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I spent five months with another senior journalist at the Independent newspaper investigating why other papers had shut down a story about the culture minister, only to see my editor shut the investigation down too. Here is the anatomy of a press cover-up. Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, under siege for his shifting account of the Panama Papers, is facing an imminent second front of attacks as a consequence of his decision to bring John Whittingdale into the cabinet last year.
Whittingdale, according to one Whitehall source, became "The culture secretary Rupert Murdoch dreamt of". As Culture Secretary, with a brief that includes media policy, Whittingdale has a powerful influence over press regulation, the mooted privatisation of Channel 4 and above all the future finances of the BBC. Keeping Whittingdale right where he is, rather than ousting him, perfectly suits those in Fleet Street who view Leveson as a commercial threat to business-as-usual.
This should have rung alarm bells when the prospect of a cabinet job was mooted in the immediate election aftermath. Instead the danger was dismissed. Number 10 was asked this week if Mr Cameron knew his culture secretary had engaged in a relationship with a prostitute, or if John Whittingdale had been open about it to the Prime Minister before he was appointed to the cabinet.
The same sequence of detailed questions were put to Mr Whittingdale and his advisers. There was no response. There were rumours that she had connections to the criminal underworld, but they remain as yet unsubstantiated. A Mirror Group newspaper exposing Whittingdale in therefore carried a risk that he could retaliate through his committee and start an Inquiry into Mirror Group Newspapers.
A well-known celebrity photographer is alleged to have organised a surveillance operation of the couple in Amsterdam and to have subsequently tried to sell a folio of photographs. He initially denied knowing anything about this. However, he later revised his explanation, saying the couple may have been followed, but that he had nothing to do with it.