Putting other people’s work on your website seems to be a feature of the no-hope candidates in this election. First, we had Fergus Wilson and the curious case of those photographs.
Now, it appears, English Democrat Steve Uncles has also been indulging in a little cutting-and-pasting. One of these is quite funny, but the other really isn’t funny at all.
First, a little light relief. On April 16th an article appeared on Uncles’ official website: The wasted years of Anne Barnes – Kent Police Commissioner by Adam Hignett. A very interesting article is is too: it doesn’t actually mention Uncles at all. It could almost have been written by a professional journalist.
Actually, it was written by a professional journalist: the whole article has been lifted from the Times of Tunbridge Wells (here’s the article on their website: Uncles appears to have taken it from a digital edition). I asked the newspaper whether they’d given Uncles permission to reproduce it, and their response was rather interesting:
Oh. And, looking closer at the image they kindly supplied, we see that Uncles has made one change to the article. This is from the original:
and this is from his reproduction:
That’s right, he’s crudely photoshopped his own face into it, describing himself as the frontrunner: remember, that’s into an article that doesn’t mention him at all. Shameless.
Perhaps spurred on, Uncles went in for a bit more cutting-and-pasting: and here the story gets a lot darker.
On April 20th the media reported an alleged gang-rape at Bluewater shopping centre: here’s Kent Online’s report. The same day, Uncles reproduced that article on his website: here it is. This time, he didn’t just paste a picture in: he changed the words in the article to make a political point. He changed the headline from this:
Young woman ‘gang raped’ at Bluewater shopping centre
Seven Muslim Men rape Young Woman in Bluewater Carpark in Kent
…and he made other changes to the body of the article to claim the attack was carried out by seven Muslim men. The original article makes no reference to the alleged attackers’ religion at all. So Uncles has – to put it mildly – misrepresented a shocking and tragic situation in order to make a disgraceful political point.
None of the men are Muslim: Kent Police have released a statement confirming it:
Due to the widespread attention this incident has received, investigating officers can confirm that all the 11 men who were arrested are whie, English and non-Muslim.
Rather desperately, Uncles has gone into attack mode, throwing accusations at everyone who has called him out, starting with accusing the Police of lying:
Well, exactly. Why would they lie? They’ve nothing to gain from doing so, and everything to lose: if and when the suspects were charged it would become obvious. I submit that we can discount the possibility that the Police are being untruthful.
Then he went into conspiracy mode, claiming to see something sinister in reports of the incident emerging some weeks after it took place:
In fact there’s nothing to suggest that the Police have suppressed news on it at all: we don’t know when the offence was reported to them. Their statement says that officers “promptly identified the suspects and 11 arrests were made” which suggests that it wasn’t reported to them for some time. It’s not unusual for victims of this kind of offence not to come forward for some time, and understandably so: many never feel able to come forward at all. But even if the Police have known about it for some time, there may be very good reasons for not releasing information about it immediately: sometimes it’s important not to tip suspects off.
Next, Uncles demands that Police release CCTV of the event:
Yes, that’s right: he demands Police release CCTV footage of a woman being raped. That’s not going to happen, and he knows it: the Police are not in the business of releasing that kind of thing to make political points, either for him or against him, and it may well not be their property to release. And not only could releasing too much evidence at this stage jeopardise the suspects’ right to a fair trial, but it could lead to the identification of the victim: something that is absolutely forbidden.
Uncles tried to draw comparison with grooming incidents in Rotherham, making the same response fifteen times, even when it didn’t make much sense:
Now, what happened in South Yorkshire was shocking and unacceptable. But the circumstances were really quite different, and a lot has happened since then. There’s no reason to suppose the Police are covering up this incident, for the reasons we’ve discussed again. This is just an attempt to distract us from Uncles being caught out.
Finally, Uncles has posted all of these claims on his website, repeating his bizarre claim that the Police are lying, and claiming that they are under instructions to cover these matters up. He posts a copy of information received from Bedfordshire Police under the Freedom of Information Act which he says contain these instructions: you can read them for yourself on his website, and I’ll leave you to make up your own mind whether you agree; but to me they look like a set of guidelines for Police Officers to exercise some sensitivity when going into Muslim households – certainly there are no instructions to lie.
Somewhere out there, a young woman has gone through the most awful ordeal, and now has to endure the double agony of being cynically exploited for political gain. It is disgraceful for anyone to seek to use her suffering to incite fear and hatred of others.