For the benefit of those just coming to this story:
* Peter Reynolds is the leader of Clear, the UK cannabis law reform party, having got that position in February 2011 through joining the Legalise Cannabis Alliance.
* In January, someone found a whole bunch of homophobic and racist posts on his personal blog and posted them on his Facebook. Peter Reynolds’ response was to call gay people perverts and state that he stood by everything he said. Being quite shocked, I wrote my first blogpost condemning his homophobia.
* A few days later, amidst the storm of negative publicity, Peter Reynolds deleted his entire blog, and then reposted a claim to the Clear blog that he had submitted a document called “An Unaffordable Prejudice” to a Home Affairs Committee inquiry in 1983. Now, Peter Reynolds has made a fair few claims about his past, very few of which check out or are verifiable, so when I saw that, I thought, “aha, we can verify this one” and wrote to the Home Affairs Committee. In my second blogpost, I reported their response – there had been no inquiry into cannabis laws in 1983.
* The following week, as the homophobic/racist/calling people nasty things scandal wore on, someone started contacting the MPs on Peter Reynolds’ Facebook friends list to show them the screencaps of all these statements that Peter Reynolds and his dwindling band of supporters continue to claim do not affect his credibility as a political leader. The MPs all duly deleted him (14 at the time of publication, now 17). Someone sent me the screencaps, and I duly published my third post.
* At this point, the Mail on Sunday got involved, and wrote up a feature article on Peter Reynolds and his ways. They were supposed to publish this on the 22nd January, but it has been withheld for some weeks because, well, Peter Reynolds and Clear aren’t that important compared to news. But the night before it was originally due to come out, Peter Reynolds decided it would be a great idea to publish a blogpost attacking me. Like, actually attacking me. Not disagreeing with me politically, or rebutting any, any of my points. He called me “half-werewolf, half-woman”, “genetically confused” and “heterophobic” (because to denounce the beliefs of Peter Reynolds is to denounce all straight people, at least that was what I got from that), among other things. This prompted my fourth blogpost, a response to his attacks on me. I still, several weeks later, can’t quite believe that the leader of a political party, aspiring to be a national authority on cannabis legalisation, saw fit to publish such a petty name-calling post in the first place. And he says he has a background in PR? Newsflash: calling someone “politically correct” doesn’t mean you’re therefore justified in calling them sub-human.
People have asked me why I republished such rubbish on my blog. Well, I don’t know just how many people read Peter Reynolds’ blogpost in total, but despite the fact that he didn’t link to my blog at all, over a thousand people visited my website to find out my side of the story. I felt it important that people should see just what exactly Peter Reynolds writes about people before cooler heads tell him to tone it down – an attack is an attack, it makes little difference to me whether he’s removed the little question marks after references to my gender or not, it’s all pretty nasty and transphobic either way. In a way, Peter Reynolds’ petty efforts to attack me without giving his readers a link to my research on him has benefited me, as with so many people searching my name and clicking on my website (as well as such terms as “Peter Reynolds racist”, “Peter Reynolds sexist” and “Peter Reynolds homophobic”) and so many people linking to my posts, my SEO went through the roof, and my daily blog traffic has now doubled.
* Peter Reynolds seems to have taken exception to my last blogpost because he then announced an intention to sue myself and Darryl Bickler of the Drug Equality Alliance for saying that he couldn’t have submitted a document to an inquiry on cannabis laws by the Home Affairs Committee in 1983 because there wasn’t an inquiry. Peter Reynolds has been trying to get out of this claim recently by saying that he doesn’t know when he submitted the document, but sharp eyes have noted he’s been definitely trying to claim that there was an inquiry in 1983 that he wrote to when he thought he could get away with it, and gone very quiet when people started to question this. See this deleted comment here:
Peter Reynolds has filed a Freedom of Information request with Parliament to prove that he did in fact submit that document in 1983. However, I also filed an FOI asking whether they held any records of “An Unaffordable Prejudice” several weeks before him, and they got back to me last week. The result?
No, they have no records of Peter Reynolds writing to the Home Affairs Committee in 1983 on cannabis laws.
I would like to thank everyone who has got in contact to express their support for me. The great and the good of the cannabis movement, and several involved in global drug law reform, have got in touch to tell me what they think of the whole situation. Several drug policy NGOs have privately told me they will never be working with Clear again. I am unable to comment any further for all encompassing “legal reasons” (my side, not his). One of the few public thanks I can make go out to Dopefiend, who has posted two supportive podcasts (302 and 303) mentioning me and also many other things relating to cannabis activists and how they view Peter Reynolds, that I would highly recommend to people who genuinely seem to believe that Peter Reynolds is some kind of good thing for the cannabis campaign.
The sad fact is, I am not the only person that Peter Reynolds has been blogging about because he can’t censor our own websites. He used Clear’s blog to publish a post attacking Winston Matthews (a long-time cannabis campaigner and medicinal cannabis user who was jailed last week), for “provoking” the judge who sentenced him by posting videos of Winston using cannabis. Setting aside the silliness of a pro-legalisation party saying that a chronically ill medicinal cannabis user somehow brought his sixteen month prison sentence on himself, I’m sure that post had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that both he and all Clear Executive members were banned from the FREE WINSTON MATTHEWS Facebook group (which everyone should join, btw), which has gained over 1400 members in the last week.
In the same post, Peter Reynolds even attacked Release, the drug law charity whose annual turnover is about, ooh, several hundred thousand times that of Clear’s, who have saved thousands of drug users from prison, who run five national campaigns about different aspects of drug policy, who host and support a variety of other drug policy NGOs in their office, who basically do everything that you think a good, effective drug policy campaign should. Peter Reynolds’ judgement? Well, in an article whose title implied they were cowards, he said “Release has turned away from the mainstream and become an uber-politically correct collection of lawyers interested only in more and more esoteric minorities. Now it is little more than a free legal advice bureau.” God forbid that actually qualified lawyers should have something to say about drug laws and the people who suffer under them. I’m sure that, too, had absolutely nothing to do with their webpage politely pointing out that Peter Reynolds’ claims that the new British sentencing guidelines for cannabis offences means that cannabis has been decriminalised are wrong.
In light of the fact that Peter Reynolds has taken to dissing pretty much any and every drug law reform group and campaigner going, I think this is beyond the tiny political party he “leads”. I would therefore suggest that you sign this petition, calling on him to resign. 170 people have signed it in the last two weeks, which I think says a lot about the strength of feeling and also neatly rebuts the claim that Clear Exec members like to put about that all this fuss is just the result of some annoyed ex-LCA members jealous of Peter Reynolds’ “success”. He won’t resign, of course, but I think it’s very important that there is a clear sign that Peter Reynolds speaks for no-one but himself. Read more here.