Dominic Whiteman

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'Dominic Whiteman' - counter terror adviser, poet and political philosopher.

Dominic Martin Wightman (born 20 December 1972) is a British amateur terrorism expert who uses the alias Dominic Whiteman. After a period working in advertising and recruitment Wightman attempted to develop a career as a ‘counter terror adviser on Sri Lanka… and UK Islamism’. [1] He established an anti-extremist group called VIGIL with fellow ‘terrorism expert’ Glen Jenvey and like Jenvey has been implicated in attempting to fabricate terror threats.

He later set up a website called Westminster Journal to promote his ‘poetry and political philosophy essays’. [2] He says he has ‘worked with the media, think tanks, advocates and politicians across Europe and the United States to investigate and expose culturalist, conveyor-belt and actual terrorist threats from extreme Islamism and other subversive, terror-related threats’. [3]

Education and early business ventures

Dominic Wightman was born on 20 December 1972 to John and Anne Wightman. He was educated at Ryde Hill Preparatory School in Guildford, [4] and then Ampleforth College; a boarding school in Yorkshire sometimes referred to as the Catholic Eton, where he says he ‘won a working scholarship to Deutsche Bank in Berlin.’ [5] He graduated from the London School of Economics in 1994 and has claimed he worked at the security firm HART after graduation. [6]

Wightman subsequently became involved in a number of short lived advertising and recruitment companies, having spent a period working ‘as a self-employed financial planner and investment broker’ [7] for the London based financial advisory company Lamensdorf. [8]

On 9 January 1998 Wightman was appointed director and secretary of City Mortgage Desk Ltd. This company gave no information on its ‘Nature of Business’ to Companies House and was struck off and dissolved on 16 November 1999 having filed no accounts or annual returns. A year after joining City Mortgage Desk Ltd, Wightman set up Wightman International Recruitment Ltd, which was incorporated on 22 January 1999 and registered as an advertising company. The company was renamed Radio and Television Sales Ltd in December 2001 and Adrecall Ltd in October 2002. It dissolved via voluntary strike-off on 1 March 2005. Wightman has referred to Wightman International Recruitment Ltd using the acronym WIR Ltd, and described the company as ‘a pan-European recruitment firm with contracts such as Eurostar, Nestor Healthcare and BAA’. [9]

Wightman has claimed in an online CV that: ‘In May 2000, aged 27, he set up the Viral Advertising Network, specialising in point of sale and interactive advertising - the successful advertising business with clients ranging from Interflora to Carphonewarehouse.’ [10] Wightman became a director of Viral Advertising Network Ltd on 26 July 2000 – the same day the company was incorporated. He resigned on 30 July 2002. As of 19 November 2009 the company is still active but has filed a proposal to strike off. According to a Shareholder Report by ICC Information Group Ltd dated 28 August 2009, Wightman holds just under half of the company’s shares. Another shareholder in the company is a former Saatchi & Saatchi executive called Richard Humphreys. [11] [12]

Wightman collaborated with Richard Humphreys again when he formed NewFinance plc in October 2001. According to a March 2002 press release, Wightman was CEO of NewFinance and Humphreys was Chairman. A CV posted on the company website stated:

Dominic adds a broad and extensive knowledge of the UK financial services market place to Newfinance as well as previous public relations and media experience. His ability to speak four European languages has paved the way for Newfinance's rapid expansion into the continent. [13]

Newfinance appears to have made its money through buying up internet URLs which were seen as potentially lucrative as financial services price comparison websites. According to a March 2002 press release the company then owned ‘over 60 financial services domains in its stable, including www.lifeinsurance.co.uk and www.investments.co.uk’. Its main websites newfinance.co.uk and www.financialservices.co.uk, linked to other websites it had purchased which relating to specific areas of financial services such as credit cards, insurance, student loans and so on. [14] Another individual involved in the company was Barry Summers [15] who as of 19 November 2009 is still a Managing Director at Financial Services Net Ltd which now appears to own the domains formerly associated with NewFinance plc. [16]

Wightman was also a director at a number of other companies between 1999 and 2002 including City Mortgage Desk Ltd (January 1998 – June 1998), 123 Marketing Ltd (June-October 2002), Adrecall Ltd (from November 2001) and CDVD Card Ltd (March 2000 – May 2002).

