Nadin Dorries’ latest ravings have already prompted one or two WTF? comments in the Twittersphere:
Damian McBride and Smeargate.
I have just been informed that the ‘smeargate’ emails which were leaked from No10, when Gordon Brown was Prime Minister, and involved communication between Derek Draper and McBride re a plot to smear George Osborne, David Cameron one other MP and myself were obtained by News International via hacking into Damian McBrides computer.
Damian McBride confessed and resigned. Gordon Brown apologised in Parliament.
Before we proceed any further, I want to clarify the sequence of events which took place earlier today.
At 1:53pm, according to the Guardian’s phone-hacking live blog, Michael Crick – BBC Newsnight’s political editor – posted the following message on Twitter:
I hear that Gordon Brown going to make statement re activities of Sunday Times this afternoon.
The first full account of the contents of Brown’s statement appeared in the Guardian at 3:47pm in an article bylined by Nick Davies and David Leigh.
Thirty-nine minutes later, at 4.26pm, Nadine Dorries posted her claim that News International had obtained the ‘smeargate’ emails, which appeared in the News of the World and Sunday Times on 11 April 2009, by allegedly hacking into Damian McBride’s computer.
There is, however, a problem with this story, which becomes perfectly evident if only you consult the Wikipedia entry of a certain high-profile political blogger:
Over the weekend of 11–12 April 2009, [Paul] Staines [AKA Guido Fawkes] exposed in his blog that a series of scurrillous e-mails had been prepared by Damian McBride, a political adviser working at 10 Downing Street, gratuitously smearing a number of Conservative MPs which had been sent to Derek Draper for consideration for publication on the Red Rag blogsite. This led to the resignation of McBride and expressions of regret to the MPs concerned from the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.Staines provided copies of these emails to the News of the World and The Sunday Times and states that, contrary to the comments of his detractors, he did not succeed in his attempts to receive any payments for this.
His success in the McBride affair has occasioned serious criticism from him of the UK lobby correspondent system, which he believes has succumbed to the ethos of political spin.
So now we have two conflicting accounts of the circumstances in which the emails were made public and two possibilities on the table.
1. Nadine Dorries is bullshitting, or
2. There was more to Guido’s account of how he came by the emails, in which case Dorries’ comments could well drop him in a big old heap of shit.
So, I emailed Guido and asked him to comment, and got this reply:
The only person who knows where I got them from is me.
And I believe him, not just because Dorries is a known bullshitter but because Guido’s been at this game long enough not to make a stupid mistake and drop himself in the crapper. Even the slightest hint that Guido might have obtained these emails via a News International hacking operation at Downing Street would be more than enough to see Mr Plod turning up on his doorstep with a few questions they’d like answered.
Say what you like about Guido, but he’s not dumb enough to put himself in that position – not by a long chalk.
What’s more interesting is the question of why Dorries made that particular post at all? Guido may not divulge his sources but – to nick a line from elsewhere – it’s inconceivable that Dorries could be unaware of his role in obtaining these emails and passing them on to News International, particularly in view of this post at Guido’s blog, which appeared some six months after the ‘smeargate’ story hit the headlines:
Today was the first day back at school for the boys of Finchley Catholic High School. Guido popped along early this morning to see one old boy and hardly recognised the middle-aged man strolling slowly across the school playground, stooping occasionally to pick up litter from the ground. As Guido strode purposefully towards him he turned away entering a building where the staff were assembled for a first day briefing from the headmaster. For a moment Guido thought the baseball cap disguise had been seen through.
“Damian!” Guido shouted at him, he turned in the doorway startled, “Greetings from Nadine Dorries”. With a bemused look on his face he accepted the official Court papers, served by yours truly, on behalf of Nadine Dorries> Dorries, you will recall, is the MP he falsely accused of sleeping with another Tory MP in emails to Derek Draper, Kevin Maguire and Charlie Whelan. Realising suddenly what had just happened he disappeared into the building as teachers and other bemused staff glimpsed across.
So, we’re left with a couple of possibilities.
1. Dorries is trying to play the victim in the hope of scoring a bit of cheap publicity off the back of the phone hacking scandal, or
2. Dorries is trying to run her own, utterly inept and highly partisan ‘spoiler’ across the news that Gordon Brown has alleged that his financial records, building society account and his son’s medical records were illegally accessed by private investigators working for News International based on a fabricated claim about the circumstance in which the ‘smeargate’ emails were made public.
[And that last sentence in Dorries’s post persuades me that this second option is the more plausible – and despicable – explanation for her post]
Either way, the claim that News International obtained those emails by hacking Damian McBride’s computer is a complete load of bollocks, and verifiably so.
Or, to put it another way – and paraphrase a remark attributed to Paddy Crosbie – if bullshit were music, Dorries would be a symphony orchestra.