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The Guardian apologises

The Guardian has apologised for its behaviour over the Bluecloud affair, in which a Greenpeace activist and sometime Guardian writer named Gary Evans discussed beheading Matt Ridley.

The web and particularly the threads are a robust environment but I think we should have taken the beheading comment down as soon as it was reported, even though I agree with the moderators that it was an attempt at a joke rather than anything else. I think the “Bluecloud” comment falls squarely within rule 3 of the Community guidelines: “We understand that people often feel strongly about issues debated on the site, but we will consider removing any content that others might find extremely offensive or threatening.”

When beheadings have been such a tragic part of the news agenda for so many months the choice of a severed head as the accompanying photograph was an error. It seems unlikely to me that the offending comments would have been made had the picture not been what it was. For that reason and the length of time it took to remove the comments, I think Lord Ridley deserves an apology, which I am happy to give on behalf of the Guardian.


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Reader Comments (65)

A bit rich for an organisation that rushes to support any and every left-leaning, progressive or social grouping that claims to have been insulted, offended or frightened by what any reasonable person would see as completely trivial to claim it was all just a joke, honest.

Truly, truly shameful people and if I were the recipient I would have been even more insulted and offended.

Feb 13, 2015 at 10:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter C

I expect that means they will be reinstating my ability to comment......not.

It was of course an utter storm in a teacup but I am delighted that several people took the time ( and no doubt some effort, for I could not do it myself) to simulate the sort of faux outrage that Guardianistas so like to revel in day in day out. What is sauce for the goose is sauce etc. and it is amusing that Bluecloud (or Gary, as he is now to be addressed) will be subtly and also not so subtly reminded of his "off with his head" comments from now on.

Hands up those who actually thought Matt Ridley cared about, or felt himself threatened in the slightest by, Bluecloud's remarks?

Feb 13, 2015 at 10:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

"I think Lord Ridley deserves an apology, which I am happy to give on behalf of the Guardian."

So where is the apology? What does it say?

Feb 13, 2015 at 10:41 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

They do "happy" aplogies now, the Scum Left.

Feb 13, 2015 at 10:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterMars Shmallow

They took their time to make this decision.
Just what part of "beheading" did they have trouble in working out was "threatening"?

Feb 13, 2015 at 10:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

Apology not accepted.

Feb 13, 2015 at 11:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterjones

Well done Guardian.

Feb 13, 2015 at 11:06 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

So no one at the Grauniad has had their "herbal tea allowance" stopped.

I expect they are all busy writing an expose of Grauniad private trust funds being held in offshore bank accounts.

Feb 13, 2015 at 11:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Apparently posting incitement to behead is more of a problem to the graun than identifying (?) a contributor to the graun who posts incitement to behead.


Feb 13, 2015 at 11:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

For a newspaper convinced about global warming and sea level rise, a bank in the Cayman Islands, seems a risky place to stash money away from UK tax investigators. Maybe the bank vaults are on stilts, rather than underground.

Or do they just pretend to believe in sea level rise to keep their readers happy, whilst they sip cocktails on the beach, all year round.

Feb 13, 2015 at 11:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

It was not a joke. If they cannot see that then there truly is no hope.

Feb 13, 2015 at 11:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterHenry Galt

I'm with Martin. That's a pretty feeble half-hearted apology from the Guardian. ( though apparently a more genuine one from Evans). Worse, the headline claims it was a joke and that the commenter was anonymous.

My question is, will they stop paying this idiot Nuttyjelly to write these abusive articles that encourage this sort of thing? Surely they must realise that he is a liability both for them and for the climate science case.

Feb 13, 2015 at 11:50 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

The entire original article, accompanying photo and the majority of the comment thread comprises a vindictive eruption of gratuitous vilification. Bluecloud's comments characterise him as a serial unrepentant participant.

I left but one comment on that thread, under the sobriquet 'Stratus'. It read, referring to the original picture of a decapitated head, - 'This illustration is in my opinion utterly and shamefully repulsive, particularly when chosen to accompany an article criticising a named individual.' It received a total of 3 upticks. There were five challenges to my comment, receiving a total of 23 upticks. The Guardian and much of its readership are a disgrace to themselves.

Feb 13, 2015 at 11:53 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Paul Matthews, the Grauniad must be allowed to continue. The more they write, the more they damage climate science.

