Paul Staines

Paul Staines

Paul Staines is an Irishcite web
title=So there was an Englishman, an Irishman
and an I.D. card
publisher= [ Guido Fawkes' blog]
] political blogger. Writer of the pseudonymous "Guido Fawkes' blog of parliamentary plots, rumours & conspiracy",cite web
title=Guy Fawkes' blog of parliamentary plots, rumours and conspiracy
publisher= [ Guido Fawkes' blog]
] which has as of March 2008, 79,000 visitors per month, [ title but posted at] his political blog has been described as "one of Britain's leading political blogsites".Graeme Wilson and Brendan Carlin. [ Focus on Labour website in peerage row] . "Daily Telegraph". Retrieved 31 January 2007] Staines has been credited with being the first blogger to "take the scalp" of a serving British minister, following the resignation of Peter Hain from the offices of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Secretary of State for Wales in January 2008.Daniel Hannan. [ MPs can't distinguish right from legal] . "Daily Telegraph". 25 January 2008.] Mick Fealty. [ Blogging's first UK scalp] . 24 January 2008.] Roy Greenslade. [ Has Guido got UK blogging's first scalp?] . "Guardian Unlimited". 24 January 2008.]

Staines acquired an interest in politics as a libertarian in the 1980s and promoted acid house parties in the early 1990s. He then spent several years in finance, which, along with his stake in the MessageSpace blog advertising network, provides him with the means to dedicate time to his blog, which he started in September 2004.cite web
title=Hain Lets Out the Secret - Ssshhhhh
publisher= [ Guido Fawkes' blog]

Education and personal life

Staines was born in Ealing on February 11, 1967 and raised a Catholic, attending a Catholic school in the Harrow area. [ So London ] ] cite book
last=Collin | first=Matthew | coauthors=Godfrey, John
title=Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House
year=1998 | edition=2nd edition | publisher=Serpent's Tail | location=London
—Staines features in this book written by Collin, the ex-editor of UK trend bible i-D magazine.] He lives in Ireland [ [ My Life in Media: Guido Fawkes - Media, News - ] ] and is a member of the Irish Progressive Democrats cite web
title=Hung Parliament : LDs Should Learn from the PDs
publisher= [ Guido Fawkes' blog]
] He holds Irish citizenship. As a young man he was a member of the Social Democratic Party sitting on the national executive of their youth wing,cite web
publisher= [ Guido Fawkes' blog]
] and the Conservative Party [ Hughes : It's a Straight Serious Choice] ]


Staines is a right-wing libertarian who described in a 2000 publication [ C:userSEANWRITINGSLIBERALLAFREELIFEfreelife.037fl37.wp8 ] ] how he became a libertarian in 1980 after reading Karl Popper's "The Open Society and its Enemies", from Plato To Marx. He joined the Young Conservatives whilst at Humberside College of Higher Education "because they were the only people around who were anti-Socialist or at least anti-Soviet", and at this time began calling himself Delaire-Staines, the name shortened by his father to Staines in the 1960s. Having joined the Federation of Conservative Students, he described his politics as "Thatcher on drugs". He relates that at university he was a "right-wing pain in the butt who was more interested in student politics than essays", who went on "to work in the various right-wing pressure groups and think tanks that proliferated in the late eighties". He admitted that his uncompromising attitude towards libertarianism had been harsh and off-putting, but that it was "time for a more effective, kinder, gentler kind of Libertarianism".

He has been active in the Libertarian Alliance. He was pictured at the 1987 Libertarian Alliance conference with a t-shirt supporting UNITA, produced by his Popular Propaganda enterprise (while at university), which produced posters and t-shirts. [ Libertarian Alliance ] ]

Staines worked as 'foreign policy analyst' for the Committee for a Free Britain, a right-wing Conservative pressure group, alongside David Hart. Staines acted as editor of 'British Briefing' a long-standing publication by the group that was a "monthly intelligence analysis of the activities of the extreme left" that sought to "smear Labour MPs and left-leaning lawyers and writers".

