In November 2010, this fledgling site published an explosive story.  A senior advisor with the Labour party, who has links to Scottish Labour MP Jim Murphy, had sent an email to at least three Scottish journalists.  The email targeted a member of the public, contained false information and a case of mistaken identity.

The intended victim of what looked like a smear attempt, had been pursuing a Freedom of Information request with the Electoral Commission on a matter relating to former Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander. 

His story was never reported by any media outlet.  Until now only the small number of people who visited Newsnet Scotland in 2010 are aware of the shocking attack on an ordinary person by a Labour party official. 

On the day an email from an advisor to the First Minister makes national headlines, we have reproduced as originally published, the story this same media refused to report … and will probably still refuse to report.

Newsnet Scotland has seen the email in question and knows the identity of the journalists to whom it was sent.

Labour and the ‘smear gone wrong’…

My name is David Ferguson. For almost three years now I have been pursuing a Freedom of Information request against the Electoral Commission concerning its investigation into the illegal Paul Green donation that was received by Wendy Alexander during her campaign for leadership of the Scottish Labour party, and the fact that this donation was reported to the Commission as having come from a Glasgow company called Combined Property Services.

An English High Court judge yesterday ruled in favour of Ms Alexander and The Electoral Commission. However, the events leading up to yesterday’s decision contained one particularly unsavoury episode that I feel deserves to be made public.

At the time when the FoI request was still at the appeal stage a date for appeal was set during a telephone review on Tuesday 27th July. I was subsequently contacted by David Leask of The Herald, and a short article appeared on Wednesday 28th July. On Thursday an article appeared in The Scotsman, although I did not speak to anybody there, and Newsnet Scotland also picked up the story. All very routine and all very matter of fact.

However on Saturday 31st July the Labour Party launched what appeared to be a smear campaign against me. An email was sent out to a number of senior Scottish mainstream political journalists by someone called Rami Okasha, an employee of The Labour Party who works as a Special Advisor to Jim Murphy MP, then Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland and now Shadow UK Defence Secretary.

It was sent from Mr Okasha’s official Labour Party email address and was footnoted with the words: “Sent by email from the Labour Party, promoted by Ray Collins on behalf of The Labour Party, both at 39 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0HA”.

It therefore seemed to me reasonable to assume that Mr Okasha was speaking for Mr Murphy, Mr Collins, and the Labour Party, and that the email’s contents were officially endorsed by all three.

The first thing the email contained was a series of quotes from comments that I am alleged to have made on various internet forums. I stand by all the statements that are mine, otherwise I would not have posted them under my own name to start with, and I refute the ones that are not.

Most of them are utterly anodyne – in one I even noted that I had danced with joy as the results of Labour’s 1997 election victory came through – although one that was posted on the Caledonian Mercury might have caused offence due to its graphic nature, which was done in order to emphasise a point.

Mr Okasha then went on to state:

“This guy David Ferguson claimed to David Leask that he is not an SNP supporter or member and is just a disinterested member of the public who is interested in Wendy… But a quick google shows him up to be a hard-core cybernat…”

Labour MP Willie Bain then added:

“These comments are shocking and the onus is now on the SNP to clarify whether this forms part of their notorious ‘black ops’ campaign to smear people from other parties. When it comes to his Information Commissioner case, he claims to national newspapers that he is not an SNP supporter or activist, but his online profile tells a different story. He should explain which version of events is true. The SNP have a real problem with cybernats…”

The assertion that I claimed to David Leask that I am not an SNP supporter is a flat-out lie. In fact, when Mr Leask asked me, I told him that I was an SNP supporter. However, neither Mr Leask nor I felt that I should be under any obligation to disclose my political leanings simply because I had filed a Freedom of Information request.

The insinuation that I am some kind of hard-core undercover SNP cybernat ‘black-ops’ agent is similarly a flat-out lie. I explained to Mr Leask, when he asked, that I have no link or association, formal or informal, with any political party or organisation, and never have had. Over the past three years I have specifically refrained from doing anything that may have given the impression that my Freedom of Information case was party political. I have also never discussed it with any member, or any other kind of representative of the SNP, or any of the other political parties, or sought to do so.

However, there is a rather more serious aspect to this. At the end of the email, following the allegations and comments, Mr Okasha helpfully appended a link to the facebook details of ‘David Ferguson’, along with the names of five of my facebook friends. The naming of my friends, presumably in order to smear them by nothing more than association with me, would be odious to anyone with a shred of decency in them.