I am beginning to suspect that the only outfit receiving money from "Big Oil" is the Grauniad itself.

Feb 14, 2015 at 12:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Greens have learnt that they can say what they like about oil companies and many big businesses because the've decided that fighting just keeps the slur front and centre. Business just pretends it's not heard. Least said, soonest mended. Greens have also convinced themselves that anyone rejecting their mantra must be a bought stoodge who will dance to their master's tune. It's that sort of pigeon hole effect that leads to videos of exploding children and a 'joke' about severed heads in a world where real people are being beheaded and blown up for following a different path to the believer. Frankly, environmentalists have had a free ride for too long.

Feb 14, 2015 at 12:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

I have not followed the articles involved, but any climate activist who, even in jest, suggests beheading a sceptic is obviously an idiot. But it does show what we always suspected: that AGW activists are fanatics. Fanatics who have lost all sense of proportion. In fact I remember Margaret Becket saying climate sceptics should be treated like terrorists: and refused air time. And that was over five years ago.

Feb 14, 2015 at 12:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Note the reference to climate change "myths" which have been "debunked", a term distinct from "disproved" which means "we have said it's not true".

Feb 14, 2015 at 12:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterNW

Firstly, I have no idea why anyone, except the Guardianistas themselves, would take the Guardian seriously. Anyone with any history of Guardian-reading would be aware that the poster known as 'Bluecloud' is a serial abuser of any other posters on CIF he does not agree with and has no basis for being regarded as anything but a very irrational and unscientific crank. I know from my own experience of being on the receiving end of his abuse a few years ago that it is not at all amusing nor is it something that can be taken lightly.
Secondly, I cannot find the actual apolgy anywhere in the on-line edition. If stating that someone 'deserves an apology' should be read as the apology itself, the Guardian Editor's standards in written English are truly abysmal

Feb 14, 2015 at 12:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

I think that Matt Ridley is an affable, sensible and reasonable bloke.

Matt Ridley, thus, is the antithesis of what the Gruan stands for - they don't want reason and logic, for that flew out of the window with their individual intellect, replaced by progressive groupthink............. years since.

As for a sense of propriety, and of human decency - at the Graun?

Nope, the words and phrases I am looking for, the image I seek is one of; twisted minds gnarled by arrogance, rancorous smear, negative briefing and an ocean going visceral misanthropy. Once more and by their own words, they damn themselves, with this petty, tardy, hand wringing excuse, a wan effort in place of a proper and rightful apology - which was anticipated - because it is so typical of this gutter rag that likes to call itself 'a newspaper'.

Feb 14, 2015 at 12:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

A blogpost by Dana Nuccitelli on January 21 ...

This lies at the heart of Lord Ridley’s complaint. He wrote to me on 30 January ...

In the age of Twitter, it took The Readers' Editor between 14 and 24 days to decide that "Lord Ridley deserves an apology." I guess he had to sharpen his quill before publishing his decision.

Feb 14, 2015 at 12:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpeed

Allow me to Echo Mike's (SS) sentiment.
"Well done Guardian."
Apology, required.
Apology, given,
I'll surmise that Matt will now put it behind him.
Will you?

Feb 14, 2015 at 1:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

Speed, perhaps the new editor had to be careful not to upset the daughter of his predecessor, who must have been otherwise engaged, otherwise she would have censored the remarks earlier. Of course, if she was not otherwise engaged, the assumption would be that she saw nothing wrong with Blueclouds comments.

Whether Gary Evans chose Bluecloud through a haze of herbal smoke, or just watching the exhaust of an oil burning diesel engine whilst working on a Greepeace vessel, may not be clear to him either, but his toxic emissions may leave a trail, that others may follow.

Feb 14, 2015 at 1:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Golf Charlie:
The big G said sorry.
Yup, it took them a long time to do so.
But, in the end, they did the right thing.
Give them a modicum of credit, for that.
Or, consign them to the deepest pits of Hell!
Personally, I lean more toward the former than the latter when taking the mental-fragility of some "Doom and Gloom" Guardianistadors into the equation.
It's your choice, of course.

Feb 14, 2015 at 1:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

Not that the grundgrunt paper would ever seek to fulfill it accurately, has anyone considered submitting FOI requests for all communications regarding the headless article and commenters commentary, including communications between writers, editors, commenters and outside sources.

