It has been a ruff time in No. 10 for poor old Dilyn the dog. Adopted in September 2019, the Jack Russell-cross has been the subject of interminable briefing wars about his constant yapping, destructive tendencies and attempts to fornicate with his next door neighbour. But while not everyone in Downing Street is smitten with the sex-crazed mutt, Dilyn is fortunate in having an ardent champion in owner Carrie Symonds who clearly takes his welfare very seriously.
Just yesterday Mr S noted how a March 2020 story in the Times that suggested Dilyn might be rehomed had been unceremoniously purged from the newspaper's website. Now it seems fresh light has been shed on the lengths Symonds was willing to go to defend her pooch, with the Daily Mail today printing a letter she drafted demanding a 'suitable apology' from the Times.
The 325 word letter – obtained by the remorseless Simon Walters – was drafted in the names of Symonds and Boris Johnson but was not sent after the latter reportedly objected on the grounds it was a 'nonsense.' Walters quotes a source who claims Johnson did not complain about the report as 'it was essentially true' because 'at one stage there was talk of getting rid of Dilyn. Carrie loves the dog but Boris has never been a fan. It drives him round the bend.'
Sadly the complaint never graced the august letter pages of our paper of record. Highlights include Symonds claiming the article breached not one but four sections of the Editors' Code of Practice for the Independent Press Standards Organisation including accuracy, privacy, harassment and children. The Times was guilty of a 'gross invasion of our privacy;' it was 'extremely upsetting and hurtful' and caused 'damage' with these 'untrue and unwarranted claims.'
The note closes with a request that 'we look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency' – this at a time when the first Covid wave was beginning to break on Britain's shores. You can read the letter in full below:
We write further to an article on 11 March 2020 entitled 'Dilyn the Downing Street dog to be reshuffled'.
This article is based on a wholly false premise and contains a number of highly inaccurate claims published in spite of categorical on the record denials by Downing St.
To be absolutely clear, it is completely false to allege that Dilyn will be rehoused now or at any point in the future.
Furthermore, it is also totally untrue to suggest that he suffers from chronic ill-health.
Dilyn is and always will be a much-loved member of our family. He is a happy and healthy dog and making a claim to the contrary is entirely without foundation.
The article also makes a number of highly inaccurate damaging allegations about our home and private life.
These are not only false but a gross invasion of our privacy.
Despite our complaint, the paper has refused to publish a suitable apology and correction.
The article is extremely upsetting and hurtful, particularly given our well-documented commitment to animal welfare.
As a result of publication of the article we have received and continue to receive abuse from concerned members of the public misled into believing that we would callously rehome our much-loved family dog.
It is hugely disappointing that you have failed to take responsibility for the damage you have caused by publishing these untrue and unwarranted claims.
We have been offered the opportunity to have a letter published outlining our position. This is inadequate and unacceptable.
Despite our best efforts towards amicable resolution, we have no option but to pursue the matter formally with IPSO (the Independent Press Standards Organisation) for full and proper recourse.
The article is in breach of the Editor's Code of Practice in terms of Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 3 (Harassment) and Clause 6 (Children).
We look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency.
Boris and Carrie