Red Rag

The Red Rag blogsite was at the centre of a UK political scandal that became known as smeargate. The scandal broke on 11 April 2009 when it was reported by the Daily Telegraph that Gordon Brown's special adviser, Damian McBride, had sent a series of emails to left wing political blogger Derek Draper discussing plans to set up the blog which would be used to post false rumours about the private lives of senior members of the Conservative Party and their spouses.[1][2][3][4][5][6] The website was never launched according to The Register.[7]

Exposed by Guido FawkesEdit

The emails, which had been sent from the Downing Street Press Office, found their way to Paul Staines who blogs under the pseudonym of Guido Fawkes.[8]


Draper and McBride initially tried to play down the plans. McBride stated "To call it an orchestrated smear campaign is ridiculous. It was just some ill-judged gossip between friends which was never meant to see the light of day. They appear to be some ideas — laid out in embarrassing detail — for stories which could appear on a Left-wing version of the Guido Fawkes blog called Red Rag. They’re all stories which have been doing the rounds in Westminster for a while, written up in a scurrilous style. But the website has never appeared, so it’s hard to see what it was all about."[9]

However, it quickly became apparent that the plans were much more fully developed. Phil Hendren, who blogs under the pseudonym of Dizzy Thinks, stated that The Red Rag had in fact been set up in November 2008.[10] This was followed up in the mainstream media later that day led by an article in The Observer which also reported that McBride had resigned.[11]

Following a formal complaint to Nominet made by Ian Mansfield the domain was delisted. Mr Mansfield then bought the domain and redirected it to[12] which in an act of irony is the blogsite of Guido Fawkes.[13]


  1. ^ "Timeline: Damian McBride email smears row". The Guardian. London. 14 April 2009.
  2. ^ "Sex, lies and sordid photos to promote Labour website". The Australian. 13 April 2009.
  3. ^ "Key people in e-mail smear row". BBC News. 14 April 2009.
  4. ^ "How the Labour smear email story unfolded". The Daily Telegraph. 13 April 2009.
  5. ^ "Labour insider Derek Draper stands down". Brand Republic. 7 May 2009.
  6. ^ "E-mail smears MP 'paid damages'". BBC News. 29 October 2009.
  7. ^ "Tory MP to sue over sex smear email". The Register. 7 September 2009.
  8. ^ Fawkes, Guido (17 April 2009). "Why did so few stand up to the spin machine". The Times. London.
  9. ^ Hope, Christopher (10 April 2009). "Row as Number 10 emails 'smear Tories'". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  10. ^ Hendren, Phil (11 April 2009). "Telegraph publishes front page lie from Downing Street unnamed source?". Dizzy Thinks. Archived from the original on 14 April 2009.
  11. ^ Hinsliff, Gaby (11 April 2009). "Damian McBride forced to quit over 'sex smear scandal'". The Guardian. London.
  12. ^ Domain transferred to Ian Mansfield in The Red Rag
  13. ^ Redirection to Fawkes Blog from whois

External linksEdit