Monday, February 18, 2013

The FriendsReunited Conspiracy (?) - Part 16 - Coming Soon. The Movie!

I was travelling home on the tube the other day, going through my emails. I was reading the latest weekly newsletter from the Kernel (called the Nutshell)

[as background - the Kernel ran a story about my blogs and the conspiracy. The conspirators then sent the full dossier to the Kernel which they then printed under another story with the tag line "Someone needs to be reunited with their marbles". Needless to say, neither article was very complementary towards these people. ]

Suddenly I came across the following


More news from the ongoing Friends Reunited saga, in which founder Steve Pankhurst and his wife are being hounded by Wiklevoss-lite fantasists for a quick buck. (You can read the full, utterly bonkers dossier here.)

We were contacted anonymously at the end of January by someone claiming to be a "slolicitor" [sic] acting on behalf of John Meyer, crackpot in chief, asking if we'd like to appear in the book and movie Meyer claims he has secured "global rights" to.

But only if we take down the two posts linked to above and do a U-turn to support Meyer's zany consipiracy theories.

It doesn't get much more plausible - or professional - than this. Next, Meyer will be asking, Louise Mensch-like, for us to reveal our sources...  
I will try and get hold of the full email as this was the first I had heard of it. But how hilarious
  • a solicitor apparently sending something anonymously, sort of negating the point really
  • a slolicitor - is that a drunk one?
  • asking a journalist to do a U-turn. Really going to happen? Sort of surprised they didn't do their usual and offer a "substantial financial reward".
  • and asking to take down the dossier that they had sent!
But the best bit - global rights to a book and a movie. They have gone on about a book before but ...

A Movie!!!!!

Brilliant. My gob is well and truly smacked. Lets do it.

Can I help in any way. I can help with fund raising, setup investors, the script, locations etc.

We've had a brain storm and come up with some suggested actors.
Me - Ray Winston (I know someone who knows someone who once saw him in a pub if that helps)
Jason - Jason Statham
Julie - Meryl Streep
Our conspirator - if only Norman Wisdom was still alive

The script - I am sure Aaron Sorkin would be available to do The Social Network 2. However, I am a bit worried about the first 5 years of the film. Basically it involved me in a box room programming and answering emails every day. We need someone to inject some crazy conspiracy and made up content into it - hang on I think we know just the guy.......

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Nightmare Customer Services

Back in 2001 I think I spent too much time answering emails - see below one of my favourite's so far that I have found on how to win over people. 


Dear Steve - Tosser!

On your magnificent website, there is 1 person from my ex-school whom I
know, and even he seems to be more fun than you are, despite also being a
complete ******* (just like you). Anyway, thanks again for this most
informative(not) e-mail about your crap site. I will remove myself from your
site as soon as I have sent this mail since I don't want to be associated
with it any longer. Come on everybody, let's pay 5 pounds to e-mail someone
who can be found in the phone book, or simply by asking around. I'm sure you
will keep sending me junk mail once I've left the site but that's to be
expected, and a BIG SORRY for not being Scottish and not having an
interesting story. Luckily for you, some people will still pay for your
non-services. Tell me, how do you justify the money you charge again?

Maybe you and your friends can somehow manage to extract my credit card
details from somewhere and rip me off. Good luck and a BIG GOODBYE. Please
publish this e-mail in your 'customer comments' section. Please do write
back to me to with your reaction to this. I am a professional person who has
taken the time to write this nasty e-mail. The last but one e-mail I
received from your site was to supposedly tell me about all the "NEW"
members who had joined. These 'new' members happened to be all the existing
members I had already seen, but never mind - I felt so wanted having been
sent an e-mail from a computer. Maybe you should call your site
"". Now, I've wasted enough time on you. TIP - If
you want to make a website work and make money, do it like the Americans do
it and actually offer some kind of service for the money and miss out the
spam and the bullshit because people (like me) see right through it. I do
hope your website is a hobby as opposed to your livelihood, for your sake.

If I don't receive a reply to this e-mail I will assume that either I am
talking to a badly configured computer, or a faceless dickhead lacking the
guts to reply. Please, make my day and justify your existence Steve!

