Thursday, 11 October 2012

Does Duns Hate Women Part II

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post here about Jeremy Duns's championing of unauthorised phone taping. 

I happen to think that is wrong. After all, if Duns is allowed to tape people's phone calls without their agreement what is to to stop a political party, or an arms manufacturer, or the security services? It is important - I believe - to make make a stand.

Duns disagrees, arguing that he is justified in doing so to expose what he sees as unethical marketing, or the supporters of Julian Assange (a great exponent of press freedom). 

He has his view and I have mind. There is room here for legitimate debate in a civilised way.

What shocked me was the storm of violent misogynist abuse thrown at me for raising this issue.

I am aware that right-wing public schoolboys like Duns and his gang are not used to having their opinions questioned by a mere woman. Even so, the violence of the language suggests men with very  sexist state of mind.

One of Duns' followers called me a 'bitch' repeatedly - and a man's bitch as well.

Another - an unpleasant looking character with a shaved head and tattoos called Steve Mosby - tweeted that I would be 'very, very sorry' for the blog post. 

Duns himself started posting that he was tracking down my place of work - whether he planned to come and confront and threaten me he didn't say, but that seemed to me the clear implication (why else does he need to know where I work?)

It is incredible that in this 21st century men like this still think it is okay to threaten and bully women like this -and that we will put up with it. 

It set me to thinking about the rest of Duns's work. And what I have found it is series of articles with a level of hatred towards women that makes me sick. 

I will detail them in the next few weeks - because it is important the people who read his books are aware of this. 

I have to start somewhere, so I will start here - this article in The Times from 2009 (it is behind a paywall, but you can read it on this message board). In loving detail, Duns researches how many of James Bond's girlfriends have died. 

"Women! Are you thinking of having a relationship with James Bond? Think! Almost a third of Bond’s sexual partners have died since the British superspy began his adventures, and the death toll is rising sharply."

So that's ok is it Duns? You have sex with a woman and then she dies. And that is something you want to celebrate? Superspy? That's what killing women makes you is it. 

At no point is there even a hint that Duns thinks there is something sexist about this. 

As I said, shocking. 

We live in a world where violence and abuse against women is still very common - and growing worse with every year that passes. 

Women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria, according to the World Bank - see more details here. 

In my view, there are a whole host of reasons for that. 

But right-wing, sexist articles like that one create a culture in which violence against women is seen as acceptable. The same culture in which you dismiss a woman who disagrees with you as a bitch.

It is disgusting - and it has to stop. 


  1. I agree that there is something very wrong with Jeremy Duns and the way that he has reacted to this blog and to Steve Roach.

    I am happy to see that despite all the huffing and puffing by Big Bad Wolf Duns, the little piggy's house is still here. Jeremy Duns has revealed himself to be a bully of the first order, espceially with the way that he has attacked Steve Roach. He has made a number of false accusations about Steve Roach over the past few months, none of which have turned out to be true. He has also tried (and failed) to bully the author of this blog, and twice attacked people who he claims are the authors without having any facts at all toback up his allegations.

    Jeremy Duns claims to be a journalist but he doesn't act like any professional journalist that I have ever come across. He lies, he threatens and he bullies. And he encourages others to do the same.

    I wonder if the newspapers that he works for know that he behaves in this way. Papers such as the Sunday Times and the Telegraph need to be aware of the way in which Jeremy Duns is behaving. Perhaps those concerned about his behaviour should consider contacting the editors of those papers?

    In particular they need to be made aware of the way in which Jeremy Duns records telephone interviews without telling people that they are recorded. He has admitted doing this and it is in fact an offence (punishable by up to two years in prison) and against the Editors' Code of Practice.

    Like the author of this blog I am also dismayed at the attitude that he has to women. I think perhaps the editor of The Guardian should be made aware of this. It has always been a paper which does not tolerate sexism in any form. If these allegations are true then I do not see how the Guardian could ever employ him again.

    Anyway I look forward to reading more of this blog and we need to do all we can to get it a wider readership.

  2. I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not to reply to this blog. On the one hand, everyone knows the maxim 'don't feed the trolls': by responding I risk giving what you write legitimacy and fanning the flames. But on the other hand, you don’t seem to need any feeding. You’ve promised to continue to do this anyway, and it doesn’t seem likely that my ignoring you will stop that.

    You’re also branching out, now not just hijacking the issue of women’s rights in order to smear me, but also smearing others in the process. I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but you found the only way to be even more wrong about this issue, which was to accuse the writer Steve Mosby of being a right-wing misogynist. Extraordinary. Anyone who has ever met or interacted with Steve will know he’s neither of those things, and that he’s also a very kind and honest man. Seriously, you are very, very wrong on that score, and I really wish you would have the decency to stop.

    You also write of Steve Mosby that he is ‘an unpleasant looking character with a shaved head and tattoos’. When you started this blog, spelling my name incorrectly in the url, you tweeted me to say that it concerned 'an important issue' you felt I needed to answer, adding 'please don't stoop to personal abuse'. Well, the fact that you've moved on from that original issue into another completely unrelated one, and in the process stooped to personal abuse of someone other than me, shows that you are a hypocrite and that your supposed interest in fighting bullying is insincere – but that much was obvious from the start.

  3. I doubt very much anyone reading this site will believe you're really a human rights lawyer, or take your claims especially seriously. But as you’re writing from behind a false name, and it’s impossible for me or anyone to prove who you are, you have nothing to lose here. The journalist James Ball posted this on Twitter a few days ago. ‘Internet's fatal flaw: writing BS takes seconds. Debunking it, with explanation and evidence, takes hours. It's an asymmetric war.’ I think that’s true. It also applies to the risks of trying to debunk BS at all, which is that the debunker has more to lose than the BSer. You can get 99.9 percent of what you claim wrong, but if you just make 0.1 percent of a point that can be enough to discredit me and others. ‘Hmm, well, obviously the blog is nuts, but I wonder, perhaps they don’t just have a point about such and such?’ As my name is attached to this, I can get 99.9 percent right but 0.1 percent wrong, and that can affect my professional reputation as well as the credibility of the points I’ve raised.

    But I think it’s worth debunking your points anyway. Mainly because you are now tweeting a link to this site to prominent journalists (and Johann Hari), and I don’t think you do have even 0.1 percent of a point, and want to make it very clear to anyone who happens to read this.

    You claimed to have set up this site to pose important questions about my recording of a phone call. It seems you’ve finally accepted that I acted legally, but that you still feel it was unethical. I’ve already explained this several times, but here it is again: I called a writer, Steve Roach, because his account seemed to me to be a ‘sockpuppet’ of the bestselling novelist Stephen Leather, who publicly admitted at the Harrogate festival to using such fake identities to promote his work online. Roach claimed Leather had ‘given’ him the account, and I wanted to find out what this meant, exactly.

  4. What I discovered was that Roach had repeatedly and aggressively criticized Leather for his unethical marketing techniques, and that Leather had retaliated by waging an online campaign against him for over a year, including but not limited to setting up two Twitter accounts impersonating Roach. Steve Roach asked me to publish that he was not Stephen Leather and that his Twitter account was no longer controlled by Leather, and to do so as soon as we finished the call. I agreed (and did so), but I also told him that it was not up to him to dictate which parts of the call I reported, and that I would also report everything else he had told me, ie that Leather had set up his Twitter account as a sockpuppet to impersonate him and bully him. Roach wasn’t happy when I said I would do that, because he didn’t want to upset the ‘powerful’ Mr Leather. i said I understood, and would not focus on his part in this, but that I felt considering the power dynamic in the situation – Leather a bestselling author with a major publishing house – I felt that the behavior he had just told me about deserved exposing.

    The question here, I think, is whether there was any ethical difference between me recording the phone call without Roach’s knowledge and my making notes of the conversation without his knowledge. I think there is none at all, but the very word ‘recording’ is an emotive one, and has connotations of hacking, tapping and other illegal and unrelated activities that have been in the news. But in reality, writing notes or recording a conversation are both simply making a record of a conversation. While I’m not going to claim this was a massive scoop on my part, what I did was in principle no different to Panorama filming someone with a hidden camera or The Daily Telegraph asking Vince Cable questions while posing as constituents and recording the discussion without his knowledge. In the latter case they released the recording, which I haven’t done:

    This was because that recording was in the public interest. A bestselling author bullying an unknown writer in an online vendetta for over a year by impersonating him on Twitter is a much smaller story than a minister’s bias in an enormous media bid, but it is still in the public interest, I think, and it has been covered by several newspapers around the world for that reason.

  5. If I had told Steve Roach I was writing down what he said, he wouldn’t have told me it. If I had told him I was recording it, he wouldn’t have told me it. I decided to tape the conversation simply because I knew I would get a much more accurate record of what was said than if I wrote it down. Both are the same legally and ethically: just two different ways of recording what someone says.

    As it happens, it was lucky for me I did it that way. If I had decided instead to write notes of the conversation as it took place, I suspect Mr Leather would probably have sued me for libel – something he has hinted at anyway – and while my contemporaneous notes would technically have been legally binding, they clearly wouldn’t have been a totally accurate record of the conversation. So when Steve Roach later disputed the accuracy of what I’d reported he said, I pointed out to both he (and a watching Stephen Leather) that I could prove he had said it all. You read that discussion on my blog, and set this up, because it seems I’ve upset you about something else, perhaps an article I wrote about Glenn Greenwald.

