This is one of those ‘Wow, just wow!’ stories. It has two strands, which come together in the most bizarre way.
Last spring, a flamboyant Twitter character called Banffers QC (whose old avatar photo is pictured, left) caused a storm when he was outed as a fake after offering several law students “pupillages at his chambers”. At which point, @BanffersQC mysteriously vanished.
A year later, we ran what we thought was a completely unrelated story about the implausibly large number of Twitter followers of Lincolnshire police commissioner candidate Mervyn Barrett.
The story helped spur an investigation into Barrett by The Telegraph, which on Sunday revealed that his campaign was backed by what it termed “American neo-conservative lobbyists and companies pushing for police privatisation”. Since the news broke, both Barrett and his campaign manager, Matthew Brown (who is also the chairman of one of the companies apparently backing Barrett), have quit.
Now, this is where the two strands come together…
Yesterday afternoon, a solicitor called “Peter” claimed on his very respectable blog that Matthew Brown is, wait for it, Banffers QC – laying out some compelling evidence to back up his claims.
Peter, who is well-regarded in the legal Twitter community, goes into quite a lot of detail about Brown, who he says is aged 28 and “has a long history of fraud”. He states that over the last few years Brown has attempted to pass himself off as the son of a late Hong Kong businessman, a leading light of the Conservative Youth Movement, a baronet, the boyfriend of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, a French count, a German prince, a US Republican fundraiser, a member of the Mountbatten family – and, of course, good old Banffers QC.
If Peter is right, it would suggest that Barrett’s controversial backers in his police commissioner bid may not have been the bigshots which The Telegraph initially assumed, and possibly little more than websites and domain names.
Certainly, it would be interesting to know who bought all of those Twitter followers for Barrett…
If you have time, it’s worth reading Peter’s extraordinary blog post in full.
Update: it looks like it was all a creation of Banffers QC. See Mervyn Barrett’s official statement.