UPDATED 24/7/2015 with statement from Royal Holloway University
UPDATED 27/8/2015 with Freedom of Information Request Reply.
On 20th July 2014, Tony Anthony posted a wrap-up blog post following an apparent “Special Event at the Royal Holloway University”.
The original post was located at www.tonyanthony.co.uk/special-event-at-the-royal-holloway-university however it has since been removed from his site, and updated to remove reference to the “Christian Union” which organised the event, however, a cached version of the site , including this claim is still available from the Internet Archive.
A static Safari WebArchive, and PDF version of the cached site are also hosted here for archive purposes in case these cached copies are removed or updated. An additional archived version of the page is available via WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/6a5cEEp9o.
We would encourage you to read any one of these cached posts before reading onwards here. All of these caches are essentially identical representations the original text of the post by Mr. Anthony, as it appeared from its posting, until its removal by the author, and subsequent update.
The our PDF and WebArchive versions capture the formatting and content of the site, while the the Internet Archive and WebCite® versions capture only the text and images. However they are all accurate, unedited, automatically generated cached copies of the text and images of the page as they appeared appeared on 1st August 2014 (First available Internet Archive Cache) until July 16th 2015 (final Google Cache) prior to its removal and update.
The post told the story of a recent preaching engagement, organised by the Christian Union of Royal Holloway University, in London, which took place on their campus at some point during the from the 14th to 19th July 2014.
According to Mr. Anthony, the event put on for “students, friends and family at the Royal Holloway University” and was attended by “about 400 students in total”. Although it was designed as a ” question / debate time”, “There were no questions at the end, because the students all sat as quiet as mice” while he gave a “30 minute testimony and the Gospel instead”.
Following his gospel presentation, Mr. Anthony claimed “a young student (who is a local boxing star) burst into tears that got everyone crying”. Following this powerful and emotional event, Mr. Anthony claimed that he prayed, and that following an altar call “only 20 or 30 students that did not leave their chairs. The rest came to the front of the lecture hall when I invited them”
Finally, in summary, Mr. Anthony claimed “The Christian Union that organised this special event have never seen so many respond, and so they had only prepared 50 follow up packs. We had to think quick on our feet and make sure we took everyone contact details” ending by encouraging everyone to “Please pray for these souls! Praise God!”
The post included photographs, ostensibly taken at the event, featuring students listening to the lecture, and responding to his invitation to receive Christ.
If true, this is indeed a great and powerful story of God’s redemptive power, and the power of the Holy Spirit to convict people of sin, and draw people to redemption, even if the messenger himself is a proven and persistent liar and deceiver. If God can speak through a donkey (Numbers 22:28), and Paul can rejoice in the Gospel going forward, even through false motives and pretence (Philippians 1:18) then we can certainly accept that God is speaking to people, by his spirit, at Mr. Anthony’s events, even though he himself is telling lies about his testimony, as we have demonstrated throughout this site.
However, all of that assumes that the story is true, which unfortunately seems simply not to be the case.
In the time since there was published by Mr. Anthony, his claims have once again been investigated, and have once again been found wanting.
First of all, there are the photos.
Even a casual observer will immediately notice that the three photos featured on the site are of vastly differing quality, and appear unlikely to have been taken at the same time, or at least, by the same photographer using the same camera
The first and fourth are fairly high-quality images, most likely specifically produced for promotional purposes, and, indeed both images can be found online elsewhere.
The first, appears to have been taken by the university, which has recently been used as a promotional image for the 2015 Royal Holloway Open Day (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/6a5ivfXiG).
The fourth image can also be seen on the Open Day page as the thumbnail image for the “Virtual Tour” and can also be found on several other websites, including numerous uses throughout the Royal Holloway site itself. The original instance of this image appears to be this high resolution version from 2012.
Using other people’s promotional images, is not, in and of itself a problem, especially if the organisation has made them available for that specific purpose, and given you permission to use them.
However, Mr. Anthony does not credit the photographers of these images, he does not include copyright notifications, or “used by permission” bylines on them, and has, indeed, stripped all meta-data from the images themselves which could have contained such credits.
