By Graham Phillips
A few days ago, I announced an event to be held in London, a charity event to raise funds for Donbass/ Novorossiya. After a hate campaign, online, calling the establishment with threats etc, by pro-Ukraine supporters, the venue due to be hosting the event cancelled due to security concerns.
Subsequent to this, I was contacted on Facebook by a friendly man, named Piers Mellor, offering advice on finding an alternate venue. I met Piers again today, at a nice little pro-Donbass/Novorossiya gathering in London. Even this small gathering had taken place against the backdrop of threats from the pro-Ukraine side.
In the event, they didn’t materialise, everything passed off nicely, calmly, and I tweeted about it upon return. What happened next chiefly concerns Piers Mellor, pictured, the bald man with the ‘UK Stop Supplying Weapons to Ukraine’ placard –
And Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat, tweeting about me for several hours while keeping me at the disadvantage of having me blocked, due to an earlier disagreement, meaning I was unable to reply –
Now Bellingcat are an agency perhaps best known for having, through incompetence or design, passed on, passed off, incorrect MH17 information – this on the MH17 Bellingcat piece written by Daniel Romein –
Checking on timeanddate.com using the visible time stamp also comes out as 19:23, not 18:23 as claimed. This is an error that is repeated in the Bellingcat report and indicates there were no internal checks at Bellingcat.
It continues –
The basic flaws in the Romein piece are
- No provenance for the image files
- Basic checks on authenticity not performed
- Unjustified assumptions made from the checks they did do
- Writing on areas completely outside their expertise – weather conditions, rocketry, satellite image interpretation, image forensics
- Failure to use publically available data to verify the images
- Failure to release image data to support their claims
- Failure to have effective internal checks before publication
This analysis will show that the skills and methodology of the ‘Bellingcat Team’ fall way below any accepted standard, and in the process they may have caused destruction of evidence.
Bellingcat was started on 15th July 2014, funded by a Kickstarter campaign, just 2 days before the MH17 tragedy by Higgins, formerly known as Brown Moses, has a long track record for selling his ‘citizen journalist reports‘ to anyone willing to pay. Who exactly pays is something Higgins has always been tight-lipped about, from 2013 he received a’£5,000 donation, which he says is from an anonymous source‘. Back when he called himself Brown Moses, Eliot, from South Wigston, near Leicester, the United Kingdom, was advertising what £250 could buy –
– The £100 reward, and a video blog dedicated to you, or an individual/organisation of your choice, with a 10 second dedication at the start and end of the video. Also, a note of personal thanks sent from me to you, as well as inclusion on the page of thanks. I reserve the right to exclude offensive organisations or individuals.
That ‘Diamond Moses’ well below the £1000 ‘Ultimate Moses’, how much Higgins can be ‘bought’, the subject of the argument between us which led to his blocking me back in January. That heated argument resulted from myself, who was in Mariupol on May 9th, reacting to the whitewashing report of Eliot’s Bellingcat by accusing that such a report, an ‘altered reality’ could only have been written at the behest of a paymaster with a vested interest. Higgins was unable to offer an alternative explanation to my satisfaction, blocked me, then tweeted –
Here’s the article that sent Graham Phillips crazy – A Reconstruction of Clashes in Mariupol, Ukraine, 9 May 2014 https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2015/01/28/a-reconstruction-of-clashes-in-mariupol-ukraine-9-may-2014/ …
Back in 2013, before the war in Donbass, Eliot was covering the war in Syria, despite neither speaking the language, or ever having been there, as is the case with Ukraine/Donbass. He covered Syria, and covers Donbass as a ‘citizen blogger’, analysing video evidence, despite admitting to having no expertise in the sphere – ‘before the Arab spring I knew no more about weapons that the average Xbox owner. I had no knowledge beyond what I’d learned from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rambo’. In 2013, pre-Bellingcat, Higgins, who dropped out of a media studies course at university before being employed as a finance and admin worker prior to his being made redundant, would try to sell his findings on. As this leaked conversation with one Matthew VanDyke (of whom more later), from 2013, shows, Higgins was always touting for work –
‘I’m trying to get some full time employment with a NGO, currently I’m doing part time work for HRW on cluster munitions’
In this conversation, Higgins refers to an invitation from a ‘counter terrorism’ company which may lead to a job, with a company named Allen Vanguard. In our Twitter conversation, Higgins stated – yes, they offered me the job as an analyst but said I had to give up the blog, so I said no. I’ve spoken about it in interviews – however, when pressed on facts, Higgins is evasive, quick to take recourse in abuse – (from tweet dialogue, March 15th) –
you’re awfully slow, as I said I didn’t accept their job offer, can I make it any simpler for you?
even spoke about it in my New Yorker interview, so much for research, eh Graham? t.co/zOriburNI9
those are two unrelated events, I never worked for Allen Vanguard as I said. Not very good journalism, Graham, must try harder
and – you do realise not everyone believes everything they are told without doing some fact checking first?
