We have a stalker. It’s a long story, pre-dating Wings Over Scotland and involving creepy, highly detailed rape/murder threats, sustained harassment over a period of months, a dedicated blog many tens of thousands of words long (including all manner of truly vile sexual stuff involving family members and ex-girlfriends), abusive phone calls to our home and far too much more to describe.
It eventually resulted in an arrest, and a report by Glasgow police to the Procurator Fiscal recommending prosecution, which to everyone’s surprise was declined, after a very long delay and for unclear reasons.
The main perpetrator, although several people were involved, was a virulent Unionist and Rangers supporter (he’s a proud advocate of “The Famine Song” and a big fan of Loyalist multiple-murderer Michael Stone) in his 20s called Murray Brady. He continued with the campaign even after he’d been arrested and questioned, but eventually went to ground after the discovery of a revived version of the forum on which he made some of the comments. It was all a pretty ugly business.
Not long after Murray Brady disappeared from view, a commenter started appearing on this site. His views, approach and writing style were extremely, uncannily similar to Mr Brady’s, though we should note that we have no definitive proof they’re the same person. Eventually he was banned for repeatedly ignoring warnings about offensive behaviour, and disappeared to concentrate on a blog of his own.
The blog also bore many close similarities to that which had been produced by Murray Brady. The vitriolic writing style, the obsessive nature, the way it would very occasionally switch from crude abuse to ostensibly heartfelt and serious posts. This time it wasn’t entirely focused on one person, but also attacked the wider independence movement, and in particular the SNP MSP Joan McAlpine.
The author of the blog was especially fond of contacting anyone we had any form of disagreement with in an attempt to draw people to his site, and attracted approval and retweets from people like Labour activist Duncan Hothersall, Scotland on Sunday journalist Euan McColm and “SNP blogger” Kate Higgins.
(This persisted even after we privately alerted Mr Hothersall, having unaccountably and temporarily mistaken him for a decent human being, to the backstory of our stalker. Duncan’s reaction, in fact, was to bitterly complain in public about the language in one of our emails. He also passed the private correspondence on to the blog author, who published it.)
While we don’t read it any more, it’s apparent from a glance that the blog has continued at tireless pace for many months, despite no visible signs of traffic. Its only regular commenter during the time we looked at it was Unionist blogger Stuart Winton, who appears to have a friendly and supportive relationship with the author.
We mention all this because this morning a Scottish journalist (from one of the country’s professional news outlets) got in touch with us. They felt we should know about a dossier being circulated to the Scottish press, which comprised many of the stories the blog author had obsessed repeatedly over.
It contained nothing remarkable. The stories were mainly things I’ve written in the distant and recent past on my personal website, Wings Over Sealand. Some were obviously exaggerated polemics, others expressions of honestly-held personal views on topics unrelated to Scottish politics, and one a massively, obviously ironic and sarcastic joke comment on a videogames forum.
All are freely accessible and have been discussed at length in public, and I’m happy to defend any of them in debate. I’m not the least bit ashamed of my opinions, or I wouldn’t have posted them on the internet for people to read in the first place. If you’ve been a writer for over 20 years and you haven’t ever written anything that upset and offended some people, you’re doing it wrong.
The blog author, however, clearly feels they have potential as smear attacks aimed at discrediting Wings Over Scotland by vilifying me personally, perhaps through being used selectively and/or out of context in newspapers. So far, so dull. But there was something new in what I was forwarded by the journalist.
The list of links came with a quote from “Better Together”.
“A Better Together spokesperson said: “For the leader of the yes campaign and prominent nationalists to be happy to promote this site and its repugnant views is beyond belief. It shows just how desperate they have become as the people of Scotland increasingly reject their agenda of division.”"
This (though most of the comments in question weren’t posted on Wings Over Scotland) is presumably a reference to the fact that Yes Scotland has quoted to the findings of our Panelbase poll, and the fact that some SNP representatives at various levels have on a few occasions retweeted this site’s posts.
We’re deeply touched the No campaign apparently now considers us such a threat that they’ve resorted to such a grim personal smear attack this early in the campaign.
While we have, as noted, no conclusive proof, our opinion, for numerous reasons, is that there is no doubt whatsoever the author of the blog responsible for the “dossier” is Murray Brady, or someone acting as a front for him. Murray Brady used to consistently deny being in any way responsible for his hate campaign, right up to the point where the police forced his internet service provider to reveal his identity.
(We could be wrong – there could be more than one psychotic lunatic so utterly obsessed with us that they’re prepared to scream into an uninterested void for months and months on end until an anonymous “Better Together” representative is desperate enough to listen and clutch at the straw. Which would be a little chilling.)
But either way, we invite readers to consider what would lead someone in the Scottish media – which this site spends much of its time criticising, often in strong terms – to privately warn us that this material was being circulated.
Our source wouldn’t be drawn to actually say who had sent them the email. Perhaps the blog author fabricated the quote from “Better Together”, though that seems unlikely. (We’ve emailed campaign director Blair McDougall asking for his comments, and will keep you updated on any response.)
Either way, we’re not going anywhere.