Updated: Report corrected after falsely accusing anti-fracking campaigners of “grooming” 14-year-old boy


Anti-fracking rally in Manchester in November 2016. Photo: DrillOrDrop

  • Update 29/8/2018: See section headed Swapping fracking at the bottom of this post.

A report published today on social cohesion in Greater Manchester has been rewritten this evening after it emerged that a case study falsely accused anti-fracking activists of “grooming” a 14-year-old boy.

The first version of the report, commissioned after the Manchester Arena bombing, said the boy was referred to Channel, part of the government’s anti-extremist Prevent programme. His school was said to have been concerned about what were described as his “extreme beliefs” around fracking.

The boy, named Aaron, was said to have been targeted aggressively via social media after signing an online petition. The case study said he was encouraged to participate in local protests and was on “the periphery of engaging in criminal behaviour”. He engaged with local activists through the dark web, it added.

180730 A Shared Future 1

Paragraph from version 1 of the report, p89

But this evening, a revised version of the 124-page report, titled A Shared Future, has removed all reference to anti-fracking campaigners.

180730 A Shared Future 2

Revised version of the paragraph

A statement from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority said:

“The A Shared Future report contains a number of case studies where some details have been changed to protect the identities of those involved. This is standard practice where sensitive information is being used in a report.

“However, in one of these case studies – Case Study J – a factual detail has been altered which should not have been.

“The case study mistakenly said that concerns were raised around fracking. They were actually raised around a form of environmental extremism – but it had nothing to do with fracking.

“Although this change was made with the good intention of protecting the individual’s identity, ultimately if was the wrong thing to do. We apologise for this error.

“Because of a genuine fear that this vulnerable child cold be identified, we cannot give more specific details about the type of extremism.”

The report, commissioned by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, was designed to improve social cohesion across the region. The conclusion included a recommendation to submit it as the Greater Manchester response to the Government’s Green Paper consultation on the Integrated Communities Strategy.

The Green Party peer, Baroness Jones, told The Guardian:

“To potentially drag the name of fracking activists through the mud like this is totally unacceptable. We should not stand by and watch while environmental campaigners are discredited in this way.

“Disguising the identity of a vulnerable young person and ensuring appropriate safeguards are in place is of course very important, but we must also make sure we are not wrongly implicating activists in this fashion.”

Anti-fracking campaigners reacted angrily in 2016 when opposition to fracking was listed alongside terrorist organisations, including the IRA, Al Quaeda, the PKK and ISIL, in official counter-extremism documents.

The police monitoring group, Netpol, recently won a case in its challenge to establish how many anti-fracking campaigners have been referred to Channel. Five police forces refused to respond to a question asked in Freedom of Information requests, citing “national security”.

But in June, a tribunal ruled that police could not use this reason and ordered the police forces to respond to the requests. Netpol said today that it was still waiting.

Swapping fracking

180824 Manchester report foi

A Freedom of Information request has revealed some details of how the case study falsely accused anti-fracking activists of “grooming” the teenager.

According to correspondence released in response, the author of the report (name redacted) was concerned that the original case study might identify the teenager.

Eleven days before the report was released, the author, employed by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, contacted someone (name also redacted) who knew the teenager and asked for advice.

The contact replied the following day:

“People working in [redacted] could easily work out who this is as it was such an unusual – [redacted].

“I wonder if the subject matter being changed might help. [redacted]

“Would it work to changing it to something like ‘anti-fracking’ or something like that? The methodologies of grooming and being ‘pulled into that world etc would be the same but it would be harder for someone reading it to make the connection to the real case of both the [redacted] matter were different.”

The report author replied within seven minutes with a new version of the case study. The author wrote:

“Thank you for your quick response. I completely share your concerns. Your idea around changing the motivation is a good one – I have changed to anti-fracking (please see below), what are your thoughts on the edit?”

Within 16 minutes the contact replied:

“Yes that feels more comfortable and less identifiable.”

The contact suggested another change to the case study text, suggesting that the teenager became known to activists by attending a local protest or signing a petition”.

The FOI request was made by John Hobson, a Lancashire anti-fracking campaigner. He has asked the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to reconsider its decision not to identify the report author.

