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Newspaper prints "damaging" allegations about politician
26 Oct 2002
Media outlets across the UK are in a state of confusion today following damaging allegations published about a politician by a tabloid newspaper. Many, including the Guardian and the BBC, are refusing to name the man who was accused by the Daily Mirror of being "leader of the Conservative Party".
The Mirror published the allegations, which Conservative backbenchers have called "damaging" and "insulting", in an eight-page photo-exclusive yesterday. Today it added to the claims with an interview with TV personality Ann Widdecombe, a souvenir pullout repeating everything it said yesterday and a free CD of his greatest hits.
Some journalists are, however, wary of repeating the claims. "There is no evidence to suggest that this man is the leader of the Conservative Party," said a BBC spokesman last night. "If this man, Mr X, was then he would be doing something and we would know about it, but we haven't heard anything. It can't be him."
Other television channels are being less cautious, though. News bulletins on ITV regularly identify the man without hesitation, while a slip-up on five revealed his name to at least three more people.
But the Mirror is sticking by its claims. "We are absolutely certain that the man we identified as being leader of the Conservative Party is the leader of the Conservative Party," explained editor Piers Morgan. "He may think he is a quiet man, but we have the pictures to prove it's him. The public have a right to know."
Meanwhile, Gregory T Mullet, the fictional editor-in-chief of DeadBrain, has made the website's position clear. "I've often wondered who really is the leader of the Conservative Party," he told staff this morning. "But just because the Daily Mirror says it's Iain Duncan Smith it doesn't mean we're going to agree with them. You're not to repeat these allegations, OK?"
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