Once the story of Culture Secretary John Whittingdale’s dalliance with a known prostitute was out there, then the larger part of the Fourth Estate, for whom he was no longer useful, would no longer keep schtum: papers would break ranks and throw him under the nearest bus. And so it has come to pass today, with the Mail On Sunday - one of those papers that had spiked the earlier story - splashing him across its front page.talk last week of there being no public interest defence for running the story - even though there were, as Zelo Street pointed out, several very good reasons for running it - the MoS has not had any trouble finding a public interest defence for today’s splash, “MP’s PORN STAR LOVER ‘SHOWN CABINET PAPERS’”, and nor has it needed much time to find enough dirt to fill five full pages of today’s edition.
Nor does the MoS have any trouble letting the cat out of the bag: “Whittingdale in new sex scandal as SECOND lover reveals affair”. So the story reported last week at Byline Media was a scandal after all? OH WHAT A GIVEAWAY. Moreover, there it is on the front page - a revelation that could prove fatal to any ministerial career. “He secretly sent her photograph he snatched of Cabinet at Chequers summit”. Oh dear!
It gets worse for Whitto: “Cabinet Minister John Whittingdale had a two-year relationship with a former porn star who claims he showed her confidential Government papers at his constituency home … Married ex-Page 3 model Stephanie Hudson, 36, says Culture Secretary Mr Whittingdale showed her highly-sensitive documents to ‘show off’ as he worked on his Ministerial Red Box over breakfast”.
So that’s two public interest defences - not hard for the press once they show willing - and two potentially difficult ones for Whittingdale to explain to Young Dave, although “a source close to the divorced Mr Whittingdale insisted that Ms Hudson ‘did not have access to Government papers’”. So he says he didn’t do it, and she just looked at them.
But some of the detail does not make easy reading for Tories: “He called his local Essex constituents ‘oiks’ … He took her to the Commons and turned off the lights to avoid being caught on CCTV … He said of immigrants: ‘If you let one in, they all want to come’”. Plus the probable reason for Ms Hudson spilling the beans: “He two-timed her with a dominatrix”. Then the MoS reveals another embarrassing breach of protocol.
Whittingdale told Ms Hudson in advance about that Chequers meeting. The MoS has been able to easily identify ten of those present. The potential security implications are horrendous. So is the revelation that Whittingdale is prone to lying when it is convenient to him: “the newspapers had found out a woman he’d gone out with was a prostitute. He told me it was all over long before he met me. But last week, I discovered he was sleeping with her at the same time as me, and we always had unprotected sex” tells Ms Hudson.
The contents of the MoS article alone should see Whittingdale sacked. And I have to tell him, and those who have been shouting “non-story”, that Byline Media has another piece in preparation. I said it was serious - now all can see that it was indeed serious. This is not a Hacked Off hit job. It’s not a BBC smear. It’s a real story, and its subject is now toast.