I had an email from Don Keiller the other day. He had been contacted by a “freelance journalist”, Brendan Montague, who wanted to know about his connections with GWPF and what he knew about their funding sources. Don seems to have sent him on his way fairly quickly, advising him that his time would be better spent looking at WWF and Greenpeace.
Strangely, Montague's name has come up in conversation a few times in recent weeks, although in fact I've known of him since 2010. Near the first anniversary of Climategate, I got an email from him, again claiming to be a freelance journalist, and saying he wanted to interview me about a story about the anniversary for the Sunday Times.
I picked him up a the station and took him back to my home, gave him lunch, and we chewed the fat over Climategate. It was all very amicable. Afterwards, there were a series of emails asking for new angles, but no story ever appeared. I remember feeling sorry for the poor chap, having funded a trip up to Edinburgh out of his own pocket for no benefit.
We now know that Montague is not exactly a freelance journalist. Although he seems to write something once a year, his main role is actually the "CEO" of Request Initiative, which is kind of an FOI bureau for green organisations. Montague seems to have been doing quite well at convincing people that he is useful - someone has been paying him to spend the last couple of years sniffing around anybody and everybody in the sceptic movement. There have been a series of unsuccessful FOI requests to universities for the emails of people associated with GWPF and even a dirt-digging trip to Benny Peiser's sister in Germany. Many readers will remember his attempts to get details of GWPF donors from the Charities Commission, an occasion on which he claimed, hilariously, to be paying for his legal team out of his own pocket. The fact that his brief also worked for Greenpeace led some to draw conclusions about exactly who was bankrolling all these speculative, conspiracy-fuelled wild-goose chases. Whoever they are they appear to have deep pockets and to be relatively unconcerned about whether Montague achieved anything.
Anyway, I think the message is that there are some pretty unscrupulous people out there, so be careful who you talk to.