Jason xxxx.


Wow - thats some email. Ive been running the site for nearly a year and personally answered over 10,000 emails, yes some of them complaints, but I must say yours is the best. I shall try to "justify my existence" but I feel the battle is already lost. I must say its the first time Ive had abuse (thats out of over 100,000 members)
Firstly about the charge. The charging for full membership came into force in March. It gives you access to send contact emails and add to the message board. Normal registration and use of the rest of the site is and will remain free. We dont push anyone to pay - in fact you can carry on using the site and all its memories and teacher boards etc and just wait to be contacted.
We started the site a year ago as a trial and this year it has become very popular, so much so that it is taking up lots of our time and also costing more and more in ISP services. Because of this we reluctantly decided to charge people for full membership to try and cover our costs. Lots of members are also urging us to start advertising but again this costs money. We tried banner advertising to earn revenue but this pays peanuts. We had no idea whether people would pay for this service, but if we didn't try, the site would ultimately have to close down, which obviously we and the tens of thousands that have registered will not want.
The overwhelming verdict on the charge is a positive - people who do find someone think £5 is a small price to pay. I can believe some people can think we can run this as a charity.
The emails, all emails are sent because you subscribe to them - which you can change your options at any time. We do not spam. If you didnt want to receive emails then why did you set the options when you registered. Thats normal proctice. No one else has ever accused us of spamming.
Yes - some schools are pretty empty (its early days) and probably some will remain empty. Others already have over 200 members. Read the succes board - the site works, 1000's of others have also contacted their old friends.
The american site I think you are talking about (classmates) costs $29.95 and offers the same plus some freebie vouchers.
By all means add your comments to the guestbook - I hope you come back and read the replies because for every 1 like yourself I get 100's thanking us for the service - yes I know that sounds crap but unfortunately its true bullshit.
In fact Ive already spent to much time on this email so Ive now removed your details from the site.
So finally - a BIG GOODBYE
the faceless dickhead


Hi Steve,
I already feel bad about what I wrote and I really do apologise. I went over the top for sure. OK, let me just put it this way - I work in the computer business myself, over in Holland so I know basically what the crack is. Until today, I had nothing against your site. Since I joined, I got 3 e-mails and each time I opened them, I was expecting something good. The first one told me about some new members which were really already existing members, the second one told me about a real new member (so this one was OK) and the third one today was little more than an advert.
Anyway, what I want to say is that I would be very surprised if anybody who saw my details up there and wanted to get in touch with me (little chance) would pay your site 5 pounds to do this. They wouldn't! They would look at what I wrote and find me some other way, like by asking my parents for my address. OK, I admit that there will be the odd person who really has no other way to get in touch with someone and go for the 5 pounds option, but surely, the number of people who would do this has got to be quite low? And the amount of money you make is going to be low too. Only you can know this.
The reasons I attacked you in the first place are:
* I was convinced I was talking to a computer and not a person (looking forward to me expletives being sent back to me by a computer)
* I really like the idea of such a database, but done a bit differently.
I don't have the experience to create such a site myself, but if I did, I really would do it as a hobby for the sake of getting people in touch. I really have nothing against charging, or even making money, but if you just charged a bit less, like 1 pound, but maybe per e-mail, and not unlimited, you'd get more positive responses. Again, I do feel bad about the mails I sent you, but when I saw a new e-mail from your site in my inbox, I was hoping it was something proper. Why not make the header of your e-mails indicate that it's just an information e-mail rather than a contact?
The guy who joined the other day - the real new person (john Mellor), I know about anyway. He lives in the same town as I work in the Netherlands, I have his address and everything. The fact that he suddenly appeared on your site tells me little more than that he wants to be contacted, not a way to get his address. I already have his business card anyway!
What I'm trying to say here is that if everybody registered, your site would be great, but unfortunately, there are too many people like me, who as soon as there is mention of payment, feel they're being ripped off.
If I were you, I would change the disclaimer at the beginning slightly. Don't make it too pushy. People like me who want to get in touch with people, or at least know about the existence of other people, need a different sales pitch. I am a writer, so I know a bit about writing to a specific audience. Try and make it sound more romantic and don't mention the charges until the very end. Also, 5 pounds is too rounded. Why not 4 pounds or 6 pounds or 6.37 pounds? When you put 5 pounds people just think its a value too easily arrived at - a fiver.
I would be the happiest guy if a website like yours succeeded and it was my disappointment that provoked me into writing the shitty e-mails I wrote - sorry again, it's not really like my, honestly. But you do ask people to send their comments. Of course, after getting a reply from you, I don't want you to put my bad comments on your 'customer comments' section, just perhaps change the way your site works, for your benefit. I genuinely did think I was writing to a computer and that at best I would get an automatic reply, thanking me for my message. The fact that you replied, and so quickly too, proves that you are doing this properly. I simply think you need to bring the human aspect of your site across a bit more on the site itself. Make it look less professional and more human. As I said earlier. the kind of people who want to get in touch with old mates are more emotional than normal and will go for a more humane angle on the manifesto.
Sorry again for the out-of-order e-mail I sent you. I really did get the impression I was being spammed. Sorry. The fact that you replied at all (and so quickly) impressed me a lot. I really hope the site is a success, seriously mate.  I think your list of people is quite large, but I can't stress enough the importance of drawing people in by the idea of getting in touch with lost mates.
Please try and ignore the previous two e-mails.  JASON.


