Coffee House

Downing Street defends Maria Miller’s special adviser

12 December 2012

11:30 AM

12 December 2012

11:30 AM

Downing Street has defended Maria Miller’s special adviser over the way she warned the Telegraph about the Culture Secretary’s connection to Leveson as it prepared a story on her expenses. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman has just told the lobby:

‘My understanding is that the special advice was raising legitimate concerns about the way in which the investigation had been handled. It was perfectly reasonable for her to do that.

‘The Secretary of State raised these concerns directly with the editor. It is reasonable for someone in the government to raise these kinds of concerns about the way a newspaper is conducting an investigation.’

Asked whether the Prime Minister still had confidence in Miller, the spokesman said: ‘Yes.’

That these warnings were reasonable doesn’t seem like a very sensible line for the government to stick to. If Joanna Hindley, Miller’s adviser, had phoned up the journalists to give them a standard earful about how this story wasn’t relevant and how disappointed she was in them, this would have been an extremely ordinary warning off from a SpAd. Every journalist gets these calls from time to time. But they don’t get warned about the connection that the central figure in their story holds with the future of the regulation of their industry. Nor do advisers normally call the public affairs departments of newspapers to raise concerns about a story: a really angry SpAd might call up a newsdesk or a senior editor, but not the office concerned with lobbying for the commercial interests of that newspaper.

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Show comments
  • Hilary Chapman

    It is time for this lady to resign. How can she hang on? If David Cameron had any courage, he would sack her. It really is time for a General Election.

  • sylvesterthecat

    Maria Miller was a fool to think she could get away with an expenses scam when far more intelligent and experienced MPs could not. Massive stupidity, no integrity!

  • TomTom

    Telegraph has updated this now to include some buffoon called Craig Oliver. Looks like we could be getting an election in 2013 which is 3 years too late but better than never. Cameron and his Club need tossing soonest or this country will never recover

  • HooksLaw

    The press are victims now are they. Poor dears. My heart bleeds.
    The press are being self serving and once again they care little about stretching the truth if it suits them

    • Thick as two Plancks

      Thank you, Captain Hook. I’m glad if one other Coffee Houser, perhaps the only one, seems to realise that the press are not perfect. Indeed, they remind me of the EU: a worthy idea that has gone wrong and cannot be allowed to continue in its present form.

  • Coffeehousewall

    Just a note to say that assisted by interviews with Theodore Dalrymple and Alexander Boot, the Coffee House Wall is now averaging 170,000 pages viewed a month. Thanks to the Spectator Coffee House visitors who keep this site, and the other one, going from strength to strength.

    11,500 comments on the Coffee House Wall and NO TROLLS.

    www coffeehousewall co uk

    • telemachus

      Or at leat trolls who behave themselves and use other names
      You still need a credit card
      And a thick skin to cope with the sanctimoniousness

  • Coffeehousewall

    Has the Spectator been approached by any Ministers in such a way, either directly or indirectly? I think that we deserve to be told. If we can’t trust the media, such as the Spectator, because they may have been frightened into silence on various issues, then who can we trust?

  • IgnoramusJack

    Forget the Spad. What about the Minister?

    Surely she can’t be let off this hook. She’s so clearly in breach of the rules (and they’re pretty pathetic anyway).

    Does anyone else find this beyond the pale?

    • HooksLaw

      Miller’s expenses were audited twice and approved by the fees office.
      Her elderly parents, which all this is about, are approved dependants and have lived with her for 20 years – since long before she became an MP.

      More fool her, becoming and MP so all the thickos ion the country can expose their own sense of inadequacy on her.

      As ever this is a manufactured story promoted by everybody who has a self interest – except an interest in the truth.

      • ButcombeMan

        Bollocks and thrice bollocks.

        Why does she need any home in London? She is MP for Basingstoke not the Outer Hebrides. Basingstoke happens to have one of the best fast rail services in the Home Counties, I use it myself. Excellent, with bags of car parking. Plenty of late trains-if needed. Straight into Waterloo. Walking distance to Westminister. I wager many of her constituents do it daily. Any odd, very late sitting, she could take a hotel, like real people do.

