Sometimes there is just easy money to be had. When Guido saw Labour pushing a story that Pickles’ SpAds had been busted “smearing” Jenny Watson of the Audit Commission as incompetent and a public purse milker he couldn’t quite see where a crime had been committed. The truth cannot be a smear.
It got better though, the line was pushed that the Department for Local Government had been forced to spend fifty grand on legal fees consulting about how to deal with the situation. If that is the going rate, who knows what the legal advice concerning McBride ran up to…
Political Scrapbook dived on the story and have been hammering it for weeks. Guido smelt bullshit early on and bet the PS team £50 that the actual sum was more likely to be closer to zero. And guess what?
The sum was infact zero. In reply to a Parliamentary Question on the subject, Bob Neil said:
“I wish to use this opportunity to put on record a short comment. Pursuant to my answer to the hon. Member of 4 November 2010, Official Report, column 937W, no expenditure has been undertaken on legal fees on potential defamation cases relating in any way to that whole topic.”
Guido would like two twenties and two fives please.
It’s not only Political Scrapbook with egg on their faces though. The Local Government Chronicle broke the story, PR Week followed it up and rent-a-quote Caroline Flint was even deployed to ask awkward questions. Funny how it was Tom Watson who asked the PQ that was shot down by Bob Neil. It’s almost as if his fingerprints were all over this from the start…