Andy McSmith's Diary: When ‘stalking’ isn’t really what you would call stalking

'This guy has no sexual inclination towards me. He just wants to destroy me' says Nadine Dorries

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Indy Politics

The ever unpredictable MP Nadine Dorries has set herself a new mission – to try to get a man sent to prison. She says he is a stalker, who almost drove her to resign from Parliament. To most of us, the word “stalker” suggests someone driven by sexual obsession. Not in this case.

“This guy has no sexual inclination towards me. He just wants to destroy me,” she told The Daily Telegraph. “How he’s doing it is: he destroys who you are and who you think you are. If you think you’re an MP trying to work hard, he destroys that. He destroys your reputation. I’m determined,” she added, “to make sure he goes to jail.”

Dorries has not named her tormentor, though his identity is no great secret. He is an obsessive tweeter and blogger, who was among the first to spot the potential of the internet more than a decade ago and helped several MPs, including Boris Johnson, to set up their first websites.

He has identified himself on social media as the person about whom she is complaining, though he denies stalking her. He took against Dorries because of her campaign to make the law on abortion more restrictive, and has attacked her since online.

This is very unpleasant for Dorries, though whether it constitutes stalking in a legal sense is doubtful. She is annoyed with the Crown Prosecution Service for not prosecuting him, but a CPS spokesman defended its decision by saying that they “must consider an individual’s right to free speech”.

The harsh truth is that Dorries is not an entirely reliable witness.

When questioned by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner over a discrepancy between  her blog and her parliamentary expenses,  she famously pleaded  that the blog was “70 per cent fiction”. How then can we be sure that all the stories she tells about this man are true?

Woodcock bullish

Journalist Harry Cole, writing in The Spectator, has defended rough-house politics, including the embarrassment that Tory researchers have caused by recording and publicising what Labour MPs have said in front of what they imagined were sympathetic audiences. He accused the Labour MP John Woodcock of doing the same when he was a Labour researcher.

Woodcock has responded with a guilty plea. In 2005, he recorded remarks by the Tory deputy chairman, Howard Flight, which so enraged the leader, Michael Howard, that he sacked Flight and banned him from standing as a candidate. He did that, Woodcock claims, on the advice of Lynton Crosby, who now advises David Cameron. “No, I don’t regret it, though I do feel dreadfully sorry for Mr Flight being made to give up being an MP, but it is Lord Howard and Lynton Crosby who have to answer for that,” he wrote.

Freedom from tax

Sean Connery has long supported Scottish independence and bankrolled the SNP. He might even return to live in the country he left behind in the 1950s if there is a Yes vote – but he is unlikely to be there to help swing any votes in the last two campaigning days, according to his younger brother, Neil. “There’s only a certain amount of days Sean can be in the country for tax reasons,” he told Edinburgh’s Evening News.

Seat of learning

A lady named Sara James, from the Isle of Wight, has written to Radio Times to say she enjoyed BBC drama, Castles in the Sky about the inventor of the radar, but “I was horrified that Winston Churchill was made to say  ‘… are sat with their thumbs up their arses’.”

“Churchill,” she added, “came from a distinguished family and was educated at Harrow, and would never have used ‘sat’ in this context.”  A terminological exactitude if ever I saw one.

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