Monday, 1 February 2010

Verdict on Adeela Attack - Labour Guilty

Whatever your views on the
Kerry Out campaign
, be they supportive or dubious, no one can argue that Labour aren't rattled by it. As part of a coordinated campaign day for Kerry McCarthy, some seriously dubious allegations have been plastered across the pages of the Mirror and the internet.
Firstly the Mirror was tipped off by Labour HQ's opposition research bods, Labour can't afford much but they sure as hell are bringing in the dark artists. Labour bloggers and twitter users have confirmed to TB that they were tipped off by Victoria Street and asked to heavily promote the story.
. The whole day will then end in a phonebanking session for Kerry run directly out of Labour's Victoria Street HQ.

The Mirror piece is an extremely lazy piece of journalism. It makes a series of swathing allegations backed up by absolutely no evidence. Blogger MPTP goes into some legal detail
You would think that any journalist, let alone one from a left-wing, Labour-partisan newspaper, would want to include in information about the circumstances in which these CCJs were incurred. It also seems strange not to approach the claimants for comment – and there is no indication in the story that the Mirror did. Why wouldn’t you ask the claimant why the debt is “outstanding”?

I suspect I know why.

The central register of country court judgements for England and Wales is maintained by the Registry Trust, a not for profit company set up in the early 1980s. Anyone can search the register, for a small fee, and the credit industry buys the data in bulk.

One of the interesting things about the register is what it doesn’t contain: to whom a CCJ debt is owed, or the circumstances in which it was incurred. A register entry for a CCJ consists of the amount, the court which made the judgement, the case number, and the date of the judgement.

So…the Mirror’s story contains no more information than could be found in a Registry Trust search against Adeela Shafi, and lacks the information which is not present in the CCJ register? The conclusion I draw is that the only basis for the Mirror story is a search of the CCJ register.

If that is correct, then the terms in which the story is written may yet prove problematic for the Mirror. It is specifically said that

…£324,272 is outstanding – despite her being ordered to repay it nearly three years ago in July 2007 – five months before she became a prospective Tory MP.

This goes well beyond the contents of a Registry Trust search result. The Register does hold a status for each CCJ, either “satisfied” or “unsatisfied”, but unsatisfied is not the same as unpaid.

Unsatisfied indicates that Registry Trust has never been notified of payment, whereas satisfied means that the debt was paid more than a month after the judgement. If a debt is paid within one month of judgement (or the judgement is set aside), the CCJ is removed from the register altogether, and there would be no trace of it in any subsequent search.

So here’s the problem – at this point there’s no evidence that Adeela Shafi owes a penny, but there’s a very clear implication from the Mirror that she owes £324,272. I’ve set out above why I think all the Mirror has is a CCJ register search – which can’t support that implication. You can defame by implication, of course, and an implication that someone has failed to pay a substantial amount despite a judgement is plainly defamatory.

Has the Mirror exposed itself to a defamation suit here? It will turn on whether there is some truth in the implication, and so far there has been no comment from either Shafi or the Conservative Party. 
On a related note, why didn’t the Mirror bother to access the court records? From these they could have obtained the names of the claimants in these cases, and details of the circumstances. That would have nicely padded out the story – frankly, have turned it into something worth printing.
A damning indictment on a shoddy piece of attack from Labour. If it was a real story it would have appeared somewhere else, anywhere else even.

Now the KerryOut campaign has been an interesting experiment in techniques of online fund-raising and raising awareness nationally of interesting local fights. It will liven up again as soon as the election is called and the streets will be pounded. The fact that Labour have resorted to trying such a blatant hatchet job on Kerry's opponent shows just how low they are willing to stoop.

P.S. It's really obvious when you try to coordinate attacks quite so unsubtly. Why not just come out and say it? Why is an MP hiding behind kids online half her age to do her dirty work? Labour HQ, on behalf of Kerry McCarthy and her team are directly behind these unsourced and unproven slurs on her opponents character. And she doesn't even have the guts to put her name to it. Another reason for the #KerryOut list eh?



Just read this and wonder if you also believe that aliens are walking among us and that the CIA were responsible for the death of Diana?

Tory Bear

As a Labour PPC and close ally of McCarthy I am amazed you have broken cover, don't you normally get young girls to do your dirty work on the internet down Bristol way?

Patrick said...

Whether Labour were behind this or not seems irrelevant. The most important thing is whether it is true. Just saying it's 'lazy' and 'dubious' doesn't really get anyone anywhere.

