Louise Daphne Mensch (néeBagshawe; born 28 June 1971) is a British journalist, conspiracy theorist, and former ConservativeMember of Parliament. After a period working public relations for the music industry in the early 1990s, she became known, as Louise Bagshawe, as a writer of "chick-lit" novels. She was elected Conservative MP for Corby in the 2010 UK general election, but resigned from Parliament in August 2012 to move to New York City to live with her second husband, American music manager Peter Mensch. In 2014, she began working for News Corporation, and co-launched its Heat Street website in February 2016. Since leaving Heat Street in mid-December 2016, she has published primarily on her blog Patribotics, which she launched in January 2017, and her Twitter account. She left News Corp entirely in March 2017. Mensch, as well as her website Heat Street, has published multiple unverified claims, and promoted hoaxes and conspiracy theories about the Trump administration and its ties to the Russian Federation.
Mensch was born in Westminster, London, the daughter of Nicholas Wilfrid Bagshawe and Daphne Margaret Triggs, and was raised a Catholic. She was educated at Beechwood Sacred Heart School, Tunbridge Wells, and Woldingham School, a Catholic girls' boarding school in Surrey. She read English Language and Literature at Christ Church, Oxford and was Secretary of the Oxford Union. She has a brother and two sisters, one of whom, Tilly Bagshawe, is a freelance journalist and author.
At age 18, Mensch was named Young Poet of the Year. Following a six-month internship at MTV Europe she worked as a press officer with EMI Records, and then as a marketing official for Sony Music.
Under her maiden name, Louise Bagshawe, she wrote in the chick lit fiction genre, publishing seventeen works which sold a total of over 2 million copies. Her first novel, Career Girls, was published in 1995. Her sister, Tilly Bagshawe, has also published works in the genre. In her role as an MP, Louise Mensch was denigrated for her work as an author of fiction intended for a female audience. Mensch is an outspoken advocate of the genre and has stated that it encourages girls to be ambitious. Reflecting on her books, she stated, “All of them feature feminist heroines making it on their own. I simply couldn’t write about some drippy Cinderella because I don’t admire those women.”
With parents who were active in the party, Mensch had joined the Conservatives when she was 14. Subsequently, in 1996, she switched to the Labour Party, saying she believed Tony Blair to be "socially liberal but an economic Tory". By 1997 she had returned to the Conservatives, helped her mother, Daphne, win a seat in East Sussex County Council from the Liberal Democrats, and campaigned in the 1997, 2001 and 2005 general elections. In 2001, Mensch co-founded the Oxonian Society, later renamed the Hudson Union Society, with Joseph Pascal and Princess Badiya bint El Hassan of Jordan.
Conservative party leader David Cameron placed Mensch on his "A-List" of Conservative candidates in 2006. In October 2006 she was selected to stand in the constituency of Corby, which she won in the 2010 general election with a majority of 1,951, defeating Labour incumbent Phil Hope. In June 2010 she was elected by other Conservative MPs to serve on the Select Committee for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
Murdoch phone hacking affair
On 19 July 2011, in the hearings of the House of CommonsSelect Committee for Culture, Media and Sport, Mensch interrogated James and Rupert Murdoch concerning their roles in the News of the Worldphone hacking scandal.
Political blogger Bagehot in The Economist named Mensch as the "surprise star" of the hearing, writing that her "sharp, precise, coolly scornful questions" contrasted with her "waffling, pompous" fellow committee members, and citing her clever confrontation of the Murdochs. In the course of the hearings, Mensch erroneously stated that Piers Morgan had written in his autobiography about conducting phone hacking while he was the editor of the Daily Mirror. When challenged on CNN by Morgan, Mensch cited the protection of parliamentary privilege and declined either to withdraw the allegation or to repeat it. She later apologised to Morgan and stated that she had misread a newspaper report about Morgan's book.
Three days after the hearing, Mensch received an email that alleged, among other things, that she had taken drugs and danced while drunk with violinist Nigel Kennedy at a club in Birmingham in the 1990s. Mensch publicly released the email, stating that the allegations were "highly probable" but said that she regretted only that others had to see her dancing and that she would not be deterred from asking further questions about phone hacking. Members of the Parliamentary committee denounced the attempt to intimidate Ms. Mensch, who subsequently admitted using class A drugs in The Sunday Times.
