Celebrity Dissent 80

I am awake at this unholy hour because I am about to start the tortuous Sunday rail journey between Ramsgate and Diss, in order to attend Julian Assange’s fortieth birthday party at Ellingham Hall.

I am not sure who else is going, but the initial invitation did not give train information, but did tell you where to land your private plane or helicopter. I am going because I think Wikileaks do essential work and because I think Julian is an extraordinary mand and is being stitched up – his appeal against extradition is on Tuesday and this week he could be in a cell in Sweden on those entirely ludicrous sexual assault charges. I am also gong because I hope that some of the whistleblowing community might be there. And I am going because it says “party”!

Nonetheless, I worry that the amusing fact that the invitation tells you where to land your private jet or helicopter, actually is an indication of where Wikilleaks is going wrong.

That is perhaps strange for me to say of a thriving organisation with funds and staff, who have exposed much more of government wrongdoing than I ever managed. But I could not understand why Julian was using the celebrity media lawyer Stephens rather than one of our great, solid human rights lawyers. I emailed wikileaks several times before the trial to say they had absolutely the wrong kind of lawyer, and that there were several much more appropriate human rights lawyers used to dealing with politically motivated criminal charges, with a terrific record and respect in the courts, and who may well take it on pro bono. I got no reply. I presumed that this was because Wikileaks were being loyal to lawyers who believed in them, had been their lawyers before criminal charges arose, and who worked for them for nothing. But I now read that Assange has unpaid legal bills of £200,000. I think that Don King haired lawyer bloke who yelled a lot was a major mistake.

I also worry that they managed to fall out with David Leigh of the Guardian, for whom I have huge respect (which he has made plain to me is not mutual, but that is another story). I was myself very offended indeed when I was kicked off the panel of Assange’s New Statesman debate on whistleblowing. I suspect it was a combination of establishment objections, and a desire to curry favour with the New Statesman and Al Jazeera, for both of whom I made room. But the whole Stephens/Al Jazeera/stately home/celebrities in private jets thing indicates to me a fascination with the bubble celebrity which will leave you crying when it bursts.

I am one of Assange’s admirers, not one of his detractors. I am going along to show my genuine support. There may in fact be a good turnout, because this is probably the best chance this weekend for the radical chic wealthy to get together and thrill over the wounds of Murdoch. There is an auction of donations to raise funds for his legal expenses, which I hope goes well – personal bids will establish a reserve price, and then the items will go on to ebay. I do hope that goes well too. And I hope when Assange’s celebrity dies down, those helicopter riders will still support him.

I just doubt it.

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80 thoughts on “Celebrity Dissent

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  • nobody

    Hullo Craig,

    Julian Assange’s party has directions for lear jet owners does it? Ha ha ha ha. And Ellingham Hall is it? Such genteel luxury.

    There’s only one thing for it and that’s to declare that there is a God. I say that because the prospect of a man ostensibly topping the PTB’s fear and loathing list who is simultaneously caressed by the rich and powerful would otherwise have to be described as an out-and-out impossibility. But here he is! He exists!

    Honestly mate, are you not struck by the absurdity of this? Since when did those who oppose the government roll in such dough and live such deluxe jetset lifestyles? Here’s the cold hard truth: Any party that caters to the owners of private jets is a party at the pointiest end of the pyramid of power. That’s all there is to it and everything else is bullshit.

    Best I can make out, you seem to think that a disinfo spook who can appear credible is some variety of oxymoron. The truth is, it’s the precise opposite – a disinfo spook without credibility is no such thing. And Assange can walk and chew crudités at the same time can he? Wow.

    But what a party pooper I am. You should definitely go live it up with the lear jet owners as they toast their darling celebrity rebel. And do tell us what it is they toast him with: I’m betting Dom or Krug.

    best regards,


  • mark_golding

    Thank-you Mary – yes this report from Al Arabiya who sent me many reports from March 2004 in Arabic from Iraq and recommended doctorsforiraq for the truth behind children’s deaths and mutilations from US cluster bombs and phosphorus instead of English propaganda. Dina Al-Shibeeb is a new correspondent. In 2005 ‘Uruknet’ reported the Americans depopulated three villages West of Baghdad putting over 600 babies and children in tents in fields in the cold (esp. at night) then bulldozed dozens of groves and farm fields in the villages, and turned the homes and schools in the villages into billets and military camps for themselves, in a move reminiscent of the practices followed by the Zionist occupation in Palestine.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Nobody, you can take a ride in my Lear anytime! It’s an Airfix model, but… Just avoid the chains and bolts, the water-boards and orange jumpsuits lying around – it’s a kind of CIA version of S ‘n’ M. More S than M, knowhatamean?. Why don’t we all gatecrash the Assange party, arriving on a giant old-style bright-red London bus, like sort of Cliff and the Shadows in Summer Holiday…? Watch out, Sir Julian, the plebs are coming!

    “People who the intelligence services have criminalised and spent years hounding have been brought to the fore as scapegoats.” Ruth. Interesting thesis, Ruth. Who, precisely? Are you saying that Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson et al were hounded for years by MI5? Please explain. Thanks.