No problem - I'm just glad I didnt send you my first email I wrote. Apologises accepted but I must admit it got my blood boiling. The site is so busy its taking up every hour of the day at the moment and I get pretty knackered (doesnt help the baby got me up at 5 this morning and Ive been on the computer ever since) so when I receive complaints I set to them straight away.
I do take your points. I always try and accept critisism of the site and where possible make changes. I suppose the problem with something like this is that its really hard to please everyone. FOr instance, you say to make it more human and less professional(which in a way is a compliment) - whereas I get of people saying they love the site because its so human and not commercial. Also, some people complain that we dont mention the charge up front.
Having said that - there are loads of things that I want to do to make the site better and friendlier and add content to it. I suppose the incredible growth weve had the last couple of months is the reason why I havent had a chance - basically it did start as a hobby but because so many people were hitting the site, my wife and I decided to go full time on it and have a go at making a living. So far so good, yes it is a small percentage of people who pay, but with a large membership thats growing weve been pleasantly surprised. I suppose only time will tell. The publicity band wagon is also taking up huge amounts of time.
Hopefully over the coming months you will see suptle changes to make it better. If not then let me know (without the abuse hopefully) - I'll do my best


Again, sorry Steve. I must just be too emotional myself, whether in a good way or a bad way. I happened to be not in the best mood this morning when I arrived at the office, the stress of moving house and the lack of sleep that goes with it all. It's really not like me. I do hope the site is a success because it's a great idea and I have the vision of the future as everyone being connected (whether they like it or not).
So, all the best and again, sorry for what I wrote earlier. What you wrote below made me laugh, about how you didn't send the first e-mail you'de drafted - fait play there, you bit the bullet and kept the raply professional, just explaining to me the way the site works, and that, I don respect. I should have just written you a constructive criticism rather than an abusive e-mail and I realise that now. If nothing else, it made your ears prick up, but in the worst possible way. Anyway, I won't take up any of your time now. Glad to hear you're overrun with hits. Keep on keeping on and make it work. In a similar way to what you said previously, I'm sure that there are 100 others like me who look at your site, so do make sure you cater for them too..... I feel a lot better knowing I wrote to a person and not a software package. Best wishes,  Jason.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I am a Hoarder

I admit it - I'm a hoarder. Even worse - I am an disorganised hoarder. I struggle to throw personal stuff away and keep it in cupboards for years with no knowledge sometimes of what it is or what I will do with it.

I have all my old vinyl records, thousands of DVD's and CD's, comics, books, every laptop I ever owned, computer games - Spectrum and gameboy, mobile phones, computer cables and gadgetry, photos, magazines. On top of that I have filled every bank statement, credit card statement, every receipt, utility bill, mortgage statement, insurance documents, investments portfolios. You name - I keep it just in case one day I might need something.

