I don’t think I’ve ever had a heavier heart about writing an article. I need to tell you at the outset that I don’t believe any stigma should be attached to mental illness, nor any shame. But the train of events, and the continuing actions of the person involved and of the people supporting her, make it impossible not to set out the facts as they now stand, as a counter-balance to what is likely to become even more malignant in the next couple of days.
I wrote in May about an apparent attempt by a supporter of ‘Cure the NHS’, Julie Bailey’s campaign group, to blackmail the university of an opponent into silencing him. A character calling him/herself ‘Loki’ started commenting on that post, and then materialised on Twitter with the express intent of causing ‘mischief’.
This ‘Loki’ eventually wrote a blog article admitting to being the person who had sent the threatening letter to the university – and to being a Cure supporter. At the same time, the student in question received a visit from newspaper reporters asking about his past – ‘Loki’, or someone working with him/her, had contacted The Sun with details, knowing that rag likes nothing better than something salacious.
That blog article subsequently disappeared, but was recently replaced by a new version in which ‘Loki’ now denied being a Cure supporter – but the original version had been saved, so you can compare the difference. I won’t publish a link to that poisonous blog, but I will show you here the two relevant, variant sections:
I am aware of Cure The NHS them and have sympathy for them so in that regard I am a supporter.
The later version:
I am aware of Cure The NHS and feel sorry for anyone who has lost a loved one but I could in no way considered to be a supporter.
Clearly, ‘Loki’ felt a need to distance herself (it is a ‘she’) from Cure because of the spotlight shone on her activities – but, as we’ll see, even the claim to be merely ‘aware of’ Cure was already an attempt to mislead.
This 2nd version also portrays the sending of the email as being more nobly-intentioned, but the original email, which I’ve now obtained from the university via an FOI request, makes it very clear that the motivation was to stop the student from sending tweets arguing with a Cure supporter:
I write with respect to an (sic) postgraduate under your supervision, xxxxx. I follow xxxxxxx on Twitter and have become sufficiently concerned about his behavior there to feel compelled to write to you. Some context. xxxxxxxx frequently gets into arguments with online NHScampaigners over a number of health related topics including (and amongstother things) hospital mortality statistics and the Liverpool Care Pathway.
The 2nd blog article claims that its author’s motive in sending the email was a concern over the areas of study in which the student is engaged. But the email itself says that its sender has “no interest in damaging xxxxxx’s career” and makes clear that the action demanded of the university is to stop the student from tweeting.
It’s unmistakably obvious that the reality of ‘Loki’s actions and motivations are far from what she would like us to believe.
I’ve come into possession of a series of messages that make clear that ‘Loki’ is a woman who, on Twitter, goes by the name of ‘PhyllisStein2’, although this too appears to be a pseudonym, for reasons that will be clear enough, since ‘Phyllis’ says in one tweet that her son’s initials are ‘CPR’. In these messages, which I have on file but won’t reproduce on this blog for the time being, ‘Phyllis’ admits to:
- being the person who wrote the anonymous email to the university about the student
- being diagnosed with Munchhausen by Proxy syndrome, which led to:
- having her child removed from her for a period of 19 months by child protection officials
Munchausens is a mental disorder whose sufferers inflict harm on themselves because they crave the attention they receive from wellwishers who think they’re merely ill. The ‘by proxy‘ version is more insidious, in that sufferers inflict harm on someone else, usually a child in their care, for the attention and sympathy that they will receive for their child’s suffering – like the woman in the film, ‘Sixth Sense’ who had gradually poisoned her daughter to death so that she could feed on the sympathy as a ‘bereaved’ mother.
In tweets on her account, Phyllis claims that these diagnoses and actions were unjustified, and blames doctors for her child’s condition. To paraphrase a famous saying, ‘she would, wouldn’t she’ – but even if her claims are true, it provides a massive motive for extreme behaviour toward anyone challenging the claims, by Cure and similar people, that ‘the NHS is killing people’.
No friend of Cure?
As already shown, the revised version of Phyllis’ blog claims that she can in no way be considered a Cure supporter, and that she has not “even had a conversation with any of them” . However, a look at her Twitter timeline quickly dispels that notion. A search of her Tweets for the last couple of months reveals some 80 interactions with Julie Bailey or quotes from her ‘@curethenhs’ Twitter account, and many more with other Cure members and supporters, going back to well before the denial. Here are just a few examples:
In no way a supporter? Hmmmm.
