Diary: Guido Fawkes evidence may backfire on Leveson Inquiry

 

Having run his inquiry into media ethics thus far without a pratfall, Lord Justice Leveson has created an opportunity to make a complete ass of himself next week by getting heavy with Paul Staines, who blogs under the alias Guido Fawkes.

Reportedly, Staines will be told he must say who gave him an early draft of Alastair Campbell's evidence to the inquiry yesterday. Since Staines runs a business that relies heavily on leaked information, he obviously cannot agree to divulge the name, nor is there any good reason why he should.

Annoying though it may be to people in authority, there is no reason why the nation needs to be protected from the premature leaks of a document written for publication by public figures.

But not everyone who leaks does it for the best motives. What happened in this case, if Staines is telling the truth rather than throwing up a smokescreen to protect his source, is that Alastair Campbell passed his draft statement in confidence to a journalist he trusted to get feedback. The journalist then either passed it to Guido Fawkes, or allowed someone else to get their hands on it, who passed it to the blogger. Very sneaky.

Come back, Alastair, all is forgiven

Campbell's evidence yesterday discombobulated Ian Kirby, who was political editor of the News of the World for many years until the paper's demise. "I never knew there were two Alastair Campbells," he wrote on his Facebook wall. "The one I know told me Peter Mandelson was insane, but insisted I used it anonymously, persuaded Tony Blair to change the law in response to News of the World campaigns, spent years trying to befriend the Daily Mail and invented the claim that Sir John Major wore his shirt tucked in his underpants.

"He also encouraged me and Andy Coulson to ask Tony Blair if he and Cherie were in the Mile-High Club to make a good headline. I'm worried that AC has been kidnapped and no one noticed."

Ed's on his own slippery slope

Ed Miliband had a slip of the tongue at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday during that rowdy argument about the strike, when he said: "Dinner ladies earn less in a week than Osborne spends on his ski holiday."

Osborne's winter break on the piste in January was reported to have cost £11,000, leading some people to wonder where anyone could expect to find a £572,000-a-year dinner lady. An alternative way of looking at it was to say that if Osborne really paid £200 for a skiing holiday, could he tell us the name of his travel agent. Afterwards, Miliband's staff briefed that he meant to say "a year".

Balls gropes around for an old joke

Accepting an award as Parliamentarian of the Year from the Political Studies Association yesterday Ed Balls provoked groans when he retold a joke that he has told so many times before, that it was tough being called Ed Balls when he was at school, but even worse for his sister, Ophelia.

Ed, I'm trying to be helpful here, please vary your act. How about telling them about your brother Claud, who became a zookeeper and had a tragic experience in the tiger pit?

Not on my land, Rihanna

The raunchy video that accompanies Rihanna's chartbuster "We Found Love", banned last week by the French government, has scored more than 60 million hits on YouTube, as well as bringing worldwide fame to the farmer, Alan Graham, from Bangor, who loaned the video crew use of his land but ordered them off when he saw what was they up to.

Mr Graham, who is 61, has given an interview to the January edition of Q magazine, frankly admitting that he did not know in advance who had leased his fields and even if someone had told him it was Rihanna, the name would have conveyed nothing. It was not until he saw the huge crowd of young kids crowding at the edge of his land that he realised that she is really quite famous.

He went on: "At first, Rihanna was wearing jeans and a bikini top, and I had no objection with that. The film crew moved into another field and it appeared that Rihanna had taken her top off. In my mind, that was unacceptable and inappropriate. I don't think pretty young women should have to take their clothes off to provide entertainment."

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