Daily Mail political editor plagiarises Reg

We're used to people nicking stories, but...

We were glad when someone picked up on our story about Labour party officials posting anti-Plaid Cymru messages on political newsgroups under pseudonyms. The Daily Mail was one of the first and it gave almost a half page to it with its political editor's byline.

Of course, it didn't bother to credit us with the story but then it's a big, important newspaper so why shouldn't it pretend that it finds its own stories? However, skimming through the story, an eerie sense of deja vu formed. See here.

Yes, the story seemed to follow the exact same pace and approach as ours but oddly it also quotes all the (original) figures that our story gave and doesn't add anything new apart from a quote from Helen Mary Jones. Incredible. In fact, the Mail was obviously so pleased with the figures that it thought it would borrow the words as well. Very flattering.

Here is a selection of the parts the Mail really liked:

Mail: The messages included accusations that Plaid Cymru is racist, wants to put controls on English immigrants, is propping up Tory administrations, and is full of hypocrites.
Register: Among the postings were accusations that Plaid Cymru was racist, wanted to put controls on English immigrants, was propping up Tory administrations, was responsible for future industrial action and was full of hypocrites.

Mail:"Hairy Melon Jones" has posted far fewer messages, just 38 since last July, but they have been far more provocative.
Register:Hairy Melon Jones has posted far fewer with only 38 messages since July last year, but they tend to be far more provocative.

Mail:They have filed a motion in the Welsh National Assembly asking First Minister Rhodri Morgan to distance himself from the messages. They have also demanded the resignation of Adrian McMenamin, a special advisor to Welsh secretary Paul Murphy. Mr McMenamin - a protégé of fallen Labour spin supremo Peter Mandelson - is suspected of playing a role in the Internet operation.
Register:Plaid Cymru representatives are furious and have filed a motion in the Welsh National Assembly asking the first minister to distance himself from the messages. The party has also called for the resignation of Adrian McMenamin, a "special advisor" to Welsh secretary Paul Murphy. McMenamin - a protégé of fallen Labour spin supremo Peter Mandelson - has been heavily implicated in ongoing investigations.

Mail:He has posted heavily to the same political newsgroups under his own name. His first posting came within days of the emergence of "David Currie" and since then he has written 358 messages.
Register:McMenamin also posted heavily to the same political newsgroups under his own name. His first posting came within days of David Currie's and since then he has written 358 messages on Deja newsgroups.

Mail:Since November, Mr McMenamin and "David Currie" have frequently supported one another's views. One posting, titled "English immigrants must be controlled - Plaid Cymru", was started by one Hairy Melon Jones and of the 51 responses, 22 were from David Currie and two from Mr McMenamin - all critical of Plaid Cymru.
Register:Since November, McMenamin and "David Currie" have frequently supported one another's views. One posting, titled "English immigrants must be controlled - Plaid Cymru", was started by one Hairy Melon Jones and of the 51 responses, 22 were from David Currie and 2 from Adrian McMenamin - all critical of Plaid Cymru.

Mail:The row raises the spectre of a co-ordinated propaganda campaign over the Internet by New Labour from Millbank as the election draws near.
Register:The whole issue raises the spectre of a co-ordinated propaganda campaign over the Internet by New Labour from Millbank as the election draws near.

While we are obviously overjoyed that the Daily Mail thinks our story so terrific that it didn't want to spoil it by, er, changing any words or doing any work on it itself, someone else pointed out that "copying what somebody else has written or taking somebody else's idea and trying to pass it off as original" is commonly termed plagiarism. And that's a bad thing.

So we wrote to the Daily Mail to clarify matters. Our story was posted on 30 January and theirs came out on 2 Feb. Six days later and we still haven't heard anything - which is odd because the letter was quite strongly worded.

Now the question is: do we write a story about them, send them an invoice, tell Private Eye, or all three? ®

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