The Culture, Media and Sport select committee finalised its report in April 2012. Mensch disagreed publicly with Tom Watson and Paul Farrelly, two Labour members of the committee, over whether the conclusion that Rupert Murdoch was unfit to run an international company, had been discussed before Watson tabled a Commons amendment on 30 April. Mensch and the other three Conservative members of the committee had opposed it, and could not support the report with the MP herself saying the report had become "partisan" as a result of the statement's inclusion. Mensch insisted on Newsnight on 2 May that it had not been discussed and was not part of its remit. Watson later accused Mensch of tabling pro-Murdoch amendments which would have "exonerated" James Murdoch in the report and, in Twitter exchanges with her, alleged private committee conversations had been leaked to News Corp.
On 6 August 2012, Mensch announced her decision to resign as the MP for Corby in order to move in with her second husband, American music manager Peter Mensch, in New York City. Mensch had appeared likely to be promoted in the expected September government reshuffle. She told her local newspaper that she had intended to stand down at the next election, but brought the date forward as she was concerned her children would be too settled in Britain by then. She was appointed to the nominal position of Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead on 29 August 2012, thus vacating her seat.
Regulation of social networking websites
Following the rioting in England in 2011, Mensch called for social media services Twitter and Facebook to be shut down or to "take an hour off" during disturbances to stop the spread of false rumours wasting police resources. She compared the action with brief interruptions to road and rail networks during emergencies. However, other Twitter users compared such action to the online censorship of regimes such as Iran and China, whilst Sussex police said they had used Twitter to stop rumours.
In June 2012, a man was given a 26-week prison sentence suspended for two years for sending Mensch an offensive and threatening email including threats against her children. Following his conviction, Mensch called for networking sites to identify anonymous bullies saying it was impossible for the victim to ascertain the seriousness of the threat posed, while the bullies felt they could do as they pleased without fear of retribution.
In May 2012, Mensch used her Twitter account to condemn abusive and threatening tweets that she had received, describing them as "misogyny and bullying". The tweets were subsequently reported in the mainstream press, and she drew praise and support for drawing attention to the issue from Twitter users as well as public figures such as Jeremy Vine and Isabel Hardman.
In May 2015, after that year's general election, Mensch was accused of cyberbullying Abby Tomlinson, the teenaged leader of the 'Milifandom'. Mensch denied the accusation, asserting that she had only criticised Tomlinson. Shortly afterwards, she wrote a 4,000-word blog entry to reiterate that she had not bullied Tomlinson and made new assertions about the sixth-form student.
Journalism and internet ventures
In June 2012, Mensch joined forces with former Labour digital adviser Luke Bozier to set up a social networking website – a politics-based rival to Twitter. The site, named Menshn – pronounced "mention" – allowed users to select their topic of interest. Mensch hoped to raise venture capital finance. The site was initially criticised by IT industry experts for using http instead of secure https to communicate passwords. Bozier disputed this claim, but the site switched to the secure protocol. Menshn closed in February 2013.
After leaving Parliament and moving to the US in 2012, Mensch began working as an independent journalist and also wrote articles for several newspapers, including The Times, and The Guardian. In The Guardian she wrote two articles advocating "reality-based feminism", in particular "Conservative feminism" or "Tory feminism", and critical of Britain's "modern feminist movement" (including Equality impact assessment), which she called "ultra-feminism" and contrasted unfavourably with "American feminism".
After the closure of Menshn, Mensch set up a style and fashion blog called Unfashionista in early 2013, devoted to "Fashion. Feminism. Fitness. And a little inspiration." The website was covered widely in the British press and received mixed reviews. One of Mensch's pieces on Unfashionista was a reaction to allegedly sexist comments by Nobel Prize winner Tim Hunt. After researching the backgrounds of various people involved in the luncheon at which he spoke, Mensch wrote an exhaustive blog post criticizing the ethics of Connie St Louis, Deborah Blum and Ivan Oransky, the first three journalists to condemn Hunt's speech. Mensch's last post on the site was on October 29, 2015.
In May 2014, she started developing new digital projects for News Corporation. In February 2016 she co-launched Heat Street, a libertarian news, opinion and commentary website, with television executive Noah Kotch. On Heat Street, Mensch interviewed Adam Baldwin regarding the movement involved in the Gamergate controversy, claiming that it was Baldwin who created the Gamergate hashtag to "describe the scandal of falsely accused young men", and suggesting it is a hashtag that "divided the feminists – like me – and the fauxminists".