Staines relates of his work with the Committee:

"I was lobbying at the Council of Europe and at Parliament; I was over in Washington, in Jo'burg, in South America. It was 'let's get guns for the Contras', that sort of stuff. I was enjoying it immensely, I got to go with these guys and fire off AK-47s. I always like to go where the action is, and for that period in the Reagan/Thatcher days, it was great fun, it was all expenses paid and I got to see the world. I used to think that World Briefing was a bit funny. The only scary thing about those publications was the mailing list - people like George Bush - and the fact that Hart would talk to the head of British Intelligence for an hour. I used to think it was us having a laugh, putting some loony right-wing sell in, and that somebody somewhere was taking it seriously. You've got to understand that we had a sense of humour about this."

In 1989, Staines published a book, "In the Grip of the Sandinistas: Human Rights in Nicaragua 1979-1989", under the auspices of the International Society for Human Rights (of which he was UK secretary-general), analysing Marxist rule in Nicaragua from 1979 to 1989. He was then editor of 'Human Rights Briefing'.

Staines's credibility, he says, was damaged by his increasing enthusiasm for drugs and raves. "One minute l would be on News at One saying 'there's no drugs at these parties' and the next minute I'm supposed to be talking about civil war in Angola. It wasn't working."

He founded the Global Growth Org NGO [] ] , a campaigning group for free trade for the third world. Campaigns included support for microcredit, as well as a pharmaceutical campaign to "promote the tariff-free trading of drugs in the developing world, secondly defend the re-importation and parallel trading of pharmaceuticals in the rich industrialised nations. Thirdly, to lobby legislators for patient-friendly duration limit". The site shows limited activity in recent month, with its last Hot Sheet published in March 2005, and last blog entry in June 2006.

Acid house

Staines was an organiser of raves and Acid House in the late 1980s and early 1990s working as PR officer for Sunrise, which had been formed by Tony Colston-Hayter and David Roberts. Sunrise organised large-scale dance raves organised as private parties to avoid legal issue by positioning raves as private-member clubs, outside of police control. [ Amazon Online Reader : Generation Ecstasy : Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture ] ]

Faced with opposition from the Conservative government, and a Private Members Bill to clamp down on unlicensed parties, Staines, alongside Tony Colston-Hayter, established the 'Freedom to Party Campaign' at the Conservative Party conference in October 1989. Although the campaign had little impact, with a first rally in Trafalgar Square attracting 4000, and a second only 10000, Staines was still occasionally active in his role as director of the campaign, arguing in 1995 that that individuals should have the right to have occasional noisy parties at home. [ Letter: Spare us the party police | Independent, The (London) | Find Articles at ] ]

Staines later described, in a Libertarian Alliance publication, the actions of police, using surveillance to clamp down on acid parties, as "truly a regime of which Stalin or Hitler himself would be proud, implementing socialist policies to protect the citizens from their own moral weakness", an action that "happened, not under a Communist regime, but under an increasingly authoritarian Conservative government". He described those opposed to rave parties as "the Lifestyle Police ... the conservative, intolerant bigots who demand uniformity ... supported by comfortable suburbia and the reactionary readers of the "Daily Express". For them different means dangerous. They truly believe that they represent decent values when in fact they have narrow intolerant values." [ Acid House Parties Against the Lifestyle Police and the Safety Nazis ] ]

Staines says an explanation he related at the 1989 Conservative conference that Acid House was not named after the drug, but for a Chicago term referring to theft of music, was believed by numerous gullible journalists and MPs, to give a false impression that the music was not drug-related.

