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
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?