] from News International for publishing a picture of undercover journalist Mazher Mahmood. Staines agreed to publish[11] the photo if 10 other bloggers would do so.[12] The picture remained on Guido, and, following legal action from George Galloway, was subsequently released into the public domain.[citation needed]

Guido reported the allegation that Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was having an extramarital affair with an MP. It also named the woman in question, saying that such rumours had long been shared among Westminster journalists, but that it was being less hypocritical and breaking the clique by refusing to cover up such stories.[13] The coverage of the Prescott affair drew considerable extra traffic to Staines's blog.[14]

He was named at number 36 in the "Top 50 newsmakers of 2006" in The Independent,[15] for his blog, and his role in the Prescott scandal in particular. In 2011 GQ ranked him and co-author Harry Cole jointly at number 28 in the magazine's list of the 100 Most Influential Men in Britain.[16]

Staines encourages readers to forward political documents and information, which he publishes on his blog. One such leak was a strategy document for the Peter Hain for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party campaign. This leak caused embarrassment to Hain's campaign,[17] as it included information on MPs who had not gone public with their support, as well as others who were supposed to be independent.

"Tottywatch"[18] is an irregular feature that comprises pictures of attendees at political events. Although the pictures are of both men and women, the majority are of attractive young women. Staines' wife is referred to as Mrs Fawkes and his daughters as Miss Fawkes and Ms Fawkes. On Monday mornings, the blog features a Monday Morning Point of View cartoon by "Rich&Mark", cartoonist Rich Johnston, archived at the RichAndMark website.[19]

In 2012, RTÉ Radio 1 broadcast a documentary about Staines, Our Man in Westminster, as part of its Documentary on One series.[20]

Vote Leave employee Tom Harwood was hired as a Guido reporter in July 2018.[21] In February 2021 it was announced that Harwood would be leaving later in the year to join GB News.[22]

Staines has said that Steve Bannon, former Chief of Staff to Donald Trump and head of Breitbart, once tried to buy Guido.[23] "That fell through over price," Staines told Press Gazette. "I never could work out whether we were talking dollars or sterling."[24]

Exposes[edit]

Smith Institute allegations[edit]

Staines has made a number of posts on his blog relating to the Smith Institute, a charitable thinktank set up in memory of former Labour leader John Smith, which he alleged to have engaged in party political activities (forbidden under charity law) and links to Gordon Brown. These complaints led on 1 February 2007 to a formal investigation by the Charity Commission.[25] The Commission threatened him with contempt of court proceedings if he did not release any documents, obtained from whistleblowers, relating to political activities by the Smith Institute.[26] Staines has stated on his blog that he intends to protect his anonymous sources,[27] which has occasioned speculation that no documents or proof of Staines' allegations actually exist.

Peter Hain[edit]

Staines has been credited with being the first blogger to "take the scalp" of a serving British minister, following the resignation for a period of well over a year of Peter Hain from the offices of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Secretary of State for Wales in January 2008.[28][29][30]

Smeargate affair[edit]

Over the weekend of 11–12 April 2009, Staines exposed in his blog that a series of e-mails had been prepared by Damian McBride, a political adviser working at 10 Downing Street, smearing a number of Conservative MPs which had been sent to Derek Draper for consideration for publication on the Red Rag blogsite.[31] This led to the resignation of McBride and expressions of regret to the MPs concerned from the prime minister, Gordon Brown.[32] Staines provided copies of these emails to the News of the World and The Sunday Times and states that, contrary to the comments of his detractors, he did not receive any payments for this.[33]

His success in the McBride affair has occasioned serious criticism from him of the UK lobby correspondent system, which he believes has succumbed to the ethos of political spin.[34]

Leveson Inquiry[edit]

In late November 2011 Staines posted on his Guido Fawkes blog the Leveson Inquiry pre-submission of journalist and former Labour Party press secretary Alastair Campbell. All pre-submissions are given under strict and full confidentiality, and all core participants – including victims, the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service – are also signatories. Staines stated that he had obtained the submission legally. Lord Justice Leveson immediately called him to the inquiry to make a statement under cross-examination.[35]

