Damian Thompson

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Damian Mark Thompson (born 24 January 1962) is a conservative British journalist best known for being editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald. He was a reporter on The Reading Chronicle from 1984 to 1988 and was religious affairs correspondent for the Daily Telegraph from 1991 to 1995. [1] He still contributes to the Daily Telegraph, as well as The Times and The Spectator. [2]

'Beebwatch'

Thompson wrote the Daily Telegraph’s Beebwatch column [3] which ran three times a week for two months in late 2003. Twenty-six articles were printed between early September and early November that year, each claiming to show evidence of a left-wing bias in the BBC’s output. Beebwatch was written with the help of Minotaur Media Tracking, a right-wing media monitoring group directed and co-owned by Kathy Gyngell and David Keighley, [4] the widow and close friend respectively of Thatcher’s favourite television executive, the late Bruce Gyngell. [5]

Robert Spencer

In July 2007, Ed West interviewed Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch for the Catholic Herald.[6]

Thompson plugged the interview on his Telegraph blog, writing of Spencer's work:

How about this for a refreshingly direct book title? Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t. Or this: The Truth about Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion[7]

He went on to add:

Major bookstores, gutlessly, refuse to stock Spencer’s work. So here is a link to his main titles. I’d particularly recommend them to anyone who still believes sentimental nonsense about the Religion of Peace or its founder. (For some reason, the name Karen Armstrong springs to mind.)[8]

In January 2008, Thompson republished a story from Spencer's Dhimmi Watch website on his blog, writing:

After the death of a young Muslim man in a car crash in Sydney last month, an Islamic crowd invaded a hospital in order to stop medical tests being carried out on the body in contravention of Sharia law, according to the Dhimmi Watch website.
If the report is true, then this is another example of a global campaign by fundamentalist Muslims to replace civil law by Sharia - a process that has already taken root in British cities.
The Australian story is quite extraordinary though, as Dhimmi Watch points out, it is based on an anonymous report. I’d be interested if anyone can stand it up. Here are some extracts from the story. Bear in mind that, according to Islamic custom, a body must be buried within 24 hours of death.[9]

Andrew Brown of the Church Times wrote of this story: " It took me less than five minutes to track the story to its source, a blog run by a fascist sympathiser in Sydney whose blog roll contains only three British sites, all run by BNP members, and two links to Serbian nationalists, as well as links to American right-wing extremists such as Ann Coulter and “Family Security Matters".[10]

According to Brown, he then contacted Thompson:

When I rang him to get an explanation, he told me: “I did say it was being reported by one of America’s leading anti-Islamic websites. It is based on an anonymous report.” Did he think it was, in fact, true? Long pause. “I have got some correspondence with somebody who has got a contact inside the hospital.”[11]

Brown later observed:

Thompson and I quarrelled, terminally, when I criticised him for reprinting without checking another Spencer-linked story about a mob of Muslims closing down a hospital in Sydney, which turned out to originate from the imagination of a neo-fascist group there. He hasn't spoken to me since. Neither, though, has he used anything from Spencer on his blog.[12]

On the Church of England and Islam

Thompson has been a strong supporter of conservatives within the Church of England over attitudes to Islam:

In 2006, he wrote of Lord Carey:

to give Lord Carey his due, he has also developed a knack that eluded him in office: of talking common sense. He was the first senior churchman to attack moderate Muslim leaders for not condemning Islamic suicide bombers "clearly and unequivocally"; this week he criticised the wearing of full-face veils by Muslim women.[13]

In June 2008, Thompson praised Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, writing:

Nazir-Ali’s popularity in England has very little to do with anti-gay sentiment. It’s almost entirely the result of his brave stance against the creation of islands of Sharia law in Britain.
To me, by far the most shocking episode in the Church this year has been Dr Williams’s call for the extension of watered-down Sharia, and his slippery attempt to extricate himself from the controversy. The Pakistani-born Nazir-Ali has caught the mood of the nation as no other bishop has; his boycott of Lambeth will remind us all that the C of E has utterly failed to grapple with the challenge of radical Islam.[14]

External Resources

Notes

  1. Debrett's People of Today, Damian Thompson, Esq [Accessed 21 January 2009]
  2. Debrett's People of Today, Damian Thompson, Esq [Accessed 21 January 2009]
  3. Damian Thompson, ‘Beebwatch is closing down - but we are still watching you’, Daily Telegraph, 7 November 2003
  4. Minotaur Media Tracking Ltd, Annual Returns made up to 8 July 2005
  5. Former TV-am boss dies’, BBC News Online, 8 September, 2000
  6. Robert Spencer, Spencer interviewed in UK's Catholic Herald, 16 July 2007.
  7. Damian Thompson, On religion and peace, telegraph.co.uk, 23 August 2010.
  8. Damian Thompson, On religion and peace, telegraph.co.uk, 23 August 2010.
  9. Damian Thompson, Muslims, telegraph.co.uk, 30 January 2008.
  10. Andrew Brown, Press: The small matter of truthfulness, Church Times, 1 February 2008.
  11. Andrew Brown, Press: The small matter of truthfulness, Church Times, 1 February 2008.
  12. Andrew Brown, The poison behind the Ground Zero mosque furore, Comment is Free, guardian.co.uk, 18 August 2010.
  13. Damian Thompson, The archbishop's days are numbered, telegraph.co.uk, 24 November 2006.
  14. Damian Thompson, Nazir-Ali boycott will cause chaos at Lambeth, telegraph.co.uk, 22 June 2008.