(c) Steve Bell 2016
There is more: “This is an old story which was a bit embarrassing at the time. The events occurred long before I took up my present position and it has never had any influence on the decisions I have made as Culture Secretary”.
I have to tell John Whittingdale that this is a pack of lies. Worse, if this is what he told the Prime Minister, he is finished as Culture Secretary. Worse still, several national newspapers know he’s lying, with some even prepared to break ranks and say so - this weekend. An increasing number of senior Tory figures are becoming resigned to his imminent departure.
There are three areas where he is bang to rights.
The relationship lasted rather more than six months. Accounts vary, but the least I have been told by sources close to the story is ten months. That may not be terminal in itself, but then, once again, there is more.
Whittingdale and Olivia King did not meet through match.com. They met at her workplace. And that means only one thing.
He knew full well what her “real occupation” was (well, it would have been difficult not to).
There is a direct parallel in recent Tory Party history: Boris Johnson was shadowing the role that Whittingdale now holds in 2004 when his affair with Petronella Wyatt was exposed. Michael Howard, then party leader, sacked Bozza not because he had been enjoying extra-marital relations of an East African nature, but because he had lied publicly about it.
David Cameron therefore has no alternative: when Whittingdale’s dishonesty before the public is exposed, he has to sack him. Of course, the two of them could bow to the inevitable and do it straight away. Because it’ll only get messy if they delay.
Oh, and Hacked Off still has had nothing to do with this. Not that the press mob is about to listen. No surprise there, then.