The reliability of the fresh steaming by-product coming out of the Guido Fawkes blog does seem to be suffering serious quality control problems right now: last week, a lame smear of Owen Jones had to be pulled amid a welter of ridicule, and now has come a rather more serious howler in an attempt to kick Commons Speaker John Bercow. It’s more serious because it was in the Sun yesterday.
Worst tribute band ever not getting any better
Yes, Rupe’s downmarket troops have published a story which has absolutely no basis in fact. How they are going to deal with the inevitable complaint from the Speaker and wife Sally, not to mention Farah Sassoon, who is named in the piece, will be interesting. It will be especially interesting when they find out that the Daily Mail debunked the Fawkes rabble – nine months ago.
The Fawkes feature said this: “The Bercows had arranged for Farah to get a pass allowing her to bypass security checks into Parliament. Usually that would provoke accusations of ‘cash for access’ though surely the Speaker – a stickler for the rules – should be squeaky clean and beyond reproach”. This followed details of a donation to the Speaker from Ms Farah’s business: the insinuation is clear.
The insinuation is yet clearer in The Great Guido’s promotion of his latest column: “John Bercow is facing accusations of ‘cash for access’ over a donation from Sally’s party-loving pal Farah Sassoon, who is security cleared for Parliament thanks to the Speaker”. The connection between Ms Farah’s pass and the donation is made very directly. And Staines is not the only one making it.
The Fawkes blog’s newly anointed teaboy Alex Wickham was certain of his ground as he announced “Speaker faces cash for access allegations after accepting donation from a businesswoman he gave a Parliamentary pass”. Very good Alex, but Ms Sassoon had the pass last year – so pretending that there is a link to the donation, which was given “this month”, is coming it.
It gets worse: as the Mail says, “[Ms Sassoon’s] security pass derives from the special status of the Bercows as some of the few people who live in the Palace of Westminster. They occupy a palatial grace-and-favour apartment overlooking the Thames and are allowed to grant a few passes to ‘friends and family’”. She’s a family friend. There is no story here. Oh dear, Fawkes folks!
The Owen Jones smear could be pulled in order to avoid further embarrassment. But this excuse for a story has already been published by a national newspaper. And a few minutes’ fact checking would have shown it to be bunk. With columnists as inept as the Fawkes rabble, how long will it be before the Murdoch press realises it can do rather better elsewhere, and terminate their contract?
The end of this particular adventure can’t come soon enough. Another fine mess.