Political researcher and intelligence advisor

Wightman spent a period living in the United States (probably from around 2002 when he resigned from most of his Companies House directorships) and returned to Britain shortly after the July 2005 London bombings. He became involved in local Tory politics in Surrey and subsequently undertook voluntary research work in Westminster for the Conservative MP Humphrey Malins. Wightman’s interest in security and terrorism and his disinterest in more mundane political issues led Malins to suggest that he should work instead for his friend Patrick Mercer. So Wightman was appointed as Mercer’s ‘intelligence advisor’. Wightman has stated that in this role his ‘specialisations’ were Al-Muhajiroun and later Hizb ut Tahrir. [17] Wightman, says he concentrated on developing sources of intelligence on alleged extremists in Britain. One of the many sources Wightman says he developed during this time was Glen Jenvey, whom Wightman was introduced to by fellow ‘expert’ Neil Doyle. [18]

VIGIL

Wightman subsequently formed a counter-extremist group with Glen Jenvey and Neil Doyle, which later became known as VIGIL. They were joined by a university lecturer called Michael Starkey, one of his former students who worked as a researcher and manager and an IT person.

The group had a website www.vigilnetwork.com (no longer online) which was registered on 13 December 2006, [19] after the group’s most significant media exposure (see below). The website described VIGIL as a ‘private, international anti-terror network’ which is ‘headquartered virtually’ and backed by the VIGIL Foundation which it claimed, ‘is located in an undisclosed international location.’ [20] The website also claimed that VIGIL's personnel ‘have intelligence or military backgrounds’, [21] and a report on the Telegraph website stated that in addition to the five founding members the group had ‘a further 25 workers, many with military, security, intelligence and financial experience’. [22]

According to a former VIGIL member Michael Starkey, Wightman claimed that his group was backed by ‘three Tory grandees acting as paymasters’ one of whom was said to be Lord Ashcroft. [23] A November 2006 Telegraph article reported that the group was backed by ‘a City financier...[and] an ex-member of the Armed Forces’, ‘both British and in their 50s’, who ‘originally provided tens of thousands of pounds each for the group’ [24] The article added that ‘Vigil's running costs for the past 18 months have totalled less than £200,000’ and that, ‘As well as its two original sponsors, other donors have provided funding.’ [25]

In fact no funds ever materialised. Wightman’s explanation for this, given in a May 2008 interview, was that the group suffered a ‘stressful funding crisis’ after ‘two donors died in quick succession’. [26]

Whatever the reason, Wightman failed to produce any of the promised funding and was therefore sued by VIGIL’s researcher, who had worked for several months without pay. Court documents show that Wightman was ordered to pay £14,174.45 by Bedford County Court in March 2007. Other documents reveal that Wightman has a history of unpaid debts. In May 2006 a County Court judgement was awarded against him and bailiffs attempted to recover the debt from an address in South Wimbledon – the same address where Vigil's website was registered. The owners of the property wrote to the court saying that Wightman had moved out and that the latest address they had for him was in Islamabad. In March 2009 Wightman was declared bankrupt with debts of over £40,000. According to a Croydon County Court document, he was interviewed by an official and claimed to be living and working in Venezuela.