Of course the problem is that when I do need something then I can't find it - cue every January when I come to do my tax return - the information is there somewhere, just I don't know where.

So -  last year I started to do something about it.

In August I employed a company to take over my book keeping and to take away nearly 100 files of the above mentioned paperwork and sort through it and file it properly. It took months. They only just returned it last month in January and I am pleased to announce well over half of the paperwork went away to shredders. And the rest is now organised in archived and correctly filed.

At a similar time last year I also had a massive purge of house hold stuff on Freecycle. I got rid of lots of stuff although the personal stuff and vinyl, books, comics etc I have now stored away permanently. There is also a pile of about 8 laptops that I had no idea what was on them. I was about to dump them in the skip but something stopped me and I held back. This was a year ago.

The point?

If you've read my previous blogs recently you may well know I have having the odd problem with some people - basically what I call the FR Conspiracy. It's all so much crap since there is so much proof  already - however something has changed in me over the past few months and my hoarding and recent tidying up has helped.

When we sold FriendsReunited in 2005 I was sort of burnt out. It had been a 5 year roller coaster, really hard work, and an incredible journey where our lives had been plastered all over the news for a long period of time. I hated that part of it and wanted to just disappear back into our own little world. Of course I was proud of what we had achieved and the sale price was more that we ever dreamed of and allowed me the time to pursue things I find fun. I suppose I was sort of embarrassed too with what happened.

Therefore for the past 7 years I was happy to disappear and be forgotten about - and to forget about all things FR related. During that time of course other social networks took over and became hugely more popular. We just sort of forgot about our baby that was FR.

So the people who started accusing us from Spring 2012 again have managed to ignite a flame again in me. Every time they question our story, calling us liars - and believe me they do it regularly and still are - then actually it makes me even prouder and more determined. So much so that I have started to look back at those years with renewed satisfaction and pride.

Back to my hoarding. Two things have happened recently.

Firstly - when my files came back last month from my new book keepers, everything was nicely filled for me to quickly scan through and decide what to keep and what to shred. And there amongst it all was a file called FriendsReunited. It contained lots of early documents - including our "mad" 5-year business plan which was achieved and surpassed inside 6 months, lots of legals, and low and behold, all the letters from our conspiracists.

I thought they had all gone to the lawyers at ITV but I must have been sent a copy. Back then they were just another small example of the types of people who hassled us.

These letters are great - I've always wondered and asked for these people to print them so I could see them but for some reason they haven't.  Now I can see why - almost each of them had some veiled threat associated and I will print parts of them later.

Secondly - I had already found and booted up one development machine I used back in 2000 and had printed screenshots in a previous blog. Of course these are ignored as I "must have fabricated them" of course. Ho hum. But I knew there was also a lot of data missing from 2000 which must have been on a laptop that Julie used. Don't forget for the first 6 months in the summer of 2000 this was a tiny site that was more of a hobby for Julie whilst she was on maternity leave.

One laptop would not boot - I took it down to my cousin's a couple of weeks ago as he is a hardware genius. After many hours of trial and error we managed to recover the data.


How brilliant has the last couple of weeks been.

There are thousands and thousands of emails from 2000/2001 - brilliant personal ones with loads of pictures of the kids and friends, lots of funny stuff, but the whole documented history of our baby that was FR from its first inception.

I have not yet finished going through them all but its been such fun - shrieks of laughters, emailing friends who were involved, unbelievable emails from people trolling us, abuse from all corners, hundreds of happy stories of people being reunited and much much more. So much stuff I had forgotten about. I didn't realise that we had started to receive so many emails even back in July/August 2000 from users - including a success story within 1 month of launch.

If nothing else I should sort of thank our conspirators because they have made me go back and revisit our time from over a decade ago - and it's been great. I still have another 6 laptops to see what is on there from later on (or even earlier) so watch this space. I will document all these emails into a timeline - for my own personal archive - but as a by product some people are going to be highly embarrassed again (not that it will make a scrap of difference to them)

My favourite iPhone App at the moment is Timehop. It shows you every day what you were doing exactly a year ago in terms of twitter, Facebook, texts and photos. It's great. What I have just done is a 13 year Timehop and I recommend it to anyone.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The FriendsReunited Conspiracy (?) – Part 15 – How to be a Conspiracist

If you haven’t been reading this series of blogs then catch up at and the 14 following parts.

