I was talking to a young Conservative councillor in London yesterday, who asked me if I thought the Defence Minster would survive… At the time, I reckoned, not having taken a huge interest in the Westminster gossip (or the conflicting prognoses emanating from the Guido household), that it was pretty clear he wouldn’t (or rather shouldn’t). But for only one specific reason.
Dr Fox’s friend Adam Wherritty had casual access to the Secretary of State (styling himself advisor on some business cards) and the Ministry of Defence, without ever having signed the Official Secrets Act. Never mind, the money trail appears to have been so modest, he traded on his close friendship his unofficial, official status was a serious misjudgement.
But for me, that’s not the remarkable thing about this story. It is purely that this is one of the few public scandal’s broken by the British press – and fair play to the Independent who broke the story – on a point of almost pure public interest, without any undue focus on the character of Fox’s friendship with Wherritty (which is no one’s business but the two men concerned).
The News of the World’s (their cash and deep pocketed capacity for endless fishing) absence should be noted… If this is the beginning of a new era in British journalism which begins to pay more attention to the public interest and much less to the private lives politicians, that can only be a good thing
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty