For some reason best left to whoever does the show’s bookings, mercenary hack Isabel Oakeshott was invited to appear on BBC Question Time last Thursday. But whatever credibility points she might have been expecting to bank from the programme were wiped out when an audience member intervened to put her experience in perspective.
After she had passed adverse comment on Tory MP Dominic Grieve, the bloke in the audience opined “I never thought I’d find myself saying this but I trust - trust was mentioned earlier - I trust a legally trained conservative a damn sight more than I trust a tabloid hack”. Ms Oakeshott must have (a) known it was aimed at her, and (b) felt guilty, as she protested feebly “I’m not a hack”. But that’s not true, is it?
Let’s look first at where she has recently plied her trade: the Daily Record, Sunday Mirror, Daily Mail, Evening Standard and Daily Mail once more. These are all tabloid newspapers. There was, of course, her time at the Sunday Times, but here a problem enters, as Peter Smith told: “A reminder that Isabel Oakeshott revealed her sources and put her name to an uncorroborated story about Cameron and a pig's head”.
Nazir Afzal, who worked with Dominic Grieve, added “for Isobel Oakshott to say the public don't trust him is especially galling Recent events suggest Ms Oakshott & Trust are strangers, and her attic a crime scene”. Geoff Ho - a real journalist - confirmed “Isabel Oakeshott is a rat who broke the golden rule of journalism: protect your sources. She burned hers. You can’t trust anyone that does that”. Ouch!
Not much to elevate her above hack status there. Nor was there in her claims about email hacking. “To those casting doubt on whether my computer was hacked, here’s the proof. It was fully investigated” she pleaded, except the report was about Dropbox. And that isn’t “her computer”. Nor did her claims about those emails impress real journalists.
Hugo Rifkind was one of them. “I don't understand how the files Oakeshott had can have been both ‘hacked and given to the Guardian’ and ‘gathering dust in her attic’. How do you hack an attic?” And on that subject, Peter Jukes had this assessment: “Quite a few non facts form @IsabelOakeshott 1. She didn't find 'emails in the attack' 2. The book commission preceded this 3. She started looking for Russian related evidence when the Electoral Commission investigated Arron Banks finances in October/November 2016”.
All of which confirms hack behaviour, as opposed to anything more distinguished. But what puts the lid on Ms Oakeshott’s claim that she is not a hack is her own repeated assertion that this is exactly what she is. You think I jest? Here we go.
November 2012: “but if we lobby hacks did”. June 2016: “Prezza's assault on Labour leadership is not just limited to handling of EU ref. It's what we hacks call a ‘sweeping attack’”. And April last year: “If May calls early election we hacks won’t be able to trust any future denials from No10 about anything”. “We hacks”. By her own admission.
So when Isabel Oakeshott next claims that she isn’t a hack, make sure someone has an extinguisher close to hand. Because her pants will be on fire.