Ben Wallace taken to task on social media – followed by bizarre edit history on the online encyclopedia
Tory security minister – and former Northern Ireland minister – Ben Wallace last autumn attempted to wax dismissive of the problems posed to the government by the issue of the Northern Ireland border and the EU’s insistence that there must be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
In the process, Wallace claimed to have been an intelligence officer when the 1994 ceasefire talks were underway – but his claim was contradicted by a Northern Irish former serviceman.
Glenn Bradley, a former Royal Irish Ranger who works for peace and human rights in Belfast, took Wallace to task on Twitter over his claim:
Remarkably, Wallace did not argue or claim that Bradley was incorrect. Instead he resorted to a change of tack and a weak jibe at something else:
Wallace’s Wikipedia entry also currently claims that he was an intelligence officer – but no source reference is provided for the information.
That information appears to have been added only five days ago, on 15 April. A day earlier, on 14 April, Wallace was accused of lying about his service history by a Twitter user who linked back to Glenn Bradley’s tweet – and again, he responded without denying the accusation:
The intelligence claim appeared on Wikipedia the day after the issue was raised again on Twitter.
It was then removed by a Wikipedia editor because the claim was unsourced – but added back on Friday – the day of this blog’s enquiry and the reader tip that led to it – by user ‘Janusfiles‘, the same user who had also added it on the 15th:
But user ‘Janusfiles’ does not exist, as clicking through on the ID shows:
Nor has it ever been deleted, according to Wikipedia’s user deletion history:
The user did exist, however – and it only ever made edits to Wallace’s Wikipedia entry:
The preceding edit made by the now non-existent user – also dated yesterday – removed a fully-sourced reference to Wallace employing his wife as a part-time assistant on as much as £29,000 per year.
Wikipedia does appear to allow users to request a change to their username. However, according to the Wikipedia resource page on username changes any edits made would also show the new username rather than the old one, so that would not explain how ‘Janusfiles’ is non-existent – and any renaming has to be done by a ‘global renamer’ and cannot be done by the user.
Although the original exchange took place six months ago, no ‘mainstream’ media appear to have taken any notice at the time.
After the resurrection of the accusations this week, however, the Scottish pro-independence National newspaper did pick up on the Twitter exchanges and flatly accused Wallace of lying – and again not denying it:
The SKWAWKBOX contacted Mr Wallace for comment. He did not respond by the time of publication.
Edit 20/4/19 15.00hrs: Ben Wallace has responded to the enquiry:
Unfortunately for those trying to smear my military services the facts are I was an intelligence officers with my Regiment in 1994 in East Tyrone , Northern Ireland. I was, at the time aware, of some of the negotiations and intelligence surrounding the PIRA 1994 ceasefire. I never claimed to have been part of the Good Friday agreement as that was in 1998 and I had left the Army the month before. Please can you ensure your piece reflects the facts. The story is total nonsense I am afraid and I have reported the National to IPSO.
Why didn’t Ben Wallace refute Glenn Bradley’s assertions about Wallace’s military career? Why did a claimed military intelligence involvement appear in Wallace’s Wikipedia entry this month, a day after he was challenged again about it?
Why was it then added back in – and all by an apparently non-existent account that has never been deleted? If the account name has since changed, why so suddenly after the edit and why has the edit entry not been allocated to the new name?
Why was the Janusfiles user only interested in editing Wallace’s profile – and why was it suddenly interested in housekeeping Wallace’s profile on this and other matters yesterday?
Ben Wallace needs to explicitly say whether he denies Glenn Bradley’s accusation – and if he does, he needs to show evidence that his own claimed service in 1994 is true.
And if he does not, he must resign.
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