  • Jon

    Craig, I think your emails may not have been in vain. From the Guardian blog today:
    “The changes to his legal team – Gareth Peirce replaces media lawyer Mark Stephens and Ben Emmerson replaces Geoffrey Robertson QC – are thought to be part of a more conciliatory approach by Assange.”

  • Anon


    I am now thinking along the same lines as you, what is behind it is the question?.

  • Jonangus Mackay

    Dear, dear, Craig. We’re still waiting:-) We’re expecting an exclusive. Did you extract an explanation for your scandalous disinvitation from the ‘Whistleblower’ Fest? Did you manage to tackle Cowley? An eager public waits.

  • Jonangus Mackay

    Apart from the obvious family resemblance:
    A stand-up comic friend of mine pointed out yesterday (he was being serious) that when, in the late 80s, Cap’n Bob (£2 billion adrift) was found bobbin’, Murdoch was himself £3 billion adrift.
    Soon after, however, the News Corp Corleone became solvent.
    Think his chronology may be a bit out. Seems a wild juxtaposition to me. But you did ask.

  • Scouse Billy


    Along with Ruth, Nobody, and, no doubt, Courtney B. you see through Assange.

    Craig, check this interview out – what are the chances Mr Murdoch will splash this in September, if our leaders (sic) aren’t careful?


    Never mind the richplanet spaceship provenance – the tribunal will be held in public: Sheffield, 6-8th Sept…

  • Ruth


    One of the guys is Barry Beardall. I understand that he worked with the Sunday Times for 5 years and I believe that he knows some things that are highly sensitive.

    Beardall was convicted of conspiracy to contravene Section 170(2) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 in 2001. Beardall claimed entrapment in his trial. During both his trial and appeal there were serious failures by the prosecution to make disclosure particularly in relation to the principal of the fraud, who was described in the Costello Affidavit as working for the National Investigation Service of Customs & Excise. During Beardall’s appeal the investigation into the Affidavit by the Metropolitan Police was flawed. Moreover, the investigation into the Affidavit on behalf of Beardall’s defence team was allegedly conducted by an informant using the pseudonym “Joe Poulton”, who is said to be a retired Scotland Yard detective recruited by the Complaints Investigation Branch (CIB3).


    Beardall has suffered repeated threats and intimidation, burglaries and even theft of his car during which pertinent documents from unused trial evidence and documents found subsequent to his appeal were removed.

  • JustPassing

    Mary said,
    “Craig mentions Al Jazeera. Suspect now because of unconfirmed reports of funding from a rich Egyptian Jew who supports Israel and Netanyahu.”

    Uh, Mary, the link you provide is two years old and it didn’t happen.
    Repeat, it didn’t happen.

    You don’t have to worry, a Jew doesn’t own Al-Jazeera.

    Al-Jazeera remains as it always has, a tool of the Qatari government.

    But coming back to this webpage, well, I haven’t seen so many comments about Jews since David Duke’s website.

  • mary

    from media lens
    More impartial coverage in the Guardian
    Posted by kennyg on July 13, 2011, 2:13 pm

    Julian Assange extradition appeal hearing – day two live coverage

    Robert Booth at the high court and Paul Owen at the Guardian office bring you full coverage of the second day of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s battle to avoid being sent to Sweden to face rape and sexual assault allegations

    9.31am “John Pilger, the campaigning leftwing journalist and Assange ally, got a round of applause as he arrived at the court this morning. He did not look amused at his role as warm-up act.”
    PS JustPassing above exaggerates greatly. Was that a Hasbara calling card incidentally?

  • Jon

    @JustPassing – contrary to your suggestion, anti-Jewish comments here are rare. All the mentions above hardly qualify in any case. Do join into the debate though – the funding of any news source, including Al Jazeera, is surely worthy of discussion!

  • Jon

    @ScouseBilly – Assange as secret services operative? I don’t buy it – didn’t when that idea first surfaced, still don’t. Too many layers of an onion for it to be plausible, in my view. I think you credit TPTB with too much intelligence.
    He does *look* like an evil agent though, which may be why the idea has caught on with fans of conspiracy. Well groomed, crop of silver hair, high levels of intelligence, careful with words – all he needs is a lair and a cat to stroke. And an evil laugh, of course – he should watch an Austin Powers movie to brush up!
    Not seen the website you cite before, but this (http://www.richplanet.net/detail.php?dbindex=209) is full of assumption and unsubstantiated suspicion. Not a great reference at all, imo. I should say though that I am an open sceptic generally, though 🙂

  • Alext

    As many others I would very much enjoy Craig’s debriefing of the party… 🙂

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Wow, that’s fascinating, Ruth. Murky, complex waters, indeed. So what d’you think Beardall might have known/ might know? What kind of thing, I mean? And what will be the mechanism by which the Intelligence Services will take over Murdoch’s empire? Forgive me, I’m just trying to find my way through here; you obviously know a heck of a lot more about this kind of material than I, so please just imagine for a moment that I’m an idiot (no comments on that, please!); you know, I’m just a basic ‘Lobster’ reader! Thanks.

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