But the real scandal is that the David Ferguson whose facebook details were contained in the email wasn’t me. He has nothing to do with me, with my conversations with David Leask, with the Freedom of Information case, or with my online comments, nothing at all. And very obviously, neither have those friends of his who were also named.

As I pointed out in a brief email I subsequently sent to Mr Okasha, he was busy assiduously smearing the wrong people.

After he received my email, I understand that Mr Okasha began to phone around the journalists he had initially contacted – not, it seems, to apologise for misleading them so badly, or to excuse himself for the ugly attempt to smear a group of entirely innocent people, but to demand to know who had leaked his email.

It’s quite telling that none of them chose to write up the story of “the Labour Party smear campaign gone wrong…”

In fact, following Mr Okasha’s initial email it very quickly became apparent to the recipients that the allegations were a mixture of lies, innuendo and some online comments. But above all it had become clear that Mr Okasha was trying to smear a group of people who had nothing whatsoever to do with the whole thing in the first place.

In one sense, the smear campaign worked. I had intended to call Ms Alexander as a witness in the FoI Appeal hearing – she would have been able to provide some very pertinent information whilst under oath – sadly I allowed myself to be intimidated out of doing this.

I have written to Rami Okasha, to Jim Murphy, and to Wendy Alexander, to ask them for some kind of explanation of these events. None of them had the courtesy to reply to me, or even to acknowledge my communications. I have not yet written to Mr Ray Collins, the General Secretary of the Labour Party or to Mr Willie Bain, who demanded an ‘explanation’ from me, but I will do so shortly.

The episode does not reflect well on today’s Labour Party, a party I was once delighted to see win a general election.

They seem to believe that anyone who has the temerity to make an FoI request that may inconvenience their party should be forced to divulge their political affiliations to the public through the media.

They also seem to think that an ordinary member of the public who, by dint of choosing to pursue a valid concern through the appropriate legal channels, has become a legitimate target for a smear campaign. In this episode they have indicated a complete and utter contempt for the public.

The irony is that whilst Wendy Alexander is protected by the Electoral Commission, which has been arguing for three years that the public should know nothing of their investigation because her privacy is sacrosanct, her Labour party colleagues are busy organising a smear campaign against the other party to the FoI case.

To date no-one from the Labour party has had the integrity to offer an apology.


Mr Ferguson has asked that we reproduce the comments that the email references as he does not want to give the impression that he has anything to hide. Mr Ferguson accepts that the first may have caused some offence, but insists that the two in bold were not written by him.

The fact that the SNP might do a bit better under PR is of minor relevance. As is the potential increase in support under a UK Tory government.
The fact is that there is a massive and apparently irretrievable core Labour vote that simply will not change. If they are prepared to vote in hundreds of thousands for this disastrous, dishonest, corrupt, incompetent, murderous administration, then what would they conceivably consider to be ‘unacceptable’?
If Labour activists formed a gauntlet along the roads to the polling stations armed with shit-smeared knobkerries and bludgeoned the skulls of their supporters to a bloody pulp as they passed, those who managed to crawl as far as the polling station would still vote Labour.

As for China, what a great advert for socialism, after killing millions and millions in failed socialist experiments, suppressing democracy demonstrations… they embrace… capitalism.
If that’s the best you can do to defend your political philosophy to us proles… good luck because you will need it.

My sentiments exactly. Although a long-term SNP supporter, I too danced as the results of the 1997 election came through.
The only difference now between the scum that is Labour in Westminster and the scum that is Labour in Scotland is that the North British version is even more corrupt and incompetent, and it grasps the Scottish media even more firmly in the loathesome tentacles of its Scottish McBrides.

I have just registered as a user and am trying to access the forums. Every time I try to access the forums I am being told that to access this part of the site I need to enter my user name and password, and every time I enter my user name and password the same screen simply repeats.

Thank you SNP for obliterating the Labour Party. This is just the beginning.
May you enjoy continued success at the expense of the corrupt, inept Labour Party, contributing to its extinction. The sooner, the better!


