Union flag protester 'behind site that ran anti-Clinton stories'
One of the organisers of the loyalist flag protest has been named as being behind a fake news website that pumped out anti-Hillary Clinton propaganda during the US presidential election.
The New York Times claimed in a front-page article that former Orange Order member Jim Dowson (52) was the mastermind of the Patriot News Agency, which disseminated false claims about Mrs Clinton, including that she was linked to conspiracies involving Satanism, paedophilia and murder.
Mr Dowson (52), who is originally from Scotland but lives in Comber, Co Down, is a former member of the British National Party and ran the party's fundraising operation from a Dundonald call centre.
He is also a founder of Britain First, an anti-immigration group that views Islam as a threat to western values.
Mr Dowson split from Britain First in 2014 after some of its leaders started invading mosques and threatening Muslims - actions he called un-Christian and counterproductive.
In addition to his role in the loyalist flag protest, Mr Dowson took part in pro-life pickets of the Marie Stopes centre in Belfast and was active in setting up the Protestant Coalition, which tapped into loyalist discontent after Belfast City Council voted to limit the flying of the Union flag in November 2012.
The New York Times claimed that Mr Dowson made it his mission, according to messages posted on one of his sites, to "spread devastating anti-Clinton, pro-Trump memes and soundbites into sections of the population too disillusioned with politics to have taken any notice of conventional campaigning".
Mr Dowson said he engaged with the US presidential election because of what he saw as "liberal bias" in the mainstream media.
"The simple truth is that after 40 years of the right having no voice because the media was owned by the enemy, we were forced to become incredibly good at alternative media in a way the left simply can't grasp or handle," he added.
Mr Dowson, who was handed a three-month suspended prison sentence last year for taking part in unlawful loyalist marches in 2013, told the newspaper: "The bottom line is, Brexit, Trump and much more to follow".