Despite being one of Jeremy Hunt’s most vocal defenders on the airwaves and the twittersphere, Louise Mensch failed to make the Commons vote this afternoon. Other Tory MPs were dragged from hospital beds, funerals and even their own honeymoon to troop through the Lobby, but it seems an exception was made for the member for Corby, who was paired. Why? Because the Queen was visiting her marginal constituency…
Lots of unhappy backbench bunnies this evening…
Alex Salmond has claimed that the Observer hacked his bank account in 1999, telling the Leveson Inquiry:
“I believe that my bank account was accessed by the Observer newspaper some time ago, in 1999 and my reason for believing that is I was informed by a former Observer journalist, who gave me a [inaudible] of what was in my bank account that could only be known to somebody who had seen it. For example, I had bought some toys for my then at that time young nieces in a toy shop in [inaudible] high street which was called Fun and Games, and the person who informed me told me that this caused great anticipation and hope in the Observer investigation unit because they believed that perhaps Fun and Games was more than a conventional toy shop. And enormous disappointment when it turned out to be just a toy shop. I have to say that on [that specific] high street, it seemed to me unlikely that it would be anything else, but anyway, the point I’m making is the person concerned had detail which could only have been known by somebody who had full access to my bank account at that stage.”
GMG have put out a short statement that does not deny the incident but asks, again, for more evidence.
“Mr Salmond first raised the matter of an alleged unauthorised access of his bank account with the Observer’s editor last year. The allegation was that a journalist working for the Observer had accessed his bank details in 1999. As we explained to him last year, on the basis of the information he had given us, we have been unable to find any evidence to substantiate his allegation. As our response to him at the time made clear, we take this allegation very seriously and if he is able to provide us with any more information we will investigate further.”
UPDATE: Co-conspirators in the comments said the BBC would ignore it, they’re right. So far, so ignored, points out the Sun’s political editor, Tom Neutron-Bomb:
Guido understands that Dan Hodges is returning to the New Statesman. The move comes weeks after his old foe Mehdi Hasan was “promoted” to the Huffington Post. Guido is told he’ll be an occasional columnist. Ed will love that…
UPDATE: Guido has just spoken to Hodges, who confirms he will continue to write for the Telegraph while contributing fortnightly to the New Statesman magazine.
James “Scottie” Scott, the deputy editor of the Sunday Mirror, has been named as the new editor of the People. Scottie will replace Lloyd Embley, who moved to the vacant weekday editor spot at the Mirror two weeks ago. The appointment is all the more interesting seeing as Scott was intimately involved with obtaining the Ulrika Jonsson story back in 2002. And we all know what happened there…
The Speaker sparked a furore in the House after refusing to ask Chris Bryant to withdraw his accusation that Jeremy Hunt is a liar. Bryant claims it was fair game as Hunt was mentioned in the motion though others do not agree:
The Tories weren’t in a mood to let Bercow off the hook, with Jacob Rees-Mogg hitting the nail on the head:
How many more decisions like this from Bercow will the Tories tolerate…
Video via @liarpoliticians.
Alastair Darling will launch the ‘no’ campaign against Scottish freedom in Edinburgh in two weeks time. Forth One broke the news that Darling will kick off the “Better Together” bid to maintain the repression of the Scottish nation with a speech in his own constituency on June 25.
Well they did say they wanted to stop the campaign from going down the glitzy route…
These are the letters that the Prime Minister had up his sleeve:
Dear Sir Alex Allan
You will be aware that I will this week be giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. As you know, I have decided not to refer Jeremy Hunt to you as I am satisfied that the relevant information about this issue has been established and I am content that he did not break the ministerial code.
Separately, I will be outlining to Leveson some of the initiatives this Government has taken to strengthen accountability and transparency as well as some areas where I am proposing future changes to the current guidance. These include the conduct of special advisers and the handling of quasi-judicial decisions and I would welcome your comments.