2014-06-11 22:04

Labour under Broon and Blair became fixated with the mechanics of achieving power and forgot about the important questions of public service.
That is swhere the British Labour party now is and the MPs who were recruited under that system.
A party with no soul and only one single direction…power for it’ s
own sake.
It would be embarrassing for any future socialist political party in Scotland to associate itself with the Labour brand name.
Apolgies for being a bit offroad on this topic.
2014-06-11 22:14

Classic hatchet job on Scotland 2014.

Claire Lally was presented as a disinterested party who wanted to back the Union. Nobody has or had any problem with her unionism, but objected to a member of Labour’s shadow cabinet being presented as an ordinary member of the public when they are in fact a determined Labour activist.

Gunn’s apology was for a factual error relating to Clare Lally being related to Pat Lally, and that apology is quite appropriate, but it does not impact on the issue of Lally being inappropriately presented as an ‘ordinary’ person when she was clearly a major mover in Labour’s activities.

Hateful rank opportunism by the BBC, up to their usual distortion of the truth and manipulation of the facts. Roll on 2014 and let us see the back of this grubby and twisted organisation for good.

Be warned all YES supporters! Negative remarks are meat and drink to these hateful agencies, so give them nothing.
2014-06-12 00:47

Glad I didn’t watch it Breeks. I saw Ms Smith smirk her way through a trailer for the programme on the 6 o’clock news and that was enough for me.

As for Ms lally being an ordinary wee woman from Clydebank, how many ordinary wee anything do you know who could deliver a speech centre stage before an audience of 800 without notes – many if not most politicians couldn’t.

Even if she was reading a pre-prepared speech off the glass monitors on either side of her, as Darling did, it was still very good going.

There was nothing ordinary about Ms Lally. I’m delighted neither she nor Lord Reid, nor Mags Curran howling at the moon on TV today, no doubt to be joined by her fellow actress Ms Lamont at Thursdays FMQs have been able to bring down the excellent Campbell Gunn.

2014-06-12 06:17

Nobody has to convince me of the Labour Party’s moral depravity. I have experienced it at first hand. In fact, the biggest difficulty is getting people to believe the enormity of the crimes Labour is prepared to commit in its craving for power, with no holds barred, especially when the state apparatus is in its hands.

This cancer is especially virulent in its Scottish stronghold, where the old mantra of Labour’s divine right to rule has not yet died, and anything else is a temporary aberration.

Labour is still pulling out all the stops to prevent the Scottish people from learning the true story of how devolution came about, and of how its own ignominious efforts to kill it were defeated. After the referendum the gloves will be off on that issue.

It is clear that in the present case a minor but avoidable factual error justified an apology, but it is not a resignation issue. Labour has just flaunted its own ingrained perfidy for everyone to see.
2014-06-12 06:27

The current ‘heid yins’ in the Labour Party apparently think and act very differently from those who founded it.
Is this the difference between Conviction politicians and their later Career counterparts?

Personal honour and integrity do seem different today.
Auld Rock
2014-06-12 06:46

So it’s OK for Ms Lally to call me a ‘FOOL’ a derogatory comment that I was told by my parents over 60 years ago to NEVER, NEVER call anyone. So it’s OK for Alistair Darling to call me a ‘NAZI’. As for J.K. Rowling, oh how the Bettertogether Broadcasting Corporation have very, very short memories, what about the detritus,bile and pure hate poured upon the Chris and Colin Weir.

Aye, don’t do as we do, just do as we say!!!

Auld Rock
2014-06-12 06:53

It is psychological fact, experimentally provable, that people’s attitudes and opinions tend to persist, for years or even generations, long after the causal factors have disappeared. Doing a little wrong to do a great good seems to have persisted in Labour’s psyche long after it has become a case of doing a great evil under the dishonest pretence of doing a great good. This is closely related to the “divine right to rule” factor, especially in Scotland.
2014-06-12 07:07

This latest Storm In A Teacup conjured up by Labour Tories and their fans at The BBC and the rest of the media is an outrageous disgrace.

The cause of it is the fact that Lally was presented at Project Fear’s ‘rally’ on Monday as ‘I’m just a mum from Clydebank’. The fact that she is an active Labour member and sits on Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet was not mentioned and that is the reason for Campbell Gunn writing his e-mail to The Telegraph.

The content of said e-mail was to point out Lally’s place within Labour’s active hierarchy and to mistakenly assume that she was related to Pat Lally.

How this can be seen as a reason for Gunn to be sacked defies logic.

