The Prime Minister’s spokesman, Craig Oliver has denied that he threatened the Daily Telegraph’s editor, Tony Gallagher, after the paper published a story about Culture Secretary Maria Miller’s expense claims.
The story concerned how Maria Miller had claimed £90,718 in second home allowances during the last parliament, even though she had allowed her parents to live there, apparently since 1996 when they sold their home in Wales.
Craig Oliver is alleged to have called Gallagher and told him that the story was ‘poorly timed’ because of Miller’s involvement in the Leveson enquiry.
The day before the call by Oliver, Miller’s special advisor, Joanna Hindley, inferred that the reporter should consider Miller’s role in drawing up new press regulation rules.
Both Oliver and Hindley have denied that they were attempting to threaten against, or influence, any follow up story concerning Miller’s expenses.
According to the Telegraph, Hindley told its reporter: “Maria has obviously been having quite a lot of editors’ meetings around Leveson at the moment. So I am just going to kind of flag up that connection for you to think about.”
Of course, the Prime Minister’s office defended both Oliver and Hindley denying that that they were making threats to the newspaper, and that they were expressing concern about how the newspaper had reported on Miller’s expenses at a ‘difficult time’ , and at the way the newspaper had approached Miller’s elderly father.
We would ask why two representatives of Miller found the need to call The Telegraph at all at that time. Surely they should have been working (at the taxpayer’s expense) on more important matters. The newspaper had, and has, every right to report on MPs expenses – a subject that is very much in the public’s interest.
If, as Miller claims, the amount of £90,718 (again taxpayer’s money) was in order, why would it be necessary to stir two cronies into action to call the newspaper who was reporting what could be considered to be factual information.
Perhaps once the newspaper had reported on Miller’s expenses she should have been removed from any involvement in Leveson to prevent any prejudice in the outcome of the report.
Yet again, this just smells of those who have either been ‘caught-out’, or just don’t like the truth about their possibly dubious activities being revealed.
Maybe we should have another law where newspapers reporting on factual stories and revealing information in the public interest should be protected from interference by politicians and manipulators of the system.
Wonder what she spent over ninety grand (OF OUR TAX MONEY) on?
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