I don't know if many ConHome readers have noticed but I seem to have got a regular slot in The Daily Telegraph's Mandrake gossip column. I can't believe I'm as interesting to the newspaper's readers as Pippa Middleton, Jennifer Saunders and Nancy Dell’Olio but I've featured in three of the last four editions alongside these glamorous characters. The first attack was simply gratuitous and today's attack raked up an inaccurate and disputed Observer article from 1999. Yes, 1999.
Mandrake's Tim Walker may be writing the attacks but my suspicion that he was merely the monkey to the Editor's organ grinder was confirmed yesterday. A senior Telegraph journalist told me that Tony Gallagher [the paper's Editor] was "sh*tbagging" me for daring to tweet a criticism of the newspaper last week. I had tweeted that The Telegraph's Friday splash on Liam Fox – that he hadn't declared a $500 dinner – didn't really deserve the prominence that the newspaper was giving it. Perhaps it did deserve the prominence. Perhaps my criticism was unfair but did a tweet really deserve three diary attacks?
They seem to have very thin skins at Telegraph towers as it's far from the first time that they go to town against their critics. When Jonathan Isaby, formerly of this parish, dared to question the Telegraph's techniques in going undercover at Liberal Democrat MPs' surgeries he was 'sh*tbagged' by Tim Walker, who compared him to a dead sheep. Nadine Dorries MP was the biggest victim of The Telegraph's nasty streak. After she had dared to criticise the Barclay brothers, the newspaper's owners, she was subject to relentless attacks including this extraordinary front page splash about Esther Rantzen.
I spoke to a second contact at the newspaper about it all and was given another explanation for the deterioration in Telegraph/ ConHome relations. I recently suggested that the Daily Mail's Paul Dacre was the most influential centre right journalist in Britain. Apparently this bruised Mr Gallagher's fragile ego.
Fortunately I at least have this blog to respond to The Telegraph's attempts at bullying and character assassinations. Other victims of Mr Walker's poison pen are not so fortunate.