Downing Street defence of Chris Pincher appointment in tatters

Simon McDonald, the former permanent secretary at the foreign office, is totally blowing up Downing Street’s defence of Chris Pincher’s appointment as deputy chief whip.

He is saying Boris Johnson was personally briefed by the Cabinet Office of a specific complaint against Pincher - which would mean the prime minister’s official spokesperson has been grotesquely misleading political journalists (the lobby) for days when saying the PM was told of no specific allegations against Pincher.

Trust between lobby journalists and Downing Street is now stretched to breaking point, especially after the way the lobby was misled by official spokespeople about Downing Street parties.

This is a serious problem for both the PM and Whitehall, since the prime minister’s official spokesperson is a career civil servant.The prime minister’s official spokesperson has the hideous dilemma today of deciding whether or not to reveal whether he was misled, and that was the reason he misled journalists.

And the problem for Johnson is that on his watch these dilemmas have afflicted a number of those he employs.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know