Staines gave written evidence denying any fault or breach of the Inquiry Act. At the start of his oral evidence to the Inquiry, Campbell admitted sending his evidence to "two or three journalists" and some friends. The order for Staines to appear was dropped.[citation needed]

In late December 2011 Staines was invited to give further evidence.[36]

Reception[edit]

Staines has been criticised for his approach to blogging. He often criticises the mainstream media, stating that they are too close to the political establishment and that they also keep internal secrets about political scandals from the public. When allegations about John Prescott's private life appeared, Staines wrote that "You can tell it is a big story because Nick Robinson is ignoring it". Robinson responded via his own blog,[37] accusing Staines of having a political agenda to damage the government. These criticisms were echoed by Peter Wilby, in the New Statesman, who suggested that Staines's claims to have made the news on Prescott were unfounded, as the story had previously been covered in The Times, and that Staines' contribution to the debate was persistent implications of scandal without supporting evidence.[38]

Colin Brown, in response to criticisms from Staines that the media are too cosy with politicians, said: "We would love to go into print with things that we hear and believe to be true, but cannot prove, but the libel laws are such that we cannot put things into newspapers that he [Guido Fawkes] seems to think that he can get away with on the internet. They don't seem to run by the same rules".[13] Staines responded by stating that he is more vulnerable to libel suits than the print media are; as an individual, he does not have a large company backing him, although he says the fact that his blog is published through a Nevis-registered firm offers some protection,[39] as plaintiffs are required to deposit $25,000 in court before commencing any action in Nevis.[40] The same firm is majority shareholder in MessageSpace, a blog advertising network that sells advertising space on many British political blogs, including PoliticalBetting.com, Iain Dale, ConservativeHome and Labourhome.[41]

Staines was criticised by Iain Dale and Michael White in September 2010 for publishing rumours about William Hague, alleging that he shared a hotel room with his newly appointed special advisor. Hague confirmed he had shared a hotel room, but denied any "improper relationship".[42][43] Later in February 2011, at the Leveson Inquiry, Staines said he had been paid £20,000 by the News of the World for a picture of Hague's special adviser, Christopher Myers, in a gay bar. The picture was not published by the News of the World.[44]

In 2014, at Guido's tenth anniversary party, London Mayor Boris Johnson said that the site "has long been the dung on the rosebush of politics".[1]

The Guardian's Anne Perkins has called Guido "a cross between a comic and a propaganda machine".[1]

Staff[edit]

A number of journalists began their career on the blog, including:

