The Boris campaign to smear the author Sonia Purnell


by Tim Fenton    
11:05 am - May 30th 2012

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Allegra Mostyn-Owen, whose sole claim to fame is that she was the first to marry London’s occasional Mayor Boris Johnson, let the cat out of the bag about her former husband in an otherwise unremarkable Standardinterview: “He needs the adulation of others. He can’t thrive without that.”

So when a new biography of Bozza came out earlier this year, and turned out not to paint him in a totally adulatory manner, the response was all too predictable.

Author Sonia Purnell was discovered to have previously worked alongside Johnson during his time in Brussels, and so the spin went out: here was an act of spite from a woman scorned and therefore unreliable of mind.

The reasoning behind this was straightforward: Bozza does rather well with the gels, dontcha know, so must be some kind of magnetic presence before whom attractive women go suitably mushy. Ms Purnell is an attractive woman, ergo she had the hots for Bozza.

This tactic was unsuccessful. The book came out, it sold well, and Ms Purnell was duly invited to appear on the BBC. Then she wasn’t. Then she really was, but afterwards, the Corporation got cold feet about her.

Those “close to” Bozza were making unfavourable noises. It was “talk to her and lose access to Boris”.

And she could forget turning the book into a stage play.

Then, as Sonia Purnell put it, the “lost love” suggestion “was even put to me as virtual fact on air by a big-name Tory broadcaster on a leading independent radio station”.

Did she mean Iain Dale on LBC?

Dale did not deny he had put the claim to her. The to-and-fro became difficult when Dale clearly thought he was being accused of being one of those briefed by Team Bozza.

Iain Dale can be appallingly thin skinned but this is curious: a not particularly pleasant assertion is made, just as Team Bozza would have liked, but the perpetrator is then at pains to say he wasn’t part of any organised smear campaign, honest.

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About the author
Tim is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He blogs more frequently at Zelo Street
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Reader comments


Iain Dale is just a government troll much like the other LBC twat (Ferrari) that licks boris’s a** on a daily basis. Take them for what they are pro-government voice boxes that spout pro government crap for their own self importance.

The original post has two comments from Iain Dale, which I found interesting:

http://zelo.tv/JrSFP4

But I still find it strange that there are folks claiming not to be part of any organised campaign, while the whole thing gives every impression of being just that.

One to watch, I reckon.

“I’m not part of an organised smear campaign but” is the new “I’m not a racist but”. You heard it here first…

4. Neutral Observer

So, a pleasant round of he said/she said on the Internet along with a healthy dollop of that trademark Zero Street paranoia. Fantastic investigative skills, Fenny. Are the FBI regularly in contact with your deductive skills?

Still, at least it’s refreshing being able to correct/mock your usually erroneous and bizarre articles somewhere without you deleting them because you can’t handle it. #musttryharder

Perhaps Dale doesn’t realise the rudeness of asking a female author whether her choice of book subject was due to unrequited love, on the basis of some story doing the rounds. Perhaps Dale doesn’t realise that Ms Purnell cannot refute the allegation, because it isn’t possible for her to provide evidence of what went on inside her head in the past or what is inside her head now: she can deny the allegation, which she did, but that’s something different. Perhaps Dale really thinks that Ms Purnell made a sneering comment in her article, but that’s not the way it looks to me; I would say that there’s a touch of indignation there, which is far from surprising.

So perhaps Dale quite innocently repeated some story he heard from some chaps, and is genuinely surprised that there’s a bit of fuss about it. In which case he should put his thinking-cap on. It’s not very professional to say “I’m not part of a smear operation but here’s an unsubstantiated rumour about your personal feelings that you cannot refute, so what do you say?”

It’s only because Dale has a crush on Bojo that he cannot understand how she wouldn’t. Simple really.

And yet after all this Twattering Boris is still Mayor and you, Bienkov and Livingstone remain just three malevolent little pricks whose attempts to plug division and Islamofascism failed in circumstances where it was almost impossible to lose.

So what does that say for you, eh, Sunny?

@5 Guano

No!! She CAN specify what was going on inside her head and no-one can deny it.
Is your monicker a description of your brain?
There are lots of arguments – can we have an honest one?

Someone else who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “refute”.

10. Chaise Guevara

“So what does that say for you, eh, Sunny?”

That he still has to deal with the occasional tinhat-wearing right-wing loon?

11. Chaise Guevara

@ 8 john77

“No!! She CAN specify what was going on inside her head and no-one can deny it.”

No, Guano’s right: she can deny the claim but not refute it, at least until brain-scanning technology gets scarily good. And people can deny her denial, because people have been known to lie about their feelings in the past.

Burden of proof is on Boris’s mates here. Have they intercepted love letters from Purnell to Johnson? Do they have witnesses of her pestering him for a date? Or are they just running the kind of sophisticated character assassination you’d expect to be masterminded by an eight-year-old schoolgirl?


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