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As you may have seen via social media, I recently had Darren Henry’s Constituency Manager and friend Carl Husted turn up at my door angry that I’d posted about him in previous blogs, and his less than salubrious past. It caused a stir, a visit from the police and BBC coverage. It happened at an incredibly busy time for me: I have a lot on work-wise, and at home we’re scrabbling to get the decorating done so our new baby, due in May, has a nursery to sleep in. Thus, when I was asked by a journalist friend if they could pick the story up and look into it a bit deeper, I said yes. They went about it in a slow and professional matter, while I daubed paint onto walls. Here is the piece, and it contains much in the way of unanswered questions put to our elected representative. Before I go: huge thanks for the vast amount of support, goodwill and advice given to me over what was a very stressful time.Matt Turpin, aka Lord Beestonia
Darren Henry assumed the role of MP for Broxtowe in 2019, and it can be assumed he took on Carl Husted as his Constituency Manager some time shortly after. Husted was part of Henry’s campaign team, on what Mr Henry describes as a voluntary basis. The Constituency Manager role, however, is very much a paid position, with taxpayers providing Mr Husted with a role. In that role Mr Husted is expected to represent both the MP and the constituency, and provide support to all who approach him on a case by case basis without bias. It is why such a role being fulfilled by a political party member, or affiliate of a political party is frowned on, yet it is a very common practice: many MP’s bring the circle even closer, employing family members in this and other office roles.
On Wednesday 17th March, Husted drove to the property of the proprietor of this blog, Matt Turpin, after sending Facebook messages to Mr Turpin. As Mr Turpin isn’t ‘friends’ with Mr Husted on the site, Mr Turpin didn’t see these messages until after the event. But in these messages, Mr Husted knows a surprising amount of info about the household composition, detailing the name of his wife, the name of his infant son, and the fact that Turpin’s wife is heavily pregnant. This was accompanied by the ambiguous (warning?) ‘stay safe’. Husted had clearly done his research.
As Turpin didn’t see the message, Husted appearance on his doorstep was a surprise. Husted, unmasked and having gone against Covid regulations by making an unnecessary journey (unless, of course, he was at that point there on an official basis, which opens a fresh can of worms) began a conversation by refusing to say who he was and aggressively gesturing to Turpin. Eventually, the caller identified himself as Husted, at which point Turpin took up his phone and, for his safety, began to record.
“His shoulders dropped, his arms went to his side, his voice lowered and he backed away’ Turpin tells me. The subsequent video went viral, and needs little explanation.
Husted would not leave when requested, and a little later began further messaging Turpin via Facebook, despite Turpin clearly telling him to stop. At this point, on advice from ‘more legally-minded friends’ Turpin rang the police.
A constable duly arrived, and after talking to Turpin and his (very frightened) wife, promised to warn Husted this was harassment and not to visit again; to do so would justify arrest. Turpin was warned to be vigilant, check before answering the door and keep all windows and doors locked.
As the story broke across local and social media, Darren Henry MP tweeted the following:
He also offered to talk to Turpin and offered contact details. Turpin turned down this offer: when you’re feeling threatened by someone’s Constituency Manager and had to call the police, you’re hardly going to want to be talking to the man you may suspect played a part in the incident. On seeing this, I reached out to Turpin and offered my help in pursuing the story, knowing he was too shaken to do so objectively.
Let us take a look at the statement Henry posted. First, did Henry know about Husted’s actions before they were committed? Although he says ‘He was unaware of the exchange’ this doesn’t fully explain if Henry was aware of the visit, or condoned it. I put this to Henry in an email to his office, but he did not pass comment.
Henry claims that he will investigate the circumstances of why it happened, yet questions I asked to Henry regarding what form these investigations will take remain unanswered, leading one to assume that Husted remains in the pay of the MP’s office without sanction. If so, Henry tacitly condones Husted’s actions.
Henry states, correctly, that Husted is ‘a member of my staff’. Yet Husted told Turpin in the slew of Facebook messages that
Why the coyness? Why the lying? I asked Henry about this incongruity, yet again Henry did not give comment.
It is perhaps worth mentioning that Husted also seemed to make physical threats to Turpin, at one point in the course of messaging
Does Henry condone or condemn this threat ? Is he for journalists being threatened with violence, or against? He did not answer when this question was put to him, an unusual response for a politician wishing to portray himself as a law-and-order family man. Consorting – indeed, employing – those who make such thuggish remarks.
Was Henry complicit, or even sanctioned Husted’s actions? He refuses to say. Will Husted and Henry apologise directly to Turpin, and more particularly to his pregnant wife, who was in the house at the time and was, and remains, highly anxious and stressed regarding the incident? Again, I asked Mr Henry, again, he issued no response.
I suspect Husted’s intentions were to intimidate Mr Turpin in removing all mention of his name and his rather lurid past. Mr Husted clearly has political aspirations of his own, standing for Nottingham City Council’s Wollaton West ward. Despite being suspended by his own party at the time for comparing ‘Remain voters’ to ‘nazis’, he continued to stand. He was soundly thrashed, and Wollaton was spared. Is he eyeing up a seat elsewhere, and wishing to vanquish the internet of anything that might threaten that? For a party that proudly stands for self-responsibility, this seems odd.
The possibility of Husted also assisting in the campaign of Dareen Henry’s wife, Caroline Henry is also a potential motive. C. Henry is standing to be – and you are permitted a chuckle here – Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire, on a divisive culture-warrior ticket. While it is antediluvian to not assume C. Henry is an independent woman with an independent career – these are in no doubt, I am sure – it is entirely correct to assume that she is friends with Husted, and appeared with him at political events. Is he working on her campaign? She refuses to answer.
Journalism, as I well know ona personal and professional level, is under attack in the UK. We seem to have a government that is too thin-skinned to take criticism, and too incompetent and corrupt to avoid it. It is important that journalism continues to speak truth to power, free of thuggish intimidation.
I was drawn to this case after seeing it unfold on Twitter as I believe it to be a microcosm of the current malign political situation, where critical media is attacked via individual journalists , while a revolving door of obliging right-wing media and government operates. As a former journalist himself, the current Prime Minister is well aware of the nodes of power within the media landscape, and how to manipulate them effectively. Husted and Henry seem more hapless on this, yet it is worrying. It is crucial to support good journalism, and let it operate without fear or favour: to do otherwise risks tyranny.
This story will probably run to more chapters, and I have offered Turpin my services on an ongoing, should my own workload permit. Due diligence means that I have copied of all correspondence made in constructing this article, including the thread of messages that were sent by Husted: as these reveal identifying information on Turpin I have agreed to contact him before further reproduction in other publications.
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