Sunday, April 10, 2016

Whittingdale Cover-Up Exposed

The press had kept the story quiet, even though they all knew about it. Culture Secretary John Whittingdale’s more than year-long relationship with dominatrix Olivia King, her gangland connection, the trip to Amsterdam with her that he didn’t declare in the Register of Members’ Interests, her accompanying him to a bash in Parliament, and all the rest, was kept out of the papers. And how many papers were in on it has now been revealed.

James Cusick, formerly of the Independent, and who has foregone a significant sum of money so he can avoid signing a gagging order and get the story out there, has brought the whole sordid business to public view in a Byline Media project. Here, he has told of the media players who might have been expected to lap up the story, and some who believed it was their duty to publish, only to all get cold feet and pass on it.

Whittingdale, Cusick tells, only got the Culture Secretary role after Boris Johnson turned it down. In an echo of David Cameron’s woeful misjudgment over Andy Coulson, he gave the MP for Maldon the job “after taking little or no counsel”, and even though 10 Downing Street knew that the press had the story on his private life.

But thus far Cameron has not had a problem, and that is because, one after another, the papers have shied away from the story. As Cusick relates, the Mirror group title Sunday People went to great lengths to follow Whittingdale and Ms King, including that trip to Amsterdam, and surveillance of the sex club near Earl’s Court where she worked on a regular basis, using the name “Mistress Kate”.

The result? The newspaper group that splashed Tory MP Brooks Newmark on one of its front pages published nothing, and at the time that Whittingdale’s attitude to reform of press regulation was moving away from supporting the proposals made in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry. The MP was, in the last Parliament, chair of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee. He was already influential in that arena.

All the photographic evidence was then fed through now-disgraced fixer Max Clifford to papers including the Sun. Editor Dominic Mohan was offered the goods, but declined to buy. That’s the same paper that right now is screaming blue murder at a judicial decision to forbid it splashing the private life of a “Married Celebrity Parent” all over its pages. The story pressed every tabloid button. Yet the Sun, too, chickened out.  (more...)

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