I can just imagine some of the discussions.

I'm not in Great Britain nor do I pay into the support BBC faux news tax structure.

Feb 14, 2015 at 4:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

Really poor by the Guardian.

Note that Gary Evans does not apologize to Matt Ridley, but rather to the poor chaps at the Guardian who had to clean up after him.

Feb 14, 2015 at 6:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

So where is the apology? Has Chris Elliott he written a letter to Lord Ridley? Will it be published?

Feb 14, 2015 at 7:23 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

They're very quick to take down comments that just ask questions where the answers might be 'off message'. The Bluecloud comment being left up simply further exposes their true nature.

I have always though the left far nastier and less honest than the right, this just adds to the evidence.

Feb 14, 2015 at 7:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterjaffa

It is astonishing that the Guardian pretended to apologize at all. There must some legal issue we are unaware of.

Feb 14, 2015 at 8:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

"I think Lord Ridley deserves an apology, which I am happy to give on behalf of the Guardian".

Fine, so go ahead and give it. So far, no apology has actually been given.


Feb 14, 2015 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterTC


Greens have also convinced themselves that anyone rejecting their mantra must be a bought stoodge who will dance to their master's tune.
At least we are now in a position to retaliate by arguing that we would rather be a stooge of Shell or BP than of Vladimir Putin. I think we ought to be using that line every chance we get!

Feb 14, 2015 at 9:17 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Self-serving drivel.

Feb 14, 2015 at 10:01 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Take a look at the other "The editor on..." stories, including one specifically using the "Denier" phrase. I seem to recall a certain newspaper not well endowed with spelling ability specifically suggesting it wouldn't use that phrase except in opinion pieces.

Tells you all you need to know.

Feb 14, 2015 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

I agree with others it is not an apology at all, but an attempt [a very poor one] to justify what happened. Fortunately I never read the Grauniad or its blogs.

So when the Grauniad does issue an apology to Matt Ridley perhaps Bish you will report it. I think we may be waiting some time!

Feb 14, 2015 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Hewitt

"Doesn't Really" are 2 words missing out of the title, Bish

either that or the Guardian is using it's own special dictionary of definitions, where "apology" like a lot of other words has a different meaning to that of a normal dictionary

Feb 14, 2015 at 10:13 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Yep, it seems like there is a new definition of an apology.

What happened to phrases like "unreservedly withdraw", for example, which should have been applied to the choice of illustration. And why did it take so long to discover that there had been an "error" (more bilge).

Sounds to me like they were told by their lawyers that they were on a hiding to nothing if Ridley sued.

Feb 14, 2015 at 10:22 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

RoyFOMR thank you for your comment earliier, but I still consider this to be a damage limitation exercise, rather than an apology.I do not seem to be the only person to have identified what they have not apologised for, in an editorial piece, which can be filed away, but referred to as an apology, as and when necessary.

Its a bit like an arsonist apologising for being caught, playing with matches, with the smouldering remains of another building, still visible.

As you say, my opinion/choice of course!

Feb 14, 2015 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

They should grovel, not just apologise

Feb 14, 2015 at 12:39 PM | Registered CommenterAlbert Stienstra

It's astonishing that the Graun, with its lefty liberal right-on persona, continues to have anything whatsoever to do with the Skeptical Skience kids, after the revelation about their photoshopped images of themeselves as Nazis came to light.

Feb 14, 2015 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterTurning Tide

TT, evidence above clearly suggests The Guardian supports a do-as-we-say-or-die agenda, so why would they distance themselves from people who fantasise about being National Socialists?

Meanwhile, 'blue cloud' is a reference to cannabis.

Feb 14, 2015 at 2:05 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor


Every excuse trotted out by the writer is contradicted by the facts.

"The Guardian has 50,000 comments to moderate..." - but they found time to knock down Tol's mutliple comments
"comment outing bluecloud is against community guidelines" - the Guardian's own user profile 'outs' Mr Evans. That's where I learnt his identity, and there on his Greenpeace affiliation
"the ISIS hostate situation made the comment look bad" - it looked bad the moment it came out, there have been previous beheadings etc which the writer acknowledges when admitting showing a photo of a zombie head was an error.
"the web is robust" -Not at the Guardian.
"happy to give apology" - are you a human being? Who's 'happy' to give an apology?

