The Kernel has obtained the latest version of a dossier that alleges fraud and intellectual property theft on the part of Friends Reunited founder Steve Pankhurst. But all is not what it seems.
In December, we reported on the explosive story of Friends Reunited founder Steve Pankhurst and his family being “hounded by fantasists” who claimed they were responsible for the creation of Friends Reunited, which was sold to ITV in 2005 for £120 million.
Today, The Kernel can share the full, crackpot “dossier” assembled by Pankhurst’s accusers. It’s an extraordinary document, wildly internally inconsistent and, furthermore, incongruent with prior versions of the same document that have been passed to The Kernel in the past.
Having examined this document in forensic detail, readers have been left confident the allegations against Pankhurst are bogus. A person close to the matter told The Kernel this week: “There is obviously something else going on here, because nothing in this document makes the remotest sense.”
The primary claimant against the Pankhursts is John Meyer, who was described to The Kernel by his son, Felix, as “51, married for 23 years. He has an MBA from Christ Church and was the MD of an international division of a FTSE 100 company. He is a Judo instructor, having acquired his black belt in ’96 at the Budokwai.
“After redundancy in 2006, he retrained as a school teacher,” says Felix, who adds that his father now lives abroad.
Here are a few details we noticed from browsing the document, comparing it to prior versions and speaking with some of the recipients of the document and its previous incarnations.
- The statement from the “fraud squad officer” (page 6) has changed three times since recipients of pointed out errors
- The same officer is referred to alternately as a “fraud squad officer” and a “private investigator” in different versions of the document
- The document is riddled with classic conspiracy theorising: for example, drawing conclusions from coincidental surnames
- Minor accounting errors are spun into “suspicious activity”
- The word “lying” has been replaced with “misled” in the latest version of the document passed to The Kernel
The Pankhursts’ accusers say they are “currently finalising negotiations” for a “global publishing deal” which they insist will be “the UK’s version of The Social Network“, the Aaron Sorkin movie that portrayed the early days of Facebook.
A URL provided by the Meyers to a website offering rewards for information did not work when we followed the link last week. Meanwhile, the Meyers continue to insist that Pankhurst submit to a polygraph and hand over his laptop to satisfy their curiosity.
Interested readers will want to make their own discoveries in this labyrinthine mess of a compendium. For now, the story, whose gory details continue to unfold on Pankhurst’s personal blog, can, we believe, be safely ignored.
Jealousy’s an ugly thing.