I’ve been having a lot of chats and thoughts about how our pursuers’ minds work. It’s actually becoming quite interesting, and I’ve now done a lot of research about conspiracy theories.

So, this is my own 10-point guide on how to create your very own conspiracy theory:

1.    Manage to find a spurious coincidence or two in something in which suit your underlying objectives.  Don’t worry if some of them aren’t really coincidences at all – work on the basis that quantity is more important than quality.
2.    Get someone to investigate – better still, pay someone to do so, as they may be inclined to agree that the “coincidences” add up to something suspicious in order to keep the fees going.
3.    If people aren’t saying what you want, they must be lying: minutely analyse their demeanour to find make-believe “tells” that supposedly show this to be the case.
4.    Ignore, or simply disbelieve, any proof you happen to be shown or find that would disprove your theory.
5.    No matter how implausible it may seem, be prepared to believe that unconnected third parties are “in” on the conspiracy, and will be inclined to do fraudulent things, like changing official records.
6.    Seek comments by friends and colleagues, and carefully note down the comments that support your mooted conspiracy.
7.    Disregard anyone’s comments that are unsupportive of your conspiracy.
8.    Parlay your combination of evanescent coincidences and non-coincidences, disbelief of obvious proof, mystifying involvement of unconnected third parties and self-serving supportive statements into a long document, thus (in your mind) conferring credibility on your mooted conspiracy.
9.    Ask lots more spurious questions to keep the conspiracy going.
10. Go back point 2 and continue (forever if necessary)

Here are a few examples of my 10-point plan in action.

1.    Find a coincidence – well that was easy, they had a similar idea to us. And my previous blog on coincidences just shows how this one works.

It’s funny they never mention the US reunion site Classmates. It was a very mature site by 1999 and we always were very open in interviews about how it was an inspiration to our site. Perhaps they are next in line after us.

2.    Investigate it. It seems they used PIs predominately – 4 in fact, from what we can see. None of them ever found anything of interest, but I bet the PIs loved to encourage it. And when one failed to find anything they just employed another. Then there were their friends – and they are surely going to agree with everything you come up with.

3.    Twist things. Again I’ve been over this many times. Everything I’ve said is “did he really mean that” or “sounding scripted”.

One of the worst examples of this is the following which I quote (our friends are Mr and Mrs F and the developer is Mr D)

“1st September 2011 – Investigator UK sent an operative to visit a director based in Kent by the name of Mrs F from the original Friends Reunited team; while not a break through, his report below still strongly hints at a cover-up:

“….I attended [our friend] today at 16.40. There was a silver Audi TT parked in the rear garden. The front door was knocked (Dogs barking) and a white female, slim, aged approx. 40yrs answered the door and identified herself as Mrs F.  When asked under pretext, about the Mr D name she convincingly stated that she did not know of anyone of that name.
Mrs F then made a telephone call to someone who she said may know them, apparently the previous owner of her house at [Mrs F’s address]. She started the phone call with "Hi it's me" and asked about the Mr D name.  This did not provide any further information but her mannerism on the phone led me to suspect that she may have been told not to say anything to me, particularly towards the end of the call.
I gave her, which she relayed down the phone, the Christian names of all the Mr D and again this was met with a negative result. She finished the phone call with "Bye love" This is very familiar language to use with a previous house owner and I strongly suspected that she was probably talking to Mr F instead.”
This was very strange  behavior, especially as previous investigations leveraged an approach to individuals to try and gain a link to the Mr D name through queries about previous owners; this current approach however simply asked Mrs F if she knew anyone by the name of Mr D herself, it had nothing to do with the previous owners.  So why would Mrs F suggest she call the previous owner of her house to find out if she her self knew someone by the name of Mr D, then lie to someone she just met, having instead phoned her husband.  It looks like she was primed and ready for a different approach by our Private Detective, and made the “wrong” phone call.”

