Libel by social media

Buttercross House, an Oakham tea-shop

Buttercross House, an Oakham tea-shop

In a recent blog, I talked about the appalling lies that appeared in the press during the euro and Newark election campaigns, and I mentioned that even more bizarre calumnies appeared in social media.

One day during the euro campaign, the whole euro-team was in Oakham, in the County of Rutland, and we stopped for tea and chocolate brownies in a very charming tea-shop, Buttercross House. It has a sunken terrace where we sat.  I was vaguely aware of a couple of other customers down there, but I was astonished next day to read a Tweet which said “Just heard UKIP’s Roger Helmer and his loathsome colleagues in a tea-shop slagging off Oakham retailers”.

Given the propensity of the public to think the worst of politicians, this is now presumably an accepted truth.

But in fact, I’ve known and appreciated Oakham for many years — my son went to school there.  I think Furley’s interiors store is magnificent, and over the years I have bought a number of light fittings there.  I bought an excellent alpaca sweater, that I still treasure, in the alpaca shop.  I used to enjoy lunching in the High Street deli, until it sadly closed recently.  I have used the Lands End factory shop on the edge of town (and occasionally visited the Engineering Employers’ Federation just up the road).

In fact I have an extremely high regard for Oakham as a delightful market town with wonderful shops, and I go there as often as I can.  I can’t recall every word of our conversation at the Buttercross Tea Rooms, but I can absolutely affirm than no one in my party was “slagging off Oakham retailers”, and they’d have got short shrift from me if they had.

If Twitter was bad, the following quote on Facebook was worse:

Jon Hutchinson: It’s fine if she does, UKIP are simply BNP lite – a bigot is defined as is the state of mind as someone who, as result of their prejudices, treats or views other people with fear, – I sat in Roger Helmer’s home a few years ago and he told me straight.. he wouldn’t employ a black person, he wouldn’t employ a woman either, and he wants the law changed so that they can do that… this is the party she is supporting, want to debate that? Fear is at the very heart of UKIP, little difference to Oswald Mosely, he captured much of the public vote too

I have no idea who this Jon Hutchinson is (perhaps I should buy him a dictionary, as he seems not to understand the meaning of the word “bigot”), and I have no recollection of him ever visiting my home (though he may have done so).  But I am unlikely to have told him that “I would never hire a black person”, as I have done so on many occasions.  I once ran a factory in Malaysia where I was the only Westerner, and the 300 staff were Chinese, Malay and Indian, with a range of skin colours.  In Brussels, I well remember Isaiah, a Nigerian, who interned in my office for six months and proved to be competent, charming, courteous, and a big hit with the ladies.  And I have employed several other ethnic minority staffers over the years.

As for “He wouldn’t employ a woman either”, this beggars belief.  I have had women on my payroll continuously for at least fifteen years, and probably much longer.  As I write, today, I have no fewer than four women on the payroll.  Not bad for a man who “wouldn’t hire a woman”.  Indeed although I have of course hired men from time to time (and I have an excellent man, Paul Oakden, in my UK office right now) I have occasionally been criticised for an undue bias in favour of women.  I’d be glad to know how Mr. Hutchinson would respond to that.

As for “fear being at the heart of UKIP”, all I can say having spent more than two years in the party, is that I simply don’t recognise the description.  Mr. Hutchinson is writing about his own blinkered prejudices, not about UKIP.  UKIP is about hope, not fear.  About a Britain free from the shackles of Brussels, a Britain of freedom, democracy, independence and self-determination.

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23 Responses to Libel by social media

  1. Eric Worrall says:

    As long as the EU causes pain for ordinary people, decent candidates who oppose the EU will continue to gather support, regardless of what anyone does to try to stop this from happening. All their lies and smears can do is slow it down a little.

  2. Me_Again says:

    Roger I concur with your statement that UKIP is about hope. I had thought anger at first but that emotion I attribute to the state our country is in, but yes ‘hope’ is what I feel when with party members or explaining to people.
    I was recently asked to speak about UKIP at a Senior Citizens forum in my town – a first for me. They know I am a UKIP councillor. I really didn’t know what I was going to be letting myself in for, but after delivering a presentation for 20 minutes or or so and taking questions, I then listened to the debate and discovered that I was in the room with what appeared to be 20+ like minded individuals. Most of all, in recollection, what they saw in UKIP was hope not hate. Hope that we would ‘fix’ things not wind the clock back. As you know Roger, you don’t get to be a pensioner nowadays without having seen some very momentous changes in the world. We have a massive task if ever we get a shot at it -and a mountain sized duty.

