Downing Street has reportedly denied that Boris Johnson is to sue publication The New European over claims it also denies that he said he had “buyer’s remorse” about his marriage to Carrie Johnson.
The publication said it had been threatened a legal walloping because it published a story by James Ball, claiming the PM made the comments at a dinner, hosted by Daily Telegraph columnist Charles Moore at the all-male Garrick Club, after he was asked by an attendee how he was enjoying family life. (And yes, that’s the dinner Johnson left Cop26 to attend – on a private jet).
According to the piece, his comments ruffled feathers and one dinner guest allegedly told The New European: “Clearly he just assumed he was amongst friends, but it was a remarkable thing to say and there were a number of raised eyebrows around the table.”
The story also went viral on social media, and numerous high profile journalists shared it:
Later, the paper said Johnson was on the defensive.
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Another article published by the website claimed that a Number 10 Downing Street press officer called The New European‘s editor-in-chief Matt Kelly at 10.30pm on Thursday night announcing that the story was untrue, defamatory and that the Prime Minister is taking legal action against the newspaper.
“The Prime Minister did not make this remark. The allegation is untrue and defamatory,” they said the spokesperson then said via text.
“The New European stands by our story,” it wrote.
Meanwhile, Daily Mirror editor Kevin Maguire said Johnson had “lost the plot” if he was suing them.
But all may not be as it seems. The No 10 press office told Press Gazette the threat of legal action was untrue, as was the original comment reported. “He [Johnson] never said that,” they said.
This was corroborated by other journalists who appeared to have been in contact with Downing Street.
In a statement, Kelly recounted the odd series of events and also confirmed Downing Street had since denied threatening legal action:
He said: “I now understand Downing Street denies they threatened legal action, to which all I can say is I stand by our story, and our story about the story. If Boris Johnson changes his mind again and decides to sue, we’ll see him in court.
“Should the veracity of this account be challenged, I do, of course, have the texts.”
What a mess. Indy100 has contacted Downing Street and The New European to comment on this story.