Wightman’s refusal to pay VIGIL’s research led to the departure of all of VIGIL’s other members in February 2007. Despite this, Wightman maintains that VIGIL remained operational and that it expanded. He began to refer to himself as the ‘European Director’ of the group and produced a diagram on VIGIL’s website showing pictures of three more directors, claiming that they headed ‘demarcated units’ of ‘up to 12 individuals per unit’. [27]

Screengrab of http://www.vigilnetwork.com/structure.php, created 7 November 2009

In a statement on his personal website (registered on 20 January 2008) Wightman claimed that VIGIL had ‘over forty members worldwide (half of whom are focused solely on monitoring virtual fake-jihadi and jihadi activity)’. [28] In a blog entry in February 2008 he claimed that VIGIL had ‘over fifty members worldwide’. [29]

In May 2008, Wightman said in an interview that he was leaving VIGIL and would be replaced by Jane Blunt. He said Blunt was ‘from a law enforcement background and has been working with me since the start of 2007 as my European deputy.’ [30] An article supposedly written by Blunt on Wightman’s Westminster Journal described her as a ‘British lawyer specializing in counter terrorism’. However, there is no individual registered with the Law Society or Bar Council under that name. [31]

VIGIL operations

Dominic Wightman (left) outside New Scotland Yard with his political mentor the Conservative MP Patrick Mercer

During the summer of 2006 Wightman Glen Jenvey, and Michael Starkey recorded lectures given over the internet by Omar Bakri Mohammed. By this time Omar Bakri had already left Britain for Beirut amid calls for his prosecution, and had been banned from returning. Nevertheless Wightman and his colleagues recorded over 100 hours of online broadcasts and delivered them to Scotland Yard. John Steele, then the Daily Telegraph’s crime correspondent, photographed Wightman with Patrick Mercer outside New Scotland Yard delivering the recordings. [32]

On 14 November 2006 the BBC broadcast parallel stories on Newsnight and Radio 4’s File on 4 based substantially on Wightman and Glen Jenvey’s research. Newsnight reporter Richard Watson referred to ‘radicalisation over the internet, on university campuses and in criminal gangs’ and ‘alarming evidence which reveals how a minority of young British Muslims are being drawn into a life of extremism and crime.’ [33] The first section of the Newsnight programme focused on Glen Jenvey’s monitoring of Omar Bakri Mohammad’s internet presence, as well as his discovery of an online advert for a protest outside the Old Bailey. [34]

Dominic Whiteman on Newsnight

The second section of the programme was based on Wightman’s material and was supposedly an exposé of the British Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. For this section the programme used a VIGIL ‘source’ known only as ‘J’. Wightman told Newsnight that ‘J’ had been ‘supplying intelligence to our network for the last seven months. The evidence that he's been supplying has been on a voluntary basis. It's intelligence which we've always trusted. And why? Because his family was a victim of terrorism and he feels he owes quite a bit to this country for having looked after him and his family’. ‘J’ told Newsnight that Hizb ut-Tahrir were recruiting amongst young criminals and referred to a film he was shown of torture of Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Newsnight said the film was staged, but made no reference to the fact that such torture was indeed occurring at Guantanamo Bay. Neither did the programme include any critical assessment of VIGIL which was presented as a bone fide source. In one clip Newsnight examines the authenticity of ‘J’ simply by asking Wightman if he thought he was genuine.

A video of the Newsnight programme and a Transcript of the File on 4 broadcast can be accessed below:

  • Video of 'Banned cleric preaches on web', Newsnight broadcast 15 November 2006
  • Transcript of “File on 4 - Islamic Radicalisation" broadcast on Tuesday 14th November 2006 2000 - 2040, repeated Sunday 19th November 2006 1700 - 1740

The 'Grandmother Bomb' plot

On 2 April 2007 an American policeman working in Iraq, who had become one of Wightman’s overseas contacts, received the following message from Wightman’s email address:

[Name removed]
If [Name removed] has a spare minute......I appreciate these days are not the most fun..... could he translate the follwoing into arabic and stick on an arabic jihadi noticeboard? We're trying to disrupt a plot here in Britain....

Grandmother Bomb

In Europe older women use baskets on wheels to collect their shopping from supermarkets. These women are very innocent and no-one would suspect them of carrying a bomb.

When a small bomb is placed in their wheeled-basket before they enter a supermarket they will not be aware until after they have been to the check out counter and start filling the wheeled-basket with shopping items.

The Grandmother will pass in areas of the supermarket (for example queues at delicatessen sections) full of people. This is a good time to remotely explode the bomb using a cellphone or other remote device.

The countries of Britain, France, Denmark, Italy and Germany are good targets for this Grandmother bomb. In the United States the Grandmother shops by car so is less likely to possess a wheeled-basket. [35]

The recipient in fact refused to translate and post the message because, ‘first of all, it is illegal, and secondly, it could cause a massive panic to the public.’ [36] Wightman was asked to explain the sending of email and initially denied that it had been sent. He then admitted that it had been sent from his email address but claimed that he had given Michael Starkey and Glen Jenvey access to his email account in November 2006 and that they sent the email from his account in an effort to discredit him. [37]

The Westminster Journal

In 2007 Wightman set up a website called the Westminster Journal to showcase what he calls his ‘poetry and political philosophy essays’. [38] The website was created on 16 June 2007. In explaining the reason for setting up the website, Wightman referred to the need for a European publication which would comment on ‘the struggle against militant Islam.’ Whiteman explained that the, ‘Westminster Journal seeks to expose these Islamists who lie and oil their way through to mainstream politics.’ [39] The website is used by Wightman as a platform to launch attacks against critics. According to its website, Westminster Journal is ‘owned by an Anglo American partnership’. The website's copyright agreement states that it is operated ‘by or on behalf of The Westminster Journal Publishing, Bangkok, Thailand’.

V7 Europe

V7 Europe is another of the supposedly anti-extremist organisations set up by Wightman. An article published in mid-May 2008 stated:

Dominic leaves VIGIL at the end of May to head up a new operation called V7 Europe www.v7europe.com. V7 Europe seeks to investigate encroaching extreme Islamism in European member states; its investigative remit includes Muslim faith schools, infiltration of police forces, immigration departments and local government by extreme Islamists, as well as highlighting cases of FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and Muslim honor violence across the continent. [40]

In a statement on his personal website, Wightman refers to himself as ‘Chairman of V7 Europe’ and he describes the organisation as a ‘pan-European investigative team… formed to investigate extreme Islamist culturalist encroachment in Europe - this includes the growth of extreme Islamist Faith schools, Sharia Councils, Honour Violence and other prevalent aspects of the Islamist project.’ [41]

The group’s website was created on 8 May 2008. Under the section ‘Goals’ the website has the following message:

V7 works tirelessly to expose and prevent extremism.

V7 plans to continue to expose extreme Islamism in the West - its effect on Faith Schools, Prisons, Local Government, Charities and other aspects of Western life and society to which it is so detrimental and divisive.

V7 plans to continue to expose the Western funding networks of international terrorist entities - to prevent further loss of life and to work for peace in troubled areas.

V7 aims to back minorities in Western lands - not so they become ghettoised but so they become integrated into society and society in general both benefits from their hard work and skills and appreciates their efforts.

More widely, V7 aspires to work for social cohesion in the West and seeks a prosperous, free-market-oriented, peaceful, cohesive, free and united world. [42]

Asked to explain V7 Europe in March 2009, Wightman replied:

Sometimes think tanks, for libel reasons, won't print reports. V7 is merely a forum where such reports can be put in the public domain, where they can be dissected publicly. You may have noticed - I don't care for English libel laws. [43]

As of 20 November 2009 V7 Europe’s only activity seem to be four articles published on its website, the most recent being in August 2008. One article/report is by Wightman, and three are by his former collaborator Adrian Morgan. Morgan, had previously contributed to Wightman's Westminster Journal but ended his association after Wightman posted attack pieces against the blogger Tim Ireland. He sent a statement to another blogger Richard Bartholomew stating:

Yesterday you placed an “update” to an article, in which you mention that I was listed as “Current Affairs Editor” of Westminster Journal. I had done nothing in that capacity since August 2008.

You will find now that my name has been removed from the “about” page.

I had nothing to do with the Tim Ireland article/attack, which I repudiate unreservedly. I do not know Tim Ireland and I have no cause to feel animosity towards him. In future I will not be asssociated with Westminster Journal while it is used as a vehicle for character attack and bile. [44]

Collaborations

Wightman assisted Denis MacEoin in compiling a report for the right-wing think-tank Civitas called Music, Chess and Other Sins: Segregation, Integration and Muslim Schools in Britain. He is also listed in the ackowledgements of the Centre for Social Cohesion report A Degree of Influence - The Funding of Strategically Important Subjects in UK Universities.

