A local Facebook page called the ‘Blantyre Telegraph‘ had shared an unsubstantiated rumour that a base was being set up in nearby Strathclyde Park, it wasn’t true.

When I contacted the Blantyre Telegraph for a comment about this claim, they offered a comment but subsequently threatened me with legal action soon after, saying that “I hereby advise I will instruct a lawyer to pursue you personally should you not comply with my requests above not to mention Blantyre Telegraph at all in your article”.

They originally posted the following.

The original post on the page.

The trouble? It wasn’t true at all. A base was not being set up in the local area and the images used weren’t recent, we had this confirmed by the British Army and the Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey.

This gets strange, you’ll soon see what I mean. When asked for comment we were told:

“Hi – sorry, as a small charity page and not a media company, we only post usually about local stories in Blantyre. We don’t have teams. One person runs the page in spare time after work. We’re not a media outlet and non profit this page is just a small hobby to raise money for local good causes.

However, in interests of reliably informing town residents in this time of crisis, we’ve picked up on major National stories from official news media sites and websites, like for example the story that evening of the army assisting the NHS with some deliveries (as they certainly are doing). We never mentioned a base in Glasgow, although referred to the set up in Strathclyde park following it being mentioned on ITV, SKY and on Forces websites. We can’t control what people comment on or post afterwards. We pride ourselves on accuracy.

Don’t think we’ve ever posted anything inaccurate in 9 years including that particular story, which was indeed being discussed on the late night ITV Peston show even as it was being written. Happy to help in any way we can. We abhor misinformation and fake news, being particularly diligent and careful before each post to ensure accuracy. It may be best to pick this up with news websites, rather than us. Good luck with your article.”

There was no mention on any media channels at the time of a base being set up in Strathclyde Park, but there were rumours on social media which is likely where this stemmed from.

When pressed on this, the response was quite concerning.

“I’m sure Robert Peston advising the Nation that the army was mobilising live on ITV would have alarmed a lot more people that night that a local Blantyre facebook page. I stand by the post given the picture sent in, feedback from NHS staff and that the words that were lifted from SKY and actual forces websites. Accuracy is very important to this site and we will always avoid spculation. Have a good day.”

It’s worth noting however that they subsequently changed the claim made in the original post and removed one of the images.

When I pointed this out, the response was:

“There WAS a tent there regardless of you missing it. Not up for debate any further pal. My working day has started. I hereby do NOT provide you permission to include any of my comments or mention Blantyre Telegraph and expect you to comply with GDPR in that request. Thanks. I trust you will comply and respect my privacy and this charitable business Ive worked so hard to build. To be crystal clear, you DONT have my permission to include my words, statement or reference to Blantyre Telegraph. Thanks.”

I asked about whether or not they had a charity number. By the way, it’s worth noting that registering with the Charity Commission does not make a group into a charity: registering simply turns an unregistered charity into a registered charity but I was curious to see if they were registered. This was the response:

“Sorry, not got time for this, I really dont. If you keep this up, you’ll be banned. You wont be writing about Blantyre Telegraph. Christ, you’re NOT even from this town, i see.”

The final message contained quite an ominous threat.

“We have a charitable magazine out EVERY month. The page ONLY exists for that to get news out to local people and every penny goes towards local good causes. Not one penny is retained. Go pursue news websites about news. Meantime, given your “dog with a bone” attitude, I have your profile bookmarked and will decide if this needs a story written about you. Meantime, i bid you good-day. Good luck with whatever you write. I hereby advise I will instruct a lawyer to pursue you personally should you not comply with my requests above not to mention Blantyre Telegraph at all in your article. (if there even is one intended)”

There is an article intended, you’re reading it now. As of this time I have been blocked from their Facebook page, they have however posted this.

There was also some question as to what the Facebook page actually is.

Why have we published this?

Inadvertently or not, we have no idea what the motive might have been, the Blantyre Telegraph appeared to contribute to the spread of misinformation or fake news regarding bases being set up in the local area.

These claims were of course not true.

All we were after was a correction to the original claim, I’m not accusing anyone of doing anything intentionally merely trying to communicate the message that verifying what you share online is always the right thing to do, especially during a pandemic where claims of an Army base being set up near local areas can cause panic.

The message here is that during a pandemic, sharing unconfirmed speculation is dangerous and irresponsible.

**UPDATE – THE ORIGINAL POST HAS BEEN REMOVED BY THE BLANTYRE TELEGRAPH**

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Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Spread it far and wide George. I hope they read the UKDJ.

