After the Murdoch Sun’s Sunday political editor David Wooding pitched his story, backed apparently by nothing more than an anonymous single source, asserting that BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg had been forced to engage the services of a bodyguard because of all those Rotten Lefties (tm) in and around the Labour Party Conference last week, this blog questioned whether the story was all it was being made out to be.
For having the audacity to question an allegedly real journalist, I was subjected to severely adverse comment from a number of sources. Dominic Ponsford of Press Gazette was most put out at the suggestion that Wooding was of less than saintly propriety: “Have you made any phone calls or done any independent research? Otherwise how can you criticise David Wooding who has?” Wooding did some research? When?
And, without wanting to go full Neil Kinnock, we had the sight of a Guardian journalist - A Guardian Journalist - sniping “can only assume you're part of a conspiracy to undermine Corbyn by making his supporters sound like idiots”. Gaby Hinsliff, it has to be conceded, had invested a significant part of her credibility in Wooding’s story being true.
But now a problem has entered for both of these upstanding beings: the supposed bodyguard, who was splashed on the front page of the Murdoch Times last Monday and described as a “former soldier” who worked in a security role at the BBC, was back with Ms Kuenssberg at the Tory Conference. Without any hordes of Rotten Lefties (tm) allowed into the Conference secure zone. So what was the Sun’s explanation?
“BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg brings her bodyguard to the TORY conference as well after leftie protest hits Manchester”. There was a peaceful protest yesterday afternoon. And she’s not reporting on that. Do go on. “The introduction of bodyguards follows a stream of online threats and abuse against the 40-year-old journalist by a Left-wing hate mob”. This is the Tory Conference. They aren’t left wing.
“The Beeb insisted she must have personal protection both inside and out of the secure zone at the four-day Brighton rally”. Wrong. The BBC declined to comment. The Sunday Sun’s original article admitted that. “An insider said ahead of Labour's conference”. Ah, out comes “An insider” again. “The hatred aimed at Ms Kuenssberg first erupted 18 months ago over her reporting of a botched reshuffle by the Labour leader”.
So she and the BBC waited 18 months - including last year’s Conference season - before deciding to hire a bodyguard? Colour me sceptical - because I am sceptical - but at the Tory Conference, with its secure zone around the Midland Hotel and Manchester Central venue, the chance of “leftie protest” is not unadjacent to zero. So the question has to be asked once more - just how reliable was David Wooding’s original story?
Are we supposed to believe that the “Leftie Hate Mob” described by Wooding, wanting to avenge alleged bias against Jeremy Corbyn, will infiltrate the Tory Conference? Do all those who believed Wooding’s story still stand by his consummate professionalism?
One would hate to think that the Murdoch press had been less than totally honest.