Nadine Dorries claims Government trying to block her book on Johnson’s downfall

The former culture secretary has accused the Government of trying to block the November 9 release.

Nina Lloyd
Friday 03 November 2023 15:48 GMT
Nadine Dorries says the Cabinet Office has tried to block the release of her book after she refused to share a copy with the department (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Nadine Dorries says the Cabinet Office has tried to block the release of her book after she refused to share a copy with the department (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Archive)

Nadine Dorries has been told the Government considers her in breach of ministerial rules by failing to provide it with a pre-publication transcript of her new book on Boris Johnson’s downfall.

The former culture secretary accused the Cabinet Office of trying to block the November 9 release after she refused to share a copy with the department, the Daily Mail reported.

Under the Radcliffe rules, ministers should relinquish all Government material when ceasing to hold a role.

Former ministers intending to publish memoirs are also required to “submit the draft manuscript in good time before publication to the Cabinet Secretary.”

But Ms Dorries said that The Plot: The Political Assassination of Boris Johnson is “not a memoir in any remote sense of the word and has zero to do with policy or official secrets”.

She did not want to share a transcript on the grounds that Cabinet Secretary Simon Case – who is criticised in the book – would have the power to vet its contents, the Mail reported. After receiving legal advice, she refused to do so, Ms Dorries said.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “This book was not submitted to the Cabinet Office for review, and so the author is in breach of the Radcliffe Rules.”

According to the Mail, Ms Dorries was received a letter from the department on the eve of the serialisation of her book in the paper, reading: “As we have received no transcript of your book from you or your publisher, after a number of requests, we have no option but to consider you in breach of the Radcliffe Rules.

“We have to inform you that this may be taken into account should you find yourself under consideration in the future for an honour (including a peerage) or for a public appointment.”

Ms Dorries dramatically quit as an MP earlier this year after she was denied a peerage in Mr Johnson’s resignation honours.

Her book had been scheduled for release on September 28 – shortly before the start of the Conservative Party conference in early October – but publisher HarperCollins later announced the date would be pushed back.

It said the delay had been necessary to “allow for the huge volume of material the author has consulted, the number of high-level sources spoken to, and the required legal process needed to share her story”.

The book is being serialised in the Mail ahead of its expected release on November 9, with the first instalment on Friday devoted to allegations about a “shadowy Tory” figure who has been left anonymous.

It includes references to “alleged arson”, “dirty dossiers” and a rumour about the unnamed individual having an ex-girlfriend’s younger brother’s pet rabbit “chopped into four and nailed to the front door of the family home to greet him when he got home from school, in true Mafia style”.

Elsewhere, Ms Dorries was mocked by Dominic Cummings over claims he secretly worked to topple Mr Johnson as soon as he became prime minister, in part by planting false and negative stories about him.

Mr Johnson’s former chief adviser-turned-critic shared a screenshot on X appearing to show his response to a journalist asking him for a response to the allegations.

“She’s right, there was a giant conspiracy including MI6, the CIA and, most crucially, the KGB special operations department,” he said.

“It’s a tribute to Nadine she has figured this out.”

Mr Cummings, who fell out with Mr Johnson after helping him secure an 80-seat majority in the 2019 election, has previously said he discussed ousting the former PM just “days” after the landslide victory.

He has denied regularly briefing the media once in No 10, claiming he “hardly spoke to journalists at all” in evidence to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry.

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