Up until the end of July 2009, I had been a member of several HE lists for years. I had encountered Maire Stafford, but not really taken any notice of her. On July 30th, a piece of mine was published in the Independent. That same day, Maire Stafford tweeted this:
Simon Webb is Judas! Strong stuff indeed from somebody I did not know and had barely exchanged a dozen words with on an internet list. From then on, Maire Stafford saw it as her personal mission to attack me. How did she do this? One way was to get people to post comments on the online versions of my article and also to encourage the spreading of untruthful rumours about me. Some fool posted this on the HE-UK list on July 30th;
There is a Simon Webb mentioned here as an Area Education Officer.... under
Badman! Listed is the
CFHE Directorate Structure Chart which is readily available on the
http://docs. google.com/ gview?a=v
m/request/7844/ response/ 21038/attach/ 2/cfe-structure- chart1106. pdf+Simon+ Web
&q=cache:W9Udfm7eA8 AJ:www.whatdothe yknow.com/ request/7844/ response/ 21038/att
ach/2/cfe-structure -chart1106. pdf+Simon+ Webb+badman& hl=en
This was an attempt to prove that I was a former colleague of Graham Badman. Maire’s response was to post;
Brilliant research R.
She then touted this idea around and tried to get others to take it up and use it. Mike Fortune-Wood was quick to join in and posted a comment on the Independent site, claiming that I had lied to gain access to the HE-UK list and that I was a colleague of Graham Badman’s. Of course, he didn’t want to use his own name, these people are too cowardly for that, and so posted as Maesk123.
Meanwhile, Maire Stafford was doing her best to get people on various lists to criticise me on newspaper sites. Still on July 30th, she posted:
Couple of less supportive comments on there now, even a nothing to fear
nothing to hide one! Anyone got the energy to slam em.
‘Slam em’; this hardly ties in with her description of herself on her twitter account as shy and sweet! Her aim was to present me in as bad as light as possible. That same day, she posted again on the HE-UK site, saying of me:
Perhaps he has one of those illnesses, you know like people who confess to
murders they haven't done in order to get attention.
The next day, July 31st, somebody posted something unpleasant about me on the HE-UK list and Maire Stafford said:
This would look very good in the comments section under the article.
Here she is again on both HE-UK and EO, a day later:
What about lots of comments that support Jeremy but ignore Simon.
And don't forget to vote in the poll.
Now I do want to emphasise that this was all at a time before this blog even existed. I am not going to put all the things down here; there are simply too many. She was posting comments all over the place, telling lies such as that I was a local authority officer, that I was not really a home educating parent and, most ludicrous at all, that I was actually a home education inspector. She was tweeting these falsehoods, emailing them to people, commenting on newspaper sites, lists and forums. This was not limited to passing on rumours from others; she would make up her own.
This might not sound too bad, except that these lies soon spread round the world. In September 2010, for instance, a year after Maire Stafford had invented these stories, Kelly Green in Canada said of me on her blog, Kelly Green and Gold:
'He was an advisor to Graham Badman and the Department of Children, Schools and Families over the course of the Badman Review,'
A year later and the story cooked up my Maire Stafford is surfacing on the other side of the earth! Are readers beginning to see why I might have been a bit annoyed about this?
I gave another example of this yesterday. In the autumn of 2009, a rumour was circulating that I had told Graham Badman to ignore Paula Rothermel’s research. I was also alleged to have warned him that many home educating mothers were suffering from Munchausen’s Syndrome. This was so completely barmy that I could make no sense at all of it and wondered where it had started. Eventually, I tracked down the story to it’s earliest appearance. Not surprisingly, this was on the HE-UK list, which had served as a clearing house for these lies. On November 4th, Maire Stafford posted there, saying of me:
And considering it was probably him who told Badman that Paula Rothermel's
work was not sound I think he has an immense amount to answer for. Wouldn't
be surprised if this wasn't the source of the Munchausens fiasco too
I might have guessed; it originated, like so much of the other poison, with Maire Stafford.
Now I will freely admit that I began to get a little ticked off with the woman after all this. I barely knew her and here she as inventing stuff about me and doing her damnedest to make life difficult for me. I had said nothing at all about her at this time and was puzzled as to why she seemed so determined to try and harm my reputation. I certainly made a few sharp comments about her once the blog was running, but this was in an attempt to stop her carrying on in this way. Anybody who wishes to check up on all this can of course still see the messages on the HE-UK site on the dates I have given. That a woman like this, who has behaved in such a way, should now offer to help people who have supposedly been the victims of online harassment is little short of incredible.
I hope that readers will understand if I hold back a good deal of material in reserve, in the event that Maire Stafford really does try to stand up in court and portray herself as an innocent victim of my malice. I have in the past been in contact with people who have been bullied by her and two new people have now come forward to offer me emails and statements. Boy, am I looking forward to a court case! I have already drawn up a provisional list of witness summonses and I think that I can safely assure readers that Maire Stafford will not, by the end of it, be in a very strong position to represent herself as my victim; quite the opposite in fact.