Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Clone Wars!

Photo by Perov Stanislav

It is often said that 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' but that old saying was to prove small comfort yesterday when I was alerted by my friend and colleague Anthony Hogg that our Facebook group 'The Highgate Cemetery Vampire Appreciation Society' (THCVAS) had been surreptitiously cloned by a hostile element that is allied to Bishop Sean Manchester (BSM). My readers are now aware I'm sure that there is a forty year ongoing feud between this 'gentleman' and one David Farrant over just what really occurred at Highgate. It was my opinion, and that of Anthony's that this feud was getting in the way of many a serious researcher’s quest for answers; hence our mutual desire to create a neutral platform where the case could be examined, discussed and explored without prejudice. But not long after our official launch last Halloween we were to be beset by problems.

With us both having previous experience of being on the receiving end by trolls on other forums, we initially decided that the group should be 'closed'; which meant only signed up members could view posts as well as make contributions. However, we were soon to find that this just encouraged the planting of moles. One such mole lurked within our group but was soon passing information to a BSM supporter named 'Vampirologist.' I should add at this point that it is a widely held belief that this individual was either BSM or one of his small coterie of true believers. Why? Well, because BSM has a long history of using such aliases (or sock puppets) in which to troll and intimidate his critics. Anyway, 'Vampirologist' was soon quoting verbatim (and with much relish) comments we had made, and posted these (usually out of context) on another blog: 'AtlasObscura'. Besides, with the help of a good friend I was able to establish just who the mole was and had him expelled from the group. Interestingly enough 'Vampirologist's' information soon dried up and despite his rather vague boasts that he could view our closed group’s contents personally no more quotes were forthcoming.

However, fearful that such a situation could happen again and with a fast growing membership we soon realised that it would be increasingly difficult to screen out any further moles and so we opened the group to the public. Certainly for a short while things did calm down but this relative peace was not to last. The catalyst appeared to be the discovery of a previously unknown, early article by BSM on the Highgate Vampire case and one which had a narrative that was somewhat at odds with the one we were all familiar with. This did not go down too well with the BSM camp naturally and shortly afterwards a certain 'Vebjørn Hästehufvud' applied to join our group. A self proclaimed 'independent researcher' he declared that he ‘aimed to set the record straight’ but almost immediately this pretence was abandoned and he embarked on the usual tactics of a BSM sock puppet: namely posting great slabs of pro-Manchester, anti-Farrant rhetoric from BSM friendly sources, make unsupported and unsubstantiated claims in support of BSM, adopt an inflammatory and provocative tone and stance to other members, and (when all else failed) would resort to ad hominem attacks on critics or anyone with an alternative viewpoint to his own.

In our desire to maintain a neutral ground for all viewpoints we reluctantly tolerated Vebjørn's presence though it was clear that he was only there to either sabotage the group or derail the discussions that were taking place. The latter point came all the more apparent when he attempted to import and propagate a pre-existing yet ongoing feud between David Farrant and a few of his former friends. That and with a falling membership (mainly caused I believe by Vebjørn's and fellow sock puppet 'Arminius Vambery’s' habit of spamming members via private message), led to the inevitable decision to expel him from the group. Furthermore his profile was reported to the Facebook admins and his profile was removed.

We were soon to learn however that such an action, though entirely justified, was to have a consequence. That such a consequence could and almost certainly would occur that much we were already sure of. At worst we thought we would be the subject of yet another character destroying write up on one of the many pro-BSM hate blogs that are in circulation but no, a new low has now been established in this ever bitter (but one-sided) war. In his ongoing desire to both discredit and deflect attention away from our group 'Vebjørn Hästehufvud' has created a new FB profile and has produced a near exact clone using the exact same name of our group, and with eerily similar topic posts and images. The group has a high membership - amazing you would think for a group barely five days old, but it appears that most if not all have been imported from BSM's other Highgate (albeit closed) groups.

Still if there is one saving grace it's that the good Bishop has decided to let the veil slip for once and show his own hand in this deception. Whilst I cannot prove the full extent of his involvement, nevertheless that fact he has given his endorsement to such a shady and underhand enterprise via both his membership and contributions speaks volumes in itself. So going back to the old saying quoted at the beginning, I’m afraid that I would have to draw the line with pale imitations. And a very pale imitation it is indeed!

For those who would like to learn more, an in-depth analysis of the current situation can be obtained from Anthony Hogg's two most recent blog entries:

Also, If you are members of Facebook I would recommend that you take a look at both groups and see this debacle for yourself. Until next time dear reader... happy viewing!