Veteran journalist demands answers after Carrie Johnson story pulled

21 June 2022, 09:00

By James Bickerton

A senior journalist has demanded answers after a story about Carrie Johnson was dramatically pulled by The Times newspaper.

An early edition of Saturday's paper included a story alleging Boris Johnson had tried to appoint the then Carrie Symonds, now Mrs Johnson, to a top Foreign Office job paying over £100,000 a year whilst he was Foreign Secretary.

However, the article was withdrawn from later editions with no clear explanation provided, causing confusion online.

A similar account was given in Lord Ashcroft's book 'First Lady: Intrigue at the Court of Carrie and Boris Johnson', which was published earlier this year.

On Monday the Prime Minister's spokesman confirmed his team spoke to The Times after the story was published, but denied Mr Johnson was personally involved.

A spokesperson for Mrs Johnson described the account as "totally untrue", whilst Downing Street insiders hit out at a "grubby, discredited story".

However Michael Crick, a veteran reporter who has worked for Channel 4 and the BBC, is demanding a public denial from 10 Downing Street.

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Speaking to Shelagh Fogarty, on LBC, he said: "What's extraordinary about this story is how well sourced it seems to have been.

"Simon Walters is a top rate political journalist. He claims to have got four sources for this story, including two people who are now senior ministers in the Johnson government.

"So it's strange this story should have appeared and then been withdrawn, perhaps on the basis of conversations with people ringing up from Downing Street.

"We really do need a proper denial of this story, or an acceptance that it's true. 

"It seems very in character for Boris Johnson to have done something like this, offered the woman who was effectively at the time his mistress, a senior job within the Foreign Office, chief-of-staff to the Foreign Secretary on a salary of more than £100,000. If that happened it is a gross abuse of his position."

Mr Crick agreed the allegations, if confirmed, constitute "misfeasance in public office".

He added: "Amongst all the things that have been hurled at Boris Johnson over the last few years I think, if true, this is one of the most serious.

"It's not just Simon Walters who said this, it's also in the Michael Ashcroft book and also Sir Alan Duncan and his diaries. We need to get to the bottom of this."

LBC has approached The Times for comment.

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