Staines offered an enthusiastic endorsement of rave drugs relating how "I have fond memories of taking LSD and pure MDMA, trance-dancing and thinking that I had turned into a psychedelic, orgiastic wisp of smoke - it was the most staggeringly enjoyable, mind-warping experience I have ever had. The sense of self liberation was awesome and is to be recommended.", adding "A lot of my Thatcherite/Libertarian friends get very suspicious when I tell them about the love and peace aspects of taking Ecstasy. To them love and peace equals hippies equals leftist. The feeling of unity and shared enjoyment to them smacks of collectivism, not the rugged individualism that they favour. But the drug actually removes inhibitions, liberating your mind." "You feel a sense of solidarity, but it is totally voluntary, there is no coercion. Libertarians are opposed to coercive collectivism, but if I as an individual choose to enjoy a collective experience because I want to, than that is up to me. I suspect that a lot of rightwingers, Conservative, Thatcherite or Libertarian, cling to their inhibitions and are actually afraid of letting go." He concluded "uptight Conservatives are probably the people who would benefit most from taking drugs, particularly Thatcherites, with their machine-like obsession with efficiency and abstract attachment to the freedom to make money. I'm as much of a believer in Capitalism as the most earnest of Young Conservatives, but couldn't we put acid in the punch at the YC ball and then really have a party?"


Guido Fawkes blog

In September 2004, Staines began writing anonymously about politicians of the United Kingdom parliament, under the name of Guido Fawkes, an alternative name of Guy Fawkes, one of the group that plotted to blow up Westminster Palace in 1605.cite web
title=Guido Fawkes | work=Blogger
] In February 2005, the online version of "The Guardian" reported that Fawkes' blog shared a fax number with Staines.cite news
title=Who you gonna call?
work = Guardian Unlimited
date = 2005-02-02
] Although he subsequently refused to confirm the links, further media coverage continued to name Staines as Fawkes until the airing of a BBC Radio 4 documentary [ [ BBC - Radio 4 - Profile - 10 February 2007 ] ] on him on 10 February 2007, which gave a fairly comprehensive history and background, and prompted his blog post "So Much For Anonymity". []

In 2005, Staines's blog was voted the best in the Political Commentary category of The Backbencher Political Weblog Awards, run by "The Guardian".cite web
title=The Backbencher Political Weblog Awards: Help choose the winning blogs
work=Guardian Unlimited
] In May 2006, Staines (as Guido Fawkes) co-authored a book with Iain Dale about instances of sleaze from the Labour Party since taking office in 1997.cite book
first=Iain | last=Dale | coauthors=Fawkes, Guido | year=2006
title=The Little Red Book of New Labour Sleaze
publisher=Politico's Media | location= | isbn=1-904734-16-2

In April 2006, Staines was one of numerous bloggers subject to an injunction [ Murdoch on warpath | Independent on Sunday, The | Find Articles at ] ] from News International for publishing a picture of undercover journalist Mazher Mahmood. Staines agreed to publish cite web
title=Sheikh It Up Baby
publisher= [ Guido Fawkes' blog]
] the photo if 10 other bloggers would do so. [] ] The picture remained on Staines's site, and subsequently following legal action from George Galloway MP, the photo was released into the public domain.

Staines reported the allegation that John Prescott was having an extramarital affair with an MP, and named the woman in question, saying that such rumours had long been shared among Westminster journalists, but that he was being less hypocritical and breaking the clique by refusing to cover up such stories. [ [ Press Gazette - Fawkes plots to blow up 'cosy' political reporting ] ] The coverage of the Prescott affair drew considerable extra traffic to Staines's blog. [ Hitwise Intelligence - Heather Hopkins - UK: Guido Fawkes - Fair and Balanced ] ]

He was named at number 36 in the "Top 50 newsmakers of 2006" in "The Independent", [ The top 50 newsmakers of 2006 - Media, News - ] ] for his blog, and his role in the Prescott scandal in particular.

Staines encourages readers to forward political documents and information, which he publishes on his blog. One such leak was a strategy document for the Peter Hain for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party campaign. This leak caused embarrassment to Hain's campaign, [ Leaked paper threatens to derail Hain's ambitions - icWales ] ] as it included information on MPs who had not gone public with their support, as well as others who were supposed to be independent.