And this support is a two-way street. Over the last few days, various Cure members and hangers-on have attempted to ‘mob’ me on Twitter – no doubt worried because some members of the mainstream media have begun to ask questions about some of the issues I’ve highlighted with Cure’s claims.
In one of those ‘conversations’ (a very generous description), Ms Bailey tried to embarrass me for associating her with Loki/Phyllis’ actions, but also gave away her real opinion on malignant blackmail:
This support is not merely moral. Ms Bailey wants to join in:
So Phyllis’ protestations that she’s not a Cure supporter appear to hold no more water water than Cure’s and Ms Bailey’s previous attempts to disassociate themselves from the blackmail.
Why am I writing an article I’d much prefer not to? I’ve had this information for a little while, but have ‘sat on it’ rather than share it unless I felt I had no alternative. That time has come for a couple of reasons.
Firstly and most importantly, while The Sun evidently did not pursue the story beyond its initial contact with the student, it appears that ‘Phyllis’, or her Cure helpers, have taken the craven behaviour to new depths by prompting at least one, and probably more than one, newspaper to run with it. If things progress, these papers will run a story targeting someone for their past, even though their university is fully aware of their history – merely because Cure and its supporters do not like his views on Twitter about their claims and activities.
That kind of cowardly, mob-driven behaviour can’t stand unchallenged, and the real sources of the information, and the reasons for abusing it, need to be exposed for what they are. By exposing it pre-emptively, I hope that fewer people will fooled into believing that the story was prompted by some ‘well-meaning’ person ‘for the public good’, and will instead see that these are the actions of a snide and hypocritical set of vigilante for their own motives, benefit and satisfaction.
In a distant second place is the fact that some of Cure’s members and hangers-on have decided that this situation is a good opportunity to attack and attempt to discredit me – that there is a ‘taint by association’ that they can exploit.
‘Phyllis’, before her ‘Loki’ account was suspended, sent out dozens of messages to people who either follow my blog or have a high profile, in order to try to discredit me for defending the student’s right to voice opinions on NHS matters, and for describing her actions as ‘vile’, ‘cowardly’ and ‘beneath comtempt’.
Once Twitter lost patience and deleted the account completely, the apparent obsession with me has continued under a different but obviously linked account, ‘Mr Low Quay’:
There are much worse tweets, too, but I’m not prepared to reproduce their poison here.
Ironically, Phyllis complained that her accounts were being suspended by Twitter because I or others had ‘maliciously flagged’ her messages as spam. I’ll leave it to your own judgment what to make of that. But others – again Cure supporters – have taken up her cause with gusto.
The lamentable ‘whistleblower’ Gary Walker is among them. I’ve had the privilege today of speaking at an NHS rally in Darlington. As well as tweeting links to Loki’s blog on his own account, Mr Walker attempted to persuade Clive Peedell, the founder of the NHA party, not to share a platform with me because of my supposed ‘involvement in a scandal’.
Miguel Cubells, another hanger-on, ‘retweeted’ several of Loki’s tweets as well as calling her a ‘cool dude/dudess’. The icing on the cake is this edifying spectacle:
Though, as the existence of this article makes plain, he was mistaken in his claim.
Cure and its friends claim that they want nothing more than to improve and defend the NHS. Their actions already made that statement nonsense – but could anything demonstrate it more eloquently than Gary Walker’s tweet? He would prefer campaigners to withdraw from a rally to defend the NHS rather than share a platform with me. That speaks encyclopaedic volumes about his motivation and mindset.
And the motivation of ‘Phyllis’? If her protestations of innocence of harming her children are correct, then she has an obvious axe to grind against the NHS that she feels betrayed her. If they are not, then we have a mentally ill person trying to deflect the guilt for her actions.
Either way I feel sorry for her personally. But for her actions, I continue to feel nothing but the deepest contempt and horror. And I stand absolutely by my belief that a person’s past history in a completely unrelated area have no bearing on his entitlement to participate in the discussion about the assault on the NHS, nor on the validity of his reasoning about it.
And Cure and co? That Bailey, Walker, Cubells and others feel entitled not only to spread poison about this man in order to silence him, but also to pat themselves on the back about it, speaks more than eloquently enough of their true motives, heart and mindset.