Wikipedia articles about Cherie Blair and Muslim terrorists 'altered by government computers'

Offensive edits traced to computers using Whitehall IP addresses

The deletion of passages in a Wikipedia entry about Cherie Blair’s flat-buying scandal and the addition of the phrase “all Muslims are terrorists” were among more than one hundred examples of inappropriate editing apparently made from Whitehall-based computers, it has emerged.

The BBC says it has traced edits made to pages including Muslim veils and Cherie Blair to computers accessing Wikipedia through the two IP addresses known to be used by government machines.

In 2002, Cherie Blair publically apologised after she bought two flats at a discounted price with help from convicted fraudster Peter Foster.

The broadcaster says that paragraphs about the incident in Mrs Blair’s Wikipedia page were removed by a government machine in October 2005, although there is no suggestion that Mrs Blair has any knowledge of the changes.

The edits were reverted by a Wikipedia volunteer who said that details of the scandal were “relevant to the subject’s reputation”.

An inflammatory change made in October 2006 to the entry for ‘veil’ added: "It should be noted that the word Veil, when the letters rearraged [sic], spells evil.

"Since the Veil is mostly worn by Muslims, and all Muslims are terrorists (with the argument for this being that all terrorists have been Muslim), this fact should be dually [sic] noted by all."

The comment was removed by a Wikipedia user six minutes later.

The BBC also claim that Whitehall computers were used to add homophobic insults to the pages of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and newspaper columnist Richard Littlejohn.

In edits described as “entirely unacceptable” by the Cabinet Office, the article for former Prime Minister Tony Blair was deleted in its entirety and replaced with the words “he should be assassinated”.

And Whitehall PCs allegedly inserted links to popular conspiracy theories to a page about the 7/7 bombings.

According to the BBC, the edits came from two IP addresses - 195.92.40.49 and 62.25.106.209 - known to be connected to the Government Secure Intranet (GSI), the system which gives Whitehall machines secure access to the web.

It is possible to mimic an IP address to give the impression the connection comes from somewhere else. However, the BBC notes that many of the controversial edits were made before government IP addresses were disclosed to the public in 2008.

The Cabinet Office has condemned the changes as “sickening”. A spokesman told the BBC: "The amendments made to Wikipedia are sickening. The behaviour is in complete contravention of the Civil Service Code. It is entirely unacceptable.

"The Civil Service Code applies at all times, and we take breaches very seriously. We have already announced an investigation to examine offensive edits to Wikipedia, and will look at other concerns raised."

The charity that represents Wikipedia in the UK also condemned the changes as “appalling”.

Stevie Benton, from Wikimedia UK, told the BBC: "Edits of this nature are removed very quickly by the volunteers who write and edit Wikipedia, often in a matter of minutes”,

And Nasima Begum, a spokeswoman for the Muslim Council of Britain, told the BBC that changes made to the page on Muslim veils were “shocking.”

"It is these types of attitudes that create an unnecessary climate of fear and hostility,” she said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions