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Why the Fake Sheik Has Been Recalled

Guido’s spiritual mother Madame Popbitch is up at Leveson next week, but that wasn’t the only name on the witness list to catch his eye. The Fake Sheik, Mazher Mahmood, has been recalled. The clue to why is the witness immediately before him on the list – his old boss Roy Greenslade. After Mahmood’s farcical first outing, Greenslade wrote:

It is lucky – for both of us – that I had to listen to his contribution from the media marquee because press and public were banned from the courtroom … because I would certainly have shouted out when he replied to counsel’s question about why he had left the paper under a cloud. He said simply: “We had a disagreement.”

A disagreement? Well, that’s one way of describing it. In fact, it is a euphemistic description of the reality. “We” – the paper and, in this case, me – had a major falling out with Mahmood. I was then at the Sunday Times, running the news department, and I recall the incident well. When Mahmood resigned, he was on the verge of being dismissed for an act regarded within the office as gross impropriety.

Greenslade directly challenges Mahmood’s evidence and the showdown is set for Wednesday. Get the background here and grab the popcorn…

Labour TURCeys

Early Day Motion 2609 is proof, if ever needed, that Labour MPs will do anything in blind support of the trade unions. In what looks like a sycophantic pat on the back for union activists, TURC member David Morris notes John Healey’s spin about all the wonderful work of Pilgrims, but  Tory adds the pertinent point that if so much is done for free, why should taxpayers pick up the tab for their other activities?

Falling into the trap Labour MPs Ronnie Campbell and Alan Meale made their mark, before withdrawing their names this morning after Labour tweeters pointed out their mistake. That didn’t stop doddery Jim Dobbin adding his name today though…

Lobby fodder. 

Friday Caption Contest (Pass the Pistol Edition)

Exclusive: ‘Ello ‘ Ello ‘Ello
Rusbridger’s Secret Metropolitan Police Commissioner Meeting

Despite Amelia Hill, his crime reporter, being investigated over her rather inappropriate relationship with a police officer, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger thought it fit to have an undisclosed meeting with Hogan Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner yesterday. We’re making this public today because the Guardian was very tight-lipped about it when Guido put it to them yesterday and refused to confirm or deny the meeting happened. We have now double confirmed it via our unofficial and official sources in the Metropolitan Police.

Alan Rusbridger and deputy editor Ian Katz were both at the meeting. Given that it was at 11 a.m. yesterday, alcohol wasn’t a problem, but Guido hopes that in view of the recently issued official advice to coppers on dealing with journalists, that there wasn’t any flirting. The Guardian have had twenty-four hours, but are still not commenting. Just imagine their front page splash if they had discovered that the Sun’s editor Dominic Mohan had met secretly with Hogan Howe…

See also: Ethical Issues Arising From The Relationship Between Police and Media

READ: The Full Lobbyist Register Consultation Document

Could be tougher all round…

The Crow Flies

As Guido revealed yesterday union lobbyists are on course to be added to statutory register of spinmeisters. Cue faux outrage. Speaking to the Standard’s Craig Woodhouse, Bob Crow has thrown his toys out of the pram before he’s even read the proposals:

 “The idea that trade unions, representing millions of workers up and down the country, should be bracketed in with the chancers and shmoozers from the shadowy world of political lobbying is a gross insult to men and women fighting for a fair deal in the workplace. This is just another blatant ConDem attack on the trade union movement and shows complete and utter contempt for the role we play in protecting working people from the savagery of casino capitalism.”

What are you paid £145,000 a year for then Bob? 

+ + + Sunday Times Drops Huhne High Court Challenge + + +

Potentially incriminating emails about Huhne sent by Vicky Pryce to the Sunday Times’ Political Editor Isabel Oakeshott will be handed over to the police. If he’s charged, he has to walk…

UPDATE: The Prime Minister’s spokesman says he has “confidence” in Huhne. Not full, or complete, just “confidence”. Some are less sure though:

http://twitter.com/#!/ShippersUnbound/status/160321604142899201

Petronella Wyatt muses:

“If only. If only I had listened when Norman Lamont suggested that a young David Cameron would be more “appropriate” than my flirty old men.”[…]

+ READ MORE +

Spin Wars

Yesterday’s capitalism bunfight sent the spin machines into overdrive. Guido was amused by these two…[…]

+ READ MORE +

Gordon Spends £7,053 to Ask About Local Sailing Club

Gordon Brown was seen loitering around the Parliament this week, and it seems he managed to do something on behalf of his constituents while he was in town. He put in a written question about the his local sailing club. […]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Liz Kendall is asked by Tom Newton Dunn if she would ever ban the Sun from one of her press conferences:

“If you stripped naked and ran in front of me, Tom, I might have second thoughts about it, but apart from that, no.”

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