Fine Gael rips off BBC website




Fine Gael
Fine Gael

Coz I’m a person who lives and breathes CSS from 9 to 5 I decided to dig a little deeper and boy was I surprised to see that their developers didn’t even bother to change the class names in the CSS files. 

BBC CSS file (sorry about quality)
BBC CSS file (sorry about quality)


Fine Gael CSS (again sorry about quality)
Fine Gael CSS (again sorry about quality)

Unreal. See and for yourself.

Update: To prove I’m not a nut, I’ve just pulled copies of both CSS files to my local machine & made a lickle video too :) 

Update @11.20,  16/4/09: Seems is now down completely. Stewart did some file comparing before the site went down, check the results here (thanks Stu). A web developer for the BBC has also added his comments. Had a chuckle to myself on the way to Handel’s Messiah at Christchurch reading the press release that went out to Fine Gael mailing list subscribers (which I have been since meeting Enda Kenny a few weeks back and him saying a new site was in the pipes). I’ll be emailing members of FG tomorrow to voice my views & following up on this post. I simply haven’t had time today. 

69 thoughts on “Fine Gael rips off BBC website”

  1. Ouch,
    Good catch though. It’s strange how all the parties are relaunching their online presence but seem to have missed the point of engaging. It’s like they are working off a checklist website – check, youtube page – check, twitter profile – check …. now wait for the adoring public to flock to them. Disappointing that they haven’t made the effort to really do something good here.

  2. Any chance you could explain this a little more to those of us unaccustomed to using phrases like class names? I cant identify where the class names are…

  3. I think the new FG website is superb. Very snazzy. If you are going to go corporate with the site, and base it off the world’s finest, you may aswell take notes from the BBC book.

    Fair play to Fine Gael. Well done. Great job by the webmaster.

  4. At least they went to the trouble of editing the CSS and spacing it out so it’s easier to pick out the offending class names!

  5. @Mark: Class names are basically reference names for elements, e.g. “#menu” or “.sidebar-links”. They appear pink in my screenshots. You can call them anything you like so the fact that both files have the prefix “blq-” means a blatant copy paste job. has more detail if you want it.

    @Stephen: Can’t agree with you there completely I’m afraid as the “webmaster” has clearly copied and pasted someone elses work (unless he worked on the BBC site too). Yes, I agree that you shouldn’t re-create the wheel with every website but this is taking it a little too far. Clearly the project hasn’t been approached correctly.

  6. Me thinks, it ain’t going to bother too many that scripts might be similar. The as yet “unlaunched” FG website is far better for it.

    The reality is that the cumulative result of all the work seen therein, are almost enirely original. The only aesthetic similarities are layout. Content and substance are the elements that I seek in politics folks, and I think that website is perfectly suited to providing a frame work for the party, for projecting its message.

    I don’t think that you can disagree with me there.

  7. @Stepehen

    The code isn’t similar, it’s identical. There’s a big difference. That means it was copied. So what’s the party’s message? That it’s ok to copy other people’s work for your own benefit?

  8. This is a cheap job – thats what this says – no Web design firm of repute in this state would pull this would they?? I know FG senior staff are not as in favour of engaging online as rest of parties or even some within party (cf. Pascal Donohue) but surely if money was spent it would be on original code and design? Steph?

  9. Plausabile Deniability tactics to expect include:

    1) We hired a freelancer, who ripped off the BBC without our knowledge
    2) We are (somehow) the victims in all this because XYZ
    3) It’s just a text page that went up accidentally
    4) This is just distracting us from the real issues and you are all terrible people for pointing this out instead off blahblahblah

  10. Great catch Steph. I’d batten down the hatches on the site if the Irish media get a hold of this..spreading through Twitter like wildfire at the minute..

  11. I’m a web developer for the BBC, the ‘blq’ class names refer to the ‘Barlesque’ container uses to roll out the central masthead and footer across all BBC sites so it’s very unlikely they also used this obscure class name by co-incidence.

    The same company did not design both either as the homepage was developer in-house.

  12. I wonder if the FG press office are okay with Stephen commenting here…

    I look forward to finding out how much this one cost…

  13. Be interesting, given the times we live in an’ all, how the news that they hired a Russian freelancer at $15/hr to do the job. Not a wonder he decided to take their direction of having a page ‘like’ the BBC literally.

  14. The only comparing file is the css but the html is different
    Used is js library from jQuery framework
    bbc framework is encrypted so it’s not possible to use it…

  15. so story so far is Fine Gael hired a freelancer from Russia asking for a site similar to the BBC homepage and for around $1000 got……. the BBC page.

    Presumably some copyright issues?

  16. This is an impressive bit of CSS manipulation but it’s clearly a bogus website. I severely doubt Fine Gael are responsible for this rip-off of the BBC website.

    According to, the ‘Fine Gael – Political Party’ have only four websites registered to them. See the link:

    These include and (which is a mirror site) and . (I can’t see the fourth one as I don’t have premium membership.) I clicked into all these three and they’re definitely official Fine Gael sites as you would expect.

    The main FineGael website was developed by Biznet IIS ( ) according to the registry. Looks fairly proper so ok there. [See ]

    Now, you could argue that the above is the ‘fourth one’ but the domain registries say not.

