With Lord Ashcroft’s claim in today’s Daily Mail that David Cameron once enjoyed intimate relations with a dead pig, talk has soon turned to which unnamed Tory MP was the source of the story. With the incident allegedly taking place at an initiation ceremony for the Piers Gaveston dining society – which is named after Edward II’s alleged male lover — it has been suggested that one of Cameron’s Oxford university contemporaries could be the source.
While Steerpike is yet to discover which MP is behind the Ashcroft tale, Mr S couldn’t help but remember that one Tory MP previously got himself into trouble for telling porkies concerning Piers Gaveston. When Boris Johnson was a 23-year-old trainee reporter at the Times, he had to write an article about archaeologists’ discovery of Edward II’s 14th-century palace.
To spice up the story, Johnson fabricated a comment from his godfather, the Oxford don Sir Colin Lucas, about the monarch’s sexual exploits with… Piers Gaveston. He quoted Lucas as saying the King ‘had enjoyed a reign of dissolution with his catamite, Piers Gaveston’ in the palace. However, as the palace was built in 1325 and Gaveston was beheaded in 1312, Lucas had to get in touch with the Times and complain, as the misquote was damaging his academic reputation. Johnson insisted that he did speak to Lucas but had attributed his own mistake to the historian.
As a result of the incident, the paper terminated his contract. Johnson has since described the embarrassment the incident incurred:
‘It was awful… I remember a deep, deep sense of shame and guilt… just not knowing how to sort it out… it was a bit of a bum.’
With Valentine Guinness, one of the founders of the Piers Gaveston Society, telling Mr S’s colleague Toby Young that Cameron was never a member of the society, this initiation ceremony story may warrant an apology of its own in due course.