Andy McSmith's Diary: Ukip's Neil Hamilton left embarrassed after he claimed that a former MP visited bondage clubs on BBC Newsnight

The party's deputy chairman has since apologised 'unreservedly' to Allan Rogers

Neil Hamilton, the deputy chairman of Ukip, is responsible for Newsnight’s latest excruciating embarrassment.

Interviewed on the BBC programme, he attempted to revive an old story about the sex life of the former Labour MP for Bootle, Allan Roberts, who died in 1990. Inadvertently, he named another former Labour MP, with a similar name, still alive, who has never indulged in the kind of sado-masochistic practices Hamilton was talking about.

What is extraordinary about this story is not that Hamilton was trying to be clever and made an ass of himself, which is normal, but that he is ever invited on to television.

It should not be forgotten that during a libel trial in the 1990s, three witnesses testified to the effect that Hamilton demanded and was paid £10,000 in 1989 by the oil company Mobil for tabling an amendment to a Finance Bill that potentially could have saved the company millions in tax. And a secretary who had worked for the Harrods boss Mohamed al-Fayed testified that she “vividly” remembered the white envelopes stuffed with cash – £50 notes, she believed – with Neil Hamilton’s name on.

Hamilton is worse than a fool: he was a corrupt politician whose notoriety cost the Conservatives one of their safest seats in 1997. Why the BBC seeks his view on anything is a mystery.

Gove’s IDS rescue bid fails

MPs were not at their most sweet tempered as they discussed Iain Duncan Smith’s attempted welfare reforms. The Labour MP Chris Bryant suggested that there had been so many conflicting statements coming out of the Department for Work and Pensions that it was as if the Government was “engaged in a deliberate act of deception”.

This provoked cries of protest from the Tories, notably from Michael Gove, who demanded a yellow card for Bryant from the Speaker. But John Bercow cannot stand the sight of Gove, and replied archly: “I know what I am doing and I certainly do not require any help from the Education Secretary – that would be completely unimaginable.”

A minute later, Duncan Smith accused Bryant of making “the most pompous, ludicrous statement I have ever heard”. Nice.

Reckless whips up a storm

Mark Reckless asked David Cameron something reasonably straightforward during PMQs, arising from an old interview with a Tory whip named Tim Fortescue, dug up by some sharp-witted BBC researcher.

Fortescue, who was a Tory MP between 1966 and 1973, claimed that if an MP came to the whips and confessed that he was in trouble because he was in debt or “because of a scandal involving small boys” the whips would protect him, to ensure his future loyalty.

Reckless asked if this was in order. Cameron accused him of being “Delphic” and suggested he write a letter. Mr Reckless tells me that he will be writing, and not just to the Prime Minister. Lord Ryder and Lord Goodlad, who were successive Tory chief whips in the 1990s, will also be getting letters asking if they still hold any information about MPs.

Reckless says: “It strikes me as wrong if taxpayers’ money is used to collect and store information on MPs. If any whip has ever been aware of any other whip threatening to disclose information to influence the way an MP votes that amounts to blackmail.”

Kinky goings-on at PMQs

Trading statistics about the NHS waiting times with Ed Miliband, David Cameron used the word “lower” three times, which – amusingly – came out on the BBC rolling news caption as “lola.” That is the title of a Kinks song about gender confusion – kinky.

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