This week it came out who "David Rose" was all along.
I wrote about it here, and - as I said there - I wanted to "draw a line" and "move on".
This was because of two things.
First: for although I believe in intellectual consistency - and so contend that secularist and liberal writers should adhere to the same standards one expects from religious and conservative writers - it has not been a pleasure to have been part of this exercise.
This lack of pleasure is not crude tribalism - I would not hesitate for a second to hold any other secularist or liberal charlatan to account. My discomfort certainly did not affect my work on "David Rose".
Instead it is a general sense that promoting secularism and liberalism should be essentially a positive endeavour, and not a negative one.
(Though, that said, I am currently working on a project to demonstrate and document the systemic dishonesty of another public figure.)
Second: I do not believe in retribution, but in rehabilitation.
That is why I suggested that the real "David Rose" should go to journalism school and that measures be put in place to give his future readers confidence in his journalism.
(I do not know if my suggestions had any actual impact, though I am reliably told they were considered carefully by the Independent's editor.)
What was important to me was that the evidence, and what what it showed, was frankly admitted. I did not want anyone to actually get the sack.
But the "David Rose" matter has not quite come to an end.
It has not been meaningfully resolved.
The adverse evidence has not genuinely been admitted.
In fact, the apology offered in respect of "David Rose" hardly even begins to cover the extent of the recoverable malice and deceit of that fictional construct.
And so that is why I am writing this one further post.
On this blog in July I did (with the fine help of excellent commenters) what I set out to do: which was to, in a measured and libel-safe way, identify "David Rose".
And, in the end, I did not even have to go to the extent of naming him: he had no alternative but to name himself.
For me there was one Wikipedia page and one blogpost which, more than the sad fact "David Rose" was editing the Wikipedia page of Richard Littlejohn on the evening of Christmas Day last year, shows just how wretched the whole business had become.
The Wikipedia page is here.
You will see "David Rose" spends several months in early 2007 convening and then participating in a Wikipedia mediation about whether someone is really the youngest ever nominee for the George Orwell prize (this was for the year before he won it in 2008), and whether a photograph is really that of the subject (which of course it clearly is, it is just a rather unflattering photograph).
"David Rose" even states:
"This is a bit surreal. That picture really isn't Johann. That was my suspicion when I first saw it, and when I e-mailed Johann, he said he doesn't own the clothes 'he' is wearing in the picture."
So "David Rose" was emailing the real "David Rose" to ask if the real "David Rose" has certain clothes, which the real "David Rose" denies, leading to an assurance from "David Rose" that the real "David Rose" doesn't own those clothes.
The blogpost to also look at was the only one which the real "David Rose" acknowledged the existence of his alter ego. (There is now no direct url, though I quoted it here.)
The last sentence of this is particularly interesting; but in its entirety it reads oddly now one knows who is the real "David Rose".
A friend has just e-mailed me a link to the comments section of the 'Daily Ablution', a blog by right-wing writer Scott Burgess. It's quite amusing. Check it out - it's the first comments box on the page.
Burgess is very fond of writing to left-wing newspapers and demanding corrections in print. Daily journalism written to tight deadlines inevitably involves errors - I make them myself, like everyone else - and all sorts of gadflies can be helpful in pointing them out, even when they have a pretty ugly agendas like Burgess. That's why I'm grateful to him for pointing out an error I made in citing Louis Emmanuel, the hurricane expert, a few weeks ago, for example. As soon as I found out about it I posted a correction, and thanks to him I won't make that mistake again.
But what's so funny is that when Burgess' own factual errors - real whoppers, like citing scientists who say exactly the opposite of what he claims, part of his total illiteracy on the question of global warming - were exposed by Alex Higgins on this website, Burgess posted no corrections. Nothing. Recently David Rose has been writing in his comments box, asking how to contact Burgess' readers' editor to request a correction.
And Burgess has been... totally silent. It has been left to barely-literate posters in his comments box to respond, accusing people like David with real scientific knowledge (a starred first from a degree specialising in environmental science at Cambridge, and extensive work in Antarctica observing the effects of global warming) of being "stupid" and "twerps."
David is quite right when he says, "If Scott doesn't respond to [Alex Higgins'] fair and accurate critique, then I'm afraid his ability to fact-check and critique others is simply shot to pieces."
Next time you read him trying to fact-check a liberal, remember that he has been proven to have no respect for facts - none - himself.
Yes, "David Rose" is actually being quoted in aid here.
Yes, a blogpost is actually being dedicated to praising what the author said as "David Rose" on some discussion forum.
But this Wikipeda page and that blogpost are relatively trivial examples in view of what else "David Rose" got up to.
My serious concern is that the failure of the person behind "David Rose" (and his supporters) to genuinely acknowledge the extent of what "David Rose" actually did means that this issue will not just go away; that the more serious abuses will keep coming out.
It would have just been far better had the ultimate apology not been so weasel-worded.
The apology should instead have been on the basis of full and frank admissions that "David Rose" didn't just make a couple or so errors, and was instead a deliberate and systemic on-going smear campaign and dishonest self-promotional exercise premised on the repeated deceits of (and contrivances by) "David Rose" over his real identity.
In the end, "David Rose" invented at least fifteen biographical facts (from a lawyer girlfriend in Walthamstow and subbing jobs at the Independent and Spectator, to a principled and noisy opposition to the invasion of Iraq) which were simply not true; it was a fluent stream of lies contrived just so that the systemic smear campaign and dishonest self-promotional exercise could carry on and never be exposed.
Ultimately "David Rose" was an intellectual fraud.
It was a structured and enduring enterprise to shape a false intellectual reputation by the deceitful means of over 800 Wikipedia edits (and by numerous online comments on blogs and forums, and also even emails to bloggers). This included the publication of serious libels against other working journalists.
And, until this is admitted in the round, and properly (and sincerely) apologised for, then one suspects the ghost of "David Rose" will not finally be put to rest.
(Postscript: Christopher Snowdon has analysed some of what "David Rose" did here. It isn't pretty.)
No purely anonymous comments will be published; always use a name for ease of reference by other commenters.