        These people just do not know right from wrong

      • IgnoramusJack

        Hi Hook

        Oh dear. Miller’s expenses audited twice, were they, and approved by the fees office?

        Seems she didn’t tell them about her parents’ occupancy. When asked directly, she erred …

        “I obviously spoke to the Fees Office about my claims and they were happy that everything was in order,” she said.

        You know, it’s possible to make points without insults.

  • Daviejohn

    As it goes, ‘well they would wouldn’t they” these people feed from the same trough, the contempt they hold for the British public is staggering.

  • Thick as two Plancks

    Mixture of news and comment in this article. Does the press really deserve its freedom?

  • The Laughing Cavalier

    If we’re getting threats like that from the present bunch of amateurs imagine what it will be like when the Labour gets back in to power and lets loose the heirs to Campbell, Whelan & McBride.

  • Hugh

    “doesn’t seem like a very sensible line for the government”

    Not exactly out of character, then.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    It would be nice if you all reported every time you were rung up by a spad, and their name and the gist of the conversation. That would be like turning over a rock. Trouble is that the press does too much to preserve its relationship with the pols.

    One another front, while I’m here, is there anything left that this useless bloody government is not on the wrong side of? Secret courts, snooping, press freedom, europe, I could go on and on. (Yes, I know, I do).

    • telemachus

      Just who has been pressuring Fraser as well

      • Swiss Bob

        You sad wanker, you’ve replied to the first four comments.

        Are you Ed Milibandwagon, you pathetic little scrote?

  • ScaryBiscuits

    Secret courts, Snoopers’ Charters, building on the Green Belt to facilitate immigration and supporting threats to newspapers exposing expenses theft by ministers.
    How can one man be so wrong on everything?

    • telemachus

      On this methinks mischief
      If I were a minister or aide I would use every trick in the book to thwart the meddlesome Ukip mouthpiece that the Telegraph has become

      • James Strong

        Instead of using tricks why not just engage them in debate?

        • telemachus

          It is common experience of the reasaonable that right wing revanchists will not engage in debate with the reasonable.
          The vicar is the prime example

      • mikewaller

        My immediate thought in the context of the Daily Telegraph is “plaything of two tax exiles”.

  • MinnieOvens

    The trouble with Flashman’s PR driven Number Ten is that it doesn’t know when to shut up!
    Ms Hindley, either through inexperience or stupidity, made a crude threat and followed up be an even cruder call to the non media echelons of the DT.
    The woman has a tin ear and Number Ten only exacerbate the attention by mentioning it.

    • telemachus

      This is a non issue

      The actual issue is:-

      “Accusations from the Tories that the Telegraph coordinated their Maria Miller expenses story to coincide with the gay marriage announcement yesterday went down very badly…

  • Colonel Mustard

    It’s all screwed. For now and ever more. Integrity, reason and maturity are long gone from politics. Now it is the candidates from the Apprentice, private school, mummy and daddy gap year students to SpAds to safe seat MPs, all tweeting gossip and jockeying for advantage.

    • telemachus

      God its a wicked world
      The home counties gentleman politician with shotgun and labrador that you admire has rightly been suprseeded by the low cunning of Ed Balls and his group
      Remember the ends justify the means

  • Vulture

    Time to throw another SPAD on the fire….worked for Jeremy!

    • telemachus

      And another-CRAIG OLIVER too

      “In a phone call to the editor of this newspaper, Craig Oliver indicated that the article may be poorly timed as “she [Maria Miller] is looking at Leveson at the moment”…It can now be disclosed that after the contacts between Mrs Miller’s adviser and the newspaper, Mr Oliver phoned Tony Gallagher, the editor of the Daily Telegraph, last Friday morning. He said that Mrs Miller was “very distressed” about her family being questioned over her expense claims. The Downing Street communications director said that the Cabinet Minister, who is currently overseeing negotiations over a new system of press regulation, was considering making a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission. He then raised the fact that Mrs Miller was leading the Government’s response to the Leveson report which recommended statutory press regulation.”