Given that Lord Ashcroft and David Cameron are known not to be on the friendliest of terms, the former Conservative Party deputy chairman's biography of the Prime Minister was never going to be a puff piece. Yet Steerpike suspects that even Cameron will be taken aback by today's Daily Mail front page:
The first part of the paper's serialisation of Call Me Dave looks into a young Cameron's days at Oxford university. First though Ashcroft details his feud with Cameron, explaining that their relationship turned sour after he failed to make good on a promise to offer the Tory donor a top job if elected. However, after today's excerpt Mr S suspects that Cameron may have made a wise call by not appointing Ashcroft to a senior government role. His response to the snub appears to be to publish a story from an unnamed source on Cameron's alleged intimate relations with a dead pig.
Ashcroft writes that as well as the Bullingdon Club, Cameron got involved in the Piers Gaveston dining society which 'specialises in bizarre rituals and sexual excess':
'A distinguished Oxford contemporary claims Cameron once took part in an outrageous initiation ceremony at a Piers Gaveston event, involving a dead pig. His extraordinary suggestion is that the future PM inserted a private part of his anatomy into the animal’s mouth. The source — himself an MP — first made the allegation out of the blue at a business dinner in June 2014. Lowering his voice, he claimed to have seen photographic evidence of this disgusting ritual.'
Ashcroft says he had presumed the claim was a joke until the same source later repeated the story on two more occasions:
'Some months later, he repeated it a third time, providing a little more detail. The pig’s head, he claimed, had been resting on the lap of a Piers Gaveston society member while Cameron performed the act. The MP also gave us the dimensions of the alleged photograph, and provided the name of the individual who he claims has it in his keeping. The owner, however, has failed to respond to our approaches. Perhaps it is a case of mistaken identity. Yet it is an elaborate story for an otherwise credible figure to invent. Furthermore, there are a number of accounts of pigs’ heads at debauched parties in Cameron’s day.'
With a No.10 spokesman declining to comment on the alleged incident, Steerpike suspects that if the original tip had made it's way to a tabloid they may have required more evidence before going to print with the claim. Still, should Jeremy Corbyn decide to revert to 'Punch and Judy' politics at the next PMQs he now knows where to begin.