Press Release

Associated Newspapers Limited, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and the Daily Mail, apologised today to Tom Watson MP in a Statement in Open Court read before Mr Justice Eady.

Mr Watson complained of an article by Iain Dale, headed “Smears, glowering henchmen-like the Nixon White House” published in the Mail on Sunday on 12 April 2009 in which it was stated not only that Mr Watson was copied into emails sent by Downing Street press adviser Damian McBride to Derek Draper, but that he “encouraged” them. The emails were reported to have made serious and false allegations about the private lives of a number of Conservative Party MPs in the course of discussing proposals for a new website to be known as “Red Rag”.

As the Court heard today, Associated Newspapers Limited now accepts that these allegations are entirely untrue. In fact, Mr Watson was not copied into any of the emails exchanged between Mr McBride and Mr Draper. As Mr Watson has already publicly made clear, he had no involvement in or knowledge of the “Red Rag” website and he did not condone the content of the emails and, indeed, regarded them as completely inappropriate.

Associated Newspapers Limited has unreservedly withdrawn the allegations, apologised to Mr Watson for the distress the article caused him and his family and has joined in the reading of the Statement in Open Court today. In addition, Associated Newspapers Limited has agreed to pay Mr Watson substantial damages, together with his legal costs.

28 thoughts on “Press Release”

  1. Well, if you’ve got substaintial damages, treat yourself to something. After all that mudslinging which was headed your way (I remember your twitterings/ locking of updates and the like), which seems to have been without any substance, you deserve some treat. If you’ll excuse the cheekiness, why not buy yourself a big TV – as you’d never get one on expenses these days 🙂

  2. I am a great fan of, and usual defender, of Iain Dale. Clearly in this case he got something very wrong, maybe run away with the story.

  3. Tried to get this comment published on Tom Harris MP’s blog. Inexplicably he didn’t allow it through:

    Today in the high court Iain Dale has been humiliated by admissions of the ‘serious and false’ and ‘entirely untrue’ allegations he made against our colleague Tom Watson.

    I know you’ll join me in congratulating Tom on his hard-won victory against the smear-merchants attempting to traduce his reputation.

    Isn’t it time for those in the Labour movement who maintain inexplicably close links with Dale to reassess them in the cold light of this shocking court admission?

  4. Maybe you should read what Iain Dale said at the time and is saying now. He apologized at the time for the error and is apologizing now. Even though he immediately tried to correct the error in the MoS he is not avoiding responsibility. Presumably this is why Mr Harris has not sued him personally.

    Perhaps some on the left could learn from this approach to mistakes, rather than pretending they never make any.

  5. Thanks for the letter Tom,
    now lets see a robust response to the expenses issues in time for the elections on June 4th.
    Sandwell and West Brom does not need more BNP councillors, specially on the Lyng. So come out fighting!

  6. Iain Dale: “Get your facts right. I apologised directly to Tom on the evening it happened (11 April)”

    Iain Dale: “Sunny, get your facts right. I did apologise to Tom personally by email on 13 April”

    Way to get your facts right, Iain.

    The fact is, Iain did not publish an apology immediately, it took the involvement of lawyers to get him to even admit to being wrong on his site, and he later implied* that by using lawyers Tom had something to hide.

    (*Paul Staines, the most likely source of this false allegation, did the same.)

    Also, while Iain may have withdrawn the allegation from his site rather quickly, it made it to print and was widely repeated, and for over two days he allowed the majority of his readers to continue thinking that Tom had been CCed on those emails. By his own admission, he only brought people up to speed if they emailed him and asked about it.

    The day this news came out, iain responded to someone asking about this press release by referring them to an earlier statement that *again* without evidence alleged Tom Watson’s direct involvement in the ’smeargate’ emails (and was later forced to delete that comment).

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