Labour reprimanded by Wikipedia officials after online information doctored

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by G.A.Ponsonby

Labour party officials have been reprimanded by online reference site Wikipedia after information damaging to party figures in Scotland was removed from Wikipedia’s web pages.

Documents obtained by Newsnet Scotland show that in January last year Labour officials at the party HQ were severely rebuked and warned after it emerged that well-referenced information had been edited from the online site because it was critical of Scottish Labour politicians.

The warning from the Wikipedia official stated: “I am very concerned about the behaviour of this account.  In among some good edits are a screed of breaches of official Wikipedia policy on NPOV [Neutral Point of View], including removal of well-referenced information which is critical of Scottish Labour Party politicians.

“I just advise you to be extraordinarily careful.  You have been spotted, and I can assure you that ALL your past edits (and edits by other single-purpose and ip accounts like User:accuratewendy), and ALL your future edits will now be getting watched like a hawk.”

The warning makes clear that such behaviour may well attract unwanted media attention that may bring both Wikipedia and the Labour party into disrepute and adds:

“This is just the kind of account which could end up at the newsdesk of the Scottish Sun or Paul Hutcheon, and none of us wants Wikipedia (or a mainstream political party) to be brought into disrepute.”

The name of the account holder is given as Pauline Ward.  Ms Ward is a member of Labour’s policy and resource unit at Holyrood and has a long history of ‘editing’ Wikipedia articles about Labour party figures.  The team is headed by Director of Strategy and Research, Sarah Metcalfe.

Last month Newsnet Scotland revealed that a company set up by Ms Metcalfe and her husband James received over £11,000 in taxpayer’s cash for printing work carried out on behalf of two Labour MSPs despite having no premises or staff.

There is also sure to be speculation over the identity of the individual who owns the second account – ‘accuratewendy’ – involved in the Wikipedia warning.

The news that Labour party officials have been removing information ‘damaging’ to figures inside the party’s Scottish branch comes only days after Glasgow Labour councillors were accused of closing ranks in order to protect a colleague who implied that a nine year old girl may have been a willing participant in a case of alleged child rape.