Both Nuccitelli's and Abhraham's writing is like piss - strong neither in content nor style, as about hard-hitting as a pillow-fight. Much of Nuccitelli's content is copy-pasted, repeating and linking to the same stuff he wrote for Skepticalscience. Much of the comment stream is dominated by other Skepticalscience astroturfers shouting down any stray commenters that might wander in. To be fair, I don't recall Nuccitelli losing his temper, getting angry with anyone or descending to profanities - all the bad stuff purely stays at the level of content and style. But as Tol pointed out, he should grow up and get out more in the world, instead of spoiling the few good things with unseemly pettiness.

Feb 14, 2015 at 2:14 PM | Registered Commentershub

Shub, it is revealing and very scary that grauniad reference SkepticalScience as a source. I expect they relied on Dana Nuccittelli's scientific expertise in making the decision. Scientific facts should not be allowed to get in the way of grauniad approved science fantasy fiction.

Feb 14, 2015 at 3:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Shub, I also remember from 4? years ago, that Dana1981 came to this blog on a charm offensive. He ran into a lengthy scientific brick wall, with a lukewarmer, known as BBD .......... Got to give credit where it is due!

Feb 14, 2015 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

I am sorry but the Guardian often thinks that the caricature it has of AGW sceptics is the reality , so they really do think they have short memories and are unable to do basic logic because that is how they paint them . So they cannot understand how they can see and remember the type of insulting BS that Bluecloud and others have spouted .
Meanwhile given this is the home of Monboit who called for airline executives to be killed and who was one of the main people promoting the idea that AGW sceptics are equal to holocaust deniers , with its heavy promotion of the 10:10 splatter fest video , the Guardian has great deal of form is using insulting and violent language against those that do not share its view on AGW.

And under the poor cartoonists side kick it has actual got worse .

Feb 14, 2015 at 4:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Echoing Richard Tol's comment, here is Evans apology to everyone but the person who was threatened: “I will not seek to defend them and I apologise for any trouble this may have caused to anyone involved."

Mark Steyn not long ago referred to Harry Reid as a "furtive little rodent," a description that might even be more apt when applied to the perpetrator in this case.

And then there is this bit of nonsense, notable more for it's insincerity than it's seriousness: ". . . Lord Ridley deserves an apology, which I am happy to give on behalf of the Guardian." How much more difficult would it have been to say, " . . . which I sincerely extend on behalf of the Guardian."

If he's happy, it is because he thinks he can get away with a miserly half-apology. "Vermin" doesn't begin to describe that rat's nest.

Feb 14, 2015 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterPotter Eaton

They may be happy to give an apology but they can't actually do so.

To apologise requires remorse and an acceptance of wrongdoing. They don't accept that the moderation of the environment site (especially Dana's columns) is biased.

But it is. They break their own rules regularly by deleting comments that show the IPCC AR5 disagrees with Dana's more insane fear-mongering.
But they allow disproven scare stories backed by Greenpeace to be posted and remain.

If they regretted the breaking of their policies on the environment section they would stop doing it.
They don't stop so they can't apologise.
But I'm sure they would be happy to offer an apology if they could.

Feb 14, 2015 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMCourtney

The reality is that the underlings within the green (and red) blobs never, ever apologise to their victims when they get caught out. They only apologise to their masters (if they get upset) and, naturally, when they do, they end up getting rewarded for doing so.

Feb 14, 2015 at 7:49 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

A good way to get a comment removed in The Guardian is to make a polite and evidence-supported assertion that the one-out-of-five-college-women-will-get-sexually-assaulted statistic is incorrect.

But suggestions to behead someone? The moderators will have to think about that.

Feb 14, 2015 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterrabbit

Why haven't the Greens and the GWPF demanded the demolition of Notre Dame to allow the Bish's colleague, St.Denys, to put his head back on?

Having him standing about noggin in hand might give some banlieusards ideas.

Feb 14, 2015 at 8:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

@Turning Tide

Please take a look at what "liberal" actually means. By mistakingly applying the term to the political left, you grant far, far more than you realize.

Feb 14, 2015 at 9:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute


did the Guardian leave Dana's comment where he said the severed head photo was 'awesome'. After seeing allthe criticism

Feb 14, 2015 at 9:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterbarry woods

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