[Update at end of post]
Last week, when the news broke that betting had been suspended on the Sun’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn joining the team at BBC Newsnight, the case against him was substantial: involvement in illegal information gathering, blatant Islamophobia, and an episode of bullying that earned him a final written warning, quite an achievement at the Murdoch press. And today he has ventured beyond the pale.
an anonymously sourced claim that the Queen is in favour of Britain leaving the EU, telling readers in characteristically subtle terms “Exclusive: Bombshell Claim Over Europe Vote … QUEEN BACKS BREXIT … EU going in wrong direction, she says”, which by the most fortunate of coincidences matches exactly with the stance of the bloke who owns the paper, Creepy Uncle Rupe.
Newton Dunn has his name on the byline of this highly questionable slice of hokum, which tells “THE Queen has been hailed as a backer of Brexit tonight after details emerged of an extraordinary alleged bust-up between her and Nick Clegg over Europe … Her Majesty let rip at the then Deputy PM during a lunch at Windsor Castle, The Sun has been told … The 89-year-old monarch firmly told passionate pro-European Mr Clegg that she believed the EU was heading in the wrong direction”. 84-year-old at the time, actually.
But details, eh? Do go on. “The account of the bombshell lunch during the last government - which a handful of other government ministers also attended - has been relayed to The Sun by a highly reliable source … The senior source said: ‘People who heard their conversation were left in no doubt at all about the Queen’s views on European integration … It was really something, and it went on for quite a while … The EU is clearly something Her Majesty feels passionately about”. Yeah, right.
In any case, the story is clearly crap - otherwise, Newton Dunn would not have had to follow up his speculative drivel with “The Queen is very arguably the most respected stateswoman in the world … If she has a view on something as big as Brexit, don’t voters have a right to know what it is?” That means he doesn’t actually know.
What is clear, though, is that this merely underscores Newton Dunn’s lack of fitness for work - any work - at the BBC. Perhaps the Corporation will take heed and avoid the inevitable disaster of appointing him if public disquiet is sufficient, as happened when Alexander Lebedev intended to make Rod Liddle editor of the Independent back in 2010, but was persuaded to think again after a campaign that included a significant intervention from my friend Sunny Hundal at Liberal Conspiracy.
Tom Newton Dunn is still not BBC material. The Corporation needs to know that. And it may be reminded in the same way the Independent was over Rod Liddle.
[UPDATE 1335 hours: Buckingham Palace has now told that "We can confirm that we have this morning written to the chairman of the Independent Press Standards Organisation to register a complaint about the front page story in today's Sun newspaper ... The complaint relates to clause one of the Editors' Code of Practice".
So that's another reason for the BBC not to go anywhere near Tom Newton Dunn for the Newsnight political editor job.
In related news, it has also been reported that both Michael Gove and Cheryl Gillan, who were at that Windsor Castle lunch, are not returning calls. So another less than very good day's work for the Murdoch doggies, then]