    Incidentally, despite denying it for some time after I reported it, Steve Roach now accepts that Stephen Leather bullied him, and that Leather continued to do so even after I spoke to him. Leather even published a private email Roach sent him on his public Facebook wall without permission in order to mock him, and you can read it here:

  6. This is clear proof of Stephen Leather bullying Steve Roach, and even doing so publicly. Leather posted Roach’s email entirely to mock him to his readers and friends on Facebook, and even tried to draw them in to helping him draft an appropriately ‘sinister’ reply. I think it’s perhaps time you condemn the real bully in this situation.

    Instead, you’ve moved on from that initial accusation, and are now claiming I’m a misogynist. Your claim to want to have ‘a legitimate debate in a civilized way’ is obvious nonsense considering your resorting to personal abuse and that you have suddenly switched to this line of attack after setting the blog up to attack me for something totally different, as well as the extremely aggressive nature of the titles and content of your posts.

    I’m not a misogynist. I’m a feminist. But it’s a clever smear, as smears go, because I can’t prove otherwise. The titles of your posts are rhetorically akin to the question ‘When did you last beat your wife?’ You don’t seem to have realized why I object to Julian Assange refusing to come to Sweden to face questions. The answer is because of the allegations against him.

    Despite my feeling that Assange is avoiding justice, I’m not right wing, though I don’t see anything wrong with being that per se. I guess most people would categorize Assange as left wing, but if so it’s not a left wing I recognize or respect. And I try to look at issues independently to decide what I think about them rather than acting on a tribalistic reflex that says that everything on one side of the political fence is morally correct and everything on the other is wrong.

  7. Your assumptions about my politics seem to be based entirely on the fact I was privately educated. It’s true that I was, although you don’t know anything about why that was, or who paid for it. But even if my family were richer than the Queen it would be a silly line to take, and prejudiced: Laurie Penny and George Monbiot are both privately educated, and both are left-wing. I read The Guardian and The Telegraph, and agree and disagree with political positions in both, often on a daily basis. I’ve written for both, as well, though not about politics. I live in a country that is, broadly speaking, very left-wing, and I love some aspects of it, and dislike others. I often find that right-wingers who talk about ‘libtards’ and left-wingers who talk about ‘wingnuts’ are much the same when you scratch the surface, and are equally close-minded. I think once you see politics in terms of ‘the other side’ you’ve lost your hold on independent thinking. I’d class myself as a liberal, but generally speaking find most political terminology vague and unhelpful and don’t rate blanket assessments. Sometimes I even change my mind about political positions, shockingly enough. And on some issues, I am still making up my mind.

    There was no ‘violent misogynist abuse’ thrown your way, by me or anyone else. The idea that I am responsible for what people who follow me on Twitter write is daft – after all, you follow me on Twitter. I don’t know the person who referred to you in the comments here as a ‘man’s bitch’ at all, but they thought you were Steve Roach, who is of course a man. So I don’t think that comment can possibly be viewed as misogynistic. It looks like they were wrong, as Steve Roach has asked you several times to delete this blog. I guess that’s why you’ve had to find something else to accuse me of, as defending him is something he has made very clear he doesn’t want you to do.

    I’ve written hundreds of articles, most of which aren’t online, but you’ve managed to find the only one with my byline that I didn’t write. What happened was that I found a screenplay written in the 60s, based on an Ian Fleming book. I pitched the story to The Times, who were interested, but not entirely sure about it. The news desk considered rewriting it in their house style, but finally the journalist I was in contact with told me that, sorry, they wouldn’t run it after all, and suggested I pitch it to the Sunday Times instead. A few days later, the article you have linked to appeared. It was the first I knew of it. It’s a complete fluff piece. I’m not sure I’d say it was sexist so much as it is about James Bond’s sexism, or at least one aspect of them – I’m not sure it’s the case that his love interests dying makes the films sexist. But some parts of the Bond films have definitely been sexist, no question. I don’t think that’s news, though, and it’s certainly not anything to do with me. You’ll see that the last few lines of the article mention the script I found – the journalist tried to tie together two things, some rather silly ‘research’ that revealed that most people Bond falls in love with tend to die, and then tacked on at the end my discovery of the script. The byline was there simply as a courtesy to me. I suppose I could have demanded my name be removed from the article, but on the other hand I did discover the script mentioned. So instead I pitched the article to the Sunday Times, and they published it in full. That’s the story there. You can easily verify this by asking the journalist. If you’re really concerned about it, email me at and I can give you his contact details.