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Perkins, Anne (7 April 2018). "Guido Fawkes: a cross between a comic and a propaganda machine". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  2. ^ "The Most Feared Man In Westminster". Esquire. 31 July 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  3. ^ Edemariam, Aida (15 February 2013). "Blogger Guido Fawkes, aka Paul Staines: 'I still hate politicians'". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  4. ^ "Guido Fawkes". Blogger. Retrieved 1 June 2006.
  5. ^ "Who you gonna call?". The Guardian. London. 2 February 2005. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  6. ^ "BBC – Radio 4 – Profile – 10 February 2007". BBC. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  7. ^ "So Much For Anonymity". order-order.com. Archived from the original on 27 April 2007.
  8. ^ "The Backbencher Political Weblog Awards: Help choose the winning blogs". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 June 2006.
  9. ^ Dale, Iain; Fawkes, Guido (2006). The Little Red Book of New Labour Sleaze. Politico's Media. ISBN 978-1-904734-16-1.
  10. ^ "Murdoch on warpath". Independent on Sunday. 2 February 2008. Archived from the original on 2 February 2008.
  11. ^ "Sheikh It Up Baby". order-order.com. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007.
  12. ^ "'I will publish a picture of Mazher Mahmood a.k.a. the Fake Sheikh'". PledgeBank. 7 April 2006. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  13. ^ a b "Fawkes plots to blow up 'cosy' political reporting". Press Gazette. 14 July 2006. Archived from the original on 19 August 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  14. ^ "Hitwise Intelligence – Heather Hopkins – UK: Guido Fawkes – Fair and Balanced". Weblogs.hitwise.com. 11 July 2006. Archived from the original on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  15. ^ "The top 50 newsmakers of 2006". The Independent. London. 18 December 2006. Archived from the original on 1 December 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  16. ^ "GQ Give Guido Oxygen of Publicity". Guido Fawkes.
  17. ^ "Leaked paper threatens to derail Hain's ambitions". icWales. 31 January 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  18. ^ "totty watch". order-order.com.
  19. ^ "RichAndMark.Com". RichAndMark.Com. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  20. ^ O'Connell, Brian. "Our Man in Westminster". RTÉ Radio. Doc on One. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  21. ^ Mayhew, Freddy (25 July 2018). "Guido Fawkes hires young Vote Leave talent and looks to boost video output on political blog site". Press Gazette. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  22. ^ "Tom Harwood, Darren McCaffrey join GB News team". Sports Mole. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  23. ^ Bright, Sam (24 February 2021). "Alt-Right Ecosystem: Steve Bannon Tried to Buy Guido Fawkes". Byline Times. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  24. ^ Turvill, William (24 February 2021). "Guido Fawkes owner Paul Staines on how the site makes money". Press Gazette. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  25. ^ Statement on the Charity Commission and the Smith Institute, Charity Commission website, 1 February 2007
  26. ^ Hope, Christopher (16 February 2007). "Political blogger warned he could be jailed". The Daily Telegraph.
  27. ^ "Sith's Allies Fightback". order-order.com. Archived from the original on 30 April 2007. Retrieved 16 February 2007.
  28. ^ Daniel Hannan. MPs can't distinguish right from legal. Daily Telegraph. 25 January 2008.
  29. ^ Mick Fealty. Blogging's first UK scalp. 24 January 2008.
  30. ^ Roy Greenslade. Has Guido got UK blogging's first scalp?. Guardian Unlimited. 24 January 2008.
  31. ^ Smeargate timeline in The Guardian, 14 April 2009.
  32. ^ "E-mail smears handling defended". BBC News. 14 April 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  33. ^ "The Backlash Begins – Guy Fawkes' blog". order-order.com. 14 April 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  34. ^ Article by Staines in The Times, 17 April 2009.
  35. ^ "Blogger 'Guido Fawkes' summoned by Leveson Inquiry". BBC News. 27 November 2011.
  36. ^ Halliday, Josh; Baird, Dugald (8 February 2012). "Leveson inquiry: Paul Staines AKA Guido Fawkes, Keir Starmer appear". The Guardian. London.
  37. ^ Robinson, Nick (5 July 2006). "Nick Robinson's Newslog". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  38. ^ "New Statesman – The internet or something". The New Statesman. 17 July 2006. Archived from the original on 10 February 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  39. ^ Smith, Edwin (31 July 2014). "Guido Fawkes: "The Lying In Politics Is On An Industrial Scale"". Esquire. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  40. ^ "So Rosie, Where is Guido's Writ?". order-order.com. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007.
  41. ^ Luft, Oliver. "Political bloggers launch ad initiative". Journalism.co.uk. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  42. ^ Iain Dale (1 September 2010). "A Bleak Day for Political Blogging". Iain Dale's Diary. Retrieved 2 September 2010.
  43. ^ Michael White (2 September 2010). "Coverage of William Hague story is a shaming day for Fleet Street". guardian.co.uk. London. Retrieved 2 September 2010.
  44. ^ Ball, James (9 February 2012). "News of the World sources back up Guido Fawkes claims about photographs". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  45. ^ a b c Mayhew, Freddy (26 July 2018). "Guido Fawkes hires young Vote Leave talent and looks to boost video output on political blog site". Press Gazette. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  46. ^ Jackson, Jasper (24 June 2015). "Guido Fawkes' Harry Cole joins Sun as Westminster correspondent". The Guardian.
  47. ^ @CitySamuel (19 February 2021). "I'm another beneficiary of the Guido grad scheme, the best one around:" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  48. ^ "Buzzfeed Sign Jim Waterson as First Political Editor". Guido Fawkes. 4 October 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  49. ^ "Press Release: Politico Europe names Alex Wickham as new author of London Playbook newsletter". Politico. 18 June 2020. Retrieved 20 July 2021.

External links[edit]