76 replies »

    • Thanks Ruth and Paul for this update on the accusations of grooming of a 14 year old child.the redaction is telling, but i am sure that it produced the desired effect of smearing the anti fracking movement.

      Perhaps nothing but a police announcement and a newspaper and media headline retraction will suffice?

  1. If 300 were arrested outside one pub, Alan it might even be more stupid? Yes, they would be extremely stupid.

    You only get arrested, by the way, if you have broken the law-apart from the odd one where a genuine error is made.

    You can, and will, justify that no extremists involved-although some of your anti colleagues have disagreed with that, a love in for fresh faced youngsters, all arrests a result of heavy handed policing and injunctions only granted because the Judges were misled, or part of the conspiracy.

    It’s par for the course, but outside of the antis shrinking community will gain little support. Most of the public will also think that 85,000 people who drink drive are extremists, as well. (Unless they read the Guardian, and are told, and believe, they only do so to overcome the pains of austerity.)

    Yes, I do agree with you that it is fortunate you don’t work for a fracking company. I believe they require Gold Standard operatives.

    • Another blue paint graffiti flag isn’t it?

      The colour is a dead giveaway. Genuine would be green.

      Pure tory industry blue flag fear smear campaign.

      Number three on the list.

  2. They were actually raised around a form of environmental extremism ???

    Environment extremists? Seen any of them recently?

      • You need gas to attain those high temperatures to produce glass.

        Funny how even the smallest sentences can include products made using gas…

        • Is that an environmental extremist view? Lets look at mirrors a bit closer shall we? Closer? Closer? Whoops! Stop! You are steaming it up, try backing off a little.

          The reflection you see is reflected light off the object, in this case it is called kish, sounds a bit like breaking glass doesn’t it?

          And the glass is just the top transparent medium, its not necessary for the reflection.

          In fact, reflection is the very thing you don’t want it to do, the reflective element behind the glass is metallic foil or plating such as silver nitrate, and mirrors used to be polished metal or stone such as obsidian without glass because glass then was not clear enough and could not be made perfectly flat, i believe mercury beds to get the molten glass perfectly flat and silver nitrate is used to get the reflective element, NASA use gold reflective elements i believe?

          Glass has been made for thousands of years going back into pre history without the use of gas, but by use of coal, or coke or wood gas even:


          Today aside from natural gas, concentrated sunlight will produce the required temperature in a solar furnace in hot countries, nuclear powered furnace from thorium is more available than uranium, and can be made small scale, how about electromagnetic? Gas is just a very recent medium, but it is not needed for the reflective element.

  3. Any kind of grooming for extreme activism is despicable [edited by moderator]. Especially using young impressionable minds. Very shamefull act.

    • Didnt Ineos attempt to fund child sports and make them wear ineos tee shirts, no doubt encouraging compliance to ineos propaganda?

      [Edited by moderator]

      • Ineos have a healthy sporting culture. Promoting and funding Children’s sports is fantastic. [Edited by moderator]

          • Yes Sherwulfe

            The term used is ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder and covers a whole range or spectrum of disorders which cannot be clinically defined by any one condition or set of symptoms, each child is unique and special as we all are. The term ASD also covers conditions such as Asperger syndrome which is treated as a related condition.

            The spectrum range represents both mental and physical disability spectrum ranges and as such children are extremely vulnerable and deserve and receive every protection.

            There are very strict and far reaching laws about the responsible treatment, education, care and human rights of such children.

            I am allowed to say, that for a child to have been put in such a vulnerable position from the very outset is outside of the strict guidelines and the recommendations and the law.

            A newspaper report giving any details not approved by the care provider contravenes the legal framework that regulates such reporting.

            This text was submitted for approval and approved before posting it.

            This is the final approved version.

      • PREVENT was designed to record behaviour of young people and their influences to try and spot potential extreme behaviors that may go on to manifest in terrorist activity. It was set up after the extreme responses by a small number of individuals, erroneously in the name of religion. It is also there to spot early signs of of child abuse. Many groups and cultural preferences have been included for political correctness.

