The wife of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Carrie (neé Symonds), faces further scandal after allegedly demanding negative press stories about her and her husband were removed from British newspapers and their websites. The news comes at one of the worst periods for Johnson’s government, with immigration soaring and a recent “no confidence” vote in the Prime Minister which yielded a worse result than his deposed predecessor Theresa May.
On Saturday morning, The Times of London ran with a bombshell scoop by veteran reporter Simon Walters, entitled “Johnson tried to give Carrie top Foreign Office job during affair”.
The story alleged that during their extra-marital, undisputed affair, Boris Johnson (then Foreign Secretary) attempted to give his lover, Carrie, a six-figure job in the same Foreign and Commonwealth Office that he ran, the U.S. equivalent of the State Department. The ‘Chief of Staff’ role would have come with significant access to sensitive government information, as well as the ability to set policy at a high-level. The move was vetoed by staff who were aware of the pair’s affair, and how it might compromise one of the most senior diplomats in the United Kingdom as a result, Walters alleged in his article.
But within hours the article had been removed from The Times, the Daily Mail, and MSN.com amongst others. Even the secondary print edition of The Times had replaced the story with a pro-government article about immigration policy.
This is The Times newspaper. The picture on the left is from a surpressed version of the paper that went out by mistake. The image on the right is what they replaced it with. #ToryFascistDictatorship #ToryCorruption #TheTimes #BorisJohnson #CarrieSymonds #carriejohnson pic.twitter.com/bRvqbkQ1GB
— Becky (@Becky_Padovani) June 19, 2022
Strangely still, neither papers issued corrections, retractions, notes from editors, or otherwise explanations about what had happened. The story just disappeared from the press, all at once – in an unprecedented fashion.
Former Times reporter David Hewson noted on Twitter: “As someone who reporting for the Times got things wrong once or twice let me tell you what happens. We publish a correction. We don’t pretend the original story never happened. And the idea of deleting it entirely from the public record. Well…”
As someone who reporting for the Times got things wrong once or twice let me tell you what happens. We publish a correction. We don't pretend the original story never happened. And the idea of deleting it entirely from the public record. Well…
— David Hewson (@david_hewson) June 18, 2022
Carrie – a friend and fan of the Biden family, who also worked at a Clinton Foundation think tank – is well known for cajoling close friends in the press for positive coverage. But veteran reporter Simon Walters told The New European newspaper that he “stand[s] by the story 100 per cent,” adding:
“I was in lengthy and detailed communication with No 10 [The Prime Minister’s Office] at a high level, Ben Gascoigne and Mrs Johnson’s spokeswoman for up to 48 hours before the paper went to press. At no point did any of them offer an on-the-record denial of any element of the story.”
Walters concluded: “Nor have any of these three offered an on-the-record denial to me since. No 10 and Mr Gascoigne did not deny it off-the-record either.”
But the Johnsons’s attempts to keep yet another scandal about their relationship off newspaper pages appears to have backfired.
By Sunday evening, UK time, the phrases #carriejohnson and ‘The Times’ were both trending online, eliciting far more views that those who would’ve seen the story on page five of The Times‘ Saturday newspaper.
With the Conservative Party around seven points behind the Labour Party in averaged national polling, and a recent no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister going worse than Boris Johnson had hoped, this latest “Carrie Antoinette” scandal could well bring the current British government down.
The National Pulse first reported on the scandal-ridden Symonds and her impending impact on British politics in February 2021. The British press caught up some six months later.