Polis email hacker invites Melanie Phillips to conference in Cuba dedicated to memory of Hugo Chavez

Email shenanigans last week saw the London School of Economics’ media think tank Polis invite all manner of journalists to a conference in Havana dedicated to the memory of Hugo Chavez.

Some of the right-leaning journalists on the invite list were not amused. And amusingly for Axegrinder, due to some technical glitches, their unsubscribe emails were sent to everyone on the distribution list.

Among them was Melanie Phillips, who Axegrinder was gratified to see is as grumpy in real life as she is in her Daily Mail columns.

She said: “I have somehow been included on a list involved in a trip to Cuba. This has nothing to do with me, yet I am now being bombarded by messages. Please ensure that I am removed from this list immediately.”

As the various unsubscribes were sent to all recipients, the individuals on the distribution list began turning on each other.

So we had George Webster: “Please strike my name from the list of people wishing to be stricken from the list. Receiving unsolicited messages from the likes of Melanie Phillips is enough to put anyone off their cornflakes.”

Sarah Compton from the Telegraph: “I’m sorry, but I would hope that most of you are internet literate enough to know that you unsubscribe from mailing lists NOT by hitting ‘reply to all’ to let everyone else on the list know you’d like to unsubscribe.  It’s annoying, poor online etiquette and reflects rather poorly on your professional skills. Thanks!”

Barry Fox: “Although this has been a most entertaining email flame pantomime, it would be good to hear something factual from the LSE IT people on how a body with the IT resources of the LSE can be so soundly compromised. Then everyone on the listserv list can perhaps learn something technically useful. Can we expect this please?"

Finally, an apology from Polis: “On behalf of Polis, we apologize for the email messages that you have been receiving this morning. It appears that the Polis listserv account has been compromised and has sent out the below spam message. This also means a fault with the way in which you reply (for example, to unsubscribe), meaning that it sends any response to EVERYONE on the mailing list.”

Polis director Charlie Beckett told Axegrinder: “I am pretty sure it wasn't a deliberate hack. Probably more like in Dr Who when someone accidentally falls through a space/time wormhole. We are deeply embarrassed and guilt-ridden at the annoyance caused to our wonderful supporters.”

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