Thursday, 25 September 2014

Jeremy Duns Is Still Lying To You

Jeremy Duns has been attacking the writer Johann Hari again - you can see the latest example here and here.

His complaints about Hari I will leave to other people to judge.

But the issue for this blog is whether it is actually Duns who is lying - about being a journalist.

He constantly claims to be a journalist, and he justifies his attacks on Hari and others as somehow policing his profession.

A few weeks ago, this blog raised the question of whether he could be justified in that description of himself as a journalist, when it is in fact the case that it is very hard to find any examples of his published work.

Duns replied on the comment section. He has never been restricted from commenting on this blog, although the reason it was set up was because he would not let me comment on his (Duns believes in free speech for himself, but not for others - or at least only for right-wing public schoolboys).

Asked for examples of his journalism, he pointed to this article.

And that it is.

Check the date, this appeared in March 2013. That is 18 months ago. In the last 3 and a half years, that is the only example of Duns's journalism that he can offer. I do not, I have to say, believe that it counts. That is a history radio broadcast, not journalism as most people would describe it. After all, journalism must have something to do with reporting or analysing the news  - and that is not news.

But allow us to leave that point to one side.

If a person has done one piece of paid journalism in 3 and a half years, is is acceptable for them to describe themselves as a professional journalist?


Duns also says he has a company that does journalism. It is not credible. In half an hour I can set up a company and describe it as an automobile manufacturer. Or oil explorer. Does that make me a car-maker or an oil-person? No, it does not. The question is whether this company has any work.His one does not. If this is not true, Duns is welcome to publish the accounts, or to provide details so that I can look up this so-called journalism company.

Lots of people work hard at journalism. It is not acceptable for someone to just come along and describe themselves as journalist.

It's a lie.

It is a far bigger lie than any one of Hari's.

And it is about time that he was exposed. Duns is entitled to argue against journalists if he wants to. But he is not entitled to call himself one.


  1. Maria, journalism can of course be about events that happened in the past! Plenty of it is. The programme and accompanying article are both journalism about the Cold War. I don't think this is controversial.

    I think the last article I published was this one, in fact:

    It is admittedly, a) based around a longer piece of journalism (ie my book, published last year) and b) itself a year old. I've already said several times that I primarily write books, most of which are fiction, but still sometimes freelance. It's true that in the last year I've published less journalism, if you don't count an entire book of it, or if you think that investigative journalism isn't that if it is about things that happened in the past, which most people don't.

    You've set up a series of straw men, as has whoever has set up the other blogs, to attack me on a false basis. I've never said I am on the staff of a national newspaper, or anything of the sort. I'm primarily a novelist, and I also do some journalism.

    It's now been two years of you looking to paint me as some dastardly villain, in a series of bewildering posts to this website accusing me of all manner of sins, from misogyny to rape apologia to homophobia to who knows what else. You must, somewhere, surely realise this is not only untrue and unfair, but a waste of your time and mine. What is the beef that is motivating all this, and what do you want me to do about it? I admit I've forgotten what comment of yours on my website I censored. What was it about and I'll see if I can find it and put it online. Is that okay?

    I'm mystified as to what you actually want me to do. Stop saying I am a journalist because my last article was a year ago? What about the stuff I'm working on at the moment, then?


  2. Let's go back to the beginning. Your first post:

    This was in August 2012. In it, you wrote:

    'Two, you say you are a journalist.

    Really? According to, you have written five articles since 2009. The link is here. These are all on the arts pages (and mostly about James Bond). Are you a member of the National Union of Journalists? Do you or have you ever worked for a major news organisation? Has an editor commissioned you to write something about Mr Roach, and if so who are they and which publication? Journalists are given a specific opt-out from the law, but they have to be working for a news organisation, and the telephone call has to be in pursuit of a specific article. Just because you write for the arts pages once or twice a year, you do not have carte blanche to tape phone conversations whenever you feel like it.'

    As I explained at the time, pursuing a story *isn't* dependent on being in the NUJ - I'm not and have never claimed to be; or working for a major publication - that would preclude many journalists from working; or having a commission - sometimes research has to be done to get a story to pitch.

    I can understand that Steve Roach might be angry at discovering I recorded the call. Who am I to secretly record his words for a story I *might* write when I'm not even on the staff of a major newspaper? I get that, I do.

    But I didn’t do it for a laugh. I did it to find out the truth. I thought it worthwhile to expose that a peer had been bullying someone in an online vendetta for over a year as a journalist, but also as a fellow writer and a reader. I still do. And I recorded the call, but I haven't *published* it.
    The story did make it to a major paper, though it wasn't written by me. That call was a significant part of it. Roach was prepared to say all this to me, and I can't see an ethical difference between my having a rough record of what he said having written down his words at the time or an entirely accurate record of it in the audio.

    A complicated sequence of events led me to decide to record the call. Steve Roach was a victim of Leather's behaviour but had also been hostile to Leather and me, and I judged (correctly, I think) that he wouldn't tell me the truth if I revealed I was recording the call. So it was an 'undercover' call, like a hidden camera investigation.

    Soon after we got off the phone, Roach denied he'd told me Leather bullied him. So my only proof he did say that is the audio recording. If I hadn't recorded it, Leather could have sued me for defamation and claim I'd written my notes about the call at a later date. Leather also continued to bully Steve Roach even after Nick Cohen's article appeared - as Roach knows. Leather lost his PCC complaint about the article.

    You are so angry on Steve Roach's behalf that over two years later you're still arguing about why I shouldn't have recorded the call, why I'm not a journalist and throwing as much mud at me as you can dream of, but I can't unrecord the call. And I'll carry on writing books, and articles, some about espionage, some about things that happened in the past, and some about other things. I'll criticise journalists if I think that's warranted, because I have some experience in it but also because I'm a reader and am interested in these issues. Someone with a blog, like you.

    What ‘s your plan here? Endless smears until... what? I can't change this. And even if I could go back in time, I doubt I would do it differently, because Leather might well have sued me for something I couldn't prove.

    No doubt this will be more evidence to you that I'm Professor ISIS Von Hitler-mao. But you can keep falsely accusing me in a years-long rage at my having a record of something Steve Roach actually said to me – I'll still behave as I think is ethical.