London Fire Brigade (LFB) incident commander Michael Dowden has received huge support – and an #IAmMichaelDowden hashtag – after many feared he was being set up as a scapegoat for the huge loss of life in the Grenfell Tower blaze.
Dowden testimony subsequently exposed the role of Boris Johnson’s cuts to the LFB in the Grenfell death toll – Dowden had only six engines available at a ‘ten-pump’ incident – but Johnson will not face the inquiry any time this year, as the first phase will examine only the immediate circumstances of the fire.
Dowden was forced to manage an incident for which he was too junior in the fire service. But in spite of that he has been the target of a small number of strident critics – including one Felicity Lowde, of whose series of tweeted condemnations two are shown below:
Lowde has publicly attacked Dowden’s – and the LFB’s – competence, integrity and honesty in her tweets, including equating his reportedly flashback-driven answers on the first day of his testimony with guilt.
More broadly, she even commented that only a few firefighters did any work during the blaze – a comment made ridiculous by well-known images of exhausted crews after hours battling it and by the frank comments made firefighters about the events of that night at the risk of their jobs.
Her tweets have provoked outrage, with numerous Twitter users criticising her comments and one stating,
“It must be awful to be trapped inside that twisted little mind”
But Ms Lowde has a history. In 2007 she was arrested – typing at a keyboard in a London cybercafe – while reportedly on the run from the authorities after being convicted in her absence for cyber-stalking rape victim and survivor of the ‘7/7’ London terror bombings, Rachel North, who reported that the harassment had left her ‘living in terror‘:
A second complainant also alleged that she had targeted and harassed him online for fifteen months before her arrest.
Ms Lowde was contacted for comment. Her response was ‘See you in court’.
A further opportunity was offered to comment. This was the result:
You’ve been reported to the police for this intimidation, which is no less than criminal harassment and interference with justice. Desist forthwith.
The trauma suffered by firefighters at Grenfell Tower that night is second only to that of the residents and their families. None of them should be targeted or blamed for events outside their control – and certainly not until the inquiry has reached its conclusions.
Ms Lowde has published a blog insisting on her innocence and that the charges and her conviction were persecution and a miscarriage of justice. In spite of that, she has demonstrated a reaadiness to attribute guilt publicly to others without due process.
It transpires that Ms Lowde opted to go public against this blog for offering her the opportunity to comment, describing the offer as intimidation, harassment and abuse:
In the interests of transparency – and as Ms Lowde did not put any of the conversation off the record – here are the DMs that constitute the only conversation that took place:
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