The Shamelessness of The Spectator

Right Response Team - 27 02 24
Usual suspects attack HOPE not Hate for our Paul Marshall Investigation

A few days ago we published our investigation into Sir Paul Marshall, the hedge fund boss hoping to become one of Britain’s biggest press barons.

Our report — which reveals that Marshall has been sharing extreme anti-migrant, anti-Muslim views online — has now received 1.6 million impressions on social media and 40,000 readers on the HOPE not Hate website, despite a bot attack moments after publication. They have also prompted more than 3,200 emails of complaint to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and the media regulator, Ofcom.

The investigation, released in partnership with The News Agents, has been picked up by The Times, The Independent, Novara, and The National, among others. For Prospect magazine, Alan Rusbridger points out the importance of scrutinising Marshall, who is trying to purchase The Telegraph and The Spectator to grow his press empire of GB News and UnHerd. If Marshall succeeds, the implications for the conservative press landscape are bleak, given what we know about his X/Twitter habits. “Don’t expect much nuance or restraint,” Rusbridge writes. “I anticipate it will make Enoch Powell’s rhetoric sound like Songs of Praise.”

Meanwhile denunciation for our findings came from the usual suspects. The right-wing commentator Douglas Murray foamed that we are a “hate group”; and a smattering of more extreme content creators said we were making “mountains of molehills”.

Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator, accused us of running a “smear campaign”, and shared a blog on his magazine’s website that embarrassingly soft-pedalled Marshall’s online activity as “sometimes [liking] tweets criticising immigration”. Nelson’s magazine is currently up for sale, and he is concerned about its future ownership, having written that an Abu Dhabi-backed bid would “have very big implications for the trustworthiness of news”. How disappointing that those principles should be so selectively applied.

Were Marshall’s tweets just criticising immigration? Here are some extracts that he either liked or reposted on X/Twitter:

— “If we want European civilization to survive we need to not just close the borders but start mass expulsions immediately”

— “There has never been a country that has remained peaceful with a sizeable Islamic presence”

— “It is just a matter of time before civil war starts in Europe. The native European population is losing patience with the fake refugee invaders”

— “The other side is so passionate, so committed to worshipping Satan, evil, homosexuality and corrupting children, that even if god wasn’t real, believing in him to fend these demons off is preferable”

Marshall, when confronted with these posts, deleted them, adding that X/Twitter can be a “fountain of ideas, but some of it is of uncertain quality”. Ignoring his posts isn’t “shameless”, as The Spectator claims, it’s the kind of proper scrutiny that a multimillionaire who wants to take over two of the most widely read publications in Britain should be subjected to. It is naive to suggest otherwise.


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