Quarantine article by Dominic Cummings ' wife reported to regulator
Public complain to Ipso about Mary Wakefield’s Spectator column describing ‘emerging into London lockdown’
The column by the magazine’s commissioning editor, Mary Wakefield, about life with her husband, Dominic Cummings, was classic material for the high-Tory magazine: confessional and full of personal details about individuals at the top of British politics, earning the interest of Radio 4’s Today programme, which asked her to read out key details.
Never mind that the couple originally emerged from self-isolation in Durham, where they’d travelled during lockdown. And that they had made a 60-mile round trip to a beauty spot to check Cummings’ eyesight, too – both points that were absent from the article.
The Spectator, owned by the warring Barclay brothers, is at the centre of a web connecting Cummings, Wakefield – and the prime minister himself.On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Ipso, the press regulator which covers the Spectator, told the Guardian it had received two complaints from members of the public about potential factual inaccuracies in the 1,000-word column by Wakefield, which will mean the magazine will have to justify the article and could result in it being required to publish a correction.
In the process, the Spectator has found itself at the centre of yet another scandal at the heart of Conservative politics. Despite its relatively niche status – its 80,000 print and digital subscribers make it a financial success but give it a limited readership in the scale of modern media – its influence and connections to the current government and wider media world are substantial.
Wakefield herself is a fixture of the magazine, having first written for it two decades ago when, just after university, she won a travel writing prize. The editor at the time – and one of the judges – was an up-and-coming journalist and would-be Tory MP called Boris Johnson, who was already setting about making the magazine a byword for Westminster intrigue with his colourful love life and public apologies during an era which saw the magazine dubbed the “Sextator” for his and others’ antics.
The daughter of a baronet, Wakefield grew up at Chillingham Castle – a large country house deep in the Northumberland countryside, an hour’s drive north of Newcastle. Her father, formerly employed by the auction house Christie’s, took possession of the property in the early 1980s and painstakingly restored it after it had been derelict for 50 years. The house is so grand that it was used as the set for key scenes in the 1997 film Elizabeth, starring Cate Blanchett.
After rising quickly up the Spectator’s ranks to become deputy editor, Wakefield has remained a core part of the Spectator team, albeit with a limited public profile. One former colleague praised her editing skills and suggested she had a different political approach to her husband, describing her as a “compassionate conservative” who is less involved in aggressive day-to-day politics than the journalistic partners of other leading politicians. “She isn’t Sarah Vine [wife of Michael Gove, and a Daily Mail columnist] ... she’s just his wife, she loves him, she’s got her own thing, they’re very different,” the former colleague said.
Wakefield, 45, has so far worked under three editors and stayed on when the current boss, Fraser Nelson, was appointed in 2010, despite herself being viewed as a potential candidate for the top job. “I think in a different world she might have been the first female editor of the Spectator,” said the former colleague.
Her career as a journalist at a politics-heavy magazine is perhaps ironic, given her husband’s public insistence that he thinks little of the profession and political reporters in particular.However, biographies of Cummings often overlook his brief journalism career at the Spectator. In 2006 the future prime ministerial aide left his position as the magazine’s online boss after he briefly published a cartoon on the Spectator’s website of the prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban, following the lead of a Danish newspaper which had prompted an international row about the limits of free speech.
“I didn’t think it was a wise thing,” said the then acting editor Stuart Reid.In another sign of the magazine’s role at the centre of a web of political connections, his departure was ultimately overseen by the Spectator chairman, Andrew Neil, who continues to hold the role at the Barclay Brothers-owned magazine in addition to his job as a BBC political interviewer.
When Cummings was contacted by the Guardian in 2006 to clarify his role at the Spectator and the decision to publish the drawing, he said: “I have zero comment.” Fourteen years later, No 10 gave similar responses on his behalf to requests for comment from Guardian reporters on whether he had travelled to Durham during lockdown in late March.
Wakefield has so far remained silent on the apparent lockdown breach, other than favouriting a number of supportive tweets suggesting the media were exaggerating the importance of the incident. A spokesperson for the Spectator, which has carried comment pieces arguing that Cummings must be sacked, said: “We are happy to let our coverage speak for itself.”
One of the unanswered questions about the incident is why Cummings felt the need to check his eyesight by driving to Barnard Castle, rather than ask his wife to take the wheel on the long drive down the A1 back to London. Wakefield herself is known to have driven: the award-winning travel writing piece that helped her get the Spectator job describes her driving across Texas.
You couldn't make it up. So she left a couple of bits out if her column. Now let's get this right telling lies about them, spreading false rumours and harassment to his family is ok then. At least we know. While we are concerned about media accuracy ... why the constant references to “Cummings’ parents’ farm”? As the Guardian reported last August, Dominic co-owns the farm. He and Mary in fact visited their second home.
