Allegra Mostyn-Owen, whose sole claim to fame is that she was the first to marry London’s occasional Mayor (and regular collector of “chicken feed” from the Maily Telegraph) Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, let the cat out of the bag about her former husband in an otherwise unremarkable Standard interview: “He needs the adulation of others. He can’t thrive without that”.
Crikey chaps, more success! Yikes!! Down, Percy!!!
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.
Sonia Purnell not with a flea in her ear
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 before readily engaging in what Private Eye might have called “discussions of a Ugandan nature with a view to reaching Kampala”. Ms Purnell is an attractive woman, ergo she had the hots for Bozza.
This tactic was signally 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? Hey, she did mean Iain Dale on LBC! And this can be confirmed following a decidedly testy Twitter exchange between Dale and Adam Bienkov earlier today.
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. He wanted to let it be known that it was merely “what a lot of people were saying at the time”. Bienkov was not convinced, observing “it’s a pretty nasty smear when you have no actual evidence”.
Iain Dale can be appallingly thin skinned (which is almost certainly why Peter McKay, the World’s Worst Columnist (tm), had a go at him which was only mildly homophobic) 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.
One thing is for sure: nobody disses Bozza and emerges unscathed. Oo-er chaps!