by Nigel Swift
“I have Nigel Swift’s photo” boasts Texan metal detectorist Dick Stout. “Paul Barford, I will not post your photo (at least not yet) out of concern for your family” he adds.
“I have photos of him (Paul Barford) and of his sidekick (Nigel Swift)” chips in well-known English metal detectorist and author, John Howland. “I’m anxious to let anybody who wants them, have them. In fact, some already have Swifty’s pic. As I’ve said before, if he (Paul Barford) is frightened for his own safety, or that of his family, he should have considered his actions and obnoxious posts before insulting all and sundry. Throw the shyster to the dogs, in the same way he’d throw our hobby, if he could, in the trash can. You’ve got him by the balls, don’t let him off the hook!”
The issue, as they demonstrate they know very well, is that both Paul and I and our families have been threatened several times by metal detectorists who object to our view that metal detecting shouldn’t be banned but should be conducted in a far less damaging fashion. The fact that our view is shared by the whole of The Archaeological Establishment but that they daren’t say so publicly and are even silent about those who threaten us says all that needs to be said about Britain’s current disfunctional stewardship of its portable antiquities.
Update 22 December 2012 by Nigel Swift
Mr Howland has now published (on Mr Stout’s website) where he believes I live. It seems (to me) there is now ample evidence of reckless or deliberate behaviour, perhaps with the connivance of others, that could put me or my family at risk and that there is no scope whatsoever for convincing denials. Consequently I have taken the appropriate action.
Update 4 January 2013 by Nigel Swift
Last night I had a very unpleasant phone call containing an implied but clear threat, repeated six times, from a very well-known detectorist (the same one that last year posted on our Facebook page “hope you all DIE soon”). Once again I have taken the appropriate action.
[“Bill” has now posted on Mr Stout’s site, (18 Jan 2013)…..“To add a bit of twist along the same lines…..I went to Nigel’s Swift’s Heritage Action site and spotted his comments about you and John Howland having pictures of him and Paul Barford that you were handing out. I was laughing so hard I couldn’t possibly post anything coherent or lucid at the time“.
Had Bill or Mr Stout had late night telephone death threats from professional detectorists, as I have, perhaps they’d laugh less. However, since Mr Stout has failed to acknowledge both of my messages he may have been hoping to rely, if needed, on the “I wasn’t told there was a problem officer” defence and by posting that on Mr Stout’s website Bill has obligingly deprived him of that possibility. So for that at least I’m grateful to him.]
23 and 25th January 2013 …..
Mr Stout has at last replied to me. He states that he has finally removed the material in question and that “it is not, and never has been my intention to cause any harm”. I think I can be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Indeed, even now he is displaying two (alleged) unclear pictures of Paul Barford with the threatening words “Small wonder Barford hides his face. For the moment… at least….!!!”
Perhaps any fair-minded detectorists, such as those who have left comments or written to me will monitor the site and let me know if there is anything now or in future that I or the authorities ought to know about. Thanks.
20 Feb 2013…. Despite the above assurances (“it is not, and never has been my intention to cause any harm”) Mr Stout has just allowed Mr Howland to publicise what is said to be my location yet again – and has even commended the article to his readers. I have sent him the following message: Mr Stout you have hosted another instance (18 Feb 2013) of Mr Howland attempting to bring harm upon me and my family by publishing what he believes is my location. This has been added to the police details. In the event that he is successful I have asked others to ensure your personal complicity is widely publicised.
(The required deletions have now been made, without comment – but not to the screenshots in the possession of West Mercia Police. I was alerted to this by a respectable detectorist. Perhaps others could do the same if necessary in future.)
26 April 2013….. Mr John Howland’s campaign to ensure as many violent people as possible know my address and are therefore able to threaten me and my family has continued and has borne fruit. One Steve Taylor has publicly written: “I don’t expect we will hear much from him [Nigel Swift] as he only lives a 40 minute drive away, just a little bit too close for comfort, and I would hate to have to squash his nose!” He has now been warned by the police and removed the threat.
I have asked Dr Bland of the PAS to condemn the threat 4 times but he has failed to do so. The fact the police have taken it seriously but PAS still refuses to says it all.
Update 10 August 2013 by Nigel Swift
Mr Howland persists. He has posted on a detecting forum that people should write to me and that they can find my address on a particular named website. Whether he thinks presenting the information in that way makes his action “deniable” I don’t know but if he does I am confident he is mistaken. Given all that has gone before I think he would find it very hard to argue that it wasn’t his way of tipping off one of those detectorists he knows full well have repeatedly threatened me with violence.
