Boris Johnson, Darius Guppy And The News Of The World Phone Hacking Saga
Johnson once received a call from Darius Guppy – best man to the Princess of Wales’s brother, and fellow ex-Etonian and Bullingdon Club member. Yep. Like David Cameron – and like George Osborne, who championed Andy Coulson for that job as the PM Cameron’s press handler. Guppy wanted help in getting in touch with News of the World journalist Stuart Collier. Guppy had heard that Collier was asking questions about his life. Guppy wanted him stopped – frightened off. All he needed was Collier’s private phone number and address.
Boris Johnson was the Telegraph’s European correspondent in Brussels. Maybe the anti youth violence champion could help?
In 1993, Guppy would soon be jailed for five years for a £1.8 million insurance fraud. Guppy was jailed for five years in 1993. He served three in jail.
In the summer of 1990, Guppy and Johnson talked on the phone. Here are the highlights:
Johnson: “I really, I want to know …”
Guppy: “I guarantee you he will not be seriously hurt.”
Johnson: “How badly will he …”
Guppy: “He will not have a broken limb or broken arm, he will not be put into intensive care or anything like that. He will probably get a couple of black eyes and a … a cracked rib or something.”
Johnson: “Cracked rib?”
Guppy: “Nothing which you didn’t suffer at rugby, OK? But he’ll get scared and that’s what I want … I want him to get scared, I want him to have no idea who’s behind it, OK? And I want him to realise that he’s ****** someone off and that whoever he’s ****** off is not the sort of person he wants to mess around with.”
Johnson” If you **** up, in any way… If he suspects I’m involved …”
Guppy: “No, no, he won’t.”
Johnson: “If it got out …”
Guppy: “That he’d been beaten up.”
Johnson: “Beaten up, it would inevitably get back to the contact.”
Guppy: “But Boris there’s absolutely no ******* proof: you just deny it. I mean, there’s no proof at all.”
Johnson: “Well yeah.”
Guppy: “I mean, you know, big deal. You’re sitting in Brussels and the day it happens you’re in Brussels, it’s as simple as that.”
Guppy: “As far as I’m concerned, I have never told you what I require this number for. You do not know at all … so you are totally off the hook. You have nothing to fear. I give you my personal guarantee, OK, and my word of honour.’ By the end of the conversation, Johnson is volunteering to do what he can to help… Well do it discreetly. I … if it’s in any way going to look suspicious. That’s all I require – just the address: the address and the phone number … all right? Now I guarantee you, you have nothing to worry about. [Slowly, emphatically] Believe me. All right? You have my personal guarantee. I’ve never let you down, all right?”
Johnson: “OK Darry, I said I’ll do it and I’ll do it. Don’t worry.”
Guppy: “Boris, I really mean it, I love you and I will owe you this, all right? And I’m a man who keeps my word.”
Johnson never did get the hack’s address – well, there is no proof that he did. Guppy explained it as:
“Let me be clear. I didn’t want that chap from the News of the World beaten up because he was investigating any criminal allegations. I wanted him sorted out because I thought he was looking to smear members of my family, including my wife-to-be [Patricia]. The only remorse I feel is that I didn’t finish the job. I should be given a medal, not brickbats.”
“I was never attacked. But I had been looking into the Guppy story, and had passed some information on to the New York police, which seemingly angered Guppy.”
In 2009, Channel 4 spoke with Boris Johnson’s spokesman:
“This was a colourful story from almost two decades ago. It was of little or no consequence back then – and has no relevance whatsoever now.”
How was Johnson going to get the number and the address? By blagging? By asking the police?
The final word on this is with Guppy, who wrote an open letter to the Telegraph in 2009:
“Try as Mr Johnson’s political opponents may to manipulate the circumstances surrounding the conversation, it boils down to this: we are not talking about a conspiracy of ten cage-fighting thugs to assault Mother Teresa; we are concerned with an entirely justifiable desire on my part to teach a lesson to a News Of The World reporter.'”
So. That’s alright, then…?