Judging from the various conversations I’ve had with fellow hacks in the last fortnight, I’d say this is simply not accurate. These were not rumours that were doing the rounds, although there is now a rumour that these smears had their origin in stories that a journalist had tried and failed to stand up.“
“the gossip contained in them was well known to every Westminster hack.”
The most awful thing about smears is that they work. You place an idea in the public’s mind and folk start to think ‘no smoke without fire’ and all that. Whelan’s column, far from being an expression of contrition, is actually an attempt to give these smears some standing.