This is actually so outrageous I will be following up later. They called on someone who has nothing to do with this, asked her some questions. She tries to help, even calling a friend, and then when they don’t get what they are looking for they call her a liar.

She bought her house from her best friend. What they do here is utterly disgusting. And sums up their whole approach. If that was printed in the gutter press I would be shocked. Scumbags. But it is a classic case of how they twist everything.

4.    Ignoring proof. All the facts and proof I have given them over the years, as shown recently in my factual blog, has just been dismissed.

5.    Third party involvement. The most amazing instance: Nominet’s domain registration details were somehow backdated and fraudulently changed.

6 & 7.    Show and quote anonymous people. Well, these apparently include a fraud squad officer, a home office director, senior police officers, a famous author, and top solicitors, amongst others. None are named of course – love to have a chat with all these people.    

      You get the “…it seems there is a definite hint of a cover up” and the classic -

“an impartial report by an independent third party summarised our recently updated findings as follows: “ is quite obvious that something untoward and significant has occurred. It is inconceivable that such an extensive series of interdependent coincidences, half-truths and unexplained occurrences are random and without association.”
Actually, just as an aside. In a recent blog, I published some of their communications back in 2005, including their apology email that stated - 
I had uncovered nothing but a raft of circumstantial evidence, coincidences and half truths”
The line “coincidences and half truths” repeated. Verrrrry strange. One statement from our chief pursuer and the other from “an independent third party”. Odd that both people should use such very similar terminology, isn’t it ?  Now I wouldn’t dare to suggest …..Oh dear – I am getting into this conspiracy malarkey a bit too much I think. Just going for a lie down.
But here’s a classic. Our chief pursuer recently contacted someone that I subsequently met. They sent a lot of documents and correspondence to him. There has already been a blog about this. I have now been passed the whole of the correspondence and documents that passed between them. There is some priceless stuff in there, but that’s for later. In that correspondence, the fellow they had contacted passed a comment on the supposed coincidences which form the basis of our pursuers’ case. Within days, that comment was quoted by our pursuers in their response to my blog as being made by “one of your [FriendsReunited’s] own technical team”.
Although there is a lot of competition, I found this to be one of the funniest of the lot. He asks someone some questions; they try to help; suddenly their comments are taken out of context – and referred to as being made by one of our “technical team” (presuming that this would confer added credibility). Brilliant - but maybe a little crazy ?
And they call me a liar and economical with the truth!
8.    Write it up. Well they certainly have written it up. The summary our pursuers have been provided to us is 21 pages in length, but I have recently been told there are over 1000 pages compiled over 12 years. They even claim to have “a recognized UK author (family friend)” ready to write a book about it. [STOP PRESS - AND A FILM!!!]

9. Questions.  The questions they ask - all over the place and continual. Do they somehow think that asking random questions adds force to their mooted conspiracy ?
They are particularly obsessed with our first hosting company, Aflex. Questions about meetings, invoices, domains, timings, payment, cover ups, emails, laptops etc etc etc – ITS BONKERS! The list gets longer with every contact as if it adds credibility.
10. And so we start again back at point 2…….
Having seen the latest document they sent to the press which has completely ignored all my blogs and is asking even more spurious questions, I am beginning to think this will never actually end.


Friday, February 1, 2013

The FriendsReunited Conspiracy (?) – Part 14 – Our Technical Team (?)

If you haven’t been reading this series of blogs then catch up at and the 13 following parts.

I was going to stop writing about this but every time I start to get bored then these people do or send something else that just is so ridiculous that I have to tap away again.

However, it seems after all my blogs, all that proof, our pursuers are still going strong. Still contacting people to try and feed their conspiracy.

I met someone recently who had been contacted by them. Mike was the owner of the hosting company Densitron whom we moved to in early 2001. He had been contacted by our chief pursuer. After corresponding with him for a while, Mike shared relevant information in order to help establish the correct facts and timeline.

This is how the correspondence went.

In mid November, our chief pursuer emailed Mike for the first time. The email address was that of a secondary school in Kent – including all the school footers you would expect from an official email address.

