The Terry Fitzpatrick I knew
Lester Holloway (pictured above) writes about his experience of Terry Fitzpatrick and the decade long racial abuse he and others suffered at his hands.
Terry Fitzpatrick was convicted of racially-aggravated harassment against Lee Jasper who has written about his experiences of Fitzpatrick here. The original case was brought to the courts by Simon Woolley of OBV.
The court result came as no surprise to me; I had seen the ugly side of Fitzpatrick – and his troll-like internet alter-egos billericaydicky and terryfitz – over many years.
It began when I was a journalist at The Voice newspaper over ten years ago. Fitzpatrick, a former Army man, presented himself as a contact from the anti-Fascist monitoring organisation Searchlight. Yet he appeared to be somehow separate from the main figures there, a sort of freelance, honorary member. Even though being an “anti-fascist” was seemingly his only selling point, I never got to the bottom of his relationship with Searchlight.
The first, and only, “story” he tried to feed me had nothing to do with the Far Right at all. He sent me a large and badly-written ‘dossier’ on the leading anti-racist campaigner Lee Jasper, which he titled ‘The Jasper Files’. A cursory glance at these pages of unsourced allegations, invective and opinion instantly rendered the dossier the work of an embittered author, desperate to bring down his intended target while lacking the evidence to make it happen.
I couldn’t believe any journalist would take this document, or any of its’ contents, seriously. And for the next eight years I was right – more of that later. Nevertheless, Fitzpatrick was angry that I had not chosen to publish his wild and unfounded claims. The next time I heard from Fitzpatrick was after I wrote an article in The Voice about the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. The paper long had a position of arguing against Margaret Thatcher’s 1986 ban preventing him from visiting Britain. My piece continued that tradition. I happened to agree with the paper’s stance, but as a journalist I was merely doing my job.
Fitzpatrick, who had introduced himself to me as an ‘anti-fascist’ was busy fighting the Nation of Islam’s efforts to screen a live videolink of a Farrakhan address, and had single-handedly managed to persuade Hackney’s chief constable, the mayor Jules Pipe and the Hackney Gazette that a small group of NoI supporters going into a room to watch a TV broadcast constituted a threat to the peace. The event was banned. When I reported this it was clear that it was not just the NoI and libertarians who were upset; many members of the black community, not ordinarily supporters of Farrakhan, felt a sense of outrage. Fitzpatrick was furious with the Voice article, accusing me and the paper of being anti-Semites and threatening legal action. There was no retraction, no apology and no legal action but, unbeknown to me at the time, Fitzpatrick was also trying to intimidate our rivals, the New Nation, who had published a similar story in the same week. Apparently the editor, Michael Eboda, had offered some kind of apology – handing Fitzpatrick his one ‘victory’ against a prominent black figure. Something he reminded me about many times over the next few years.
I joined the anti-racist movement, The 1990 Trust, to run their BLINK news website and discovered that Fitzpatrick already had them in his sights, not least because its’ former director was Lee Jasper. Over three years, Fitzpatrick sent me a string of insulting emails whenever he found something to mock. Occasionally he would accuse me of incitement to racial hatred if he thought an article was anti-white, threatening to report me to various authorities. I also became aware that when Fitzpatrick was not busy targeting the black media or anti-racist organisations he was laying into Muslims in Tower Hamlets. Quite a record for a supposed anti-fascist.
Having taken over as editor of New Nation, there was no escaping Fitzpatrick. The advent of internet blogs had offered him many opportunities to attack those that most irritated him. Lee Jasper and Simon Woolley appeared to be his favourite targets, along with often moderate Muslim figures. But I was in the mix as well, being slurred as an anti-Semite (over Farrakhan), along with other equally ridiculous claims. It wasn’t just Harry’s Place, he was also active on the Guardian’s Comment Is Free reader comment threads. Fitzpatrick was actually driven out of Pickled Politics because their users got so tired of the habit of turning any discussion, no matter how unrelated, around to the subject of Lee Jasper and Simon Woolley.
It seemed few were taking Fitzpatrick seriously. The few was comprised mainly of Andrew Gilligan, who he boasted was taking a keen interest in the allegations from the ‘Lee Jasper Files’ which no credible journalist had touched in the past eight years. Fitzpatrick went out of his way to claim credit for the Evening Standard campaign against Jasper and Ken Livingstone. My guess is that Fitzpatrick was of little or no use to Gilligan, who relied primarily on leaked emails from inside City Hall.
It is clear to me that Fitzpatrick’s claim to be an anti-fascist was merely a cover for his real passion – to discredit and if possible destroy – black figures in the anti-racist movement, the black media, and Muslims. That is where he has directed the so much of his efforts over the last decade. Like his treatment of Jasper, Fitzpatrick has used the n-word against me and boasted he would beat me in a fight. He has told me about my physical whereabouts to indicate he has loitered outside my workplace. Yet I have only had a small dose of him compare to Jasper and Woolley.
A court has now officially branded Fitzpatrick a racist. I am relieved because it lifts any trace of credibility from his bile-filled allegations against me and others. I hope he will now concentrate on targeting the far Right instead of people of colour in the anti-racist movement and black press.
Originally published on his blog, re-published here by kind permission.