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Glen Owen was following orders with misogynistic story about Angela Rayner

The idea for the story came from Paul Dacre, MANDRAKE believes

Angela Rayner at PMQs. Photo: ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor.

The Mail on Sunday political hack Glen Owen’s byline was on the misogynistic story about senior Tories complaining that Angela Rayner tried to distract Boris Johnson at the dispatch box by emulating Sharon Stone’s “infamous scene” in Basic Instinct. The scene, let’s be clear, showed Stone briefly showing her vulva during an interrogation. There’s little doubt, however, Owen was only obeying orders.

In the newsroom, Owen is known as “Domestos” as he shifts the unsavoury stories dreamt up by executives that the paper’s ordinary hacks leave behind. In 2020, it was his name on “Merkel wants Britain ‘to crawl across broken glass’” – a profoundly irresponsible story that was said to have a detrimental impact on the EU-UK Brexit talks – and he has written sexist stuff, too, about Carrie Johnson as “the Mad Queen”.

In 2009, the Mail on Sunday had to accept that an interview by Owen with the then Labour MP Frank Field had been made up. It had accused Ed Balls of using the issue of city academies to promote his own position in the party. “We accept that Mr Field made no such accusation in our interview; indeed, he was at pains to stress the opposite,” the paper said in subsequent correction.

My hunch is this was an idea from Paul Dacre, the paper’s editor-in-chief. The story has all the Dacre hallmarks, including the use of a still from an old film. In my play Bloody Difficult Women, it always got a laugh when Dacre asked what had happened to his “Marianne Faithfull feature”. He’s a man who lives in the past and, yes, he really did have an obsession with Faithfull when I worked for him. She’s now 75.

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