He wrote -

“I am a secondary school teacher who has been carrying out some important Internet research”

He then explained he was

“trying really hard to reconcile the actual launch protocol surrounding the site” (FR)

(I just love that “launch protocol” phrase– never heard a startup launch called that – sounds like something out of 24 – sorry, I digress)

Mike then explains, like everyone, that he cannot remember the exact dates and details.

Our pursuer comes back with

My research counters the formal party line of a 30th June 2000 launch by Aflex (a company that told me they never hosted the site).”

Again – loving the “party line bit.” And just for the millionth time, Aflex first hosted FR back in summer 2000.

And then he wrote -

“Depending on the evidence you find, it could lead to a sizeable financial reward for your trouble”

Mike declined the financial offer but wondered if this person was interested in a business Mike was involved with (concerning school CVs). Our pursuer replied

“although I teach Business Studies, as a humble teacher the decision to purchase would not be mine”

Let’s just stop for a second. This is the same person who told us repeatedly that he had moved abroad. Yet now here he is saying he is a teacher, and using a Kent school’s email address. So is he working at that school in Kent or gone abroad ?

A discreet enquiry suggests that he hasn’t been at that school since the summer.

In any case, whether or not he is still on their books, I suspect the school would be very interested to know he is using a school email address to offer “sizeable financial reward” for information on his own personal project. We are aware of 2 other addresses that he has used recently, so why use this school one ?  Hmm ?

Mike was then sent a summary of our pursuer’s “investigation”. Mike tells him its “interesting but confusing reading”. He explains the history of Densitron and corrects him on the following statement made by an “experienced fraud squad officer”:

“…from intelligence received, we have discovered 100% that the domain name was changed to Happy Group Ltd in December 2000, not 30.6.00 as appears on the domain name search.  Furthermore, we can confirm that Chorver sent their first invoice to Happy Group in January 2001. This will not doubt be recorded in Chorver’s official documentation and would be impossible to change.” 

Chorver did not exist until 2003 so invoices from them were impossible in 2001. I also corrected this recently in my own blogs. That experienced officer can’t be that experienced then?

Our pursuer continues with:

“They definitely did not launch the site in July 2000 as they stated.“

So still ignoring all the hard evidence I produced, and

“Aside from some people lying, sadly I have no evidence of any wrongdoing yet, just suspicions and honest grounds for continued investigation.”

So an admission just weeks ago that after 12 years that they “no evidence of wrongdoing”  and of course we are still “lying”.

Hold on one moment. Can you imagine taking someone to court and in your prosecution evidence stating “I have found no evidence of wrongdoing”. This is so unbelievable I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Give Up Man. Get On With Your Life. Enjoy Your Children. Read A Book. Take Up Gardening. Go On Holiday In The Seychelles. But Please Stop This Now.

Oh well, none of that is going to happen so back to reality and the most recent round of communications.

In an email, our chief pursuer sneaks in a PS asking Mike whether he knows the developer (you remember – the one who is supposed to have given us the idea for FR) with no explanation to why he is asking. Cheeky. Mike of course doesn’t know him – like the rest of us.

Our pursuers then start to talk about the possibility that Aflex maybe bought the domain in June 2000 and just had a splash page for 6 months before we took it over. Again, they seemed to have ignored my “Facts” blog – so those 7,000 registered users I talked about are made up, then?

Mike explains that a hosting company would not cyber squat on a domain. Lets think – do you really think the domain FriendsReunited was a valuable domain back in mid 2000? Of course not – in fact we always thought it was pretty poor ourselves, and constantly had plans to change it in the early days, until it got popular and stuck.

Our pursuer then states

“I have 1,000 pages of research notes, e-mails, letters, meeting notes etc.”

Again I am gob smacked. In previous communications he suggested over a hundred pages of notes but 1,000 is just ridiculous.

Then a few days later Mike is sent the full summary. There are dozens, if not hundreds of differences from the document that we had been sent. I haven’t had a chance to go through them all yet – and I’m not sure I can be bothered, really. Dates are changed and lots of areas have been rewritten.

However a few damning things come out immediately.

