It is exactly one year ago today, that my review of the book 'Anti-Totalitarianism', by Oliver Kamm appeared in the Daily Telegraph.
Little did I know when I filed my copy, that writing a critical review of Kamm's book, would subject me to a year-long campaign of vilification and character assassination.
An email, written under an alias and cced to Kamm, was sent to one of my commissioning editors, repeating malicious libels which Kamm made on his blog, just one day after my review appeared. Kamm's webblog entry was written not just for the benefit of his readers, but also to newspaper editors who employ me.
Faced with what any impartial observer would agree was a malicious campaign to jeopardise my career, I had no option but to take legal action, and brought a case for defamation against Kamm in the County Court in April. But as the defendant (Kamm) did not give his consent to the case being heard there, the court dismissed the action. The only reason why I did not bring a High Court action at the time was financial: unlike Kamm, I am not the founder of a Jermyn Street-based financial services company which started with $1bn of assets.
Kamm and his supporters have continued to hound me.
My wikipedia entry has repeatedly been altered by supporters of Kamm, to give a misleading version of our dispute. They also seem obsessed to include in my entry the information that I am a 'teacher of A Level-retakes' as if that would invalidate my opinions on the Iraq war or any other issues. As it happens, I have not taught 'A Level retakes' for a few years now, but the very fact that people are prepared to spend Christmas Day altering my wikipedia entry to say that I have, demonstrates just how fanatical - and desperate- they are.
I wrote earlier in the month on how a certain ' George Courtenay' wrote a malicious email to the editor of the Australian drawing his attention to untrue and libellous allegations Kamm had made about me on my website. I sent an email to ' George Courtenay', asking if he could provide a postal address or telephone number, to prove he was who he claimed to be. I have yet to recieve a reply. In addition to "George Courtenay", there is also a mysterious personage called "Admiral Cheddar", who spent the evening of the 25th December altering not only my wikipedia entry, but also that of David Cromwell from the organisation Media Lens. In both case, the alterations included references to Oliver Kamm. A few days earlier Kamm had posted on Cromwell on his blog.
What sort of person would spend the evening of 25th December altering the wikipedia entries of Neil Clark and David Cornwell?
Kamm, through his pursuit of Noam Chomsky, has, as I think most impartial observers would agree, shown himself to be something of an obsessive. His mysterious, anonymous supporters seem to take great pride in following his example.
But despite his attempts to jeopardise my livelihood, I bear Oliver Kamm no ill will. The emotion I feel towards Kamm is not hate, but sorrow- that such an intelligent person (anyone who lists Carol Reed's wonderful 'The Third Man' as their favourite film can't be classified as stupid), would invest so much time and energy in trying to sabotage the career of a fellow journalist.
The end of a year is however, a good time to let bygones be bygones. I know Kamm and myself will never see eye-to-eye on Iraq or the Balkans, but I hope that exactly one year after our dispute began, we can finally bring this 'tawdry affair' to an end. I do not seek a grovelling apology, merely a simple posting by Kamm on his blog to say that he was wrong to make the unsubstantiated and libellous allegations against me which he did (namely that I did not read his book and that I deliberately misled my editor over one of my sources) and that he does not approve of people, using aliases, emailing my commissioning editors and repeating the untrue and libellous allegations.
The ball is firmly in Oliver Kamm's court. I very much hope that he decides to ends this dispute exactly 365 days after it started. But if, as I unfortunately suspect, he and and his supporters decide to carry on their vendetta in 2007, they should be aware that I will use any means, within the law, to defend myself and my reputation.
A very Happy and peaceful New Year to each and everyone of you.