What They Said at the Time: Lee Cain’s Leaving Drinks

Last night’s Partygate photos, taken at Lee Cain’s leaving drinks on 13th November 2020, will prove difficult terrain for the PM, even after having escaped a second fine from the Met’s investigation last week. In November 2020 the country was in a full national lockdown, with gatherings only permitted if “reasonable” for work…

As with the birthday cake debacle, details of the gathering were leaked to the press contemporaneously, to very little fanfare. On 15th November 2020, two days after the event, the Telegraph revealed Boris gave “a leaving speech” for Cain, who was then cheered out by colleagues:

“The Telegraph has learnt that Mr Johnson gave a leaving speech for Mr Cain, who stayed in Number 10 for hours after Mr Cummings had departed. One member of staff said: “It was a very warm speech, the Prime Minister talked about how good a friend Lee had been and how they would continue to be friends. It was a nice gesture…

Former journalist Mr Cain was then “banged out” by colleagues, a tradition borrowed from Fleet Street, in which people thump on desks to show their affection for a departing co-worker”

The Sunday Times ran with a similar line on the 14th:

“Johnson visited Cain in his office and signed a pair of boxing gloves emblazoned with “Get Brexit done” before making a speech wishing him well. “He’s the only one of my staff who always answers phone calls, no matter what time of day or night,” Johnson said, adding: “I sometimes wait for days for Dom to return them.””

At the time, the focus was naturally on the circumstances of Cain and Cummings’ departure – not the farewell speech afterwards, though not a single member of the media decided to go through Covid laws line-by-line to see if it was permissible. Of course, there may well be more incriminating evidence to come, and it’ll likely be a sticky wicket for Boris to defend in front of the Commons Standards and Privileges committee. Still, Guido struggles to see the difference between wine and crisps in Downing Street, and beer and curry in Durham…

mdi-timer 24 May 2022 @ 08:59 24 May 2022 @ 08:59 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
No. 10’s ‘Sexist Of The Year’ Spin

Today’s Sunday Times features a tidal wave of allegations about sexism and inappropriate behaviour in Westminster, including licking the faces of researchers, groping, sending “dick pics”, warnings over the use of prostitutes, and having “noisy sex” in parliamentary offices. Can anyone be sure these claims are levelled at separate MPs?

One story certain to begin another Lobby hunt is that a “sexist of the year” award was handed out in No. 10. Despite Angela Rayner penning yet another letter to Boris asking about the allegations, the claim has been removed from The Times’ online story, as sources close to the event in question were quick to point out when questioned. So what’s going on?

Various sources point to the claim being both correct… and incorrect. Incorrect insofar as an award specifically called ‘sexist of the year’ was not handed out. We know an award ceremony happened in December 2021, with Jack Doyle addressing up to 50 people at the party. Guido understands while there may not have been an award specifically called “sexist of the year“, a tongue-in-cheek award along similar lines was handed out. It seems the story doing the round can’t make its mind up between ‘gender equality champion’, or ‘feminist of the year’. Guido won’t give away the in-joke behind the award – it’s pretty inoffensive and doesn’t deserve to damn the recipient.

Another source says the claim of Downing Street awards was not limited to that one Christmas party, with weekly plaudits handed out for things like ‘best rebuttal’. These awards included a ‘teeny tiny cup’ given to the team that had worked hardest or performed best that week. It’ll be difficult for any hack to get a scalp over the story – both the host and awardee have since moved on…

mdi-timer 1 May 2022 @ 18:06 1 May 2022 @ 18:06 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Sunday Times Journalist’s Inventive Track Record

The Sunday Times dominated the weekend’s debate thanks to their article, “38 Days When Britain Sleepwalked into Disaster. Aspects of the piece were subsequently torn apart, in particular the accusation that the PM “skipped” five COBRA meetings at the start of the crisis, with medical experts and the Department for Health putting out lengthy rebuttals of the article’s claim. Guido wasn’t surprised the article had holes in, not least because the Sunday Times’ Environment Editor, Jonathan Leake, was one of the authors. Leake’s stories are often full of holes…

One stark mistake in the article was claiming immunologist Peter Openshaw “would have recommended increasing the threat to high”, however Openshaw later tweetedI wasn’t there so can’t say if I would have dissented if I’d been there to hear the arguments”.

Leake has a string of journalist faux pas to his name, and is fondly remembered by a source at DEFRA for the following:

  • Accused Gove of ordering the “killing of sick squirrels and deer”, with DEFRA subsequently explaining it was completely untrue and he hadn’t approached them for comment
  • Asserted based purely on anecdotal evidence that “Pets, zoo animals and even Prince Charles’s cattle have been felled by the rampant disease [TB]” – something, again, the department explicitly said was completely untrue only to not have their statement included in the piece
  • Wrongly claimedFrench warship chases fishermen from scallop bay”, once again without asking the department who would have informed him the ships in question were 30 miles away from each other
  • Misled readers that “metered homes pay 60% more for water” by making inappropriate comparisons between metered and unmetered customers with different water companies

Leake has a promising future as a fiction writer …

mdi-timer 21 April 2020 @ 11:57 21 Apr 2020 @ 11:57 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Salmond’s QC Denies Saying the Things he was Caught Saying on Camera

A jaw-dropping video published by the Sunday Times yesterday shows Alex Salmond’s QC, Gordon Jackson, talking openly on a train about his client’s high-profile court case, including calling the former First Minister a “sex pest”, “inappropriate”, “an arse hole”, “a bully” and “stupid”, as well as risking contempt of court by naming two of the women involved in the trial. QCs do get to know their clients well during a trial…

Salmond’s QC has done the old trick of referring himself to the legal watchdog, and denied he regards Salmond as a “sex pest” – despite saying the exact phrase in the video. After Salmond’s acquittal, SNP politicians called for resignations – Guido suspects they didn’t have Salmond’s own lawyer in mind…

mdi-timer 30 March 2020 @ 12:45 30 Mar 2020 @ 12:45 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Sunday Times Swaps Hacks With Daily Mail

There’s big churn over at the Daily Mail following Jack Doyle’s appointment as No. 10’s new press secretary. Earlier this week it emerged the News Editor Ben Taylor is also leaving, being poached by the Sunday Times as deputy editor.

Guido hears word that Caroline Wheeler, Deputy Political Editor of The Sunday Times, is the hot front runner to fill the Daily Mail’s associate political editor vacancy created by Jack Doyle’s transfer Downing Street. Geordie Grieg will be pleased to nick a hack back from the Sunday Times. Guido understands the contract has not yet been signed…

UPDATE:  Sunday Times source gets in touch to say “Caroline is not leaving”. Guido understands that following negotiations the drinks are on Caroline…

mdi-timer 13 March 2020 @ 14:50 13 Mar 2020 @ 14:50 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Elphicke Initiates Court Proceedings Against Sunday Times

Former Dover MP Charlie Elphicke has initiated court proceedings against the Sunday Times over articles they published around April 2018, launching a libel case against the paper over the stories of alleged sex crimes that caused him to lose the whip, and ultimately losing his seat. Elphicke claims the words the Sunday Times used implied he was guilty of rape…

The full case, which can be read here, was initiated back in December, no one picked up on it now Elphicke has lost prominence along with his MP status. It will be costly either way…

mdi-timer 7 January 2020 @ 14:53 7 Jan 2020 @ 14:53 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Previous Page Next Page