Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Does Duns Hate Women?

It is probably not a surprise that Jeremy Duns and his little club of right-wing thriller writers have accused me of being a man.

Duns has stated clearly that I am Steve Roach.

I guess in his public school/spy circles, a women's place is in the kitchen, or the bedroom. It obviously has not occured to him that a mere women might be capable of having a debate, and even questioning a man on points of principle.

There is something very creepy about the attacks you have made on me. I have raised a legitimate issue about whether it was ethical or legal to record a telephone conversation with Steve Roach without asking his permission. You are perfectly entitled to argue that it is. I disagree. But it should be possible to have a civilised debate about that without stooping to personal abuse.

You - and your supporters - have threatened me with legal action, and you have yourself stated that you have been making enquiries about where I live. Surely you can understand that for a group of men who boast about their connections to the security services to demand the address of a women is in itself designed to be intimidating.

Your follower - Mr Cartright - refers to me as 'Leather's bitch'?

Do you condone that kind of language?

Are you in fact Mr Cartright and is that how you normally refer to women?

Violence against women - like unauthorised surveillance - is a serious problem in our society.

I refer you to this website - which has many of the relevant statistics.

A staggering 43% of young women in London (aged 18-34) experienced sexual harassment in public spaces over the last year.
One in 10 women has been raped, and more than a third subjected to sexual assault according to this research.

It seems to me that insisting that a women is a man when she raises a serious issue and then calling her a 'bitch' (a man's bitch at that) is directly creating a culture in which that happens.

There are serious, important issue, and you should answer them.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Jeremy, Why Did You Change Your Story?

Dear Jeremy,

Judging by your second reply, you seem to be slowly acknowledging the accuracy of what I am saying.

As I said before, it doesn't really matter who I am. I respect your right to raise issues you believe are important to you. But I am entitled to do the same.

What matters is the issue and the strength of the argument on either side.

In one blog post you said you taped the converstation with Steve Roach because you were 'a journalist investigating a crime'.

The you said it was it was because it was for personal use.

It was either one or the other. You have changed your story.

You are right that we are all entitled to record personal calls. By personal, most people mean calls to their mum. Or husband. Or whoever. They don't mean calls which are then extensively written up all over Twitter, the blogs, and then in several newspapers.

It is true that you could have made notes of the conversation and perfectly legally written it up. But you didn't. You taped it. You may think the law on preventing taping of calls is silly. You may well be right in that view. But it happens to be the law.

I happen to think it is important. At the moment, the likes of Vodafone and Barclays don't routinely record all our calls - at least not without asking our permission. But if we allow people like you to do it then they soon will.

So it matters. The surveillance society is encroaching on all of us and we have to make a stand.

At the very least, you could admit you were  wrong to tape the call with Steve Roach.

Incidentally, there is nothing abusive about calling you a right-wing public school man. You are a man (I'm happy to be corrected on this point - but it certainly appears that way). According to this website you went to Horris Hill prep school (current fees £7500 per term). And then to boarding school - not many of those in the state sector! As for right-wing, every article by you I can find is very right-wing. But hey, maybe you just write that kind of stuff for the Torygraph for the money.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

A Reply To Jeremy Duns

Dear Jeremy,

I might have guessed you would just attack me and my credidentials. It is what I would expect of a right-wing, public school male.

It does not matter who I am.

What matters are the questions that I have raised.

The telephone call you taped with Steve Roach was quite clearly not for your personal use. You have written about it extensively on your blog and on Twitter. The call is now quite famous. Therefore it was illegal for you to record it without asking Mr Roach for his permission.

Why do you think that when you call your bank, for example, they sometimes ask you for permission to tape the call? To pass the time of day? No, because it the law.

Next, I was not criticising your credentials as journalist. If you have written more articles than I reffered to, then great. The issue is were you working as a journalist when you taped that call? Had you been commissioned by someone to write about Mr Roach or to investigate him? Had you reasonable suspicion that he had committed a crime

Why do you think you can just tape people's phone calls whenever you want to?

Unauthorised surveillance is important. You need to answer these questions in an honest and thoughtful way - not just with abuse. 

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Jeremy Duns and Steve Roach - Telephone Taping

Dear Jeremy,

My name is Emily James, and I am a human rights lawyer who campaigns against the surveillance society.

I believe your treatment of Steve Roach is outrageous and you should be held to account for it.

The details of the phone conversation are here on your blog

You acknowledge that it is illegal in the UK to tape a phone conversation with a person without their permission. And yet you went ahead and taped Mr Roach and have refused to destroy the tape despite his request to do so.

Your defence of this is: 'I'm a journalist investigating a crime'.

Okay, let's examine that statement.

One, it is an 'investigation'.

I assume that you are investigating Stephen Leather's use of fake identities to write Amazon reviews. But Mr Leather has already admitted this at the Harrogate crime festival. Why does it require telephone taping to prove it further? Moreover, your conversation with Mr Roach was about correcting the terrible and offensive error you made in accusing him of being another person. Why was it necessary to tape him? What were you investigating in this phone call?

Two, you say you are a journalist.

Really? According to, you have written five articles since 2009. The link is here. These are all on the arts pages (and mostly about James Bond). Are you a member of the National Union of Journalists? Do you or have you ever worked for a major news organisation? Has an editor commissioned you to write something about Mr Roach, and if so who are they and which publication? Journalists are given a specific opt-out from the law, but they have to be working for a news organisation, and the telephone call has to be in pursuit of a specific article. Just because you write for the arts pages once or twice a year, you do not have carte blanche to tape phone conversations whenever you feel like it.

Three, you say there is a 'crime'.

As a lawyer I understand the basis for this claim. Vendors are prohibited from posing as consumers. There is a problem here, however. No one has ever been taken to court for writing a fake Amazon review. Therefore, we don't actually know whether it is a crime or not - that is for the court decide (not you). My suspicion is that the problem would be the issue of 'material loss'. The consumer would need to have suffered a loss as a result of the fake reviews. The trouble here is that Amazon offers a full refund on e-books. So even if someone buys a book on the basis of the fake reviews they can simply get their money back if they are unhappy with it. Whilst it may well be unethical to write fake reviews (and I happen to agree with you that it is) I don't believe a court would conclude it was illegal. But that's just my opinion. Likewise, saying it is a 'crime' is just your opinion. Until it comes to court we just don't know.

The important point is this. You are not justified in taping phone conversations over something that may or may not be a crime. It has to be something that we know for certain is a crime.

In conclusion, this call was not part of a legitimate investigation, you were not an accredited journalist working for a publication whilst talking to Mr Roach, and we do not know if what you were discussing was a crime.

Therefore what you have done to Mr Roach may, I believe, be illegal.

I won't say it is. Unlike you I believe people should have a chance to defend themselves, and it is only a court that can decide whether something is illegal or not.

But you should answer these questions. They are important.

I intend to pass these points on to the Director of Public Prosecutions on the grounds that an offence may have been committed. I hope that they decide to follow them up. The spread of telephone taping is insidious and we have to make a stand against it.

I have also put them up on this blog so that they may achieve a wider audience.