Minister Without Portfolio Kenneth Clarke. Photo: Wikimedia
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Ken Clarke’s spectacularly unhelpful interview

The Minister Without Portfolio took a swipe at the Prime Minister.

Tory grandee Ken Clarke turned up on the BBC’s World at One at lunchtime to have a concerted dig at David Cameron.

He pronounced it "unwise" for the Prime Minister to have made a statement yesterday apologising for hiring Andy Coulson, after the former aide was found guilty of conspiring to hack phones when he was editor of the News of the World.

Clarke asserted: “It’s clear that nobody took legal advice,” adding "I doubt whether it ever crossed David's mind" to seek legal counsel. In fact, Cameron had consulted the Attorney General, gaining the best legal advice in the nation.

Upon being told this, Clarke simply muttered "I seem to be agreeing with the judge", alluding to the criticism heaped on Cameron by the judge in the phone hacking trial in court yesterday.

Mr Justice Saunders questioned the Prime Minister for making a "full and frank" apology while the jury was still deliberating on two further charges on Coulson. He said:
 

I asked for an explanation from the Prime Minister as to why he had issued his statement while the jury were still considering verdicts" the judge, John Saunders, said in court.

"My sole concern is to ensure that justice is done. Politicians have other imperatives and I understand that. Whether the political imperative was such that statements could not await all the verdicts, I leave to others to judge."

If Clarke’s comments on the hacking verdict were not barbed enough, he then proceeded to take a swipe at Cameron for his tough stance against Jean-Claude Juncker, the leading candidate for the European Commission presidency.

Clarke said:

I’m one of the few people that has met Jean-Claude Juncker. Nobody knows exactly what he is supposed to have done wrong. The idea he’s an arch-federalist is slightly exaggerated. He’s not an arch-villain.”

Speculation is rife in Westminster that Clarke knows his head will roll in the imminent reshuffle. The Minister Without Portfolio came under fire from Labour earlier this year when it emerged that he had cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds despite not attending to any specific brief in government.

It emerged that the 73-year-old, who has spent 24 years in ministerial office in total, still had his own spin doctor, up to three officials working for him and went on nine foreign trips in less than a year.

Lucy Fisher writes about politics and is the winner of the Anthony Howard Award 2013. She tweets @LOS_Fisher.

 

Anoosh Chakelian/Mail screengrab
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The Daily Mail attacks its own campaign over Guantanamo Bay story

“Utter hypocrisy.”

Fresh from planning the metropolitan liberal revolution, in which he called on Britain to “rise up” against Brexit, everyone’s favourite former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair has waded into public discourse again. This time, to attack the Daily Mail.

The Mail’s front page story today – headlined “I.S. Suicide Bomber You Paid £1million” – condemns “intense lobbying from Tony Blair’s government” for the release of a British-born Guantanamo detainee called Jamal al-Harith (or Ronald Fiddler, the name he was given at birth) in 2004, who has committed a suicide attack on behalf of Islamic State.

Blair is enraged by the “utter hypocrisy” of the paper – it was the Mail that led a campaign for al-Harith’s release at the time, running an article headlined “Freedom At Last For Guantanamo Britons” when he was freed.

“I would not normally respond to daily stories about events which happened during my time in office but on this occasion I will do so, given the utter hypocrisy with which this story is being covered,” Blair comments in a post on his website.

“It is correct that Jamal al-Harith was released from Guantanamo Bay at the request of the British Government in 2004. This followed a Parliamentary and massive media campaign, led by the Daily Mail, the very paper that is now supposedly so outraged at his release and strongly supported by the then Conservative Opposition.”

He also points out that the Jihadi, who blew himself up in Iraq this week, was paid compensation under the Tory government in 2010.

 

Your mole realises that this story will cause much heartache for its leftier readers – so do address your dilemma by telling us who you side with in this Alien vs. Predator setup:

 

I'm a mole, innit.