To add to the confusion, most of the details in the article were previously reported in a comprehensive biography of Ms Johnson written by Michael Ashcroft, a former Conservative Party official who is a member of the House of Lords. The Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday published excerpts from the book ‘First Lady: Intrigue at the Court of Carrie and Boris Johnson’ last February.
According to The Times book and report, Mr. Johnson’s suggestion to appoint Ms. Johnson as chief of staff was swiftly rejected by his aides at the State Department, who pointed to the ethical and political issues involved.
On Monday, Downing Street declined to directly deny the story, saying it could not comment on Mr Johnson’s actions before he became prime minister. But a spokesperson pointed to statements, including one from Carrie Johnson’s spokeswoman, who denied the claims.
In the UK media, the threat of defamation is very real because if legal action is taken against a news organization, it will have the burden of proving that the allegations are true. This means that even if journalists are confident that their reporting is accurate, sometimes editors will wait to publish unless they are confident that, if challenged, they can prove it in court.
For some press critics, however, the disappearance of the Johnson story underscores an unhealthy close bond between the government and Britain’s powerful pro-Tory newspaper owners, including Mr Murdoch and The Mail’s publisher Jonathan Harmsworth, aka the Fourth. viscount. Rothermeer.
“From the outset of Boris Johnson’s campaign for party leader, we’ve seen a merger between Johnson’s political operation and the media machine,” said Peter Oborne, a journalist and broadcaster who wrote a book, “The Assault on Truth,” that examines the ties. from Mr Johnson with the right-wing papers.