Back in February, I considered the undue amount of effort being expended by Reading East’s Tory MP Rob Wilson on matters that had zero relevance to his constituency. He dedicated a disproportionate amount of time to making mischief, his correspondence invariably leaked to whoever would pay attention to him. It was inevitable that he would stick his bugle into the press regulation debate.
And so it came to pass: Wilson, to no surprise at all, has waded into the aftermath of the non-story over Carine Patry Hoskins and David Sherborne by personally upbraiding Lord Justice Leveson, who to his credit has responded to Wilson’s letters, rather than binning them or dedicating them to birdcage floor duty. But yesterday Wilson got caught out going further.
The MP wrote to Leveson on April 22, and then, as is his wont, leaked the letter to a grateful press. However, the letter had for some reason not been sent. Leveson wrote to Wilson the following day about an earlier letter – also leaked – but had to find out about the second missive from the Fourth Estate. As might be expected, Sir Brian was not impressed with Wilson’s tactics.
So it is also no surprise to read his closing remarks: “I see no benefit in engaging in any further public debate about the work of the Inquiry or the integrity of its processes: I do not intend to comment on this matter further”. This was after Leveson had acknowledged the apology offered by Wilson’s researcher, for failing to make the letter available before it was leaked.
This means the Reading East MP has been told in no uncertain terms to shove off and take his ill-advised allegations elsewhere. Some may consider the reaction harsh, and that Wilson’s researcher made a genuine and one-off mistake. But this was not an isolated incident: he did the same thing when trying to smear Labour MP Tom Watson over the latter’s accusations of historic child abuse.
Once again, Wilson wrote to his target and immediately leaked the contents to anyone interested. And, once again, that target read about the letter in reports about it, rather than being given the courtesy of first sight. Watson was a model of restraint as he began his reply “Thank you for your recent letter which I read online yesterday”. Others might not have been so subtle.
Wilson, on that occasion, had not bothered to do his homework: Watson was accused by Wilson of making accusations regarding the North Wales care homes scandal, but had made no reference to it. The Reading East MP had a number of other details wrong. But he is at least consistently blundering, clueless and tactless in his approach, a new comedy genre for all to enjoy.
Pity the electorate in Reading East, though. Until the next General Election.