— James Forsyth (@JGForsyth) May 22, 2012
As revealed here this morning…
Vested interests in the education world know no bounds in their opposition to academies, but this one is a corker. The headteacher of the only school on the Isles of Scilly was hastily suspended yesterday, without explanation, after it emerged that he was venturing to the mainland and travelling all the way to London to discuss potential Academy status for his school.
The islands are run by the locally loathed Chief Executive of the Unitary Authority, Philip Hygate. In a remarkable display of efficiency Hygate is also the Director of Education (as well as the Returning Officer and the Standards Officer etcetera.) The headteacher, who has turned the school around, is thought to be warming to the idea of academy status and the freedom this would grant him, but it’s known that Mr Hygate would rather cut his hands off than lose control of the school and, more importantly, its budget. He, and he alone, has the power to call in auditors and is claiming to have discovered an “irregularity” in the school’s books. He appears to be accusing the head of embezzling funds, much to the bafflement of the residents. The local media is reporting:
“Police Sergeant Colin Taylor confirmed during the afternoon yesterday that there had been no ongoing investigation or complaint made about any member of the Five Islands School staff.”
Islanders are close to mutiny. One sent a carrier pigeon to Guido this afternoon exclaiming:
“This must be the last straw. The Chief Executive appears to have gone mad with power. This kind of operation has his prints all over it. Rather than allow the Headteacher to decide what’s best for the schoolchildren he has set in motion a chain of events which has one simple objective: prevent academy status and retain the power and the budget for the Council. What we need now is for Michael Gove to come to these islands, talk to the people and get to the bottom of a rotten system.”
Hygate was being buttered up in Downing Street just last month and Guido has made the Department of Education aware of the stitch up. Gove to the rescue?
Great Standard scoop that the former Screws News Editor Ian Edmondson is off to edit lads mag Loaded. With the mag’s circulation plummeting, this looks like a risky last roll of the dice. The thunderous hack says he wants to restore the mag to it’s “glory days” with a “bad boy” image. Given he’s still on bail, the latter shouldn’t be too hard. All good publicity…
This snippet from Rachel Sylvester’s column, stuck behind the Times pay-wall, deserves a wider audience:
“At Westminster, Mr Balls can be overbearing. An attempt to oust Liam Byrne, the Blairite Work and Pensions Secretary, from the Shadow Cabinet, which was resisted by Mr Miliband, is blamed by some on the Shadow Chancellor’s bovver boys. “There’s a gang within the gang,” says an insider. “The punishment beatings are back.” One MP compares Mr Balls and his wife, Yvette Cooper, to the Borgias who just can’t help plotting.”
Belardinelli the bovver boy has a certain ring to it…
If his rapidly fading smug smile was anything to go by, Tom Watson got a much tougher ride at Leveson than he was expecting. He was probed about McBride and Smeargate, denying any knowledge of a plan to counter Guido, despite the Red Rag website actually being set up. He was also cornered on leaking and again denied, on oath, that he leaked information from the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee to the Guardian. That will clear up the mystery around them getting hold of all sorts of evidence before anyone else then. He was forced to answer yes to the next question though – of course he was feeding Nick Davies.
Watson was also asked about his relationship with Political Scrapbook. He denied, unprompted, to being “part of the management”, or indeed ever feeding them information. Which is odd given a simple Google search pulled up this glaring example:
“Tom Watson will in a few moments use parliamentary privilege to publicly expose details of a notorious murder inquiry allegedly blocked by News International.”
Information reaching the media before Parliament? How did that come about? The website also carries a very prominent advert for Watson’s book and is funded by the his allies at the GMB Union….
At an ungodly hour this morning Guto Harri calls from New York to correct the claim that he was ever offered a job – or ever claimed he that he was offered a job – by Downing Street. Guido has previously raised eyebrows at the claim.
He says that articles suggesting he was were not his doing – the Telegraph’s Mandrake was not briefed by him and that he specifically told the Guardian that he had offers from a “luxury manufacturing company and a large public affairs firm” not Downing Street. He told Guido that he didn’t go to spin for News International for the money – he could have gone to a bank for more money however that would be boring. He also said Guido seemed to know where he was going before he had made up his own mind…
Reliable Tory sources tell Guido that IDS SpAd Susie Squire is being lined up to replace Henry Macrory as the Head of Press at CCHQ. Guido spoke to Susie this morning who refused to comment on our well sourced speculation. The frontline job at DWP is one of the toughest spinning jobs in government, yet Squire, a veteran former spinner for the Taxpayers’ Alliance, has still managed to remain popular amongst hacks…