This, unfortunately, represents copyright infringement on the part of Mr. Anthony, or whoever uploaded these photos for him, however, as we have already established, copyright is something Mr. Anthony has a history of abusing.
The next photograph—the second on the page—is a relatively low-resolution image. Given its positioning in the text the picture purports to show the actual lecture hall where the debate / testimony took place.
The third image on the page is a very small, low resolution image—at least as embedded in the text—purports, again based on its positioning, to show the university students responding to his altar call.
These next two images are interesting. Although the third image, as embedded, is very small and low resolution, the full resolution image is actually still available, by clicking on it, and can be seen here. At full resolution, it is quite apparent that, far from the dimly lit university lecture hall, with its tiered seating, it is actually a photograph from a well-lit classroom, community centre, or similar place.
Rather than university aged, the students appear to be secondary/high school aged, and indeed, what appears to be two teachers can be seen sitting at the side of the room “supervising” the students. The light from a projector can be seen in the third image, though no such projector is visible in the second image, as well as a laptop screen, featuring the word “Liar”—how ironic!
Far from showing the response to an alter call, this appears to show part of a youth group presentation, where Mr. Anthony asks anyone who has ever lied to put up their hands, before declaring that then makes them a liar, by their own admission. It is a variation of an evangelism method popularised by people like Ray Comfort and Todd Friel, designed to get people to admit their need for a saviour, and can be quite effective if delivered appropriately.
But it is disingenuous at best, and libellous at worst to publish a picture featuring identifiable people without model releases in such a way that it implies these people making a commitment to Christ, when in fact they are doing no such thing, and are just responding to the question “have you ever told a lie?”. Even if this picture was taken during the Royal Holloway event—which there is no evidence to suggest it was—this would still potentially be libellous, given that it purports to show an event which it is not actually showing.
Furthermore, the second photograph doesn’t even show Royal Holloway, let alone Mr. Anthony speaking there. It is in fact a doctored and cropped picture from of Author Rebecca Skloot giving a talk to freshmen at the University of Delaware, in 2011 (Image available here, original article here).
This is certainly copyright infringement—there is no way that the University of Delaware, or photographer Kathy F. Atkinson, (who is not credited anywhere in Mr. Anthony’s article), would provide permission for their photograph to be used to show another university, in another country, and a completely different type of event—and is also likely libellous.
However, in truth, while unfortunately illegal, many people are unaware of the law regarding copyrighted photographs, and while ignorance is not an excuse, it would be understandable to interpret this as mere oversight on Mr. Anthony’s part.
After all, there is always the possibility that, in spite of his best efforts, the photographs he took on the day simply didn’t turn out as expected, or indeed, he simply did not have a camera available during the event and instead he made the—admittedly illegal and certainly unwise—decision to use alternative photographs he found online to help visually capture the essence of his story.
I suspect most would be willing to forgive these as foolish oversights, if someone else had done them, if the story itself was true.
But then, there is the issue of the story.
Mr. Anthony’s original blog post was uploaded on 20th July, and contains the words “earlier in the week”, indicating that the actual event took place between the 14th and 19th July.
It mentions specific groups—specifically Royal Holloway University’s Christian Union, who are part of UCCF, an organisation which coordinates Christian Unions at UK Universities and Colleges. It also mentions Royal Holloway University itself. These are sources we can use to confirm the accuracy of the story.
So how does this story stack up with the recollections of the Royal Holloway Christian Union?
“I can confirm that the Christian Union at Royal Holloway did not organise this meeting” said a spokesperson for UCCF in an article for Christian Today “and that they have never had any involvement with Tony Anthony. This was confirmed by the president of the CU at the time.”
Specifically, according to sources spoken to by Christian Today reporters ‘Royal Holloway CU have no knowledge of any such event ever having taken place” and also that “it was unlikely it took place [even without their involvement] as it would have been during graduation week.’
Immediately after an interview with Christian Today, which first brought to Mr. Anthony’s attention the concerns about the Royal Holloway story, the page in question was removed from his website. At best, this would be suspicious, at worst, however it can be viewed as a clear admission of guilt.