Update 28 September 2013 by Nigel Swift
Another artefact hunter of similar ilk, a Mr Taylor, (who has been spoken to by the police for openly publishing threats to come to my house and attack me), has taken to impersonating us so if you see any obscene or otherwise objectionable comments in the name of Heritage Action or similar or any of it’s members they won’t have come from us. This also applies to a “false blog” in my name which Mr Taylor is preparing. Of course, disagreeable though all this may be it doesn’t make our criticism of the British system of legalised but unregulated metal detecting any less valid.
Updated 20 Feb 2014 by Nigel Swift
Mr Howland today published my address yet again (on the blog of detectorist Andy Baines) and then, having let it stand, sent a further message saying “Will you now delete the address of Nigel Swift from my post, as publication will cause him concern” – thus causing harm and then acknowledging he was aware of it. He then offered the following denial: “Neither I nor you would want to be responsible for anyone pestering him or his family.” I hope I can be forgiven for suggesting that was a lie. (I understand 2 days ago he tried to post Paul Barford’s address elsewhere too).
Update 26 December 2014 by Nigel Swift
Mr Howland has given a detailed description of me on Mr Stout’s blog, clearly intended to be used by those metal detecting thugs who have threatened me with violence (what other purpose could there be?) Now removed, following my message to the hapless (or knowing) Mr Stout (but noted no doubt).
Update 8 November 2015 by Nigel Swift
Mr Howland has now published an address and phone number for Paul Barford – twice – on the website of Canadian numismatist John Hooker. This is the seventh and eighth time he has revealed our addresses, phone numbers or personal descriptions or offered our photograph to anyone who asks for them (“I’m anxious to let anybody who wants them, have them“). He has added a denial that he is engaged in a campaign to encourage “violent attacks” on Paul or me (Paul’s “loathsome pal” as he terms me) or our families but the number of instances, stretching now over three years, strongly suggest exactly that. You judge. I have written to Mr Hooker requesting he takes action but have received no reply.
Update 11 November 2015
Having (I presume) been banned from continuing his campaign on Mr Hooker’s site (as he has already been on Mr Dick Stout’s site), Mr Howland has now transferred it to the site of Mr Dave Welsh, a prominent US coin dealer, and has there deliberately published details of addresses for both Paul and I, which are instances nine and ten in a campaign which he claims has no malign intent. From a victim’s perspective (and keeping in mind all of his previous published statements above including: “I’m anxious to let anybody who wants them [my and Paul’s photographs] have them”) I beg to differ.
Update 13 November 2015
It seems that what Mr Howland has been doing has a precise name:
There are many forms of online harassment, trolling and abuse – but perhaps the most frightening abuses come in the form of DOXXing: posting (often publically available) personal information online for the purpose of creating embarassment and/or fear in the victim, enabling others to pursue more dangerous forms of harassment, and ultimately to silence the victim by driving them from public life.”
The above definition seems to fit Mr Howland’s actions like a glove, leaving no scope for his later excuse that some of the information was already publically available.
If DOXXing is done with deliberate intent to cause fear, distress or harm or if it is done recklessly without reasonable concern for the consequences it is a crime. Malign intent is not going to be hard to establish in view of some of Mr Howland’s earlier statements. For example ….
““I have photos of him (Paul Barford) and of his sidekick (Nigel Swift). I’m anxious to let anybody who wants them, have them. In fact, some already have Swifty’s pic. As I’ve said before, if he (Paul Barford) is frightened for his own safety, or that of his family, he should have considered his actions and obnoxious posts before insulting all and sundry. Throw the shyster to the dogs, in the same way he’d throw our hobby, if he could, in the trash can. You’ve got him by the balls, don’t let him off the hook!”
I intend to take some time to consider several options.
Update 15 November 2015
I have arranged to take further advice but as of today I see that neither Mr Welsh nor Mr Hooker have removed our personal details from their websites but things have moved on: Mr Welsh appears to have acknowledged that he is indeed hosting a campaign against us – but denies it has “the objective of encouraging intimidation, and perhaps actual physical assaults” (how would he know?) and that its intent (again, how would he know?) is “simply to place them (critics of metal detecting) in context so that the public can accurately judge them.” Others can decide whether addresses and photographs place us in context or serve a quite different purpose but Mr Welsh and Mr Hooker (and still, Mr Stout) should thoroughly understand that if anything untoward happens they are likely to be required to show that their behaviour wasn’t a contributory factor – in short, that my risk is their risk.