Smith Institute allegations

Staines has made a number of posts on his blog relating to the Smith Institute, a charitable thinktank setup in memory of former Labour leader John Smith, which he alleged to have engaged in party political activities (forbidden under charity law) and links to Gordon Brown. These complaints led on February 1, 2007 to a formal investigation by the Charities Commission. [ Statement on the Charity Commission and the Smith Institute] , Charity Commission website, 1 February 2007] The Commission threatened him with contempt of court proceedings if he did not release any documents, obtained from whistleblowers, relating to political activities by the Smith Institute. [ Political blogger warned he could be jailed] , Christopher Hope, "The Daily Telegraph" 16 February 2007] Staines has stated on his blog cite web
title=Sith's Allies Fightback
publisher= [ Guido Fawkes' blog]
] that he intends to protect his anonymous sources.


Staines on his blog says that he has on several occasions been invited onto BBC "Newsnight", but has always refused. However on 28 March 2007, he appeared on the programme, saying he could not refuse the offer of "his own production team, a free hand with the script and five minutes of prime time to do whatever he wanted." Staines's face was deliberately not shown on the programme, [ BBC News Player - Politics blogger accuses media ] ] in which he accused journalists of being too scared of politicians refusing to do interviews to question them in a properly vigorous manner. In support of his claims, Sky News said they had no access to David Cameron for up to a month after he became upset by particular questions from a Sky News interviewer.

Staines in the programme interviewed Nick Robinson and Jeremy Paxman, saying that the requirements under the Broadcasting Act to be impartial did not mean that the BBC should have to provide the impartiality itself - when the government refuses to provide a spokesman, instead of reading the prepared statement, they should just leave an empty chair.

Paxman said Staines was "talking bollocks" and that his claims were "ridiculous conspiracy theories". Nick Robinson responded on his own blog saying journalists need to build working relationships with their subjects, but this does not stop him asking the questions that need to be asked. [ [ BBC NEWS | Nick Robinson's Newslog ] ]

Staines also featured in a live debate on the show with Jeremy Paxman and Michael White, Assistant Editor and former Political Editor of "The Guardian", who Staines had referred to on his blog as "Sir Michael White", implying that he was a Labour establishment toady unwilling to provide adequate scrutiny of John Prescott.

Staines appeared in shadow under his pseudonym Guido Fawkes, because he said he wanted to be able to talk to politicians and journalists without them realising who it was, a strategy that backfired when White immediately referred to him by his real identity and said Staines had been pointed out to him as the author of the Guido Fawkes blog at an event both had attended.

Of the live debate, Staines said it "was definitely a mistake." He also said appearing in shadow was the idea of the "Newsnight" editor,cite web
title=Guido Regrets
publisher= [ Guido Fawkes' blog]
] although according to a Newsnight Assistant Editor it was upon Staines's insistence that his identity was disguised. [ [ BBC NEWS | The Editors ] ]

Staines subsequently also appeared on Newsnight on January 24, 2008, to celebrate his role in the resignation of Peter Hain, by this time no longer anonymous, or in shadow. This time, although his appearance was trailed throughout the programme, he was last item, a brief three-way discussion with Independent journalist Steve Richards and presenter Kirsty Wark. Staines did not say as much as the other two participants and made little impression on the show.

Criticism of the Guido Fawkes blog

Staines has been criticised for his approach to blogging. He has often criticised the media, and the BBC in particular, for being too cosy with the political establishment and for keeping internal secrets about political scandals. He said of allegations about John Prescott that "You can tell it is a big story because Nick Robinson is ignoring it". Robinson responded, [ BBC NEWS | Nick Robinson's Newslog ] ] accusing Staines of having a political agenda to damage the government and reporting unsubstantiated and unverifiable allegations.