In November 2008 we wrote a guest blog on the website of the Centre for Social Cohesion about the Tamil Tigers. [45] Around the same time he was referred to by the Independent as ‘a specialist on Tamil fundraising at the centre-right think-tank the Centre for Social Cohesion’. [46]

Views

Politically Wightman calls himself ‘marginally left of centre’ [47] and says he has ‘rarely been called a neocon and detest[s] the whole idea’. [48] In his introductory message on his Westminster Journal website, Wightman commented that: ‘If you stand up against the violent or cultural Islamists in Britain today, they classify you as a Neocon, however mainstream your political views or however distant from Neocons your previous stances. [49] He refers to himself in that message as a ‘mainstream liberal’.

Self-description notwithstanding, Wightman is clearly right-wing. He is a member of the Conservative Party, and since leaving Vigil has collaborated with Civitas and the Centre for Social Cohesion, two of Britain’s most right-wing think-tanks. His writings on Westminster Journal betray some very right-wing views. In one article for example he describes the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as: ‘the worst leader of a nation the world has seen in one hundred years,’ adding that, ‘he usurps Pol Pot of Cambodia, Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and even Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe in the league of world's most rotten national leaders. [50] Other writings have refer to an ‘Islamist-Leftist compact’ or ‘Black Red Alliance’ [51] – alluding presumably to the collaboration between left-wing and Muslim groups against war and occupation.

Role models

In an interview in May 2008, Wightman commented:

I come across many British politicians. There are several who are good in their own ways - Baroness Neville Jones, Patrick Mercer, Michael Gove, Liam Fox, David Davis, Anne Cryer - though confined to the limited powers of Westminster. Likewise, Tony Blair was good in his own way. Home-grown terrorism is a European problem, not just a British one. Spain has Judge Baltasar, France has Sarkozy etc. [52]

