Watson’s Fingerprints All Over Whittingdale Story

Who is behind the John Whittingdale story? For the last two years Natalie Rowe, the prostitute who made the infamous coke and bondage allegations about George Osborne, has been tweeting excitably about Whitto’s relationship with a dominatrix. Her allegations, including the pictures she tweeted of Whitto and his former partner, eventually found their way onto the eccentric Byline website. Yet well before the revelations broke, Rowe had a long phone call with Tom Watson where they discussed “in detail” her story about Whittingdale:

Natalie was frustrated with Watson’s apparent failure to get the story going. Conveniently, it eventually ended up on Byline, whose writers Watson is very friendly with. Whitto and Watson of course have history after they sat on the Culture, Media and Sport committee together back during the hacking scandal. Ironic that Watson, a man who previously had a keen interest in keeping his personal life out of the press, was so interested in the private relationships of a political enemy…

UPDATE: Peston is briefed that Watson warned the Sunday People against running the story. So Watson did have behind the scenes discussions with both the source and the press…

Ian Hislop v Prezza and “Problems With His Private Life”

Prezza looked like he was going to punch him…

WATCH: Ed Begs Labour Members Not to Boo Journalists

Perhaps the most cringe-worthy moment, from a crowded field at Labour’s manifesto launch, was when Ed had to beg members not to jeer and boo journalists:

It didn’t work though, they were soon jeering Sky News.

Yet Ed confirms he would legislate to gag the press:


Presumably it means they will break up the BBC…

The Final Straw

Gary Gibbon points out that Miller was pushed after her PPS’s multi-vehicle pile up on Sky News. MacLeod went to pieces when confronted with her text message, revealed exclusively by Guido, citing a Leveson witch-hunt:

“I was told by one government source that Maria Miller’s PPS’s appearance on Sky News and her text message to Tory backbenchers saying the attacks on Maria Miller were a media witch-hunt were “the final straw.” This “should never have been said,” another government source said.”

The wheels were off by the time discipline had collapsed and anger led to leaking.

EXCLUSIVE: Miller Hits Back Claiming “Levesen” Smears

Once again Maria Miller has tried to use the threat of the post-Leveson age to shut down her expenses scandal. Mary Macleod, PPS to the fatally wounded Culture Secretary, today texted Tory MPs begging for support. Again Miller’s people have cited threats to press freedom. Mary Macleod said:


“I believe there is a media witch-hunt on Maria due to Levesen [sic]. How do you feel about it? Happy to answer any questions you may have. She would really appreciate your support. Many thanks Mary”

Too little too late, Guido fears.

Rich’s Monday Morning View

miller's tale480

Craig Oliver: “Gallagher is Talking Rubbish About Me”

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Craig Oliver is in full denial mode after former Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher went after him on the Today programme, suggesting that the Downing Street spin boss cited Leveson when trying to shut down the Maria Miller story:

“It is entirely false to suggest that I tried to threaten him with Leveson in any way. The conversation I had with him was about the inappropriate doorstepping of an elderly man (Maria Miller’s father).”

Gallagher has hinted to the Daily Politics that he has a tape.  Craig emailed the show live to say “Tony is talking rubbish about me, and you can use that”.

This is getting serious…

UPDATE: Gallagher has hit back: “it’s almost as if Craig wants to make the story about him. It isn’t. He is a human shield for Miller. He adds “Incidentally, I note there is no denial coming from Jo Hindley.”

UPDATE II: No tape.

Putin’s Party Will Meet With Sir Brian Leveson Today

The Council of Europe has sent a delegation to the UK to monitor our “democracy”. Embarrassingly the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities feel the need to talk to our very own press-gagger. At 16:30 this afternoon Sir Brian Leveson will meet a representative from Putin’s party and a German socialist, who will no doubt love picking his brains. That’s right, the delegation consists of Mr Alexander Uss, the United Russia Chairman of the  Krasnoyarsk Regional Legislative Assembly and German Socialist Party Mayor of Rheine Angelika Kordfelder. Statutory legislation of the press has caught the eye of some interesting characters…

Non-Leveson-Compliant Sketch (With Topless Counsel and Hot Tubs)

Sir Brian Leveson’s clever strategy with his committee appearance was to stand on the Fifth (see Quote of the Day).

For the first long sequence of answers to Tory questions he confined himself to variations of “Quod dixi, dixi.” In English, “Read the report, you lazy tossers!”

But he was happy to answer Labour’s Ben Bradshaw as though he was being paid by the word.[…]


Kangaroo Court

Rolf Harris was in the dock this morning, He was bailed and indicated he will be pleading not guilty, but had nothing to say to the media on the way out.

The trial starts in two weeks…

Picture via Martin Brunt.


How Rolf’s Lawyers Used Leveson to Prevent Reporting Lawyers Falsely Claimed Guido Scoop Was “Only Conjecture”



Brian Sets CMS Committee Date

One for the diary.[…]


Leveson Called to CMS Select Committee

John Whittingdale has called Brian to give evidence as a witness to his CMS select committee. According to the Sun he’s been kicking up a fuss about turning up, arguing that judges don’t have to explain their position to MPs. Which all makes for an interesting constitutional stand-off.[…]


Hacked Off Break Parliamentary Lobbying Rules

Who would have thought that Hacked Off, the lobbyists granted private access to Downing Street and given a sofa in Ed Miliband’s office during the crucial press regulation talks, could have possibly broken parliamentary lobbying rules? John Dickinson-Lilley, Hacked Off’s top lobbyist, failed to declare his position in the register of interests.[…]


Leveson Lover’s Large Bill Blows Brian’s Bluster

When the Leveson lovers story broke, Brian responded by telling Tory MP Rob Wilson that “Ms Patry Hoskins assisted in the largely mechanical exercise of collecting and organising the evidence”. Adding that  “absolutely no role” in work on the section of the report addressing the culture, practices and ethics of the press.[…]


Win a Romantic Loverson Holiday in Santorini

The Sun having some fun at the Loverson lovers’ expense today.[…]


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Quote of the Day

Trump jokes about media bias…

“The media is even more biased against me than ever before. You want the proof? Michelle Obama gives a speech and everyone loves it. It’s fantastic. They think she’s absolutely great. My Wife Melania gives the exact same speech! And people get on her case! And I don’t get it! I don’t know Why!”

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