    If you look at the domain registry for, you see this:

    This is clearly a completely different server – completely different than the one before. Why would the Fine Gael party set up a website on a different server when it already had a perfectly good one with four domains on it?

    The question is who behind ‘’. There is no guarantee that it is really Vincent Gribbin (Fine Gael’s Head of Internal Communication). Firstly there could be loads of Vincents in FineGael and more likely, that’s a not a real FineGael email address. (I’m not sure if there exists any kind of registy for this?)

    My conclusion is that was meant to be a elaborate April Fool’s Day hoax (it was updated on 1st April). They just forgot to tell people it was a joke.

  17. The whois output is pretty telling… – uses Internet Ireland – see the tech-c contact – uses a different set of nameservers to the .com, but again they are Internet Ireland – just a different nameserver set but the domain they’re based off is the same as used by the tech-c email address on the .com

  18. Go Inspector Steph!

    The BBC site is pretty solid. I often find myself justifying some web design decisions to people saying “but look the bbc site also do it the the same way”.

    But this – is clearly taking the piss. Downright theft. What’s next? Having HOPE as a slogan?

    I remember something similar happening with David Behan’s site – they were only short of using his photograph – but the hijacking wasn’t by an established political party. Shamer!

  19. Ha, thats brilliant, good find. My brother Darren showed me your blog, if you or anyone else is ever bored and wants to read about an Irish guy in L.A trying to break into acting and writing (going horrendously funny) check out

    Get Darren to hold onto the keys for the May weekend too!

  20. I was looking at this briefly again today. is now not displaying anymore. (They must have heard!)

    I’m unsure of what exactly is required to register a domain. What personal details etc (name, postal address, email address, phone number, etc) do you have to supply when registering? To wait extent are these checked and thus, how much credence I should give them on the website?

    For example, I found that if you go to http://www.FineGael.Info then you get re-directed to the website. So an official Fine Gael domain, who’d say??

    (But not sure if you can necessarily conclude this, could Joe Bloggs redirect his domain to Yahoo or Twitter or anything for that matter? Don’t know enough about this.)

    So funnily enough, when you look up the domain registry data for FineGael.Info, you see this:

    “Vincent” @ appears all over it again.

    That email address is a valid email address but perhaps it’s not the ‘real’ email of the person who set these sites up. The text is only a URL label not an actual mail-to address.

    Not sure what’s really going on here. Don’t know enough.

  21. Oh my! All the websites are ALL back and they’re ALL the same. Forgot to fully refresh in the last 30 mins.

    So it is official! Content has been jazzed up but the CSS formatting has the same look and feel as before, as the website. Has there been any modification to the CSS code behind it??

    I’m not sure what the copyright right regulations are for CSS code between websites. Obviously the news content, pictures, logos, etc would be copyrighted but is CSS code the same?

  22. @David Cochrane Just fished your comment out of my spam filtering system which gets suspicious of comments with 2 or more hyperlinks.

  23. First Fianna Fail hire a US firm BSD to redevelop their web site and now Fine Gael hire a Russian developer to stea..ahem copy.. ahem take influence from the BBC site.

    What a statement of no confidence in the Irish Internet Industry… No more unpatriotic guilt on my part for shopping in Norther Ireland

    Fine Gael background image: corners_new.gif
    - dimensions: 4810 x 5 pixels

    BBC background image: corners_new.gif
    - dimensions: 4810 x 5 pixels

    … they didn’t even rename the file

  25. Not a fan of the new website at all. Excluding the direct ripping from BBC, the design and layout is terrible. I was informed before it went live that it was supposed to be very good, so I assumed FG would run with something like FF have done. Disapointing that they went to the Freelancer site to get assistance rather then using an Irish company.

    Stephen Behan from YFG (Young Fine Gael) is obviously just supporting it being involved in FG/YFG anyway. Face it Stephen, the FG websits is terrible. Direct ripping code from another website is poor form. The YFG and FG website are both awful. Its very disapointing that it has come to this. I hope that the company you guys have selected for the new YFG website does a better job.

  26. [quote]Had a chuckle to myself on the way to Handel’s Messiah at Christchurch [/quote]


  27. Stephen: Are you aware at all of the concept of copyright? I don’t know if it has ever been tested, but it would be likely that non-trivial CSS would be considered a copyrightable work.

  28. The website is one of the worst “clones” i have seen. I work as a developer who has worked on many Irish Government and EU websites. If I delivered work like this I wouldn’t be employed.

    This website hasn’t been thought through at all, just a slapdash rip off of the BBC website to look impressive, the result it doesn’t look impressive and the content is a complete mess, the menu’s/content taxonomy don’t make sense.

    An Irish state body would not be allowed to launch such a website as it’s completely inaccessible and full of crap “hacky” code.

    Accessibility Snapshot:

    Validation Errors:

    What fine gael need to do is hire a proper company who have a track record of delivering a website of this scale and complexity, who will plan the content in an acceptable manner and deliver it in an accessible way. Developing this in house… they obviously don’t have the skills for a Parish Church Website.

    This might sound a bit dramatic, but it would put me off voting FG, the denials and trying to justify theft is a joke.

  29. Holy TimesNewRoman batman! That seems to be the only style difference, and what a horrible one! That second project has been deleted already. They know they’ve messed up.

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