And the problem is, Adeela Shafi and Conservative Central Office could and should have spoken out by now. By denying it, they could have killed the story straight away.

But they haven't. The question is - why not?

Political Scrapbook

I've no idea whether the tip-off for the Mirror came from Victoria Street, someone in Bristol, elsewhere or indeed if Mirror journos were trawling through PPC financial records.

The provenance of this doesn't change the facts in this case: the Registry Trust records an unsatisfied CCJ for well over £300,000 in Adeela Shafi's name.

TB, I note with interest that when you suspect that a story may have a Labour staffer/organisers fingerprints on it to whatever extent, you wail about the "Labour machine". When CCHQ passes something on to you it gets written up as something along the lines of "TB's eyes and ears on the ground"!

Tory Bear

wish cchq would pass me things.. would make blogging much easier. ;)

David T Breaker

The #KerryOut campaign has always been something I've been dubious about, as I blogged before, and I still have my fears. The risk of such personal targetting simply energising the Labour activist base, and appearing "nasty" to voters, far outweighs the benefit.

As for the CCJ story, I think Adeela is right to just ignore it. Most people don't care, by the election it will all be forgotten about, and I can't see the rumour of outstanding debts swinging votes away from her. Denying it simply creates another story, gives it more profile, and actually makes people believe it more! There's a saying: "Never believe anything until it's been officially denied."


wish cchq would pass me things.. would make blogging much easier. ;)

You mean like more cosy lunches and dinners?

That's right - there's no contact between CCHQ and Tory bloggers at all!

Nothing to see here, move along!


Psst TB, here's the real news story.

The rest of us - you know, the people who are going to suffer from "cast-iron" Dave's austerity measures and have our public services cut - we don't borrow huge amounts of money and then, errm forget to pay it back.

Whether Shafi actually paid off the debit or not is not important here, what is important is that here is someone who will lecture us about "austerity" and "tightening our belts" and "cuts" and yet she deliberately, and wantonly, refused to pay off her own debts to the point that her creditors had to take her to court to make her pay up.

Clearly she is not someone to trust. That's the real story.

Sunder Katwala

Tory Bear is telling us that if it were a fact that Kerry McCarthy MP, or any Labour ppc (let's say Ed Miliband in 2005 before getting in) had a CCJ registered as outstanding for £300k+ he would refuse to blog it, and challenge the reporting of it.

Chinny Reck-On.

A CCJ is clearly a public fact.

While the Bear certainly adds to the gaiety of the blogosphere with his [Wile E Coyote-style] political stunts, he demonstrates a level of blinkered political hyperpartisanship which can only be described (with apologies to my fallen comrade) as "Draperesque".

I don't know Adeela Shafi. It may be the case (as some posit, without any new information that I can see) that the debt has been discharged, and that she is in the process of having the registration changed, or not. Alternatively, efforts may e underway to do this now.

It is possible too that the history was fully disclosed to Tory selectors, and indeed that it was incurred in some good business venture that was unlucky, or that there is more to the story to which anybody would be sympathetic.

But it should be clear to everyone there are few grounds for either positive or negative suppositions of that kind until an explanation is given.

One should not use the refusal to offer any initial comment as proof of anything. But I would be astoniahed if anybody in any party felt this was an illegitimate inquiry of a Parliamentary candidate, or would do anything but advise a candidate of any party to explain the history clearly and candidly.

All the more so, of course, if the candidate is running on a manifesto of the urgency of restraining both private and public debt.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear TB. It's all a big Labour bloggers conspiracy!

Where do I send the tinfoil?

Keir Hardie

Love your wailing TB; fantastic. Can only echo Political Scrapbook.

TB: Of course it is orchestrated. What else do you expect? Wether it was orchestrated or not however does not change the issue. If this woman is so much in debt then really she probably shouldn't be running for the seat, and there are other ethical issues as well.

I do find it hilarious however that a party pledging to bring financial sanity back to Westminster (not, of course, that it ever left) would take on a PPC whose skills with money are so questionable.

Stop bleating and take it on the chin. #kerryout has died a death and fallen into irrelevance. Better luck next time.


So they won't be saying that she is a rich Tory toff, totally out of touch with the realities of life in the UK, will they?


lol her house got repossessed lol.


Link to Bristol Evening Post article with fuller details


Adeela is awol even from tory press releases

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