These criticisms were echoed by Peter Wilby, in "New Statesman", who suggested that Staines's claims to have made the news on Prescott were unfounded, as the story had previously been covered in "The Times", and that Staines's contribution to the debate was persistent implications of scandal without supporting evidence. [ New Statesman - The internet or something ] ]

Colin Brown, in response to criticisms from Staines that the media is too cosy with politicians said "We would love to go into print with things that we hear and believe to be true, but cannot prove, but the libel laws are such that we cannot put things into newspapers that he [Guido Fawkes] seems to think that he can get away with on the internet. They don't seem to run by the same rules". [ Press Gazette - Fawkes plots to blow up 'cosy' political reporting ] ]

Staines responded, claiming that he is much more vulnerable to libel suits than the print media is, as an individual he does not have a large company backing him, although he says the fact that his blog his published through an offshore company, Global and General Nominees, a Nevis-registered firm offers some protection, as plaintiffs are required to deposit $25,000 in court before commencing any action in Nevis.cite web
title=So Rosie, Where is Guido's Writ?
publisher= [ Guido Fawkes' blog]
] In fact under UK libel law, the author, editor, and publisher of libellous claims are all libellers; however, Staines's personal assets are offshore, and he is himself based in Ireland, making him "a libel lawyer’s worst nightmare".

In the Newsnight debate with Staines, Michael White said: “You see a naive conspiratorial view of the political process and of politicians which says in effect they’re all crooks, and they all ought to be in jail, and we will fearlessly expose them on the blogsphere. And it isn’t like that.”

He added: “You can be pretty cavalier with the facts sometimes. Much of the blog, for people who don’t know it, this week is devoted to whether or not Gordon Brown picked his nose in, was it the budget or some other recent event? That’s been your top item.”

During the Newsnight interview with Michael White, Staines appeared to reveal Robinson, a long-term political associate, who served as an arch-Thactherite National Chairman of The Young Conservatives as 1986-1987 as one of his anonymous sources, something Staines later attempted to clarify, claiming that Robinson had never been one of his sources.

Robinson also felt the need to respond on his blog, saying “For the record, if I have stories I broadcast them and don't give them to bloggers. If I ever had thoughts of doing anything else they were removed by Guido's performance last night which demonstrated an utterly cavalier attitude to facts.” [ BBC NEWS | Nick Robinson's Newslog ] ]

Various blogs in January 2008 claimed Staines was an employee of the Conservative Party, due to a 'Guido Fawkes' email which was apparently sent from a Conservative Party email server. [ Who is Guido working for? : January 2008 : Three Line Whip : Politics : Telegraph Blogs ] ] It was subsequently revealed that this was simply because Staines had distributed the email via the Conservative Party's lobby email list, which automatically attaches the text of a standard party confidentiality disclaimer when forwarding messages on to subscribers. [ Guido news update : January 2008 : Three Line Whip : Politics : Telegraph Blogs ] ]

Conventions and traditions of the blog

A number of conventions and idiosyncratic traditions have developed over the years, which may baffle new readers of the blog.

Every Friday a caption contest is run usually featuring an amusing political photograph. The caption contest is one of the most popular features of the blog and usually results in a large number of entries in the comments (sometimes over 100). Often the caption comments are vicious and abusive. The vague prospect of a T-shirt as a prize for the best wit has been mentioned in the past. A T-shirt is never awarded. When challenged Guido always says the entries were "crap". New readers argue about who should be awarded the T-shirt in the comments to no avail.

The blog allows anonymous comments; if Guido replies to an anonymous comment he addresses his retort invariably to "anonymong", a term that has gained currency with other bloggers despite the pejorative and politically incorrect connotations.

