David Cameron breaks silence on ‘false and ludicrous’ dead pig allegations

Former prime minister says he found the story hilarious, not embarrassing

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Thursday 19 September 2019 07:54 BST
David Cameron's memoirs in 60 seconds

After years of silence, David Cameron has finally denounced allegations relating to his private parts, a dead pig and a university initiation ceremony as “false and ludicrous”.

And the former prime minister took a swipe at the co-authors of the book in which the story first appeared – former Tory treasurer Michael Ashcroft and journalist Isabel Oakeshott – by saying he could not believe anyone could have been so “stupid” as to print it.

The former prime minister made a point of not responding when the pair’s 2015 biography repeated an uncorroborated anecdote that as an Oxford University student he had inserted “a private part of his anatomy” into a dead pig’s mouth as part of the process of joining the exclusive Piers Gaveston Society.

Ms Oakeshott admitted at the time that, while they had been told the story by a former MP, “we don’t say whether we believe it to be true.”

The story was nevertheless widely reported and dogged Cameron throughout his remaining years in power.

It was regarded by many as an act of revenge by Lord Ashcroft for not being offered a powerful role in Mr Cameron’s government despite many years of major donations to the Conservatives.

In his autobiography, entitled For The Record, Mr Cameron insists that he was not angered or embarrassed when told about the allegation by director of communications Craig Oliver, but found it funny.

“The first I heard of putting private parts in pigs was when Craig told me about the allegation on the morning of 21 September 2015,” recalled Mr Cameron. “My first reaction wasn’t anger or embarrassment or worry about the impact. It was hilarity.

“I couldn’t believe someone could be so stupid as to research and write a book about me and include a story which was both false and ludicrous.

“Anyone who chooses a career in politics requires a thick skin and a sense of humour.”

Describing the book’s publication days before the Conservative party conference as “farce”, Mr Cameron said the claim outdid the wildest expectations of his team at 10 Downing Street.

“I had known it was coming and that it wasn’t exactly a fair and faithful account of my life in politics,” he said.

“Over the months, my team and I had joked about what it might contain, coming up with more and more elaborate accusations it might make.

“But even the most creative (or lewd) among us couldn’t have dreamed up its most widely reported claim – the one that came to dominate the book’s serialisation and publicity – which was that I had done something disgusting to a dead pig at a university society initiation.”

Lord Ashcroft (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Speaking to LBC Radio’s Nick Ferrari, Mr Cameron revealed that people still shout comments about pigs at him in the street.

“I was waking along the street with Elwen, my son, the other day and someone shouted a pig-based remark, if I can put it that way,” said the former PM.

“Elwen is a sweet boy and people up until then had been saying some friendly things, and he turned to me and said: ‘Don’t worry Dad. On the whole, people had been pretty friendly today’.”

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