Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Why Is Howard Jones, Conservative Councillor For Leatherhead North, Picking On Me?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, by far the best way of dealing with trolls is to ignore them. Generally they are looking to provoke a reaction, and if the don't get a reaction they'll eventually get bored and turn their attention elsewhere.

If you get a malicious review, just ignore it. If you get trolled on a forum or a blog, just ignore it. And if a troll vents his spleen on Twitter, just block the person and they won't bother you again.

Some of the best advice on dealing with trolls comes from self-publishing guru Joe Konrath. His mantra is - ignore them. –  ALWAYS GREAT ADVICE FROM JOE KONRATH

The big question, though, is how long you have to ignore a troll before they move on and pick on someone else.   Most trolls give up after a few weeks. A few will persevere for a month or two, especially on Twitter because Twitter makes it so easy for trolls.

But some really don't know when to give up. I've written before about Howard Jones, a man I have never met, never spoken to, and until he Tweeted about me, I'd never heard of.

Out of nowhere, back in March, Howard Jones posted a very strange Tweet. Someone had posted about a character called Mo Ansar being evasive  and Howard Jones then Tweeted ‘Makes Stephen Leather look easy to pin down.’





According to his Twitter profile he was a barrister, politician, historian and cricket lover.

He talks about his dog, Arthur, a lot, and seems to take pride in the fact that he never married the mother of his children.



But I had never heard of him. I'd never spoken to him or about him. I didn't know him and he didn't know me. So why the gratuitous insult?



As I said at the time, I was somewhat concerned, because when a barrister says that you are hard to pin down, it suggests that he has met you and gathered that impression from something you had done. And I was very sure that I had never met Howard Jones, in his professional capacity or indeed in any capacity. My worry was that people might think that he had questioned me in court! 

I didn’t want to send him a public Tweet but then I noticed that he was following my Twitter account.  I was following him and he was following me, and when two people follow each other they can send each other a direct message, a Tweet that only they can see. A private Tweet. So I sent Howard Jones a private Tweet, just for his eyes, saying that I wanted to get in touch with him. I asked him for a number so that I could call him.  Unfortunately, instead of getting in touch as I’d asked, he then fired off four public tweets, for everyone to read.



In the public Tweets he said that I had been putting some time and research into trying to get in touch with him. That’s a bit of an exaggeration as I spent just one minute on Google and one minute on the phone calling his last place of work. Ten seconds to send him a private Tweet.

And he made it seem as if I had been doing something wrong in following him –  completely ignoring the fact that he was following me.  If he hadn’t been following me, I wouldn’t have been able to send him a Direct Message.

But what really worried me was his public comment – “Should I expect grief or do you have to be a fellow writer to get grief?’

I was stunned that a barrister would think it appropriate to ask such a leading question in public.  It’s on a par with the legendary ‘how long have you been beating your wife’ question. I doubt any judge would allow such a question in court and I don’t understand why he felt it necessary to say that in public.  I did notice that not long after he sent the Tweets, he changed his profile to say that he was a non-practising barrister.



I thought that would be the end of it, but I was wrong.  Not long after that, Howard Jones started Tweeting about me again, but this time he made more serious allegations.



In a series of Tweets, Howard Jones accused me of being behind a sockpuppet account that had been active on Twitter.

That is an absolute lie. The account is nothing to do with me. I Tweet through two accounts and both are clearly labelled with my name on the profile page, @stephenleather and @firstparagraph.  Those are the only two accounts I use.  I don't know why Howard Jones decided to make those allegations in public, but they are lies and I deserve an apology. I doubt I will get one, because Howard Jones has demonstrated an unwillingness to engage with me directly, he prefers to Tweet insults and lies.




Howard Jones was recently elected as a Conservative Councillor for Leatherhead North - and yes, I appreciate the irony that my name plays such a large part in his life. He changed his Twitter profile to let the world know of his new political office. He removed the word 'politician' and added 'Councillor For Leatherhead North'. 





It was a close-won race. Howard Jones received 525 votes, only slightly ahead of Adrian Daniels of UKIP, who polled 512 votes, and Lib Dem Christopher Lloyd who got 519 votes. 





I hope the fact that he now is in office means that he'll stop trolling me. It's one thing to be trolled by a member of the public. It's another to be trolled by a (non-practising) barrister. But if  a Conservative Councillor for Leatherhead North takes to Twitter to harass someone they have never met or even spoken to, then that's a different matter. I'm sure that his constituents would rather he spent his valuable time looking after their interests than Tweeting baseless allegations about me. We shall see.



UPDATE - OCTOBER 10

Howard Jones has just tweeted this:


In the Tweet he accuses me of being an Amazon fake reviewer.

Maybe he is confused, or maybe he is deliberately lying. I don't know. But the statement he made is a lie. And a lie told in public is a libel. As a barrister he would know that.




Here's the thing about Howard Jones. He is a barrister and barristers are governed by the Bar Code of Conduct which requires barristers to be courteous at all times. Clearly in my case he's being far from courteous so maybe I should complain to the Bar Standards Board? Or maybe I should ask the Conservative Central Office if they think he is behaving in a manner befitting an elected official representing the Conservative Party. Or get a lawyer to send him a "cease and desist" letter. Or do I just continue to ignore him? I just don't know. I just wish he would leave me alone.



UPDATE - DECEMBER 26

Unbelievable as it may sound, instead of spending Boxing Day with his family, Howard Jones was on Twitter continuing to libel me.


He started off by calling me a narcissist, a sociopath and a bully. I don't think I'm any of those things. I'm certainly not a narcissist, I hate seeing my photograph and am able to see all my own faults to the nth degree. A sociopath maybe, but then a lot of successful people have sociopathic tendencies. The tricks to keep them under control.  A bully?  I can honestly put my hand on my heart and say that I don't think I am a bully. I don't recall ever attacking anyone unless I was attacked first. I will always defend my corner but I can't think of any occasion when I have gone on the attack without me being wronged first.

Name-calling is the norm on Twitter but Howard Jones crossed the line again with his next Tweets.

In them he accuses me of using sock puppet accounts to post bad reviews of rival authors. I have never done that. And why would I? Posting a bad review of a rival author (and that's in itself nonsense, authors are not rivals) doesn't help sell my books. And almost certainly wouldn't hurt that author's sales. It could be that Howard Jones is confusing me with another author outed by the Jeremy Duns he refers to. But he is quite wrong to make that accusation about me.


But his most damaging allegation is that I have fabricated bogus solicitors letters. I have never, ever, done that. I have no idea why Howard Jones has made that accusation. I do wonder why a barrister, albeit non-practising, is prepared to tell so many lies about me in public. It's all very worrying.

















2 comments:

Nick said...

well, in summary, Howard Jones appears to be a complete arse.
Nick

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