Lobbying company tried to wipe out 'wife beater' beer references
References to 'wife beater' on Wikipedia's Stella Artois page were restored by other users
An international lobbying company tried to remove references to a client's brand of lager as the "wife beater" from the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
Stella Artois used to market itself under the slogan "reassuringly expensive" but became popularly known in Britain as the "wife beater" beer because of its high alcohol content and perceived connection with aggression and binge drinking.
Now, inquiries by the Labour MP Tom Watson have revealed attempts by Portland Communications, which is run by Tony Blair's former adviser Tim Allan, to improve the brand's online reputation on behalf of its client, the brewer AB InBev.
Under the user name Portlander10 it removed reference to Stella Artois from the Wikipedia page entitled "Wife beater" and replaced it with a generic reference to lager or beer. Portland also tried to remove the reference to wife beater on the Wikipedia page for Stella Artois. But other users spotted the edit and reversed it.
The user Portlander10 also set up the Wikipedia page for Portland Communications and created links from the pages of Tim Allan and fellow Portland executive George Pascoe-Watson to the Portland Communications page.
According to Wikipedia records, the IP address 188.8.131.52 – which has been traced to Portland – was the source of a number of other Wikipedia edits.
These included the pages for the Kazakhstan bank BTA and its former head Mukhtar Ablyazov. BTA is a client of Portland's. Information was added with regard to BTA seeking legal action against Mr Ablyazov for corruption. Mr Ablyazov denies any claims of corruption. On Mr Ablyazov's page someone using the Portland IP address removed references to the impact Mr Ablyazov's request for asylum in the UK was having on UK-Kazakhstan relations.
A spokesman for Portland did not deny it had made the changes, saying they had been done in an open manner and within Wikipedia's rules.
Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
World news in pictures
British man confesses to slitting his two children's throats in Lyon flat
'Swivel-gate': David Cameron goes to war with the press over 'swivel-eyed loons' slur
Revealed: Eerie new images show forgotten French apartment that was abandoned at the outbreak of World War II and left untouched for 70 years
- 1 Heading for America? Prepare for the longest US immigration queues ever
- 2 Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
- 3 You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
- 4 'Swivel-gate': David Cameron goes to war with the press over 'swivel-eyed loons' slur
- 5 It’s official: thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel boycott, anti-Semitism is no more
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: This is a senior appointment with huge potent...
£28000 - £31500 per annum + benefits: Randstad Education Newcastle: Permanent ...
£50000 - £58000 per annum + Benefits and Bonus: Progressive Recruitment: SAP F...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + BENS: Progressive Recruitment: Drupal Developer A ...