A pertinent point raised by Higgins, especially in light of his earlier tweets today, which came after pictures of Piers Mellor circulated, then pro-Ukrainians sent them onto Eliot on Twitter, accusing Mellor of being ‘far right’, ‘neo-Nazi’ etc.
Turns out one of @GrahamWP_UK fellow attendees at today’s Donbass protest is the far right’s Pier Mellor, oops
Eliot, warming to the theme, went on to post numerous tweets in this vein, taking delight (as many on the pro-Ukraine side did) in my own opposition to the neo-Nazism of the Ukrainian forces and now apparent consorting with a ‘neo-Nazi’ at a meeting in support of Donbass, in the UK –
I wonder if Mellor (pictured below) nodded politely when @GrahamWP_UK told him about those awful Ukrainian fascists?
An article extensively circulated in the debate, referenced (retweeted) by Higgins, on a site called ‘Hope Not Hate’, under the title ‘The nazi law man‘ , from October 2014, referenced Mellor’s alleged numerous ‘nazi’ connections, it must be said without listing references, links, just 2 photos of Mellor – one with Der Stürmer – a Greek band with Nazi ideology, another with controversial Holocaust ‘revisionist’ David Irving.
So, what’s the real story with Piers Mellor? To give you the basics before politics on him – almost 36, from Perth, Western Australia, in London since 2008, Business Development Manager for a law firm. Piers and myself chatted in person for a few minutes about general subjects at the good-natured demo, then parted ways. He seemed a perfectly nice, polite man, said or did nothing untoward. Of course, I was surprised to read these things about him, so via Facebook, I brought the matter to his attention, asked for his side of the story –
GP – what’s the deal here?
PM – Basically it’s due to the fact I once organized a black metal concert (in 2012) with a Greek band linked to Golden Dawn (far-right / neo-Nazi Greek party).
GP – what about all this linking of you to far-right groups?
PM – The thing is, I’ve never actually been a member of any of the groups they mention in that article.
i need to issue some sort of statement on it
but not get bogged down in it
David Irving etc
OK, the photo of me with the Greeks is from that concert I mentioned, the pic with Irving is from a talk he held. He is an important historian of the WWII, to call him a “holocaust denier” is not accurate.
He doesn’t deny that mass murder of Jews etc took place.
GP – and your links to far-right groups in the UK?
PM – I’ve never been a member of the EDL, I was involved with the BNP circa 6 years ago.
Since then my views have changed on many subjects.
GP – when was the last time you went to a far-right demo?
PM – Thing is I was never a member of any of the groups mentioned on HnH, I admittedly was a member of the BNP but never stood as a candidate or anything.
GP – are you a member of any groups now?
PM – No I’m not a member of anything now.
GP – and last time you went to a far-right demo?
position on fascism?
PM – Tbh I went to a demo connected to Golden Dawn year before last, it was just because of some people I knew who were organizing though. I think fascism died in 1945 and today sits in the dustbin of history along with other statist ideologies!
GP – why do you support Novorossiya?
PM – I support Novorossiya as I think they are at the forefront of the struggle against the US-led, globalized world order. I also have strong personal sympathies for Russia, I train in Russian martial art Systema for some years, also my long term ex-girlfriend is a Russian from Estonia.
GP – the story behind this photo?
PM – That’s a Saxon fylfot! It’s not a swastika! We actually got pelted with missiles that day by EDL members! I’m a practitioner of Norse pagan religion hence the fylfot symbol.
Well I think it’s to be expected when you take a stand against the New World Order – they try to cut you however they can.
GP – how have your views changed?
what changed them?
PM – Well, I got disillusioned with the far-right movement partially because so many people involved were the total opposite of the ideals they claimed to represent.
Well, my views are that no part of one’s life is wholly positive or negative. It’s all part of a learning curve.
GP – are you into football?
PM – Yes mate I follow Chelsea.
GP – are you a football hooligan or so btw?
what is your football participation?
PM – I have had those connections in the past, not today.
GP – what about your being at a White Power event? (speculation online had linked Mellor to this)
PM – “White power event”, meaning the Steadfast thing? It wasn’t in any way a “white power event”… we were all having a laugh remembering things we were involved with back in the day. Some reporter covered it as if we were a bunch of extremists on the verge of bringing down the government.
GP – your support for Golden Dawn?
PM – I supported them because I believed they are a party that stands for ordinary Greek people against the international bankers and EU-bureaucrats.
Golden Dawn have always opposed Pravy Sektor and supported Novorossiya since these things started, BTW.
GP – btw, has Eliot Higgins contacted you today?
PM – No he hasn’t. Who is he, btw?
Higgins was not only aware of Mellor, but aware of his actual Facebook account – tweeting that I had ‘friended’ Mellor –
Higgins, on Facebook himself, made no effort to contact Mellor, no effort to ask his side of the story. I friended Mellor specifically for that purpose, to ask his side of the story. Any proper journalist should do that, get both sides, yet Higgins has never really hidden his taking sides, his ‘Facebook friends, like you are with Piers Mellor‘ refers to his own friendship with Matthew VanDyke, an American sometime journalist most noted for becoming a combatant in the Libyan civil war, then openly assisting in the Syrian uprising against Bashar-al-Assad in 2012. In leaked dialogue, VanDyke infamously asserted that it would be acceptable for the rebels to kill children, if it led to US intervention.
