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Alastair Campbell refuses to spend £112k on domain

A sad story of mistaken idendity

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A witless Internet consultant who tried to sell the domain generalelection.tv to the Labour Party for more than £100,000 has been duped by his own carelessness.

Keith Wiles, who said he was acting on behalf of a client, sent an email to Prime Minister, Tony Blair @newlabour.co.uk, @newlabour.com, @thelabourparty.co.uk, @thelabourparty.com, @thelabourparty.org.uk and @thelabourparty.org as part of his blunderbuss approach to marketing the domain.

Had Mr Wiles done his homework he would have noted that none of the above domains actually link to the Labour Party's official Web site.*

Instead, it appears Mr Wiles thought his luck was in when he received an email back from Alastair Campbell, the owner of thelabourparty.org and someone who shares the same name as the Prime Minister's press secretary and close personal advisor.

According to correspondence seen by The Register Alastair Campbell said he was not interested in the domain. Mr Wiles replied saying: "Guess who I'm offering it to next!"

Alastair Campbell (the owner of the labourparty.org, not THE Alastair Campbell) wrote back and said: "Before you do that, perhaps we should discuss your needs?"

Mr Wiles follow-up was to the point: "We think that this [generalelection.tv] is a premium domain name that is unique and perfect for obviously a political party or a television company. The prestige and interest that will be generated online and offline for a web site bearing this name is potentially enormous and is truly global because general elections are held all over the world, so just think of the power of having such a perfect name for the internet.

"Therefore although my partner feels a higher price is attainable I feel a more realistic price for this prestigious opportunity for the Labour Party is: £112,500.00."

When The Register spoke to Mr Wiles he was very upbeat about the whole affair and told us he had already been offered £80,000 for the domain.

"But we're currently talking to Alastair Campbell about it," he bragged, although he said later that he (THE Alastair Campbell) "wouldn't be too chuffed if we mentioned his name" in an article.

Having spoken to Mr Wiles on two occasions The Register is in no doubt that Mr Wiles genuinely believed he was in negotiations with influential spin doctor, Alastair Campbell. At no time did verify the site he approached or the authenticity of whom he was speaking to - not even when he was offered £500 for the domain.

Yesterday, Mr Wiles sent Alastair Campbell an ultimatum in an attempt to force a sale. He said: "Our thoughts are that GE [generalelection.tv] will be auctioned, will be advertised in publications and on the web and that you are free to bid for it as you choose.

"We already have interest above £80,000 however we feel that the D/N [domain name] is worth more than twice that amount, therefore, unless you would like come up with an offer that comes closer to our initial price you will be able to bid at auction if you are still interested."

Mr Wiles appeared somewhat deflated when The Register broke the bad news and suggested that he might have been speaking to the wrong Alastair Campbell. He wouldn't say who had bid £80,000 for the domain.

Alastair Campbell, (the owner of the labourparty.org, not THE Alastair Campbell) told The Register that he's often mistaken for the master of spin. He also tells us he has couple of friends, Chris Smith (not the Culture Secretary) and Tom Jones (not the singer) which makes booking tables in busy restaurants an absolute doddle.

Mr Campbell feels Mr Wiles brought the whole episode on himself. He said: "At no time have I pretended to be anybody other than myself."

Asked why he registered the labourparty.org he said: "I just wanted to take the piss out of the Labour Party." ®

* We checked out the domains listed by Mr Wiles and this is what we found:

A notice on http://www.newlabour.co.uk/ says it's up for sale before automatically forwarding readers to one of the three major political parties.

http://www.newlabour.com/ takes you to eHost - a domain registration service.

http://www.thelabourparty.co.uk/ - Error 404

http://www.thelabourparty.com - Error 404

http://www.thelabourparty.org.uk - The browser couldn't find the site

http://www.thelabourparty.org - Alastair Campbell's site

Website security in corporate America

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