Downing Avenue has confirmed that members of Boris Johnson’s group intervened following the publication of a narrative about his spouse Carrie in The Occasions, however denied that the prime minister himself contacted the paper to complain.
The story, which alleged that Mr Johnson had tried to put in Carrie in a £100,000-a-year job within the Overseas Workplace at a time when he was conducting a secret affair along with her, appeared within the first version of the newspaper on Saturday, however vanished from later copies and a model additionally disappeared from the Mail On-line web site.
Mr Johnson’s official spokesperson confirmed that No 10 was involved with The Occasions earlier than and after the publication of the primary version, however denied that the prime minister himself had contacted deputy editor Tony Gallagher, who was answerable for the paper that evening.
It’s understood that no authorized motion has been taken by No 10 in relation to the story.
The PM’s spokesperson stated that he was unable to subject a proper touch upon the allegation, because it associated to the interval when Mr Johnson was international secretary from 2016-2018.
However he instructed reporters: “Others have made clear this story isn’t true, together with Mrs Johnson’s spokesperson.
“I might level you to the denials and statements put out by Mrs Johnson on this and by No 10 colleagues over the weekend.”
The spokesperson added: “We have been approached earlier than publication and spoke to them then. I believe we spoke to them after publication as effectively. I don’t know the precise timeline of it.”
The story, written by senior political journalist Simon Walters, expanded on claims in a biography of Ms Johnson, First Girl: Intrigue on the Court docket of Carrie and Boris Johnson, written by Tory donor and peer Lord Ashcroft earlier this yr.
It claimed that the concept of appointing Ms Johnson – then working within the Conservative Occasion press workplace as Carrie Symonds – fell aside when shut aides suggested in opposition to the plan. Mr Johnson was nonetheless married to Marina Wheeler on the time.
The story alleged that Mr Johnson’s senior aide Ben Gascoigne, now deputy chief of employees at No 10, threatened to give up his Overseas Workplace submit if Carrie was given a job.
Responding to The Occasions story, a spokesperson for Ms Johnson stated: “These claims are completely unfaithful.”
However Mr Walters instructed the New European: “I stand by the story 100 per cent. I used to be in prolonged and detailed communication with No 10 at a excessive degree, Ben Gascoigne and Mrs Johnson’s spokeswoman for as much as 48 hours earlier than the paper went to press. At no level did any of them provide an on-the-record denial of any component of the story.”
“Nor have any of those three provided an on-the-record denial to me since. No 10 and Mr Gascoigne didn’t deny it off the file both.”
Naomi Smith, CEO of democracy marketing campaign group Greatest for Britain, stated: “This revelation from the guts of the federal government suggests a violation of press freedom at a time when public belief is already low, so severe questions have to be answered as to why Johnson’s employees thought it applicable to intervene on a narrative of public curiosity.
“A free press is a elementary a part of a functioning democracy. It have to be shielded from the affect of these in energy.”