For his part, Mr. Anthony’s defence was to claim that ‘he had been to Royal Holloway several times for events and that the July 2014 meeting was organised by an “independent Christian group hiring one of the meeting rooms”, not by the CU.’
However, given that the original post contains several specific mentions of the Christian Union, and that the review was posted less than a week after the event took place, it is hard to imagine how such an error could creep in. Mixing up and forgetting certain details of your childhood many years after the fact is one thing, but mixing up the group which brought you in to preach at an event where they “have never seen so many respond” less than one week after the event is hard to fathom.
As the Christian Today report points out, the week in question was graduation week, and any venue large enough to hold over 400 students, plus their friends and families, would almost certainly have been booked well in advance for graduation-related events.
We have reached out to Royal Holloway university to attempt to clarify if any venues that size would have been available to be booked by an “independent christian group” during that week, and will update this page accordingly if we receive a response.
So what can we conclude from this?
Once again, Mr. Anthony finds himself in the unfortunate position of having made claims that are simply not backed up by the available evidence.
However, this time round, Mr. Anthony can not fall back on the excuse of having forgotten or mixed up the details over time, or having been mislead about what he thought was the truth.
This event allegedly happened less than a week prior to his write up of it, and given that none of the photographs included in the report indicate that Mr. Anthony has ever even been to Royal Holloway university, let alone preached in front of 400 students, we are once again left in the unfortunate position of having to conclude that this story, like so many in his book, is a gross and unsubstantiated exaggeration at best, and a complete fabrication at worst.
Once again, Mr Anthony has been found in the same pattern of lies, deceit, exaggeration, manipulation, avoidance of responsibility, excuse making, copyright infringement, and deception which have plagued him throughout his life and ministry.
Once again, we cannot help but warn readers to beware of this man, and any claims he makes.
Kim Deasy, Press and Communications Officer at Royal Holloway, University of London provided the following statement:
“I’ve spoken to our conference hire team and there’s no record of a room booking for this event on those dates.”
This confirms beyond all doubt the suspicions of UCCF, Christian Today, and many others, and once and for all confirms that this event did not happen. There is simply no record, whatsoever, of any room at the university, of any size, being booked for this event.
Mr. Anthony may once again attempt to change his story. He may claim that the event took place off campus, or otherwise twist the facts he had previously published, however, we feel that any such attempt would only further go to prove his deception and manipulation.
We would again remind the reader that this post was written less than a week after the supposed event. It contained specific reference to the event having taken place at the university, and he has since gone on to clarify that the event was organised by an “independent Christian group hiring one of the meeting rooms”.
The university have confirmed that none of their rooms were hired at this time, for this purpose, and any further changes to his story would not make sense in light of the changes he has already made.
The only reasonable conclusion here is to accept that the event is a complete fabrication on the part of Tony Anthony.
At the same time as we contacted the Royal Holloway Press Office, we also submitted a request to the university under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
On 14th August we received the following reply information from the University.
In response to our request regarding whether there was any room available to independent groups which could have held 400 people on the dates in question, the university provided the following reply:
No rooms were booked by an independent group during the week 14th to 19th July 2014. The only room which seats 400 is in our Windsor building which was in use for graduation that week.
In response to our request about if their records recorded the specific room usage, the university confirmed that in addition to the name of the person hiring the room:
Our records include stated usage purposes for rooms however this would be no more detailed than ‘residential conference’, ‘day-meeting’, ‘internal booking’ etc.
They also include business type e.g. charity, corporate or religious group.
With regard to whether there were any other possible dates when Mr. Anthony could have booked the room, they confirmed:
We have checked our room booking records including our enquiries database and there is no record of any contact from Tony Anthony.
Indeed, not only does this confirm that there was never a booking made, but also that there was never even an enquiry made by him.
Of course, this does not reveal any truly new information, but confirms what we have already suspected far more explicitly.
This event simply did not happen.
We delayed sharing this information in order to contact Tony Anthony and allow him to provide comment or explanation for this. We received no response.