Last night, the S*n published a story that Defence Secretary Michael Fallon had ‘felt’ the knee of journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer ‘repeatedly’. This week’s Sunday Times carried a different version of events:
This raises the possibility that the S*n story is a ‘dead cat’, designed to deflect attention away from more serious infringements still.
The Sunday Times article goes on to state that ‘Downing Street is concerned that if either man is forced to resign it will destabilise the government‘. Indeed.
So the S*n story may be an attempt to drain outrage over the issue – and provide distraction while plans are made to protect the other names on the list. Given that the two publications belong to the same group, the difference in versions is interesting.
To complicate matters, left-wing journalists who have seen the full ‘deeply disturbing’ list say that Fallon’s name is not even on it – the Sunday Times article simply says that he and another Cabinet minister were ‘named’ by female MPs, journalists and researchers. So why ‘out’ a name that wasn’t even set to be revealed by the publication of the list?
It might be a ‘warning shot’ by Murdoch, who owns the S*n, to apply pressure to the Tories to approve his purchase of the remainder of Sky News – or that ‘dead cat’ to try to manage the issue. Or both – with a bit of ‘PR’ for the government thrown in.
If a senior Cabinet minister ‘feeling’ a woman and making lewd comments to her in front of a roomful of Tory front-benchers is the least damaging revelation, selected to be the ‘dead cat’, then what is being kept back must be ‘disturbing’ indeed.
However, left-wing journalists have said that if the UK media doesn’t have the courage to publish the full list, it will be published from a foreign jurisdiction – this looks unlikely to be a situation that the government can ‘manage’, even with the help of its media backers and pawns.
And if Theresa May knew even a small portion of the information that will come out, she will have to resign.
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