Paul Staines

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Paul Staines
Paul Staines.jpg
Staines in 2006
Paul De Laire Staines

(1967-02-11) 11 February 1967 (age 52)
Ealing, London, England
Alma materUniversity of Lincoln
OccupationPolitical blogger
Political partyformerly associated with:
Conservative Party
Social Democratic Party
Progressive Democrats

Paul Delaire Staines[1][2][3] (born 11 February 1967) is an Irish, right-wing[4][5][6] political blogger, who publishes the Guido Fawkes website. His website was described by The Daily Telegraph as "one of Britain's leading political blogsites" in 2007.[7] The Sun on Sunday newspaper published a weekly Guido Fawkes column from 2013 to 2016.[8][9] Born and raised in England, Staines is an Irish citizen.

Staines acquired an interest in politics as a libertarian in the 1980s and did public relations for acid house parties in the early 1990s. He then spent several years in finance, first as a broker then as a trader. In 2001 he sued his fund's financial backer in a commercial dispute.[10] Consequently, Staines declared himself bankrupt in October 2003 after two years of litigation, and legal costs on both sides running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.[11]

In September 2004,[12] Staines began the "Guido Fawkes Blog of plots, rumours and conspiracy". The name is the Spanish name given to Guy Fawkes, and continues that symbolism with the masthead slogan "tittle tattle, gossip and rumours about Westminster's Mother of Parliaments. Written from the perspective of the only man to enter parliament with honest intentions. The intention being to blow it up with gunpowder..."

Early life[edit]

Staines was born in Ealing, London to Irish-born Mary (née Cronin) and Indian-born Terril De Laire Staines.[13][14] Staines's father was a Fabian who went to work for John Lewis because it was a cooperative; he is from Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh; his mother is from a working-class background in Dublin.[15]

Staines grew up in Sudbury, London. Raised a Catholic, he attended Salvatorian College Catholic grammar school in Harrow.[13][14] Subsequently, he read business information studies at the Humberside College of Higher Education (now the University of Lincoln), but did not complete the course. Whilst a student there Staines wrote to an organiser of the British National Party proposing joint "direct action" to disrupt the meetings of leftwing students.[16][17]

As a young man, he was a member of the Social Democratic Party, sitting on the national executive of its youth wing,[18] and the Conservative Party.[19] Whilst studying at college in Hull in the 1980s, he was a member of the Federation of Conservative Students.[20]

In 1981, he won the UK Atari Asteroids video games championship and went on to finish ninth in the world championships held in Washington D.C.[18]

Staines lives in Ireland[21] and was a member of the now defunct Irish political party, the Progressive Democrats.[22]


Staines is a libertarian who described in a 2000 publication[23] how he became a libertarian in 1980 after reading Karl Popper's The Open Society and its Enemies. 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". Having joined the Federation of Conservative Students, he described his politics as "Thatcher on drugs". He relates that at college 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 once said, "I never wore a 'Hang Mandela' badge, but I hung out with people who did ...".[20]

Staines 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 college), which produced posters and T-shirts.[24] 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".[14]

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.[14]

In 1989, Staines published 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 the Sandinistas in Nicaragua from 1979 to 1989. He was then the editor of Human Rights Briefing.

He founded the Global Growth Org website,[25] 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's last Hot Sheet was published in March 2005, and its last blog entry in June 2006.

Staines has said, he is now closer to the Conservatives and UK Independence Party,[15] and is a committed Brexiteer.[20]

Acid house[edit]

Staines was PR officer for the Sunrise collective, an organiser of raves and acid house parties in the late 1980s and early 1990s.[14] Sunrise avoided legal issues by positioning its large-scale dance parties as private-member clubs, outside of police control.[26]

Faced with opposition from the Conservative government, and a Private Members Bill to clamp down on unlicensed parties, Staines, along with 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 4,000, and a second 10,000,[14] Staines was still occasionally active in his role as director of the campaign, arguing in 1995 that individuals should have the right to have occasional noisy parties at home.[27]

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".[citation needed]

Guido Fawkes blog[edit]

In September 2004, Staines began writing an anonymous blog about British politics, under the name of Guido Fawkes, an alternative name of Guy Fawkes, one of the group that plotted to blow up the Palace of Westminster in 1605.[28] In February 2005, the online version of The Guardian reported that the Fawkes blog shared a fax number with Staines.[29] 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[30] about him on 10 February 2007, which gave a fairly comprehensive history and background, and prompted his blog post "So Much For Anonymity".[31]

In 2005, Staines's blog was voted the best in the Political Commentary category of The Backbencher Political Weblog Awards, run by The Guardian. This was an online poll linked to the Guido Fawkes site, and not a poll of Guardian readers specifically.[32] In May 2006, Staines (as Guido Fawkes) co-authored a book with Iain Dale, which was critical of the Labour Party's practices since taking office in 1997.[33]

In April 2006, Staines was one of numerous bloggers subject to an injunction[34] from News International for publishing a picture of undercover journalist Mazher Mahmood. Staines agreed to publish[35] the photo if 10 other bloggers would do so.[36] The picture remained on Staines's site, and subsequently, following legal action from George Galloway, the photo was released into the public domain.[citation needed]

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.[37] The coverage of the Prescott affair drew considerable extra traffic to Staines's blog.[38]

He was named at number 36 in the "Top 50 newsmakers of 2006" in The Independent,[39] for his blog, and his role in the Prescott scandal in particular. In 2011 GQ ranked him and co-author Harry Cole jointly at number 28 in the magazine's list of the 100 Most Influential Men in Britain.[40]

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,[41] as it included information on MPs who had not gone public with their support, as well as others who were supposed to be independent.

Tottywatch[42] is an irregular feature that comprises pictures of attendees at political events often using pictures taken with a phone camera and sometimes featuring "upskirt" shots. Although the pictures are of both men and women, the majority are of attractive young women. The comments section invariably discusses their merits in the crudest and often virulently racist terms.

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

On Monday mornings, the blog features a Monday Morning Point of View cartoon by "Rich&Mark", cartoonist Rich Johnston, archived at the RichAndMark website.[43]

Smith Institute allegations[edit]

Staines has made a number of posts on his blog relating to the Smith Institute, a charitable thinktank set up 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 1 February 2007 to a formal investigation by the Charity Commission.[44] 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.[45] Staines has stated on his blog that he intends to protect his anonymous sources,[46] which has occasioned speculation that no documents or proof of Staines' allegations actually exist.

Peter Hain[edit]

Staines has been credited with being the first blogger to "take the scalp" of a serving British minister, following the resignation for a period of well over a year of Peter Hain from the offices of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Secretary of State for Wales in January 2008.[47][48][49]

Smeargate affair[edit]

Over the weekend of 11–12 April 2009, Staines exposed in his blog that a series of e-mails had been prepared by Damian McBride, a political adviser working at 10 Downing Street, smearing a number of Conservative MPs which had been sent to Derek Draper for consideration for publication on the Red Rag blogsite.[50] This led to the resignation of McBride and expressions of regret to the MPs concerned from the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.[51] Staines provided copies of these emails to the News of the World and The Sunday Times and states that, contrary to the comments of his detractors, he did not receive any payments for this.[52]

His success in the McBride affair has occasioned serious criticism from him of the UK lobby correspondent system, which he believes has succumbed to the ethos of political spin.[53]

Leveson Inquiry[edit]

In late November 2011, Staines posted on his Guido Fawkes blog the Leveson Inquiry pre-submission of former journalist and Labour Party spin-doctor Alastair Campbell. All pre-submissions are given under strict and full confidentiality, and all core participants – including victims, the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service – are also signatories. Staines stated that he had obtained the submission legally. Lord Justice Leveson immediately called him to the inquiry to make a statement under cross-examination.[54]

Staines gave written evidence denying any fault or breach of the Inquiry Act, when at the start of his oral evidence to the Leveson Inquiry Alastair Campbell admitted sending his evidence to "two or three journalists" and some friends, the order for Staines to appear was quietly dropped.[citation needed]

In late December 2011, Staines was invited to give further evidence.[55]

Witness Statements and transcripts[56] of evidence from Paul Staines.

