Magazine article The Spectator

Ste E R P I K E

Magazine article The Spectator

Ste E R P I K E

Article excerpt

Brian Leveson's epic inquiry into press malpractice is finally drawing to a close. In Britain, the courtroom saga has enjoyed a tiny daytime TV audience of tagged convicts, stoned job-seekers, bored print journalists and ex-employees of News International.

But in Australia, millions have tuned in to watch his lordship's estimable ruminations. Their enthusiasm is about to be rewarded by the great jurist himself, who is planning a short speaking tour down under, kicking off in Sydney as soon as his report is published. Even his press officer is happy to disclose these travel arrangements to anyone who picks up the phone. I find this innocent candour rather endearing.

Poor sweet Brian is under the illusion that he won't be pursued around the streets of the New South Wales capital by teams of vengeful paparazzi taking silly shots of him with a sunburnt face trying to swat away mosquitoes with his copy of the Middle Temple Yearbook.

Has he learned nothing from his own inquiry?

Norman Lamont, the whizz-kid who trashed his party's economic reputation on Black Wednesday, is still offering tips on financial management to his former apprentice, David Cameron. The pair meet regularly to discuss the development of economic policy, I'm told, but they're understandably reluctant to be photographed in public.

A friend who has witnessed their shadowy conclaves tells me, 'It's like Eddie the Eagle giving flying lessons to Humpty Dumpty.'

Lynton Crosby's swearbox is filling up. The Aussie strategist may have guided Boris to victory in this year's mayoral contest, but he managed to alienate many of BoJo's inner circle in the process. One former Boris aide leaked a rumour that Crosby had made disparaging asides about 'fucking Muslim voters' in London. Instant retaliation followed when a Crosby crony let slip that the Australian guru regarded all Boris's aides as 'fuckwits'.

These dark whispers are unwelcome to Crosby. He hates 'process stories' that shift attention away from clear political messages and on to managerial snarl-ups.

Yet his possible recruitment by the Tories has become the noisiest 'process story' in Westminster. One of his pals tells me the Wizard of Oz is 'becoming furious' about all this. Another offers a different version. 'Crosby is already completely fucking furious about it.'

Guto Harri, one of those Boris advisers that Crosby rated so highly, just moved to an influential post at News International. …

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