  8. I don’t expect you will, because you’re transparently not really concerned about any of this stuff at all. You’re just trying to find ways to smear me, and this is the latest one. If you really care about misogyny, I suggest you stop frantically trying to find evidence of it in old articles of mine, and look at the evidence staring you in the face. Stephen Leather is a misogynist, and is extremely right-wing to boot. Leather likes to think of himself as being some kind of Machiavellian online genius, but in fact he’s often rather clueless, and leaves giant footprints wherever he goes. He has finally got wind of this blog’s existence, and linked to it several times from his sockpuppet Twitter account @thirdparagraph, which at least makes a change from his constant and pathetic references to his own genius in the third person.

    The comment above is from someone calling themselves ‘Caped Crusader’. They wrote:

    ‘Jeremy Duns claims to be a journalist but he doesn't act like any professional journalist that I have ever come across.’

    In August, Leather wrote the following under his own name:

    ‘Duns claims to be a journalist. I have worked for some of the best papers on Fleet Street and I don't know any other journalists who would act in this way.’

    What an enormous coincidence in wording.

  9. ‘Caped Crusader’ cites the Editors’ Code of Practice. You can see for yourself he is talking rubbish:

    But even if ‘Caped Crusader’ is not Stephen Leather, Leather is clearly delighted that this site continues to exist. Stephen Leather isn’t the victim here. He’s one of the UK’s most successful authors, as he repeatedly reminds everyone, and he is unrepentant about his sockpuppeting, his bullying, his sexist remarks and his virulent racism. Leather has made comments, under an identity that changed its name from ‘Big Nick Palmer’ (note the initials) to ‘stephenleather’ to ‘Joe King’ that Britain should ‘get rid’ of all immigrants, who he doesn’t believe are British anyway. Here’s just one of many such comments he has made:

    You can also see that he is openly very right wing, as in this entry on his blog:

    ‘A story broke today about a gang of youths in Hackney who killed a schoolboy. What the story doesn’t say, of course, is that the gang was made up of black youths. One of the themes covered in Dark Justice is that the major problem in London at the moment isn’t gun crime, or knife crime, it’s black crime, gangs of feral young black men who have no respect for society or the law. Of course it’s not politically correct to say so, but it’s the truth. Until they’re dealt with and dealt with harshly, the black gangs are going to continue to run riot.’

    Even David Starkey would have trouble saying ‘the black gangs are going to run riot’ in public. This is Enoch Powell territory. And that’s just what he does on his own website.

    Leather is a sexist. Too many examples to cite, but he referred to Ursula Mackenzie, the Vice President of the Publisher’s Association, as a ‘silly girl’ – see the comments here:

  10. More disturbing is Leather’s attitude to young women in Thailand, where he spends most of his time. Here’s an interview with him:

    ‘What are your thoughts on the Thailand nightlife scene?

    I go through phases of loving it and hating it. I think it's almost impossible to participate in the bar scene for a long period of time without becoming damaged by it, and that goes for the customers as well as the girls.

    When you first walk into a go-go bar it's like, 'wow, this is heaven' and then after a while you realise that it isn't heaven. It's a factory where girls learn how to relieve customers of their money as quickly and efficiently as possible. Now if you can keep that thought in your head, that it's solely about money, then you can sit back and enjoy it. It's like going into a casino - the only healthy way is to set a limit on how much you are going to lose, and regard that as what it costs to have a good time. If you go into a casino expecting to win, you're a fool. Similarly, if you go into a bar looking for a relationship, you're deluding yourself. You have to go in realising that you're going to have a great time, but that you are going to pay for that great time.

    How has the farang orientated nightlife industry changed during this time?

    I don't reckon it's as much fun as it was fifteen years ago, but maybe that's because I'm getting older. Certainly the girls don't seem as pretty as they used to, and it's rare to see a girl actually dance in a go-go bar, now they just seem to shuffle… The first go-go bar I ever went to was Pussy Galore in Pat Pong, and it was packed to the rafters, great music, everyone having a great time. These days it's quite a sad place and generally empty. As leases come up for renewal, the bars seem to be moving out and handbag shops are moving in. There's good restaurants there now, and more families seem to be going - though I've never figured out why Westerners think it's a cool thing to take their children to a red-light area.

    Fifteen years ago Nana Plaza was just a collection of beer bars and it was a quiet place to go for a drink. Wow, has it changed… The disturbing thing for me is that the girls stay the same age as I get older. When I first hit the bars I was in my late twenties, and the girls were five or six years younger. I'd sit and drink and play stupid games and laugh at the old farts nursing their Singhas and sitting with girls half their age. Now I'm one of the old farts (okay, I drink whisky and coke, but that's not the point) and it's rare for me to see a girl who isn't young enough to be my daughter.’

    Stephen Leather has also been personally abusive to me and many others. So I think you’re barking up the wrong tree here. I’m not claiming I’m some knight on a white horse. But I think Stephen Leather is a deeply unpleasant piece of work, and worth exposing. Your anger at me is misplaced.