In the news yesterday, Chris Packham takes on an unknown magazine for libel, but who is behind this little read rag for blood sports enthusiasts and far right nutters?
step forward “Dom Wightman”
Dominic Wightman was born in 1972. He was privately educated and
attended the LSE. Following his graduation his father, a banker, set him
up in business in London, although he accrued various debts and
relocated to the USA.
He returned to the UK in 2005. His family were involved in local
Conservative Party activism, and in the wake of the 7/7 bombing he
decided to reinvent himself as an expert on Islamic extremism and
terrorism. He created a group called “the VIGIL Network”, and through
his contacts he gained the confidence of Patrick Mercer MP, who at the
time was the Shadow Minister for Homeland Security. He changed the
spelling of his surname to “Whiteman” during this time. Mercer
introduced him to police officers at Scotland Yard and arranged for him
to appear on BBC “Newsnight”.
While running VIGIL, Wightman employed a young woman as his assistant.
He delayed paying her for months, saying that was waiting for some
funding to come through. He even resorted to creating a fake email from
a third party to reassure her. There is also reason to believe that he
was concocting false evidence of Islamist plotting. His assistant
eventually took him to an industrial tribunal and was awarded £13,000,
although he declared bankruptcy in 2009 to avoid paying her. This
website has some fuller details – it has a particular political slant,
but the facts are sound:
In the months and years that followed his bankruptcy Wightman posed
variously as a gold dealer, as the owner of a bank, as a search engine
optimisation expert, as the owner of a gold mine in the Philippines and
as running a media empire based in Hong Kong. He also engaged in acts of
online harassment against various people who were aware of his true
In 2016 Wightman left Dorking in Surrey (again, having accrued debts)
first for West Sussex and later for Devon. At this point he decided to
reinvent himself once again, this time as a countryside expert. He
linked up with Jamie Foster, a Director of the Countryside Alliance who
was also known as a solicitor advising fox hunters and farmers. They
together created the “Country Squire Magazine” website.
In the months that followed, the site got into trouble for running fake
adverts that falsely associated the site with high-end brands, and for
running a crudely anti-Irish article (Wightman frequently mocks Irish
people, and at one time he used a troll account to abuse the Irish
ambassador in London as a “bogtrotter”). Jamie Foster was made bankrupt
in March 2018, although it was registered under his full name of James
Michael Anthony Foster.
Meanwhile, using his middle name of “Martin”, Wightman was implicated in
allegations of a corrupt security contract with the government of Ghana:
Wightman also currently has a website where he claims to be the CEO of
an international mining company. There is no evidence the company really
exists, though, and at least some of the photos have simply been stolen
from other websites:
More recently, Wightman has used the “Country Squire Magazine” website
and also other sites to accuse Torbay Council of corruption and to
attack a local homeless charity. He has also created two charities of
his own, although there is no evidence that either of them are active
beyond asking for donations.
In November 2019, the “Sun” newspaper ran an article promoting a website
called “Hijacked Labour”, which purported to show links between Jeremy
Corbyn and various extremists. The chart was crude and conspiratorial,
and the “Guardian” noted that it was first promoted by the “Country
Squire Magazine” website. There is strong reason to believe that
Wightman was behind the creation of the “chart”, although he arranged
for someone else to be the “front man”:
Alongside these activities, Wightman has continued to harass people
online in various ways. He has had two Twitter accounts under his own
name suspended (@dom_wightman and @domwightmangb), and his
@cquiremagazine Twitter account was also suspended for a while.
This article on his history is also worth a read: Dominic Whiteman