Mensch left Heat Street in mid-December 2016, and launched her own political blog, Patribotics, in January 2017. The blog is controversial and cites unnamed sources in the intelligence community. Mensch has stated that she prefers the freedom of self-publishing, which having her own blog affords; she told The Guardian, “I didn’t want to be subject to an editing process. Editors would ask: who are your sources? And I can’t tell them.”
Mensch left News Corp entirely in March 2017.
FISA warrant claim
In November 2016, Heat Street published an article titled "Exclusive: FBI 'Granted FISA Warrant' Covering Trump Camp's Ties To Russia", written by Mensch. According to this article, the FISA warrant giving permission to investigate the Trump campaign was granted in October 2016, in "connection with the investigation of suspected activity between the server [in Trump Tower] and two banks, SVB Bank and Alfa Bank." The article also wrote that "it is thought in the intelligence community that the warrant covers any 'US person' connected to this investigation, and thus covers Donald Trump and at least three further men." In January 2017, Paul Wood on BBC News reported a FISA warrant issued on 15 October 2016 to intercept the electronic records from two Russian banks in relation to the Trump campaign; a week later McClatchy independently confirmed the BBC report, and in February 2017 The Guardian wrote that "former officials said they believed that the Mensch and BBC account of the Fisa warrants was correct." However, Glenn Kessler, writing in The Washington Post, wrote that McClatchy's article "is much different than the Heat Street account."
In March 2017, the Trump administration cited the Heat Street and BBC stories as evidence for Trump's claims on Twitter that President Barack Obama had illegally wiretapped his phones. This claim was examined by FactCheck.org, which found there was no evidence for it. According to Kessler, the BBC's account differed substantially from that of Mensch, since the BBC alleged that: "Neither Mr Trump nor his associates are named in the FISA order, which would only cover foreign citizens or foreign entities — in this case the Russian banks." Kessler stated: "The Washington Post for months has sought to confirm this report of a FISA warrant related to the Trump campaign but has been unable to do so. Presumably, other major news organisations have tried to do so as well. So one has to take this claim with a huge dose of skepticism." Kessler added that the assertion that the FISA warrant was to examine possible activity between two Russian banks and a computer server in Trump Tower had not been confirmed by U.S. news organisations, and that the Trump Organisation server communicating with Russian banks may have actually been located in Philadelphia, not Trump Tower. Moreover, according to the FBI as reported by The New York Times in October 2016, "there could be an innocuous explanation [for the server traffic], like a marketing email or spam."
In April 2017, The Washington Post reported that, during the summer of 2016, the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to monitor Carter Page, an advisor to the Trump campaign. The warrant was granted as part of an investigation into possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Comments on Trump and Russia
During and after the 2016 US presidential election, Mensch's political commentary has promoted conspiracy theories about the Russian government, Donald Trump and people in Trump's circle. Mensch claims she has evidence that Vladimir Putin had Andrew Breitbart murdered to make room for Steve Bannon at Breitbart. She has stated that the 2017 Istanbul nightclub shooting was a Russian false flag operation, with Russia posing as ISIL; that "Bannon and his team" were behind bomb threats to Jewish community centres; and that Russian intelligence planted Hillary Clinton's emails on Anthony Weiner's laptop. Mensch has also accused numerous people and organizations of being Russian "shills", "moles" and "agents of influence," including founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and elements of Mossad (Israel's intelligence service).
Mensch stated that President Obama should have responded with "precision bombing raids" and "massive cyber war" in response to Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.
In 2000, she married Italian-American real estate developer Anthony LoCicero. They have three children, but separated in 2009. The marriage ended in divorce. In June 2011, she married American music manager Peter Mensch, whom she had first met 20 years earlier; she has resided with him in New York City since 2012.
Mensch is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which made her realise she was "self medicating" with wine for stress, and she has now almost completely given up alcohol. She has also commented, on BBC Question Time during a debate on calls to decriminalise hard drugs, about taking hard drugs in her 20s; she subsequently told the press "It is something that I regret incredibly, that, in my youth, I messed with my brain. I said ‘we all do stupid things when we are young’. It’s had long-term mental health effects on me. It’s caused me to be more anxious than I need to be."