An almost certainly apocryphal story which has legendary status in the comments section of the blog is said to involve Gordon Brown, a rocking horse and a nappy. The story is frequently referenced, despite the absence of any evidence of its truth. Because of the blog's popularity, the rocking horse story achieved good Google search engine rankings. Staines himself has not endorsed the story.cite web
title=Dave Doesn't Mention Rocking Horse
publisher= [ Guido Fawkes' blog]

Tottywatchcite web
title=totty watch
publisher= [ Guido Fawkes' blog]
] is an irregular feature that comprises pictures of attendees at political events. Although the pictures are of both men and women, the majority are of younger, attractive women. The comments section invariably discusses their merits in the crudest terms. Staines began Tottywatch after an exchange with Ros Taylor of the Guardian about her political hot totty feature in the Backbencher column. She denied it was sexist on the grounds that it featured both men and women. In response Staines began producing occasional "Tottywatch" pieces often using pictures taken with a phone camera. The Guardian's "Polly C Wonk" [,,1988333,00.html Polly C Wonk: the secret diary of a thinktank insider | Backbench | Guardian Unlimited Politics ] ] , a satirical character who is not a product of the imagination of Ros Taylor, featured a "Givea Fawk" character who was "muttering something about birds and brains while fumbling with a digital camera under the table." The ongoing enmity between Ros Taylor and Staines stems from her being the first to publicly identifyGuido Fawkes as probably being Paul Staines. In return the Guido Fawkes blog has frequently derided her writing.

Staines' wife is referred to as Mrs Fawkes and his daughter as Miss Fawkes.

Every Monday the column runs a Monday Morning Point of View cartoon by "Rich&Mark", cartoonist Rich Johnston, archived at the [ RichAndMark] website.

Global and General Nominees and MessageSpace

Global and General Nominees, a firm registered in Nevis on July 27, 2005 publishes Guido Fawkes' blog.cite web
title=Fake Sheikh Shit
publisher= [ Guido Fawkes' blog]

The same firm is majority shareholder in MessageSpace, a blog advertising network that sells advertising space on many British political blogs, including, Iain Dale, ConservativeHome, Labourhome, and Recess Monkey. [ [ :: Political bloggers launch ad initiative ] ]

MessageSpace is registered as a limited company in the UK, EOS Online Media Limited; the majority shareholder, Global and General Nominees, is according to a company statement "advised by Paul Staines of EOS Teo based in Ireland". [cite web|url=|title=About Us|publisher=The MessageSpace Blog|accessdate=2008-09-16] , EOS Teo, or , [ Emerald Offshore Services Teoranta Ltd. Ireland] , a company registered in Gibletstown, Duncormick in County Wexford has as its directors Terril Staines and Mary Staines. [ [] Companies Registration Office, Ireland. €3.50 payment required for directors' details]

There has recently been some controversy in the blogging community over the revelation that Staines is a former bankrupt [LondonGazette |issue=57079 |date= 2003-10-09|startpage=12536 |accessdate=2008-09-16 ] and his recent conviction for drink-driving [cite news|url=|title=Blogger 'Guido Fawkes' is led off to the Tower|last=Duff|first=Oliver|date=2008-04-30|publisher=The Independent|accessdate=2008-09-16] .

EOS Teoranta is the registered Company Secretary for EOS Online Media. Paul Staines is one of three contacts for the company with Kelly Nightingale as the company's Managing Director and Jag Singh listed as the CIO responsible for strategy and technology. Alex Hilton, a co-founder and former Managing Director, founded the light-hearted Labour-leaning blog site Recess Monkey, and, shortly before MessageSpace's establishment, Singh and Hilton established Labourhome. Hilton has also been a Labour Party candidate and, in the past, local councillor.


Further reading

* [ Guido Fawkes' blog of plots, rumours & conspiracy] – Staines's blog
*—Staines features in this book written by Collin, the ex-editor of UK trend bible i-D magazine.
* Citation
last= Staines
first= Paul
year= 1991
place=Libertarian Alliance, 25 Chapter Chambers, Esterbrooke Street, London SW1P 4NN
publisher=Libertarian Alliance
id=ISSN 0267-7059
Article on acid parties by Paul Staines
* [ So London] - Why Guido is Blair's true legacy.
* [,null,209 RTÉ Radio 1] - Guido Fawkes - World Report with Brian O'Connell (Audio, Real Player format)

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