Melissa Kite, the Deputy Political Editor of the Sunday Telegraph, has form running unsourced speculative fiction. This morning she has persuaded her paper to print a story about Local Government Minister Bob Neill facing deselection.
The article also claims:
One councillor claims that Mr Pickles recently attended a meeting of Tory councillors and wished them all "goodbye", joking that they were all going to lose their seats in May's local elections.
Which meeting? Where? When? Where is the response from Bob Neill or Eric Pickles to their claims? I am assured this claim is absolute rubbish.
This is not to say that Melissa invented the story herself. Someone else, perhaps even a Bromley Tory councillor, may have invented it and rung her up. But then the great thing is to check out the story. When I used to work on the Londoner's Diary of the Evening Standard there would be high minded colleagues would describe it as a "gossip column." But we would ring up whoever we were writing about about and put the story to them. All the more so if the allegation is made off the record. The idea that I would have just run a story of a Minister facing deselection and his boss showing indifference to his colleagues losing their seats without checking it out would have been inconceivable.