I, like I suppose many people old enough to remember Patt Lally and his scandal- ridden reign in Glasgow City Chambers,also initially jumped to the conclusion that she was one of his relatives – an easy mistake to make.

Perhaps Lally should be complaining -to be contd.
2014-06-12 07:29

Now we have the ” attacks ” on Ms Rowling.
I returned to the Guardian article and to my astonishment the latest comment says ,”What will smug Salmond do now?” and it has been up voted to over a thousand.
Since the batting average for most comments remains in the tens ,one has to assume that there is much jiggery pokery going on and that old adage by which the Manchester Guardian stood ,of “facts being sacred” is flushed away .
2014-06-12 07:30

Very poignant article too NNS. – Our society is a better place having you to watch over us. May your influence spread far and wide, and your database of such hypocrisies and improprieties be commended.
2014-06-12 07:30


Following the logic of those calling for Gunn’s head it is somehow a stain on somebody’s character to suggest that they are related to Pat Lally – should he not be complaining at this suggestion.

Apart from what we have come to expect from Misreporting Scotland over this matter we come to last night’s Scotland 2014 which surely plumbed depths of unionist bias never seen before with self righteous mince from Ruth Davidson et al and attacks on both Campbell Gunn and Rev Stu at Wings for somehow inciting a mob of cybernats to attack poor wee non political Clare Lally. Yes there are some deeply unpleasant people on BOTH SIDES spouting vile insults and sometimes threats on social media and they should rightly be condemned but to somehow paint such attacks as one sided and coordinated by The SNP is outrageously dishonest.

Given the content of last night’s program perhaps call for a few sackings at Pathetic Quay are in order. – contd.
2014-06-12 07:30

I well remember this story about David Ferguson on NewsnetScotland and the start of the bias in the MSM,I have often wwondered what the outcome was.
2014-06-12 08:10


In contrast to the disgraceful Scotland 2014 Scotland Toight was a breath of fresh air and at least attempted to paint a balanced picture of Lallygate.

It was interesting to see a contribution from The Rev Stu who did a pretty comprehensive demolition job on the Dalgety woman from Labour – he is obviously one not to be meddled with which is obvious to anybody who reads Wings.

Then we had The Scotsman’s very own John McTernan versus Ian McWhirter where J McT made a complete idiot of himself and allowed McW to tie him in knots over the age old accusation that The SNP had a band of Cybernats poised over their keyboards 24/7 – one only has to look at the up and down thumbers activities on the Comments to see which side has a dedicated band poised over their keyboards.

Today’s FMQs should be an interesting display of lies and hypocrisy from Lamont and Davidson. At least Willie Rennie has had the sense to keep clear so far.
2014-06-12 09:38

Professional unionist journalists in the newspaper and television media don’t like their “expertise” challenged by pro-independence commentators on the internet; that’s why they are getting more and more desperate, and more and more vitriolic towards Yes supporters.
2014-06-12 12:03

The Unionist machine will seek to discredit and destroy that which it cannot control.

Where abuse doesn’t exist they invent it, where it abuses pro independence ideals it is ignored, where it abuses unionists it is amplified tenfold.

This is the case Unionism makes to commend unionism.

Edit: Just catching up, and hearing Danny Alexander on GMS on the BBC making the case for people being allowed to speak freely in this debate. – On the very BBC which removed the comments from online news articles in Scotland.

Dundonian West
2014-06-12 13:31

Jackie Baillie MSP welcomes Clare to Labour’s Shadow Cabinet:-
“I am delighted to have someone from West Dunbartonshire on /labour’s Shadow Cabinet.”
Auld Rock
2014-06-12 16:46

Sad to say to Gus1940 poor misguided Willie couldn’t keep his neb out of the ‘Cry Wolfers’ brigade in New Labour/Tory unionist alliance. Oh how poor old Keir Hardie must not just be turning in his grave but really jumping up and down even!!!

Auld Rock
2014-06-12 22:06

Louise White’s Morning Moanin Topic “Have recent events made you Scared to voice your opinion in the referendum debate” listeners were told to steer clear of Politics…..
Yes supporters therefore couldn’t explain the tactics being used against them.
Whilst Unionists were laying on thick the dogs abuse they experience.

The topic was chosen to put people off talking about the referendum.

The YES side’s main campaigning tool is personal conversations with voters.

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