    • David says:


      Have you heard of the labour supported bunch called hope not hate?( they dont warrant capital letters)

      They are full of hate!

      But they dont know it.

      • Me_Again says:

        yes, sort of Orwellian Doublespeak isn’t it.

      • Bernard from Bucks says:

        You may be interested to know that there is a website investigating and exposing ‘hope not hate’ and their continuing attacks on UKIP and its members and supporters. Just one example that they exposed was the hypocrisy of attacking Richard Helmer for a programme which has been operated under both Tory and Labour government – and which a Labour government signed us up to. Re: voluntary repatriation.
        I found it an interesting blog.
        Regards Bernard (UKIP South Bucks).

      • Bernard from Bucks says:

        Sorry Roger, I referred to you as Richard in my previous comment. Old age is catching up with me.

  3. Me_Again says:

    Ps congrats on being Lead in Brussels.

  4. I don’t know how you manage to keep smiling through all the rubbish and lies written about you and yours. There are some troubled people out there who are so biased and blinkered by their prejudices that they can only lie and perjure themselves into some sort of baseless smugness.

    • David says:

      My conservative counciller recently accused (on his blog) titled “The view from Cullingworth”, he forgot to mention his blinkers, he clearly stated that the recent local election campaign by UKIP, of which i was a part, leaflets, delivering personal addressed letters to the postal voters, was done by outside helper from eastern Europe, and that we were throwing money at it, unlike his stalwarts who do the shoe leather way, so we had to point out that his lies were that, lies, biut absolutely no reply, apology, retraction. We do it with shoe leather too Simon should you read this. So, another example of the oppositions way of doing business, slimebags the lot. Hope you dont mind my wording here Roger, but its all accurate.

  5. Linda Hudson says:

    much of the public are well informed these days, need a question answered, hey presto Google comes up with the answer, need to know what the E.U. are up to?, then stay tuned to the 24 U.K.I.P. M..E..P!, any other matters, the people are very astute, can read between the lines, and spot political muck raking, and dirty deeds!.

  6. Henwood says:

    When Alex Jarrett was the Editor of the Daily Mirror many moons ago, he was asked why his newspaper was so popular. He replied that he ascribed the success of his newspaper to the failure of the British educational system. This is the same system that is producing those who now use the internet to display their ignorance.

  7. Regrettably there are people calling themselves “leftist” to whovei no sort of dishonesty is anathema. The solution to that would be for any decent people in the movement to publicly denounce dishonesty when they find it. Indeed that would seem to be part of the definition of decency.

    Unfortunately there seem to be few such in their corridors of power.

    Sarah Palin had similar when somebody claimed to have overheard her in, I believe, a San Francisco diner, unveiling her plans to conquer the world in the name of Satan or something equally improbable.

  8. Jane Davies says:

    The political slagging off is par for the course here in Canada. It is allowed in party political broadcasts prior to an election and I remember being gobsmacked at the almost libelous comments made and thinking ‘this would not be allowed back home’! It is up to the electorate to sort the truth from the lies and I think anyone who has more than half a brain cell can see this is all sabre rattling. The mis-informed comments by ignorant morons, as you quote above Roger, are another thing, but then one just has to grow a thicker skin and correct the idiots as and when you can.

  9. deidrev says:

    Congratulations on your Lead role !

  10. Chris says:

    Lady Thatcher sums up your problem very well.

    “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”

  11. Mike Stallard says:

    I deliberately read three very left wing blogs every day if I can. They convince me that the left has simply lost its way. (I have been banned from one of them and from Conservative Home too for admitting that I find homosexuality revolting!”)

    • Me_Again says:

      You end up in a knotty dilemma here. Homosexuality may be revolting to you, but is it polite to say so in public? I think Goths look ridiculous and so do those with their trousers hanging around their knees but I’m much to polite to say so loudly.
      The Libertarian side says look do what you want [within the law] behind closed doors and that’s your choice. The same could equally be said for heterosexual activities too.
      The sex act of whatever kind really should be a private thing, it starts to stray into the perverse and affect others [anti-libertarian] when it is not.
      Common sense strives to be heard here……………..

  12. barrymx5 says:

    These nonsenses are simply designed to make us waste our valuable time refuting them. Keep focused and do what is necessary. I am sure you will anyway without my advice. Congratulations on the latest confidence shown by Ukip in you. A wise choice.

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