Simon Walters, the journalist whose byline appeared on the Times‘s scoop about Boris Johnson attempting to make his then mistress Carrie Symonds his £100,000-a-year chief of staff when he was foreign secretary, has told Mandrake he stands by the story, even though it was mysteriously dropped after its first edition.
“I stand by the story 100 per cent,” Walters told me. “I was in lengthy and detailed communication with No 10 at a high level, Ben Gascoigne and Mrs Johnson’s spokeswoman for up to 48 hours before the paper went to press. At no point did any of them offer an on-the-record denial of any element of the story.”
The award-winning political journalist adds: “Nor have any of these three offered an on-the-record denial to me since. No 10 and Mr Gascoigne did not deny it off-the-record either.”
In the story that appeared in only the first edition of the Times on Saturday, Walters wrote that Ben Gascoigne – a senior aide to Johnson at the foreign office, who still works for him as a deputy chief of staff in No 10 – had threatened to resign if Johnson had gone through with the appointment of Symonds. It would clearly have been – as Walters wrote – “a flagrant abuse of ethics” and the Ministerial Code.
Walters has a reputation for tenacity – he broke the “Wallpapergate” story that proved to be a serious embarrassment to Johnson last year.
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