As Nick Davies, author of Flat Earth News, the go-to book on the workings of the Fourth Estate, put it, “I know of nothing anywhere in the rest of the world’s media which matches the unmitigated spite of an attack from the Daily Mail”. And, as Tory MP Aidan Burley is finding out again today, that spite extends to the Mail On Sunday, which has called “liar” on him over his testimony to Lord Gold.
That the MoS would come after Burley was in no doubt after Gold’s report tried to offload blame for Mark Fournier’s Nazi salute on their hack and snapper. Hugh Muir at the deeply subversive Guardian warned that “the immediate effect has been to trigger new and potentially damaging hostilities with the Mail on Sunday, which broke the original story”. He then spelt out the reasons.
“Gold's report was apparently written without any input from the journalists who stumbled across the infamous stag party. Worse, it states that the MoS encouraged those photographed to give a Nazi salute. That is vehemently denied by the paper, which is unlikely to let the matter pass”. Muir was spot on: today came the banner headline “Lies Of Nazi Shame Tory MP”.
The rant continues “We are also publishing a transcript of a tape recording our reporter made in the pub, with Nazi chants clearly audible in the background. On the tape, a member of Mr Burley’s party identifies the MP for Cannock Chase in Staffordshire ... Our original report stated that groom Mark Fournier made a salute ‘without prompting’. Mr Burley never challenged that account, until now”.
The MoS is so keen to get Burley that is has engaged the services of a Labour MP, Ian Austin, whose Dudley constituency is close to Burley’s Cannock Chase berth: “My father escaped Treblinka. That's why I want Nazi shame MP fired now” reads the headline. He notes “It wasn’t students messing about or an ’Allo ’Allo!-style joke. It was a group of men at a party where guests toasted the Third Reich”.
As Hugh Muir put it, “An inquiry into [Lord] Gold’s inquiry may be necessary”. The MoS may have more in reserve: it will certainly be digging for more dirt on the embattled MP. And as I noted last week, even if Aidan Burley survives the assault from the MoS, and is confirmed as his party’s candidate to contest Cannock Chase next year, the electorate will more than likely throw him out anyway.
His best course of action may be to announce he will stand down in 2015.