Firstly, the statement from their “fraud squad officer” has changed. It now reads -

“…from intelligence received, we have discovered 100% that the domain name was changed to Happy Group Ltd in December 2000, not 30.6.00 as appears on the domain name search.  Furthermore, we can confirm that they sent their first invoice to Happy Group in January 2001. This will not doubt be recorded in the official documentation and would be impossible to change.”

It’s been changed to correct the mistaken reference to Chorver (who, you may recall, didn’t exist at the date referred to). Now, sorry, correct me if I am wrong, and not knowing the legalities of it, but, surely YOU CAN’T CHANGE A STATEMENT BY A THIRD PARTY (MADE 8 YEARS AGO) !  And by a police officer ! Just to fit your purposes !

But hang on – The Who’s Who in the document I was sent by our pursuers says that the person making the above statement is a Fraud Squad Officer. However, in the one sent to Mike he is now listed as a

London based Private Investigator working for [our pursuers] in 2004

Which exactly is he? Am I the only one shocked by this? You cannot get away with what you are trying to do.

[*** Quick Update – a third version of this document has now been sent to the press and I have seen it. And unbelievably this statement has changed again:

“...from intelligence received, we have discovered 100% that the domain name was changed to Happy Group Ltd in December 2000, not 30.6.00 as appears on the domain name search. Furthermore, we can confirm that Densitron sent their first invoice to Happy Group in January 2001. This will not doubt be recorded in Chorvers official documentation and would   be   impossible   to   change.”
And the serious fraud squad officer is no longer listed by name, but the document indicates that this statement is made by “an experienced detective (a Fraud Squad Officer)”
Well who is this guy – an experienced fraud squad officer or not.
All very strange ***]
And secondly, in the document I was sent it talks very briefly about following someone. In the version sent to Mike, there is a new section talking about following the same person which states

“this was the only car journey he made all month outside of central London.”

This is worse than I ever thought – they really followed someone for a MONTH. I’m going to have to write about this separately. Outrageous.

Back to Mike and our chief pursuer. Mike tells me he tried to remain neutral, but thought their document was very strange. Details of the Nominet registration of the FR domain was enough proof for Mike. He told our pursuers that their document was “too complex and a little rambling” (that really is polite) – but, apparently with a view to giving them some positive feedback, Mike mentioned a “surprising number of coincidences that give good grounds for suspicion”. Fair enough: there are a number of coincidences and non-coincidences (each of which our pursuers make great play of), as I have previously mentioned in my blog.  But coincidences are everywhere.  In fact, it’s pretty surprising there aren’t more of them.  [As the Wikipedia entry on coincidence ( points out: “From a statistical perspective, coincidences are inevitable and often less remarkable than they may appear intuitively.  You can say that again.]

What is brilliant, though, is that within 4 days of his email this statement by Mike appears in our pursuer’s post on my blog – and it is stated as coming from “one of your [ie, my/FR’s] own technical team”. How funny.  Mike thought so too – I think that just about sums them up! Our chief pursuer communicates with someone he doesn’t even know (Mike), and then attributes Mike’s words - completely out of context – to the FR team.

Mike also suggests they contact Nominet. We know they have already done that repeatedly.

Our chief pursuer replies stating he doesn’t “want to be fobbed off by more rubbish or lies” and that “They have been most unhelpful on the phone, back in 2001 to 2004 they gave out the wrong information to us anyway” – serious allegations against a respected organization. Of course it must be wrong if it doesn’t fit into your mooted conspiracy.

Apparently they “have a solicitor writing again now”, and amazingly “other avenues are being pursued and we are also writing a legal letter to Face Book to release key information that was recently deleted.”

I haven’t the foggiest what they are now on about with regards to Facebook, but then we shouldn’t really be surprised anymore by any of this. Why would Facebook have “key information”? Madness.

This all happened over late November/early December. Amazing that they are still going strong. And a bit naughty that they are sending out that document to anyone: it continues to include false and deeply unpleasant innuendo about me, amongst other things.

To finish off his communication with our chief pursuer, Mike wrote to him on 21st December to say he had met me and compared relevant notes. Mike has now asked him to stop communicating with him - and I fully expect Mike to now become a player in their whole mooted conspiracy.  Congratulations, Mike!