Anorak | Words of thanks to Maria Miller and the heroic Joanna Hindley

Words of thanks to Maria Miller and the heroic Joanna Hindley

by | 13th, December 2012

MARIA Miller proves that politicians apply pressure on the media. Miller is the Conservative MP for Basingstoke and Culture Secretary being investigated for claiming over £90,000 expenses for a second home where her parents live. She says she’s done nothing wrong. Indeed, far from it. She has done us all a favour. She has shown everyone that the press are not the sole aggressors. She has shown that politicians can be deceiving and work to squash the facts.

Or, rather, her aide Joanna Hindley has, reportedly. When a Daily Telegraph started asking about Miller’s expenses, they were warned off.

“When a reporter approached Mrs Miller’s office last Thursday, her special adviser, Joanna Hindley, pointed out that the Editor of The Telegraph was involved in meetings with the Prime Minister and the Culture Secretary over implementing the recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson. Maria has obviously been having quite a lot of editors’ meetings around Leveson at the moment. So I am just going to kind of flag up that connection for you to think about,” said Miss Hindley.

Hindley thought it good idea for the reporter to talk over the matter with people a little higher up your organisation” . Hindley contacted The Telegraph’s head of public affairs to discuss the matter.

The prime minister’s spokesman says: “She was raising legitimate concerns about the way in which the investigation had been handled. It is perfectly reasonable for her to do that.”


“She made clear that Maria Miller was in contact with the editor and would be raising those concerns directly. I understand that a letter has been sent.”

A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokeswoman added:

“Mrs Miller’s special adviser raised concerns with a journalist about the nature of an approach to Mrs Miller’s elderly father. Her adviser noted that Mrs Miller was in contact with the paper’s editor and would raise her concerns directly with him, which Mrs Miller did subsequently. However, this is a separate issue to ongoing discussions about press regulation. Mrs Miller has made the Government’s position on this clear.”

Separate? So why conflate the two, then, if not to bully and cajole?

Chris Blackhurst, editor of the Independent , replies:

“We don’t need statute. You only have to look at the front page of today’s Daily Telegraph to realise what happens when politicians do get involved.”

The State must never be allowed to run the Press.

But Guardian’s Michael White seems confused:

Should Maria Miller’s special adviser have reminded – ‘flagged up’ was the verb of choice – the Daily Telegraph that the boss is currently involved in discussions over the new post-Leveson regime for press regulation when the paper started sniffing around her expenses claims over her London home, the one where her parents also live?

Probably not in the current inflamed climate, I’d say.

Should the Telegraph have made an issue of its hurt feelings in today’s edition? Probably not.

The Telegraph did the right thing. It published the story and the the warning from Miller’s aide.

Iain Martin writes :

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Posted: 13th, December 2012 | In: Politicians Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink