Mensch publishes email to counter reporter’s ‘smear’
MP who quizzed Murdochs and Brooks contacted by journalist and admits taking drugs with Nigel Kennedy
Louise Mensch, one of the MPs who grilled James and Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks over the News International phone hacking scandal, has said that she "probably" took drugs with violinist Nigel Kennedy in a Birmingham jazz bar and once lost her job at EMI because she dressed inappropriately.
She made the admission after receiving an email from an investigative journalist making a series of allegations about her, which date back to the 1990s. It arrived three days after the select committee hearing, prompting fears it could mark the start of a smear campaign.
Mensch, who worked in the music industry and was a 'chick-lit' author before becoming the Conservative MP for Corby in 2010, made the email public after it was sent to her and other senior members of the Tory party including Patrick McLoughlin, the government's chief whip.
In the email, investigative journalist David Jones asked Mensch if she had any comments on the allegations "before we publish the information". The email claimed that Mensch took drugs with Nigel Kennedy at Ronnie Scott's in Birmingham and danced while drunk in front of journalists, wrote parts of her first novel during work hours while at EMI and based a character in the book on Roger Lewis, who was then managing director of EMI and is now head of the Welsh Rugby Union.
Mensch, whose maiden name is Bagshawe, then issued a response in which she said that it was "highly probable" she took drugs with Kennedy. "I was in my twenties, I'm sure it was not the only incident of the kind; we all do idiotic things when young," she said, before apologising for her bad dancing.
She said that she did write some passages of her book while at work, but only outside office hours. Mensch revealed she was fired for different reasons, including "leaving work early", "missing the odd day" and "inappropriate dress".
Addressing the final point she admitted she used the names of many people she knew in her first book, they included Therese Coffey, a fellow MP and colleague on the DCMS select committee.
It has been suggested that the email was designed to smear Mensch. However, she shrugged off the allegations and said: "I'm not going to get drawn into discussing this issue any further. I won't be dragged from looking at the issue of hacking and blagging in the British press."
Her actions in publishing the message and pre-empting any salacious news reports have been widely applauded on Twitter and even on the Labourlist blog. It described the email as "another gruesome dollop of unpleasantness added to an already stinking muck heap of a scandal" but saluted her refusal to be intimidated.
However, Mensch was forced to eat humble pie and apologise to former Mirror editor Piers Morgan for claiming he had admitted to phone hacking during the select committee session on July 19. In a letter to committee chairman John Whittinghdale, which was published today, she said she had misread an article in the Daily Telegraph. ·
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