"Journalist" and sometime broadcaster Chris Gelken, left, has launched a vendetta against The-Latest and its editor after getting cold feet about an article of his that we published. The comment piece laid bare his remarkable conversion from an open-minded liberal to a bigoted little Englander with views not dissimilar to those expressed by the nazi British National Party.
Previously Gelken had written a number of good articles from the Middle East for The-Latest, though at times our editors had to question his political bias which verged on the anti-Semitic. Also, because he is not a professional journalist, Gelken's copy had to be carefully fact-checked and sub-edited. He is long-winded and obsessive but, apart from that, because of the access being a correspondent for the government of Iran's Press TV gave him, Gelken delivered original stories from top sources.
But, before long, Gelken, who revels in picking fights with colleagues, fell out with his bosses at the TV station and fled from Tehran to Beijing with his Chinese wife. He then, with the benefit of his wife's translation skills, filed reviews of the Chinese press to The-Latest which we relished because the world's most populated country is poorly reported in the West. These despatches suddenly stopped. Gelken suffered some personal tragedies and we offered our sympathies and put no pressure on him whatsoever to write for us.
He then decided to return to England, after a 23-year absence, to attend a funeral. The experience led him to contact our editor, Marc Wadsworth, and suggest that he write some controversial journalism for us. He wondered whether or not we would be bold enough to publish in the shock aftermath of the BNP winning two European Parliament seats in Britain in June 2009. The proposed copy included an attack on the multiculturalism on which modern Britain prides itself. Gelken wrote:
"I was hearing and seeing things I never thought I would see. What began, I am sure with the best of intentions, has gone badly wrong. Reverse discrimination, unparalleled and unrestricted immigration, a real fear among some officials of offending certain "minorities" (I hate that word) that has reached the point where some people are being excluded or discriminated against simply on the basis of being Anglo-Saxon..."
Several emails passed between Gelken and the editor, culminating in a sub-edited comment piece that was shown to Gelken before publication. He objected, though the article was a true reflection of the copy he had sent to the editor. It was a problem The-Latest had had with him before.
Gelken always wanted special privileges, over and above those given to every other contributor to this site. If these had been conceded to this would effectively have handed over to him editorial control that publications jealously guard as their own. Every professional journalist knows that. On publication, Gelken, who is always quick off the mark with his communications, did not complain for weeks so we believed he was satisfied. Then, out of the blue, he threw a tantrum, the likes of which we had experienced before, demanding that everything he had ever written for us should be taken off The-Latest and he should be removed as a "featured contributor" on the front page.
We thought this was just "Chris being Chris" and he would come to his senses. Instead, without warning, Gelken contacted key contributors of ours behind the back of the editor and asked them to join his campaign to force the site to take down his material because of the damaging affect to his reputation of the racially prejudiced piece he had written. This was seriously undermining and unprofessional but the editor of The-Latest refused to be provoked.
Then Gelken threatened legal action, again a no, no for a journalist dealing with an editor. We knew he didn't have a leg to stand on so we opted for a dignified silence. Gelken soon retreated, pathetically claiming that the "vagueness of the law" and cost had put him off. So, he dreamed up another ruse. He launched a Facebook petition to get the editor to remove his article. When this flopped Gelken resorted to the tactics of the cyber bully Peter Dean Rickard, whom The-Latest exposed, and planted a story on his blog dishonestly claiming, among other things, that he had been libeled by the editor. How could that be when the piece about which Gelken is now complaining was written by himself and not the editor? He has also resorted to nasty, personal abuse against the editor of The-Latest whom he described, on a notorious right-wing blog, as a "race-baiting asshole".
Neither The-Latest nor its editor will not be cowed by a bully. We say the same to Gelken as we said to Rickard, whose online hate material has at last been taken down by an internet service provider: put up in court or shut up.
* News update: Gelken, the BNP's new friend, has revealed on his blog that he considered approaching the nazi party to fund his doomed legal action.