Correspondence with Downing Street, Government Departments, Ministers, MPs and Others
We have taken great care to be fair and accurate in all our analysis. This has meant sending letters to every MP, minister or civil servant who we accuse of lying, or making a false or misleading statement. Some of them have written back quickly and helpfully and we have taken into account their responses and have either amended or (in one case) removed entirely what we have written.
Others obfuscated. For instance, we sent a list of five misleading statements to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Rather than attempt to provide a serious response, they gave us this communication:
“These claims are wrong and without merit. The FCDO responds in a truthful and transparent way to all media, respecting their role in public scrutiny.”
We have appended this (highly questionable) statement at the end of each entry concerning the FCDO.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was tricky. We contacted his parliamentary office, who advised us to speak to the Ministry of Defence. But when we spoke to the Ministry of Defence, they urged us to send our requests to Mr Wallace’s parliamentary office. After a lot of unnecessary effort, we eventually established that Mr Wallace had no comment to make.
We sent a long list of falsehoods and misleading statements to the office of Matt Hancock in the House of Commons. Mr Hancock’s Office replied with the following statement:
“On background, this list is false, wildly inaccurate, and in some cases possibly even defamatory. For example claiming that some of Matt's claims in the Commons were in defiance of the ministerial code, when they were in fact accurate. The priority throughout this unprecedented pandemic has been saving lives”
We wrote back, saying:
“The overriding desire in this website is to be honest, straightforward and balanced. Can you please be much more precise where you say our list is “false, wildly inaccurate” or “defamatory”? We will pay attention to all of your points, and take them carefully into consideration. However your generalised observations as they stand do not help.”
We have ignored the impertinent pronouncement from Mr Hancock’s office that his response should remain “on background.” While background conversations can and do regularly take place between politicians and reporters, this only happens after prior agreement. It cannot be arbitrarily imposed by either party- least of all when making what looks like a legal threat.
But at least Mr Wallace and Mr Hancock replied to us. Many did not. In all cases, however, we have sent them, or their offices, at least two emails with a follow up call to ensure that the emails have been received.
People who have not answered can be divided into two categories:
1. Those who either confirmed they have received our list, or whose offices we spoke to directly on the phone, but have still not answered:
The Home Office
The Conservative Party
2. Those who received emails and/or telephone calls but did not respond:
*Mr Rees-Mogg responded by telephone at an early stage of our investigation, boldly proclaiming: “No surrender.” He failed to answer later communications as this project drew near to completion.
In all cases, we are more than happy to amend the website if those cited want to make a response or have reasonable grounds to feel that they have been treated unfairly. We have gone to enormous lengths to ensure that this document is as accurate as possible, and we will correct any errors as and when they are brought to our attention.