It’s clear they were much more than ‘Facebook friends’ from the matey exchanges between the two, as they discuss variously getting work (the two actually have a ‘mutual donor – one Anthony Salvo), and the most notorious incident, where Higgins agrees to suppress information that the rebels had chemical weapons, were behind chemical weapon attacks on Aleppo which had killed civilians. Higgins, working for HRW, continued to maintain it was the Syrian government, despite being aware of this. When pressed on this in our Twitter conversation, Higgins was evasive –
as I said, it was an off the record claim with no evidence when other incorrect claims were being made on CW regularly
Graham, I know this must seem all new and exciting to you, but this has been well covered by other nuts & conspiracy theorists
Higgins, who went so far as to post a photo of Mellor’s bookshelf, then launched into an attack on myself, repeatedly asking me to ‘@GrahamWP_UK do you reject the far right political views of your new friend Piers Mellor?’
I didn’t answer these, because I wanted to speak to Piers to confirm just what those views are. To ask for his side, something Eliot never did. I’m a person, journalist, opposed to far-right politics, extremism, neo-Nazism, on every level. I believe politics must be defined by intelligence, tolerance, respect.
To accuse someone of being ‘far right’, a ‘neo-Nazi’, extremely serious allegations, without adequate verification is unprofessional, sloppy, shoddy work. The photos of Piers don’t look good, but there’s a story behind every photo worth asking, even essential to ask, if you’re a professional journalist.
I would say Piers has made some poor decisions in the company he keeps, the banners he has been photographed with, certain of his previous choices, affiliations. Yet the story, his story, is clearly far more complex than the simplistic, sloganistic branding of him as ‘far right’, ‘neo-Nazi’ etc.
I don’t support the choices Piers made before I met him, but do support the choice he has made in getting involved with the Donbass/Novorossiya movement, giving his time, effort, as a volunteer, to bring attention to the plight of civilians in that war-torn area.
He has expressed to me, as above, the severing of ties with the far-right, the changing of his views to come round to his current position, where he now stands against the multiple far-right, neo-Nazi groups on the Ukrainian side, even the widely pro-Ukraine Daily Telegraph has written of that.
There was something very interesting about the Ukrainian reaction, the way they seized on this story, as Ukrainian journalist Mikhail Golub tweeted ‘bald propagandist @GrahamWP_UK arranges a meeting in Britain of local fascists‘.
In this glee, an admission on the Ukrainian side of the ‘fascist’ elements on their own side, a desire for decisive deflection. I’ve covered the Ukraine side for over a year, interviewed Ukrainian soldiers, interviewed civilians who described Ukrainian soldiers with swastikas, challenged Ukrainian soldiers on far-right views.
Higgins hasn’t done any of this. He’s sat at home writing what he’s been paid to write by sources he refuses to reveal. Recently, on Bellingcat, as well as any number of ‘the Russians did it’ MH17 articles, that exoneration of Ukrainian soldiers for their part in events in Mariupol on May 9th, 2014, where the far-right Azov Battalion entered the city, opened fire on unarmed civilians. In the words of Higgins’ Bellingcat, they were ‘restrained’.
But, why, with his supposed desire to work ‘16 hours a day‘ did Higgins spend so much time picking on Mellor? To have a go at myself, a vocal opponent of his, and Bellingcat. But in doing so, in writing this, more on Eliot Higgins, and Bellingcat, was illuminated than I could ever have asked for –
– he suppresses information for money (the Syrian rebels chemical weapons information wouldn’t have fitted with the position of Higgins’ employer HRW, so he sat on it)
– he takes sides (close friends with Matthew VanDyke, who never even pretended not to take sides)
– he doesn’t do research (shoddy MH17 allegations, and in this case of Mellor, with access to him on Facebook just as I, didn’t even contact the man before launching an online smear campaign)
– he doesn’t cover both sides of the story (you could actually cite any Bellingcat article for this, but let’s just take Mellor, clearly a man with a problematic past, but one much more complicated than the one side Higgins spent all evening thrusting)
– he shuts up when he’s got no answer –
My question in return @EliotHiggins – did you try to speak to Piers to establish the background, story behind these photos?
If not @EliotHiggins then is it standard practice of yours not to do any research / ask the subject, before making allegations?
Or @EliotHiggins – did you take a few photos sent to you by people with clear bias, and do no research or investigation at all?
And then @EliotHiggins launch an attack on a man, to attack me, without properly verifying or supporting your claims?
From an answer from Higgins every couple of minutes, to a now 4.5 hour wait –
A proper journalist, or even blogger, always researches, covers both sides of a story. A decent human being gives a person the right to reply before attacking them. Eliot Higgins is neither. He’s a paid liar-for-hire. A falsifier. A coward hiding behind a keyboard who abandons even that when confronted with inconvenient questions.