There was a lot of speculation when Guido personally served papers on Damian McBride on behalf of Nadine Dorries that it was merely some kind of publicity stunt (yes, that means you Mr Brogan).
What Guido knew, and many ill informed commentators did not, is that the smears about Nadine were placed with journalists and some pretty offensive questions were put to her as a result. The fabricated stories did not just remain private in emails sent to Derek Draper, Charlie Whelan and Kevin Maguire. Even before Smeargate became public, Nadine was furious that smears were in circulation and senior political reporters put the complete fabrications, of a sexual nature, to her.
There are other emails which have not been made public, again from Damian McBride, where he admits to spreading untrue rumours and suggests to the recipients that they claim to have heard the story “from within Tory circles”. Those stories and allusions to those stories appeared in newspaper diary columns and elsewhere. In short Damian did not have a leg to stand on.
Nadine might not be finished yet. She has not halted her case against the government. Gus O’Donnell is the formal respondent because as head of the civil service he was the employer of Damian McBride, who as the PM’s Press Adviser, was line managed by Gordon Brown. What is panicking the government’s lawyers is that Damian placed smear stories in newspapers about opposition politicians, sent from his desk in Downing Street, from his government computer, during working hours. In the course of his job…