How come Neither Dominic Cummings nor Mary Wakefield who have known Johnson since he was editor at the Spectator could have told Johnson of their fear of being infected or asked him for help The links don't work though. Funny eh. Censorship. The mind boggles The whole deck of cards is ready to fold Report on this instead.
You'll find Andrew Neil, Fraser Nelson, Barclay Bros, Johnson, Gove and wife an incestuous mix of people you love to dislike including Cummings and his wife who actually wrote the article but with NO MENTION OF DURHAM TRIP!!! All in all privilege intrigue elite influences Leave him alone! Big questions should arise from this about the extent to which serious minded magazine articles featuring personal testimony need to be rooted in reality. To what extent can a ‘personal account’ be ‘tweaked’ before it enters “as imagined” territory, or even satire / fiction.
‘In 2006 the future prime ministerial aide left his position as the magazine’s online boss after he briefly published a cartoon on the Spectator’s website of the prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban’ simple question - can Dominic Cummings's wife not drive? why this becomes news for so long in the media coverage? Pls report something more important like convid-19 coronavirus itself. How to save life etc!
Possible Cummings hit stories: “Cumming’s son unable to spell quarantine, Johnson refuses to address the nation“. “Cummings doubles down on barbaric non vegan unsustainable lifestyle after streaky bacon packet found in his bin. George Monbiot to address nation 9pm live-stream” Грустная новость This all goes a lot deeper than people realise. The Spectator editors journalists & columnists are running the country: 1. D. Cummings was online editor until his depiction of prophet Muhammad which saw his departure 2. BoJo was editor 3. Cummings’ wife been there for years 🤔
Good Tory scum Guardian faux journalists be like... Whhhhhhhhhhhhhhy isn't Boris sacking him? How many papers does this rag sell ? I did read that it’s dropping How disappointed the Guardian must be that their hatchet job on Cummings has failed. Cummings fever is going into full blown epidemic mode ! How female writers get represented. I don't agree with Mary Wakefield's actions, or share her politics, but this is ridiculous. The title describes her as 'Cumming's wife'. The photos are all of men, with just one blurry shot of Wakefield in the background. Do better
Oh dear. It’s almost as if the public don’t believe them. Lying bastards the pair of them. You know America is on fire bc of police brutality, right? And Toronto
Cummings made ‘mockery’ of public health advice, experts say after failure to apologise for Durham trip - follow liveFollow all the latest development as the Dominic Cummings scandal unfolds He’s made fools of us all Oh another Labour supporter Should be jailed.
Dominic Cummings crisis: Government minister RESIGNS over Durham row - Boris under fireGOVERNMENT minister Douglas Ross has resigned following the Dominic Cummings crisis. What a CHUCK! Well if he has not got the BALLS for the job maybe its best if he resigns I hope the UK has more prescient matters at hand than.... “some bloke going to his 2nd home..”🙄 Virtue signaling at its finest.
'Rising Tory revolt' and families to be 'reunited'The latest developments of the Dominic Cummings row are the focus of many of Wednesday's newspapers. Two labour mps broke lockdown tony lloyd and stephen kinnock. Also snp idiot blandford. Dont see this on bbc. Or that covid has patents and is chimeric gain of function research. DOMENIC CUMINGS IS AN HERO!!! Yep we're all on the same side, the poor on this side, and the rich and powerful on the other protected by our herd immunity and a different rule book. Which only cost us 50,000 lives!
The Coronavirus Newscast - Is this the way to Barnard Castle? - BBC SoundsOn the latest CoronavirusNewscast: ❌ A government minister resigns over the Dominic Cummings row 📱 What could an immunity passport look like? We chat through with taavet 💰 Everything you ever wanted to know about Mudlarking Listen on bbcsounds taavet BBCSounds taavet BBCSounds Well, the has finally shown its real face by using the red X of rectocephaly taavet BBCSounds Полностью с вами с согласна
'Cummings defence' could be used in court by people accused of breaking lockdown‘A client will say in court, “I had childcare difficulties just like Dominic Cummings ”.’ Boring Yep that's wot I said as soon as seen the excuses well now the excuses from the Tories has backfired and a little bit of justice for the people now real justice would be dominic Cummings sacked along with boris the clown with the rest of the Tory clowns And if they can evidence it, then no rules broken! Time to move on! Focus should be getting out of this COVID-19 shit show and think about how we get the country functioning again!
Coronavirus news you may have missed overnightRow over Dominic Cummings lockdown breaches continues to dominate headlines in UK I really dont think we have 🤨 Why should it?He has cause so much pain and misery. Do we live in a democracy or a dictatorship?