Nine days ago, as the hunt began in earnest for whoever had leaked Kim Darroch’s confidential Foreign Office cables to mercenary hack Isabel Oakeshott - a process that led to Darroch having to resign as UK Ambassador to the USA - Zelo Street pointed out that someone not unadjacent to Ms Oakeshott might be worth questioning.
Steven Edginton - the patsy
At the time, I told “good of Ms Oakeshott to confirm who hasn’t been handling the cables … she is to be congratulated for reminding me that her gofer Steven Edginton is a nasty … piece of work … I’m sure he would be happy to have a chat with the Met to confirm that he, too, had nothing to do with those leaked cables”. And guess what?
Isabel Oakeshott - still not coming clean ...
Edginton did indeed have something to do with those cables. And today he has grandly proclaimed “I’ve been investigating the Civil Service for months … Tonight I can reveal I am the journalist behind the Washington Cables”. Well, apart from him being unable to investigate an act of alcoholic derangement in an EU wine lake, and not being a journalist, that’s most interesting. And of course Ms Oakeshott is proud of her patsy.
... ditto her partner Richard Tice ...
“Incredibly proud of my protégé [Steven Edginton] for his role in the … scoop, which can now be revealed. Team effort, for which he deserves great credit” she gushed. So let’s see what Edginton has told in his tell-all-well-sort-of for today’s Mail on Sunday.
... about their interest in rubbishing Kim Darroch
“I am sorry to disappoint the conspiracy theorists but this was not a Brexiteer plot to topple Sir Kim, nor was it some devilish scheme to torpedo the independence of the Civil Service by installing a political appointee in Washington. Instead, it was simply an honest journalistic endeavour”. And to that I call bullshit.
Edginton’s CV tells you why: “I first worked as a video journalist for a site called Westmonster [that’s Arron Banks’ site called Westmonster] before stints as a digital strategist at the Taxpayers’ Alliance [pro-Brexit and anti any form of Government] and Leave means Leave campaign [which broke the law]. Since April, I have worked for the Brexit Party, helping run its social media feeds”. But he’s not a Brexiteer, honestly.
The rest of his article is in the same vein. “There had been repeated reports claiming that Europhile mandarins have been quietly working to thwart the result of the referendum”. Totally impartial, that. No partiality at all, no sirree. On his first reaction to being read one of Kim Darroch’s cables, he tells “I was shocked by the brutal language from a supposedly impartial diplomat”. It is not the job of out Ambassadors to be impartial. They are meant to give honest assessments of the Governments in the countries where they are posted.
He pretends “I spent several days mulling over what to do before contacting Isabel Oakeshott, a highly experienced journalist with whom I have worked”. No Steven, you’re Ms Oakeshott’s gofer. She has said as much. And if this is not a “Brexiteer plot”, to use his happy phrase, why contact a Brexit Party supporter who’s dating the party chairman?
Edginton also attempts to downplay his involvement: “No one can deny that this was an intensely embarrassing episode for the Government, but I challenge anyone to show how the publication of these cables and memos in any way imperilled national security”. Try reading them. And then try answering the obvious follow-up questions.
To get a flavour of those, Byline Media’s Peter Jukes has mused “A Civil Servant apparently ‘read out’ the Darroch cables to [Steven Edginton] … 1 How did [Richard] Tice know their markings … 2 How did Edginton verify … How did a Civil Servant get on [the] restricted list of 10 … Why contact Edginton?” Why indeed.
Tice, Ms Oakeshott’s partner, apparently knew the cables were not marked “secret”. How? And yes, how did Edginton know the goods were genuine? And, most important of all, how is Edginton defining “Civil Servant”? We’ve been here before recently, as I told 13 days ago: “The Civil Service is not even on my suspects list. But political appointees, who may have access to Kim Darroch’s cables, or know someone who does, certainly are”.
Someone on the public payroll contacted Steven Edginton. Was it really a Civil Servant, or a political appointee? His story is not only painfully naive - the idea that an Ambassador must be “impartial” is not even Foreign Office 101 - but it becomes increasingly obvious as one reads through it that readers are not being told the full story.
Now we need the name of Edginton's source
And what is increasingly clear is not that Edginton has performed some act of bravery for the cause, but that he has come clean - or perhaps that should be partly clean - before someone else comes clean for him. His name was about to be released, so best exercise whatever control he and his pals could, before control over the narrative was lost.
Which means the net is closing over the actual leaker, the person Edginton calls a “Civil Servant”, but who might not be. There is more to come on this one. A lot more.
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