Forde MP’s Wikipedia page edits ‘well-meaning’

Forde MP Bert van Manen.

Forde MP Bert van Manen.

CHANGES to a Wikipedia page on Forde MP Bert van Manen by his staff were “well meaning” attempts to update the information, an office spokeswoman has said.

The Courier-Mail reported that references to Mr van Manen’s failed business Vangrove Financial Planning were scrubbed last Wednesday from a computer with an IP address linked to Parliament House. It said information glorifying Mr van Manen’s political career had also been added.

Mr van Manen’s spokeswoman said the article was a Labor beat-up.

She said she had not seen the changes made using her Wikipedia account but described the edits as well-meaning updates by other staff. “There was no sinister reasons behind any Wikipedia updates,” she said.

“Just the well-meaning attempts to include some more information relating to Mr van Manen’s political history and involvement in the local community.”

The Courier-Mail reported passages of since-deleted political hype had been inserted into the page by user Jess-Lou, who was later banned by Wikipedia.

Passages included: “Since winning office, Bert has developed a positive reputation for delivering results for his community.”

The spokeswoman said she did not understand how Wikipedia worked but the changes were not approved.

“I am really upset that I have been personally attacked,” she said. “I also can’t find any of the content (that was allegedly changed).”

Wikipedia content is created and edited by people around the world.

The information is often unverified but all entry changes are tracked and text cannot be permanently removed.

Mr van Manen’s page was last updated on Friday, January 12, after the reported changes were made. The changes can be found in the page’s history tab, which is available to readers.

Other politicians and their staffers have altered Wikipedia pages, including in Australia and overseas. 

The removal of scandalous information from MPs’ pages in Britain, including allegations of arrest, fraud and affairs, made headlines two years ago.

The spokeswoman said Mr van Manen was overseas on a family holiday and unavailable to comment.