        If giving out leaflets is an early sign of terrorism then all political parties, charities, company sponsorship and event organizers are in trouble.

        Let’s just keep this all in perspective.

        It takes a certain individual to step over the line.

        As a ‘mistake’ has been made in the report and subsequently in the correction of reporting the error in mainstream media it should be rectified at once and an inquiry should commence into the perpetrators of the initial misinformation and the possible motivation for such a statement.

  4. What an ill informed remark. Try Giggling Daily Mile Campaign or Go Run for Fun. What rubbish can we heap upon Elaine Wyllie?

    “I only post the truth”!

    Obviously not. No doubt about that.

    I suppose next it will be £110m for the Admirals Cup challenge is to be able to meet sailors?

    Then, football academies in Africa should really be an easy target.

    “Run for fun”-enhancing mood, behaviour, academic performance and all round wellbeing. Well, start at the younger generation and leave some of the older generation as a symbol of the negative control.

    • Oooh dear. Reading again martin? Tut Tut! The guys and gals round the Fog and F…rack, wont be amused?

      Free porkie pies anyone?

      Free tee shirts for the kiddies?

      Read the comment about posting, if the selectamatic black out blinkers will allow of course?

      Personal attacks are not pretty and may scupper your application for the bought and paid for industry Haw Haw Frack Hack?

      I can only tell you?

  5. You should read the Times, Sherwulfe. They seem to be able to get it right. Not all the time, not on everything, but in this case, yes. They also serialised part of The Alchemists, which would be a pure bonus!

  6. Personal attacks are not pretty. Hmm. Pot and kettle and INEOS (Ie. Jim Radcliffe.) Remember “climate change deniers”? No? Remember sending PhilipP off for re-education because he appeared to be a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”? No?

    Tell you what PhilC, forget generating fog and do just a little research about the subjects and some might then start to believe you post the truth. You can still be biased, an excuse for a poet, but truthful. It takes a bit more effort. But, if you wish to continue to follow the Guardian lead, feel free-and exposed. Just like they were.

    By the way-Third Energy are owned by Barclays Bank-still. As such they do not have a share price.

    Sorry that you wish to continue to go unchallenged and that you fell for the basic trick of believing what you read on social media, but the only way to stop fake news is to expose it. If it is not me, it will be someone less gentle.

    (Actually, I did intend spending less time on DOD, but plans changed because a supplier let me down and I was stuck with computer “stuff” more than I intended.)

    • Still suffering from personal deformation verbal constipation? Just cant let it go?

      Need to unleash a stream of invective and toxic detritus waste?

      Try the new Alchemist Smear Fear Porn Suppositories (accent on the tories) guaranteed to loosen even the most treasured democratic principle! One little (Patented ##) “Chill Pill” and its frackboots in the streets and freedom out of the window!

      Used by all “good” Dictators and fifth columnist invaders! Endorsed by ## Bigot Oil and Gas below a community near you?

      Need to pretend you are not reading all that nasty stuff that cannot be answered?

      Well relax!

      New improved Bullshit Baffles Brains Virtual Total Blackout Blinkers does the trick every time!

      Just plug ’em in to the real world, turn ’em on and descend into (Patented ##) “Comfort Blanket Oblivion” mode and wrap your entire world with virtual (Patented ##) “E-Truth” and no one will know the difference! Everything is automatically converted into your favourite (Patented ##) “Bias Mode” of your choice! Whatever you say, whatever you type, whatever you think, will be automatically translated into (Patented ##) “Hate Speech” or “Total Ignorance” or “Extremist Derog a tory” or “Fracking Fractures Everything” mode of your choice!

      Late News! The Latest Endorsement from Tweetmaster Donald F Trump is here! “i said stroke that pussy” and it was turned into “Declare War on Vladimir Putin!” What a boon to international politics this little device is!

      And this from The Guardian: “We said “[edited]” and the Blinker’s said “[edited]!” Like wow man! We’ll use it all the time now!


  7. Fogs rolling in again.

    Switch on the light house-when Donald/Vlad lets us have some LPG.

    (Saves Jim’s plastic if right first time. Or, failing that, once in a while.)

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