Steerpike

Why does Nicholas ‘fatty’ Soames want to muzzle the press over gastric band surgery?

Why does Nicholas 'fatty' Soames want to muzzle the press over gastric band surgery?
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A few weeks ago, the Sunday Times had an amusing story by the estimable Tim Shipman about Nicholas Soames MP having lost weight - thanks (it was rumoured) to a new gastric band. All very jolly, but it seems to have sent Soames into a fury. He’s no fan of press freedom (he was one of the MPs who was urging Cameron to adopt state regulation) and complained to IPSO, the new regulator, about an invasion of his privacy. Weirdly, it upheld his complaint (in a ruling that repeated the very information he wanted repressed). Worse, the offending article appears to have been purged from the Sunday Times website.

This is a worrying development, whose significance goes far beyond Soames' dieting tips. The main function of a press regulator is to protect the public, not to protect politicians from appearing in gossip columns.

And why might Fatty Soames be sensitive about newspaper gossip? This snippet from the Daily Express may offer a clue…

When Soames started baiting the women who came into parliament as members of Labour’s 1997 intake by cupping his hands to form imaginary breasts then wiggling them and muttering “melons”, they hatched a counter-offensive. Mindful of the wardrobe story, they would mime the turning of a small key and shouting ‘Click’ whenever he rose to speak.

And why ‘click’? Because of the anonymous woman who confessed that having sex with him was “like having a double wardrobe fall on top of you with a very small key sticking out”. This has gone on to become one of the most famous and enduring quotes in recent parliamentary history.

Mr S is not sure what sound a gastric band makes, but it seems that Fatty Soames has had enough of the mockery. And in IPSO, it seems, he finally has a regulator to help shield him from it.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from London and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk.

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