Writing as Louise Bagshawe:
- Career Girls (1995)
- The Movie (1996) aka Triple Feature
- Tall Poppies (1997)
- Venus Envy (1998)
- A Kept Woman (2000) aka For All the Wrong Reasons
- When She Was Bad... (2001)
- The Devil You Know (2003)
- Monday's Child (2004) aka The Go–To Girl
- Tuesday's Child (2005)
- Sparkles (2006)
- Glamour (2007)
- Glitz (2008)
- Passion (2009)
- Desire (2010)
- Destiny (2011)
Writing as Louise Mensch:
- Beauty (2014)
- Career Game (2015)
- Five Romantic Reads (2005; with Donna Hay, Laura Wolf, Jane Elizabeth Varley and Stella Chaplin)
- ^Louise Mensch (28 March 2017). "Tweet Number 846679557054906368". Twitter. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
- ^"Donald Trump critic Louise Mensch vies for journalism respect while also pushing conspiracy theories".
- ^"Democrats are falling for fake news about Russia".
- ^ ab"Louise Mensch to quit as an MP, triggering Corby by-election". BBC News. 6 August 2012.
- ^ ab"Louise Mensch claims she has evidence that the founder of Breitbart was murdered by Russian agents". The Independent. 12 March 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
- ^ abcdGrove, Lloyd (9 March 2017). "Is Conspiracy Queen Louise Mensch Right About Donald Trump?". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
- ^ ab"The manic queen of conspiracy". The Times (UK). 2017-12-03. Retrieved 2017-03-27.
- ^Swaine, Jon (2017-05-16). "New fake news dilemma: sites publish real scoops amid mess of false reports". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-05-16.
- ^"Why Is A Top Harvard Law Professor Sharing Anti-Trump Conspiracy Theories?". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 2017-05-16.
- ^"Stop promoting liberal conspiracy theories on Twitter". New Republic. Retrieved 2017-05-16.
- ^Swaine, Jon (2017-08-28). "Lurid Trump allegations made by Louise Mensch and co-writer came from hoaxer". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-08-28.
- ^"Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- ^"Marriages". The Times. 23 September 1969. p. 12.
- ^Who's Who 2011, A & C Black, 2011
- ^"Louise Mensch (Ex-MP)". parliamentaryrecord.com. Archived from the original on 5 November 2013.
- ^"Louise Mensch:'I'm meant to say that the Commons is too blokey. But I". 5 May 2012.
- ^Scott, Caroline (6 March 2005). "Relative Values: Tilly and Louise Bagshawe". The Sunday Times. London, England.
- ^ abBarnett, Laura. "The sneering 'chick lit' label that dogs female authors". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
- ^ abKing, Victoria (29 July 2011). "Tory MP Louise Mensch 'probably took drugs in club'". BBC News.
- ^Barnett, Laura. "The sneering 'chick lit' label that dogs female authors". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
- ^Scott, Caroline (6 March 2005). "Relative Values: Tilly and Louise Bagshawe". The Sunday Times. London.
- ^Mensch, Louise (8 July 2011). "Chick-lit doesn't damage its readers, it just makes them raise their standards". The Daily Telegraph. London, England.
- ^Blake, Meredith. "Wendi Murdoch, Chick-Lit Heroine?". The New Yorker. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
- ^ abBernstein, Jon (4 October 2011). "The Politics Interview – Louise Mensch". New Statesman.
- ^"He sees women as equals". The Guardian. London, England. 19 April 2006.
- ^"Louise Mensch – Profile". Conservatives.com. Archived from the original on 19 January 2012.
- ^"Today's Leaders, Tomorrow's Ideas. Hudon Union Society". Hudson Union Society. Archived from the original on 16 March 2007.
- ^"Be Inspired, Change Our World™". Hudsonunionsociety.com. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
- ^"'Beautiful' Tory list under fire". BBC News. 19 April 2006.
- ^"'Chick-lit' author to stand at next general election". Northampton Chronicle & Echo. 13 October 2006.
- ^"Rupert and James Murdoch before Parliament". The Economist Blog. 19 July 2011.
- ^Swaine, Jon (20 July 2011). "Phone hacking: Piers Morgan in on-air hacking row with Louise Mensch". The Daily Telegraph. London, England.
