Matthew Dancona

Massaging the story

Massaging the story
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Further to James's observations about the Mail on Sunday’s coverage of Lord Levy's book: I was struck, to say the least, by the disclosure that His Lordship was deputed by the Blair inner circle to have a word with the then PM about the lengthy massages he was receiving from Carole Caplin.

The account of the two men's embarrassment during this exchange is intrinsically hilarious, of course. But it also shows that the controversy which quickly became known as 'Cheriegate' - flats bought through convicted conman Peter Foster, his eccentric girlfriend Caplin, her Svengali-like role as style guru to Cherie - could so easily have been 'Tony-gate'. As it was, the PM suffered only collateral damage, as the press piled into his wife, her judgment and the weird New Age practices to which Caplin had introduced her. It did not help that Mrs Blair appeared to have put Number Ten in the position where it seriously misled the press.

The Blairs' professional relationship with Alastair Campbell and his partner Fiona Millar never truly recovered. Cherie was forced to make a traumatic speech in public. Yet the focus of the press - the Big Story - could have so easily been something altogether different. Couldn't it?