Why I’m considering legal action against the Guido/Hencke smear

12th February, 2009 7:15 am

by Derek Draper

I have been astonished this morning by a brazen attempt to smear me by Guido Fawkes and David Hencke of the Guardian. What makes this so reprehensible is that it is not about my work here at LabourList or as an ex-Labour spindoctor. I expect to be in the firing line for those activities.

But this is different. This is about my work as a psychotherapist. Every week I see vulnerable people, some with life threatening mental illnesses and it is a disgrace to call into question my professional qualifications on the most concocted and inaccurate of grounds.

I have never claimed to have attended U. C. (University of California) Berkeley. I have always said that I gained an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from a school in Berkeley. What is being alleged is akin to suggesting that if someone says they “studied economics in London” they are claiming to have studied at the LSE. U.C. Berkeley is a college. Berkeley is a town.

The Wright Institute, where I studied is a highly respected college. It is tightly regulated by the American Psychological Association. It happens to be next to the U. C. Berkeley campus, and we could use the U.C. library and gym. but the school is wholly independent.

Furthermore I did not attend the course described by Hencke. Indeed it did even not exist when I went to the college. My course was an M.A. and involved full time study. It also involved training placements involving thousands of hours of supervised clinical work. It is probably one of the most thorough and intense psychotherapy trainings in the world.

Both Hencke and Guido point to an error the Guardian made in a “details box” when they profiled me last summer. But that information never came from me. I didn’t even see it at the time. After all, I am not a fact checker for the Guardian. In fact it was probably Hencke’s mistake.

Several people have told me that Hencke colluded with Guido on this, an attempt to undermine me on the day of LabourList’s launch.

This behaviour is unprofessional and, as I said earlier, reprehensible. That is why I have instructed my lawyers to consider what legal action I should take and to prepare a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission.

In a sense all this does is show how worried the right and their gullible partners in the mainstream media are about LabourList. But while they can attack my political activities as much as they like, they should leave my work as a therapist out of it.

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