- ^"MP Mensch apologises to Piers Morgan for hacking slur". BBC News. 29 July 2011.
- ^King, Victoria. "Tory MP Louise Mensch 'probably took drugs in club'". BBC News.
- ^Sanchez, Raf (29 July 2011). "Louise Mensch releases email allegations made by journalist". The Daily Telegraph. London, England.
- ^ abWalker, Tim (27 May 2007). "Chick lit Tory candidate Louise Bagshawe splits from husband". The Daily Telegraph. London, England.
- ^"Louise Mensch comes clean on Morgan, drugs and bad dancing". 4 News. 29 July 2011.
- ^"Phone-hacking report 'partisan' – Tory MP Louise Mensch". BBC News. 1 May 2012.
- ^Deans, Jason; Plunkett, John (1 May 2012). "Phone hacking: select committee report unveiled". The Guardian Blog. London, England.
- ^"Was Rupert Murdoch's 'fitness' to run News Corp discussed?". BBC News. 2 May 2012.
- ^Wintour, Patrick; Sabbagh, Dan; Halliday, Josh (2 May 2012). "Phone-hacking: MPs clash over when Murdoch criticisms were discussed". The Guardian. London, England.
- ^O'Carroll, Lisa (3 May 2012). "Tom Watson accuses Louise Mensch of tabling pro-Murdoch amendments". The Guardian. London, England.
- ^O'Carroll, Lisa (3 May 2012). "News Corp was given private committee details, suggests Tom Watson". The Guardian. London, England.
- ^Adam, Karla (6 March 2017). "This former British lawmaker is at the heart of the Trump wiretap allegations". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-07-03.
- ^ abPrince, Rosa (6 August 2012). "Louise Mensch MP quits to care for young family". The Daily Telegraph. London, England.
- ^"Louise Mensch internet troll banned from contacting General Petraeus and Lord Sugar". The Daily Telegraph. London, England. 11 June 2012.
- ^"Louise Mensch: social networks must identify internet bullies who cower behind anonymity". The Daily Telegraph. London, England. 13 June 2012.
- ^"Louise Mensch MP exposes shameful bullying of women on Twitter after personal attacks". The Daily Telegraph. London, England. 2 May 2012.
- ^Jackson, Jasper (19 May 2015). "Louise Mensch accused of bullying Milifandom leader on Twitter". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
- ^Nelson, Sara C. (21 May 2015). "Louise Mensch Backs Down After 'Harrassing' [sic] #Milifandom Student Abby Tomlinson". The Huffington Poast. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
- ^Nelson, Sara C. (21 May 2015). "Louise Mensch Denies Bullying #Milifandom Teen Abby Tomlinson in 4,000 Word Blog". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
- ^Kameir, Rawiya (20 June 2012). "Tory MP Louise Mensch launches social network". IT Pro Portal.
- ^John, Rapid (21 June 2012). "MP Louise Mensch has launched a microblogging site". rapidberry.net. Archived from the original on 23 June 2012.
- ^"Tory MP Louise Mensch launches rival to Twitter". BBC News. 20 June 2012.
- ^Leyden, John (25 June 2012). "Mensch pal Bozier defends Menshn security, dubs critics 'snippy geeks'". The Register.
- ^Davenport, Tom (25 June 2012). "New social network Menshn launches in UK with security holes". CNET.
- ^Arthur, Charles (6 February 2013). "Menshn closes as founders fall out". The Guardian. London, England.
Louise Daphne Bagshawe was born on 28 June 1971 in England, UK. She attended local all-girls Catholic schools near her family home in Surrey, before going to Oxford University in 1989. After graduating with a degree in Anglo Saxon and Norse, she worked as press officer with EMI records and then as a marketing official with Sony Music. On her 22nd birthday, her passion for writing was realised with a major publishing deal as Louise Bagshawe. She is the author of more than fifteen novels, published in more than eight languages. She is sister of the also writer Tilly Bagshawe.
Louise married Anthony LoCicero, and they had three children, but since June 2011, she is married with her second husband Peter Mensch. She lives in Northamptonshire with her family, and has been the Parliamentary Candidate for Corby and East Northants since November 2006, and became the Member of Parliament for Corby after winning the seat at the 2010 general election.