Saturday, July 28, 2012

Subterranean Greenwich: Spooked Out?

[make sure you read to the end of this post for the updates which explain what really happened]

Subterranean Greenwich is (or maybe was) a fascinating site documenting the history and geography of tunnels, caverns and other hidden underground places in the Greenwich and Kent area. It has been posting regularly up until last week. Now it has vanished.

It you go to its address today ( you get a 'blog not found' message (no I didn't mis-spell it - for some reason the url has three e's in Greenwich):

Shortly before the blog went down they posted the following 'On 24 July 2012 the Subterranean Greenwich blog was targeted during a five and a half hour assault by the UK Government's FTAC (Fixated Threat Assessment Centre). The attack started at about 9.50am and ended at 3.20pm - with continuous viewing of dozens of blog posts in this time window...

The FTAC is a special unit staffed by both police officers and forensic psychiatrists/psychologists; its main aim is to pre-empt and prevent attacks on high-profile public figures (including the royal family) by obsessed individuals.

It's sad that the government prefers to sneak in via the back door rather than contacting us directly to ask us about our research - which we're happy to discuss. Why we should be regarded as such a threat remains a complete mystery - although it's likely to be associated with the 2012 Olympics, specifically the events in Greenwich Park'.

Previously Subterranean Greenwich had issued the following: 'Statement on 2012 Olympics: Here at SubG we don't really have any opinion one way or the other on the Olympics; it will soon be over. For some time our hit counter has shown intense research on Greenwich Park coming from the secure government Internet backbone; we have unwittingly become involved in Olympic security. Maybe that's inevitable given the fact that we know more about what's beneath the Park than anyone else alive. What would be nice is a donation (official or unofficial) from the Olympics people to help us with our future research - the blog entries on the Park and environs are the fruit of thousands of hours of unpaid work'.

Does anybody know why the blog has now gone? Did the authors just take it down because they were feeling the pressure? Or did the authorities lean on Google/blogger? What was the nature of the cyber 'attack'? A site being viewed many times wouldn't constitute an attack as such, unless it was designed to somehow limit viewing by other people, but maybe there's more to it. 

Targeting a site like SubG in any way would seem a massive over-reaction, if that is what happened. In the unlikely event that somebody was planning an attack on the Olympics events in Greenwich Park they would presumably have done their homework by now. And no doubt the police will have considered such possibilities. Recent posts have covered subjects such as the death of miners in Plumstead in 1817 and dances in the Blackheath cavern in the mid-19th century - hardly a threat to anybody. Let's hope the blog returns soon.

Update 30 July: Google to blame? I wrote this story because somebody sent me an email telling me that the site was down following above posts. My first reaction was to check on google. Searching under 'subterranean greenwich' the result that came up was  (3 e's in Greenwich) - this is still the case (see below accessed just now). Following the link still takes you through to the 'blog removed' message. But if you go to the blog is there, albeit with no mention now of unwanted attention from security services. Not sure how google can make a spelling error, but was the site there all along? It's still curious, but not suggestive of a conspiracy. Anyway glad to see the site's there.

Update: 31 July 2012, pm - OK have heard back from Dominic at Subterranean Greenwich and here's the real story - some funny business, but more cock-up than conspiracy:

'Originally I made a very silly mistake in spelling "Greenwich" in the blog title - I used 3 "e"s. I only noticed a few months ago, and built a complete mirror blog with the correct spelling title, and updated both addresses continuously. Google grabbed the wrongly-spelled one and indexed it. A few days ago I pulled the plug on the wrongly-spelled one, which is why the blog appears to be down. It's actually fine - just go here:

I'm currently building a brand new home for the blog with a proper domain - it's already up and running, but I'm still in the process of transferring all the old blog posts onto it. You're welcome to go and have a peek. All the posts should be on there within a few days - I'm working several hours a day on it right now.

It's true that FTAC were sniffing around my ankles - very unpleasant. But they didn't pull the (mis-spelled) blog, I did. Why were they interested? Two possibilities - either because they thought Per and I know too much about tunnels in Greenwich Park and are a danger to this week's multiple royal visitors to the equestrian events there, or because they thought my "campaigning spirit" was spilling over into insanity. They're wrong on both counts'.


Anonymous said...

Madness - it's is/was one of the best blogs around.

Unknown said...

Does anyone know whatever happened to this site? All of it disappeared. It used to be a full of interesting local history info like the old tunnels in Plumstead.

Anonymous said...

The site seems to have disappeared again :( It seems to have vanished a some point during the summer 2022...