The news that Damian McBride has resigned is welcome indeed, but it isn't the end of the matter. There are further serious questions which need to be asked, not least about the role of Tom Watson, who sat next to McBride in the Downing Street bunker and was allegedly mentioned in the emails to Derek Draper.
Tom Watson is Minister for the Civil Service. [SECTION DELETED]
Is this really what the Minister for the Civil Service should be doing? He's not some Labour Party hack. He's a Minister of the Crown and responsible for the conduct of all who work in the Civil Service.
And what of Mr Draper. In a performance on Sky News which a psychotherapist would have a field day with, he maintained that these were "private emails between mates". Er, no. They were emails sent on government computers, by a government employee, in government time.
Draper also lied directly to me and also on the DAILY POLITICS (see the video HERE) about the existence of these emails. Today, on LabourList he admits they existed. He says they never saw the light of day. Well, the one which urged him to smear me and instructing him how to do it certainly did.
I have spoken to several Labour MPs over the course of the day. They are all of one mind: that Draper is bringing the Labour Party into disrepute and needs to be disowned.
I'm not holding my breath on that one.
I need a lie down.
(But stay tuned in during the course of the evening... :))
UPDATE Tuesday 11.30am
This is the text of an email I sent to Tom Watson yesterday evening. It is self explanatory. I should add that it was entirely voluntary. No lawyers were involved. I just felt that he was owed an explanation.
I realize I owe you an apology. I had been told on what I thought was on good authority that you had been copied in on McBride’s emails. I posted a blogpost to that effect on Saturday evening at 5.45pm. At 6.11pm on Saturday I had a Twitter exchange with Krishnan Guru Murthy repeating this. At 6.20 I had a call from Paul Staines informing me that I was mistaken and that you had not been copied the emails but had only been mentioned in at least one of them. I immediately reworded the blogpost and wrote a replacement paragraph for the Mail on Sunday column, which was sent to them (see below) at 6.30pm. In retrospect, instead of amending the blogpost I should have written an Update at the bottom. However, I needed to get the Mail on Sunday piece corrected. Unfortunately, despite me sending it in what I assumed to be good time, the change wasn’t made.
Following this, I have never repeated the allegation on any media outlet, and when any journalist has brought it up with me over the last 24 hours I have explained to them what happened.
I felt you still had questions to answer, particularly about whether you knew about the existence of Red Rag. You will appreciate that I was understandably sceptical that you professed to be in complete ignorance of it, as I am aware of your role in a couple of other attack blogs in the past. However, I have now seen your categorical denial on The Stirrer and of course accept your word.
Much has been said and written in the last three days. Most of it has been justified, but I recognize that in this case I got it wrong.
I am very happy to post this email on my blog, as I have a policy of holding my hands up when I get something wrong.
Kind regards Iain