JOHN HUMPHRYS: But first, the man who broke
the story, the Political Editor of The Spectator, Peter Oborne. Peter
Oborne, still no proof that Tony Blair tried to get a bigger role for himself
at the funeral?
PETER OBORNE: I think there is proof and
I have no doubt there is proof. The last story that he tried to muscle
was right. The proof is there in the Downing Street document on Friday,
actually, when we learned that the Prime Minister rang up..the Prime Minister's
office, Black Rod was rung up while he was waiting at the North Door of
Westminster Hall and informed that the Prime Minister was going to come
down into the North Door and he said, apparently, here the accounts diverge,
the Prime Minister's office..the rebuttal document which they published
on Friday says that Black Rod said go ahead. The Mail on Sunday account
of Black Rod's killer memo says that Black Rod urged against it. Whatever
way, whatever..whether Downing Street is telling the truth or whether Black
Rod's memo is the truth, there's no question that this attempt...that it
was talked about on the..actually on the day when they..actually as they
were waiting for the Queen Mother's cortege to arrive, that this telephone
HUMPHRYS: And yet, Black Rod himself
has said 'at no stage' and this is a direct quote from him 'at no stage
was I asked to change the arrangements' - end of story surely?
OBORNE: That's very interesting
that. I think it did cause..he made that statement, under pressure I think
from Downing Street, the day, I think that The Spectator was published.
According to the Mail on Sunday account of the memo, he says that that
was a form of words that actually..that was strictly true but there was
this constant pressure, these endless questions, I've got them here: what's
the PM's role; won't the PM be meeting the coffin and surely the PM meets
the Queen. I mean you have this series, although there wasn't actually
a request to change, you get this intense pressure and these dozen telephone
calls made in those few days leading up to the lying in State.
HUMPHRYS: And the Press Complaints
Commission itself says none of the three publications involved who carried
this story, had produced evidence in their defence that Blair himself was
in any way involved in any of this.
OBORNE: This is the form of words
agreed between the PCC and Downing Street in order to get, to give some
sort of fig leaf to Downing Street's climbdown and decision to withdraw
its complaint to the PCC about us and what they said was and it was a disingenuous
formula, which is we have climbed down from an ascertain that the Prime
Minister was personally involved. We never said that the Prime Minister
was personally involved, my story and I think the Mail on Sunday's story
was that officials ringing up from Downing Street....
HUMPHRYS: But the headlines said
'Blair says this', 'Blair tries that', I mean the implication is perfectly
OBORNE: Well, official rings up
from the Prime Minister's private office in Downing Street, they're not
ringing up on their own behalf, they're ringing up with the authority of
a Prime Minister.
HUMPHRYS: It's all a right wing
plot is what some people say. Look at the publications that it's been in,
The Spectator - a Conservative newspaper, a Conservative magazine. The
Mail on Sunday, ditto.
OBORNE: I'm actually very amused
by this. This thesis suggests they are into advanced dementia. There's
Jack Straw saying we're trying character assassination. We've got one Sunday
paper, a left wing Sunday paper calls me Tory lickspittle today. I've
just say one thing, when The Spectator broke the story, my story, the story
I wrote, that Michael Ashcroft was funding the Tory party, do you remember
the trouble that caused, we put that on the front page. We put that,
we put it right up on the front page of The Spectator. When we ran this
story, we didn't think it was all that important, we didn't even put it
on the front page. We are not motivated by political malice or anything
like that. We are journalists trying to bring facts to the light of the
general public. That is our job and I am not a member of the Tory party,
never been a member of the Tory party, I've written loads of stories which
are deeply wounding to the Tory party and I've never been accused by them
of being part of a left wing plot and I..they are just confounding, they
think, they have a sort of curious, Manichaean view of the world, good
and evil and that they....and actually we just go about doing our necessary,
but not particularly grand job of journalism, of ferreting out the facts.
HUMPHRYS: Right, thanks very much