Peter Crisp
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Peter Crisp

Surely if the army was going to build some kind of base of operations to work from the most sensible option would be as close the the geographical centre of the country as possible? Given that the UK is quite small they could from that base reach anywhere quite quickly via helicopter and send out teams of army medics and the like. It’s not a terrible idea to be honest if you’re not a crazy conspiracy theorist who thinks the sight of military personnel automatically means Star Wars style storm troopers as the armed forces work with civilians all over… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

I’d have thought it even more sensible to use any existing government or MoD facility. No need to build Camp Bstion with hundreds of sites to choose from.

Such places will already be in the many pre existing contingency plans.

In the Cold War and after the Telephone Preference Scheme had locations already earmarked that would not be cut off, public call boxes amongst them.

So these places are already chosen.

Gary Heaney
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Gary Heaney

It just happened I passed a string of army trucks on M74 heading north before Raith interchange. It might have got some people’s imagination going.

ChariotRider
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ChariotRider

How big do people think the armed forces are? Setting up secret bases all over the country! Besides if they were SECRET no one would know about them – DOH! Another point to note is that military doctors and nurses, for the most part, work full time in the NHS. They have to in order to keep their practice / registration current. I was treated / advised by an army Maj working in a NHS hospital some years ago, so I can attest to that being the case. The military could deploy some Mechical Technicians (Paramedics?) in support of the… Read more »

Gfor
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Gfor

How well organised do they think we are?
After many, many years of government service, I am not at all surprised that as a front line emergency service I have now only 3 bottles of hand sanitiser between 80 people. It’s the norm rather than the exception.
To think this was organised, equipped and staffed, in secret, means we must be fooling someone.

ChariotRider
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ChariotRider

Hi Gfor,

I suspect there is a failing of logistics in the public sector, it would not surprise me if there is a warehouse with plenty of stuff in it but either its be forgotten or someone is waiting to be told where to send it!

Gfor
Guest
Gfor

I would bet our HQ is chock full, its the usual top down supply chain for us.
SNAFU.

ChariotRider
Guest
ChariotRider

Next stage FUBAR – I hope not!

The UK is looking like its going to be shut down for quite sometime – government paying private sector wages! Staggering! Pubs, clubs, leisure centres all closed – shocking for some…

Life is changing. Will life ever be quite the same again? That’s a question I never thought I’d ask, at least not like this…

Pacman27
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Pacman27

There really should be a law against individuals publishing false articles with a prison sentence attached.

This is an individual spreading false news under the veneer of a news organisation/charity.

It should be called Gossip not the telegraph.

Callum
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Callum

While I agree in principle, what you’re suggesting is effectively policing free speech. It wouldn’t take long for the government to start imprisoning those who post things “against the public interest”.

Pacman27
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Pacman27

not at all Callum

if they have an opinion they need to make that clear
if they are presenting something as factual – that is an entirely different thing
if they are pretending to be a news outlet they have a duty to report accurately and responsibly

I am not against free speech at all – but like everything we want the good bits but none of the discipline that goes with that freedom.

Scaremongering should be against the law, as should fake news.
A professional news outlet generally requires 2 valid sources before it will publish something, that is the difference here.

George
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George

Hi folks hope all are keeping well.
Well done UKDJ, shut that rubbish down with fact and chalenge.
All the best to evertone.
George

George
Guest
George

All the best everyone.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

In a similar vein, my wife has just come and told me that there is a rumour going around on Facebook that Clapham is “now under military control” 🙂

These stories make it sound like the SS has moved in and is conducting an “Aktion” in the area…

Barry Larking
Guest
Barry Larking

An early and simple: “Thank you for pointing this out. The article was erroneous and I apologise. We have removed the article and posted a brief explanation for doing so. It is sometimes difficult given time and resources to check all the stories but grateful to you. If we receive other defence related material relevant to our community would U.K.D.J. be willing to provide a comment? Best Wishes”.

Reaching for the Law is bad sign. The Charity Commission could be interested in this story, but that might be a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

PurpleRonnie
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PurpleRonnie

Very strange that they got very, very defensive and then started mentioning money etc. Could it be that you have unintentionally uncovered a scammer?

James Stuart VI
Guest
James Stuart VI

I’m from Blantyre. The guy that runs this page is a narrow minded Scottish separatist.

Around 2 years ago he was posting agitating for indyref2. It didn’t take long for the mask to slip when I DM’d him asking him to refrain from such behaviour considering he purportedly runs a page for the whole Blantyre community supposedly regardless of political affiliation.

He declined so I unfollowed and blocked his page. Good riddance!!

Barry Larking
Guest
Barry Larking

Thanks James. Blantyre should disown him. There is nothing wrong with having a standpoint The West Highland Free Press – that I visited many years ago last century makes its own political position clear; you know what you are getting.

Damo
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Damo

Yet another person who doesn’t understand GDPR but quotes it as a threat