In today’s Daily Mail gossip columnist Sebastian Shakespeare – the 21st century Nigel Dempster – pens a lazy attack on former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove, who for the past decade has been Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge.
In reporting the alleged embezzlement of £300,000 by a member of the college staff which – Shakespeare jeers – Sir Richard had “failed to spot”, the Mail diarist describes the retired spymaster as “a close confidant of Tony Blair”.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Sir Richard is at present one of Tony Blair’s most dangerous enemies, as he is insisting that the Chilcot Inquiry must pin blame for the media presentation of the WMD ‘dodgy dossier’ on Blair and Alastair Campbell. Sir Richard has warned that if this truth is evaded, he might publish his own account of the period, to enable scholars to assess the truth behind one of the UK’s greatest foreign policy disasters.
Mr Shakespeare’s own sister paper the Mail on Sunday reported this back in July 2013, noting that regarding the supposed intelligence behind the dodgy dossier: “Sir Richard is said to remain extremely aggrieved that this piece of intelligence, which his agents stressed only referred to battlefield munitions which had a much shorter range, led to media reports that UK bases were under threat.”
More recently in July 2014 Sir Richard boldly contradicted the Blairite agenda: in a lecture to the Royal United Service Institute (see video below) he said that the “Islamist threat” to the West had been distorted by government and media. What was actually happening in the Muslim world was a long expected war between Sunni and Shia, which would have a ripple effect on the West.
Perhaps this dangerous enmity between Sir Richard and the Blairite “liberal interventionists” is one reason why the latest story has been spun to the Mail in a frankly absurd fashion: no one who knows anything about Oxbridge colleges would regard the Master as equivalent to a “CEO” or expect him to be personally responsible for tracking down an embezzler on the college staff.
© Thames House Books, 2014
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