Criticism and controversy[edit]

Staines has been criticised for his approach to blogging. He often criticises the mainstream media, claiming that they are too close to the political establishment and that they also keep internal secrets about political scandals from the public. When allegations about John Prescott's private life appeared, Staines wrote that "You can tell it is a big story because Nick Robinson is ignoring it". Robinson responded via his own blog,[57] accusing Staines of having a political agenda to damage the government.

These criticisms were echoed by Peter Wilby, in the 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.[58]

Colin Brown, in response to criticisms from Staines that the media are 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".[37]

Staines responded, claiming that he is more vulnerable to libel suits than the print media are; as an individual, he does not have a large company backing him, although he says the fact that his blog is published through a Nevis-registered firm offers some protection,[16] as plaintiffs are required to deposit $25,000 in court before commencing any action in Nevis.[59] (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.[60])

In a 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... 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.”

Staines was criticised by Iain Dale and Michael White in September 2010 for publishing rumours about William Hague, alleging that he shared a hotel room with his newly appointed special advisor. Hague confirmed he had shared a hotel room, but denied any "improper relationship".[61][62]

Later in February 2011, at the Leveson Inquiry, Staines revealed he had been paid £20,000 by the News of the World for a picture of Hague's special adviser, Christopher Myers, in a gay bar. The picture was not published by the News of the World.[63]

In 2012 RTÉ broadcast a documentary about Staines, "Our Man in Westminster".[64]

Criminal convictions[edit]

Staines has four alcohol-related convictions [65] including two for drink driving.

In 2002, Staines was banned from driving for 12 months for driving under the influence.[66]

In 2008, Staines was again convicted of driving under the influence, asked in court by District Judge Timothy Stone whether he had an alcohol problem, Staines said: "Possibly." He was banned from driving for three years, as well as being given an 18-month supervision order and wearing an electronic tag for three months.[67][66]

Business interests[edit]

In 2006, Staines along with Jag Singh co-founded MessageSpace, a digital advertising agency which operates an advertising network representing dozens of leading political websites. In 2012 it advised the successful Boris Johnson London mayoral campaign. Private Eye reported in June 2012 that MessageSpace was advising the Russian Embassy in London on using social media.[68]

St Kitts and Nevis-based Global & General Nominees Limited (GGN) publishes the Guido Fawkes Blog. Staines describes himself as an "adviser" to GGN.[69] He is a director of Global & General Nominees (Hong Kong) Limited.


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  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 2 November 2007.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ Paul D. Staines (September 2000). "A Kinder, Gentler, Kind of Libertarianism: Reflections on Two Decades of Libertarianism" (PDF). Free Life. Libertarian Alliance (37): 8. ISSN 0260-5112. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 June 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
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Further reading[edit]

  • Collin, Matthew; Godfrey, John (1998). Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House (2nd ed.). London: Serpent's Tail. ISBN 978-1-85242-604-0.—Staines features in this book written by Collin, the ex-editor of UK trend bible i-D magazine.
  • Staines, Paul (1991). Staines, Paul, ed. ACID HOUSE PARTIES AGAINST THE LIFESTYLE POLICE AND THE SAFETY NAZIS (PDF) (55 ed.). Libertarian Alliance, 25 Chapter Chambers, Esterbrooke Street, London SW1P 4NN: Libertarian Alliance. p. 4. ISSN 0267-7059. Retrieved 19 February 2007. Article on acid parties by Paul Staines
  • RTÉ Radio 1 – Guido Fawkes – World Report with Brian O'Connell (Audio, RealPlayer format)