Guido understands that Nick Davies* had a breakfast meeting on Tuesday morning with Gordon Brown. That meeting was a two-way information exchange and the erroneous article – with David Leigh and Nick Davies bylines – was published the same morning. Brown’s speech in the Commons chamber on Wednesday came in the wake of the Guardian story. This combined Guardian / Brown line of attack has now completely unravelled, with the Sunday Times editor John Witherow rebutting the claim that it employed a criminal to blag for information about Brown’s flat purchase from Robert Maxwell’s estate in a dubious deal brokered by Geoffrey Robinson. Witherow is adamant that it was a legitimate investigation, in the public interest.
The Sun is unsurprisingly crowing about the apology, Rupert Murdoch himself has stuck the boot in an interview in the Wall Street Journal saying of Brown “He got it entirely wrong… the Browns were always friends of ours” until that is The Sun switched support to the Tories. Brown has handed Murdoch and Wapping a chance to fight back…
Murdoch is bullish about appearing before a committee of MPs next week, saying he wants to address “some of the things that have been said in Parliament, some of which are total lies.” Tom Watson has lost his bet that the Murdochs would chicken out of coming to the hearing. He won’t mind, his consolation prize is a chance to grill Rupert, James and Rebekah.
*A previous version transposed Nick Davies and David Leigh. You know how it is, these Guardian journalists all look the same to Guido. Corrected and apology on page 37.