Resources

Notes

  1. PDF of <http://www.dominicwhiteman.com/about.html> created 20 November 2009
  2. PDF of dominicwhiteman.blogspot.com, created 20 November 2009
  3. PDF of <http://www.dominicwhiteman.com/about.html> created 20 November 2009
  4. Ryde Hill Preparatory School, The Rydes Hill Times... our weekly newsletter keeping parents in touch, [Autumn Term, Issue 62, 26 September 2008
  5. CV of Dominic Wightman from newfinance.co.uk, 14 June 2004. Retrieved from the Internet Archive on 19 November 2009.
  6. This detail was provided by Wightman in an interview with Tom Mills on 3 March 2009.
  7. CV of Dominic Wightman from newfinance.co.uk, 14 June 2004. Retrieved from the Internet Archive on 19 November 2009.
  8. James Hester, ‘Test case result could prove taxing for IFAs’, Financial Adviser, 2 August 2001
  9. CV of Dominic Wightman from newfinance.co.uk, 14 June 2004. Retrieved from the Internet Archive on 19 November 2009.
  10. CV of Dominic Wightman from newfinance.co.uk, 14 June 2004. Retrieved from the Internet Archive on 19 November 2009.
  11. ICC Information Group Ltd, ICC Shareholder Report on Viral Advertising Network Ltd, 28 August 2009. Accessed via Lexis Nexis.
  12. For more details on Humphreys see CV of Richard Humprey’s from newfinance.co.uk, 14 June 2004. Retrieved from the Internet Archive on 19 November 2009.
  13. CV of Dominic Wightman from newfinance.co.uk, 14 June 2004. Retrieved from the Internet Archive on 19 November 2009.
  14. see newfinance.co.uk 26 May 2004. Retrieved from the Internet Archive on 19 November 2009
  15. CV of Barry Summers from newfinance.co.uk, 14 June 2004. Retrieved from the Internet Archive on 19 November 2009.
  16. see financialservices.co.uk, Corporate > Meet the Team [Accessed 19 November 2009]
  17. Dominic Wightman, Email to Tom Mills, 18 March 2009
  18. The account in this paragraph was provided by Wightman in an interview with Tom Mills on 3 March 2009.
  19. Whois Record of VIGILNETWORK.COM retrieved from Domain Tools on 7 November 2008
  20. VIGIL Website, ABOUT US [Accessed 7 November 2008]
  21. VIGIL Website, ABOUT US (accessed 7 November 2008)
  22. Andrew Alderson, 'Working on the internet from an anonymous city office, the shadowy figures exposing Islamic extremism', Telegraph.co.uk, 19 November 2006
  23. Michael Starkey, Email to Tom Mills 21 May 2009
  24. Andrew Alderson, 'Working on the internet from an anonymous city office, the shadowy figures exposing Islamic extremism', Telegraph.co.uk, 19 November 2006
  25. Andrew Alderson, 'Working on the internet from an anonymous city office, the shadowy figures exposing Islamic extremism', Telegraph.co.uk, 19 November 2006
  26. Adrian Morgan, Exclusive: Dominic Whiteman: Lessons in Fighting Islamism from Across the Pond, Family Security Matters, 15 May 2008
  27. VIGIL Website, Structure [Accessed 7 November 2009]
  28. PDF of <http://www.dominicwhiteman.com/about.html> created 20 November 2009
  29. PDF of <http://dominicwhiteman.blogspot.com/> created 20 November 2009
  30. Adrian Morgan, Exclusive: Dominic Whiteman: Lessons in Fighting Islamism from Across the Pond, Family Security Matters, 15 May 2008
  31. Searches conducted online at Legalhub.co.uk and lawsociety.org.uk on 7 November 2008
  32. John Steele, ‘Preachers of hate online’, Telegraph.co.uk, 18 October 2006.
  33. Transcript of “File on 4 - Islamic Radicalisation" broadcast on Tuesday 14th November 2006 2000 - 2040, repeated Sunday 19th November 2006 1700 - 1740
  34. Video of 'Banned cleric preaches on web', Newsnight broadcast 15 November 2006.
  35. Email from dominicwhiteman@hushmail.com, 2 April 2007
  36. [Name withheld], email to Tom Mills, 8 June 2009
  37. Dominic Wightman, Email to Tom Mills, 27 July 2009
  38. PDF of dominicwhiteman.blogspot.com, created 20 November 2009
  39. Dominic Whiteman, 'Message from the Editor', Westminster Journal, 20 December 2007
  40. Family Security Matters, Exclusive: Dominic Whiteman: Lessons in Fighting Islamism from Across the Pond Adrian Morgan, 15 May 2008
  41. PDF of dominicwhiteman.blogspot.com, created 20 November 2009
  42. V7 Europe website, Goals [Accessed 20 November 2009]
  43. Dominic Wightman, Email to Tom Mills, 18 March 2009
  44. Richard Bartholomew, 'Dominic Wightman - the story of an encounter', Bartholomew's Notes on Religion, 14 September 2009
  45. Centre for Social Cohesion, Guest blog by Dominic Whiteman, ‘Tamil Tigers Event Graced by Supporter of Terrorism’, 26 November 2008
  46. Jerome Taylor, ‘Heroes' Day – or a terrorist fundraiser?’, Independent, 27 November 2008
  47. PDF of dominicwhiteman.blogspot.com, created 20 November 2009
  48. Dominic Wightman, Email to Tom Mills, 30 March 2009
  49. message from the Editor [Accessed 16 July 2008]
  50. Dominic Whiteman, ‘Bugblatterism: Chavez of Venezuela’, Westminster Journal, 7 January 2008
  51. Dominic Whiteman, 'A Message to the Cheerleaders', Westminster Journal, 30 September 2009
  52. Adrian Morgan, Exclusive: Dominic Whiteman: Lessons in Fighting Islamism from Across the Pond, Family Security Matters, 15 May 2008