‘A beautiful piece of engineering‘
The online encyclopedia Wikipedia has frozen the accounts of 10 users that it says are confirmed to be linked to the public relations firm Bell Pottinger. A further 10 have been listed as suspected or likely ‘sockpuppets’ – accounts operated by someone who is not who they claim to be.
Of the 10 Wikipedia accounts suspended for being involved in suspected tampering by Bell Pottinger, two have gone to great lengths to give the impression they are real people.
One of these accounts, ‘Biggleswiki’, lists a number of personal details about himself on his user page. He claims that his name is David Biggles, and that he was born on November 2 1979 in Hammersmith, London.
Related article: The Wikipedia pages changed by Bell Pottinger
I was born in the East End and I can trace my family history back to 1585. I’m a retired stock broker having spent over 25 years in the City.
Diginerd84, aka Bell Pottinger
He provides a selection of personal details, and claims that he met his girlfriend whilst living in Newcastle, but has since moved back to London. ‘I currently work in engineering and really enjoy it. I get to travel around the world doing my job and have been to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia, China, New Zealand and Russia,’ he writes.
‘My interests include art, music and photography and I’m rubbish at all of them.’
The Bureau has been unable to identify a David Biggles who matches the above description. Searches of the electoral register yielded no results for ‘David Biggles’ anywhere in the UK. Bell Pottinger has since admitted that it used the Biggleswiki account.
A second user, ‘Diginerd84’, claims to be a 50-year-old retired stockbroker living in Mayfair named Steven Draper. ‘I was born in the East End and I can trace my family history back to 1585. I’m a retired stock broker having spent over 25 years in the City,’ he writes.
He claims to have two grown-up children who had both moved abroad with their families, one of whom worked for Credit Suisse in New York. He goes on to describe his interests, which include ‘business, political, science, motoring and sports’.
‘I’m extremely passionate about cars and own a collection of vintage Rolls-Royce motor cars. They have taken up nearly all of my time since I retired but are a huge amount of fun. My most recent and favourite purchase is a 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom II. It can barely hit 40mph, but it’s a beautiful piece of engineering,’ he says.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales told the BBC: ‘I will personally buy a full tank of petrol for Mr Draper’s 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom II if he exists at all.’