[back] [back] Spiked
Info on Spiked - magazine Michael Fitzpatrick writes for......
Spiked is an online magazine run by Times columnist, Mick Hume. It claims
to be 'entirely independent'.
Spiked was launched in 2000 after the magazine Hume edited, LM, was sued
out of existence in a libel action. Spiked's managing editor is Helene
Guldberg, LM's ex-publisher. Her co-publisher launched Spiked's sister
organisation, the Institute of Ideas (IoI) around the same time. The staff
and many of Spiked's contributors are members of the same network of
Living Marxism/Revolutionary Communist Party supporters (see also: Tracey
Brown, Fiona Fox, John Gillott, Bill Durodiť, Tony Gilland , Mike
Fitzpatrick , Juliet Tizzard, Ellen Raphael).
As well as pro-GM articles, including ones by Vivian Moses of CropGen and
the man at the heart of the notorious LM libel case, Thomas Deichmann,
Spiked-online has carried reassuring articles about pesticide residues in
food (nothing to worry about), and articles attacking organic food by
Dennis and Alex Avery of the Hudson Institute.
Spiked has also run a series of online debates about the environment
sponsored by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), a UK public
funding body whose mission is to support independent scientific research in
the environmental sciences.
One of the series was an online debate on GM. It was initiated with the
opinions of 'five experts'. Three responses from other 'experts in the
field' were also commissioned by Spiked. Of these eight experts selected by
Spiked, only one has been known to take a critical attitude towards the
technology. This seems difficult to square with such NERC watchwords as
'independent' and 'impartial'.
When the history of those behind Spiked was drawn to the NERC's attention,
their Press Officer, Marion O'Sullivan responded, 'NERC is satisfied that
there is no evidence suggesting that, on environmental matters, Spiked have
any particular agenda.' (emphasis added)
In fact, those behind Spiked are fanatically pro-GM and oppose
environmental concerns in almost any form. Two of the 'experts'
contributing to the Spiked debate on GM (John Conroy, Tony Gilland) are
part of the network behind Spiked but this is not made clear. Gilland's
contribution entitled Let the Sowing Begin argued, 'The [GM]farm-scale
trials are an unnecessary obstacle to the introduction of this beneficial
The other experts commissioned by Spiked included the biotech industry
lobby group, the ABC, and the pro-GM lobbyists Greg Conko and CS Prakash
who have also written articles for Spiked.
In addition, members of the LM network are among those who post comments on
the debates. These invariably support the 'party line' but without
revealing their affiliation. The same goes for many of the articles
published by Spiked, which are penned by members of the LM network.
Spiked also operates offline, regularly organising seminars, often drawing
in well-known figures to events carefully designed to promote its own
agenda. In March 2003 it ran a seminar together with the the International
Policy Network (IPN), entitled 'GM food: should labelling be mandatory?' at
the London headquarters of PR firm Hill & Knowlton.
Spiked holds many of its seminars at Hill & Knowlton, a company which has
'a reputation for its highly political public relations work. This is the
company that "managed communications" at the U.S. Three Mile Island nuclear
power station and presented bogus evidence to a congressional meeting to
get backing for the Gulf War... More recently, it has been hired "to
salvage Enron Corp".' (Nicky Hager, Seeds of Distrust, 2002, p.34)
An article in The Sunday Times reported on one on the MMR vaccine. It noted
that Hill & Knowlton's clients include 'the three drug companies that
manufacture the triple vaccine'. On that occasion Michael Fitzpatrick led
the discussion. According to the article, one of the things stood out about
the seminar was 'its refusal to address the evidence that aroused public
distrust [about MMR] in the first place. For these people, immunisation was
an incontrovertible religious doctrine. Fitzpatrick rubbished the work of
[MMR researcher] Wakefield, whose research papers currently outnumber his
own by 128 to 0, as a superstition on a par with astrology. When somebody
mentioned the divergence of scientific opinion, Professor Brent Taylor
interrupted, again announcing that "the scientific debate is over".' (MMR
RIP, 14 December 2003)