David Cameron MP
Thank you for your letter of 13 June. I note your decision in relation to Jeremy Hunt’s adherence to the Ministerial Code which is of course a matter for you. The fact that there is an on-going judicial Inquiry probing and taking evidence under oath means that I do not believe that I could usefully add to the facts in this case though I remain available should circumstances change or new evidence emerge.
On the broader issues I would welcome the opportunity to comment in more detail before the new guidance is finalised.
Sir Alex Allan
Not quite as clear cut as Dave made out, but it stumped Ed enough for a win at PMQs…
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Caroline Lucas has used parliamentary privilege to allege that an undercover copper firebombed a department store. Lucas claimed that Bob Lambert, famous for being the police spy who slept with Greens to maintain his cover, was given permission to set fire to the store apparently in order to prove himself to suspects. She asked the House:
“Did Bob Lambert plant an incendiary device? If so, who authorised him to and why? Someone [in the police] must have authorised him to set fire to that department store”.
The outgoing Green leader has called for an independent inquiry into undercover policing. Revenge is a dish best served flambé…
Don Foster has been doing the rounds on BBC News, ITV and Radio 4 to give Jeremy Hunt a kicking. He was Clegg’s voice on the airwaves – pushing the line that Hunt should be referred to Sir Alex Allan: “It is absolutely clear that questions remain in the public’s mind.” Etcetera.
Foster seems to have forgotten that his name also awkwardly cropped up in the Fred Michel emails. Yellow sources suggest to Guido that the one time LibDem DCMS spokesman used to see himself as a conduit between the department and top media figures: “If you were interested in the DCMS brief back then it would be pretty stupid not to talk to Don. He used to boast to colleagues: ‘I’m the way into the ministry'”. Another LibDem flip flop…
Scandal has hit the annual Commons/Lords Tug of War as Guido was defeated in a stitch up. Not only did the Total Politics team fail to raise the required £2,500 to take part, but Guido has exposed their cheating. Editor Ben Duckworth filled out his team with a 7 foot rugby player, replacing an actual staffer, the small but perfectly formed Grant Tucker to do so. There is video evidence of this outrage, that can be viewed on the Daily Politics at 11.30…
If only they had spent as much effort raising money, rather than cheating. On reflection, perhaps the Westminster Village team could have done a little more training. Who knew that Boisdale wasn’t the place for tactical planning? We raised over £3,000 for Macmillan though – thank you!
The Daily Beast has got hold of Piers Morgan’s interview transcripts from the Viglen investigation back in 2004, as Guido anticipated last week. The CNN host denied any wrongdoing over the shady share-tipping scandal, but admitted that his “bowels were beginning to twitch slightly about what was going to happen“. Without a hint of irony, Piers expressed his dismay that investigators had obtained recordings of his phone calls to a stock broker:
“I have to tell you, I found it one of the most unnerving things in my life, having to listen to transcripts of private conversations. It’s not something I’ve ever had to do before. I hope I never have to again.”
Sadly for Piers, we don’t always get what we wish for…
Trevor Kavanagh calls out Major:
“There is not the slightest doubt that John Major’s conversation with Kelvin MacKenzie after the ERM was precisely as described. I was there at the time.”
Guardian Media Group is on the verge of flogging its radio business in a cut-price deal. GMG Radio, valued at £120 million, is set to be sold off to Global Radio for a paltry £50 million. Since GMG’s radio acquisitions over the past few years add up to over £200 million this represents a huge loss for the company. Now that’s a business plan.
The deal is the latest in a range of money-saving measures taken by the Guardian‘s parent company following losses for nearly £40 million last year. At the time GMG chief executive Andrew Miller warned that the business was running out of cash, instigating a wave of cutbacks across the board. GMG’s financial woes have been compounded by the poor performance of the Guardian newspaper, which languishes down in ninth in the league table of daily UK print circulation. While his company is tanking, Alan Rusbridger takes home over half a million per year…