Will Lynton Crosby be downed by a man who felled a Somali warlord?

Official Australian Government portrait of Mike Kelly MP, defence materials minister and twitter libel fighter

Official Australian Government portrait of Mike Kelly MP.

A perfect storm is gathering for David Cameron in the autumn. His Downing Street spin doctor friend Andy Coulson and Rupert Murdoch’s favourite News International employee, Rebekah Brooks, are facing trial for alleged phone hacking .Now Lynton Crosby, his Tory election strategist, looks likely to be embroiled in a libel action in Australia while the country is engulfed in an election campaign.

The two cases will overlap and will mean a very interesting examination of Crosby and partner Mark Textor’s election disputed ” push  polling” techniques to denigrate Labor opponents and might well provide a useful insight into how Crosby will try to get Cameron re-elected.

The case has been bought by Crosby and Textor against a Labor minister, Mike Kelly for tweeting as the Sydney Morning Herald  reported “”always grate [sic] to hear moralizing from Crosby, Textor, Steal and Gnash. The mob who introduced push polling to Aus.” This led to a libel suit on the grounds that it damaged their business and ” push polling ” is meant to be illegal in Australia. They also deny doing it.

They seek aggravated damages because they say Dr Kelly failed to apologise, used sensational language and published the tweet knowing it was false, or with reckless indifference to its truth or falsity.

But what is really interesting is the man Crosby is fighting. He is not the guy  you might think is an obvious Labor or Labour politician.

No the defence materials minister is something else. Crosby is taking on an Australian military hero – a rare case of a soldier turned politician. He has a  decorated military record. He has worked with the UN peacekeepers in Timor and hostage rescue in Kenya.

He was involved in the legal prosecution of Saddam Hussein and the execution of a Somali warlord after he was convicted of 31 murders. He also served with the International Red Cross in Bosnia.

The warlord  Hussan Gutaale Abdul  had attacked and killed 16 aid workers and repeatedly driven an armoured car into emaciated refugees awaiting food distribution He was arrested by an Australian patrol, held in a cage at Baidoa airport and later flown to Mogadishu to be held by US forces. He was found guilty of 31 counts of murder.

When the death penalty was pronounced  Gutaale physically attacked Kelly and Kelly wrestled him along the road to his place of execution.

For his bravery,Kelly became a Member of the Order of Australia for ” exceptional service or performance of duty”

Kelly told the Sydney Daily Telegraph :

“There was quite a bit of scuffling. I got attacked. He had always threatened he was going to take me with him if he went down. He jumped on me in the court room. I had to use my rifle to subdue him by buttstroking.”

He said a price was put on his head as a result of his work to bring warlords to justice: “There were continuous radio broadcasts calling on people to do all sorts of nasty things, to disembowel me. It wasn’t an office job.”

The cancerous Lynton crosby

The politically “cancerous ” Lynton Crosby

Crosby of course is none of these things. His previous life as a farmer’s son is sketchy but his main interest at Crosby Textor the company co founded with MarkTextor, is pretty vicious campaigning for right wing parties in Australia and the UK. Their client list is secret but the ones that have been disclosed involve tobacco, fracking and banking.

I don’t know who is going to win the libel action. But if I had a choice of buddies it would be Kelly over Crosby.

Kelly is brave and  has  been  fighting against evil dictators and war lords and trying to bring peace and stability to the world. Indeed he might deserve a place in the Imperial War Museum in Lord Ashcroft’s  roll call of military heroes.

Crosby seems to be solely motivated by money and is filling his boots with gold from a product that will  spread cancer world wide. No wonder David Cameron can’t give a straight answer to journalists about his involvement in dropping plain packaging for cigarettes.

Crosby is a cancer in the heart of Whitehall. He and Textor’s contribution to the world is to help increase cancer rates and damage the environment  for their own  private gain through a company that hides its clients from public view.

Lynton Crosby launches Twitter libel action against Labor

Lynton Crosby: Latest figure to pursue Twitter Libel Action. Pic credit: BBC

Lynton Crosby: Latest figure to pursue Twitter libel Action. Pic credit: BBC

Just as David Cameron could do without any further distractions  Lynton Crosby, his top strategist for the 2015 general election,  is about to become embroiled in a lengthy and costly libel action 10,500 miles away from Downing Street.

Mr Crosby the aggressive campaign adviser  who helped Boris Johnson win the last London mayoral election  and well-known for his ” dog whistle” techniques to woo voters is about to cause a furore in Australia in a trial that a judge says is already ” heading down the path of a famous defamation.”

He is the latest top figure after Lord McAlpine, the former Tory treasurer, decided to sue people for Twitter defamation ( in his case wrongly accused of being a paedophile), to take his chances in the courts. The interesting thing is this case is that it centres around his very election techniques that helped right wingers win power in Australia and could become controversial over here. He is also a tweeter himself (@LyntonKCrosby)- at least while he was helping Boris Johnson’s campaign. Indeed his tweets were quite sharp about the BBC, and the Left during the campaign and he also got into trouble (not on Twitter) over describing the Muslim voter in uncharitable terms – something which he denies.

The full story of the impending libel action is revealed in some detail on the Inforrm blog (http://inforrm.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/news-conservative-strategist-lynton-crosby-and-an-australian-twitter-libel-action/) .

Official Australian Government portrait of Mike Kelly MP, defence materials minister and twitter libel fighter

Official Australian Government portrait of Mike Kelly MP, defence materials minister and twitter libel fighter

The man being sued by Crosby is an Australian defence minister, Mike Kelly ( ‏@MikeKellyMP)

in the Labor government who tweeted that Mr Crosby had used unethical polling techniques to help win the election for the Liberals. The damaging tweet said: ““always grate [sic] to hear moralizing from Crosby, Textor, Steal and Gnash. The mob who introduced push polling to Aus.”

Crosby took exception to this as push polling is illegal in Australia  as it attempts to change people’s opinions by pretending to conduct a neutral poll. As Inforrm reports ”  Crosby  and his company claimed his opponents said he ” had introduced a polling technique that had the deceitful purpose of deliberately influencing voters with material slanted against the opposing candidate.  They seek aggravated damages because they say Dr Kelly failed to apologise, used sensational language and published the tweet knowing it was false, or with reckless indifference to its truth or falsity.”

But Mr Kelly is not backing down despite losing an attempt to have the libel thrown out and being ordered to pay $100,000 costs. He has got the financial backing of the New South Wales Labor Party and both sides will be back in court on June 7.

So Mr Crosby is about to be a bit distracted just when he should be advising Cameron on how to handle the rise of Ukip. But there is also interesting side to this story. Will Crosby launch similar type actions against prominent Labour tweeters here – if they dare attack him during the 2015 election campaign. Will Tom Watson, Labour’s campaign manager,a prolific tweeter and man prepared to take on the wrath of Murdoch, find himself in the centre of a fresh row.

Whatever happens there no seems a much bigger chance of what  former party Tory deputy chairman @LordAshcroft tweeted only a week ago ( “Lynton Crosby becoming the story. Dirty linen/public. Whatever the merits not good for the Tories.” This was not about this story but the blogosphere could be about to get a lot more controversial, nastier and dangerous during the 2015 election.