How the Daily Mirror works

There was a curious story in the Daily Mirror over the weekend. It incorrectly refers to Chevening as ‘Nick Clegg’s estate’, and ‘the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister’s land’ when it is, of course, a property owned by the Government. It is usually made available to the Foreign Secretary so s/he can entertain Foreign ministers in some privacy.

During this Parliament the Foreign Secretary has shared the use of Chevening with the Deputy Prime Minister. After all, it would not be appropriate for either of them to invite national and community leaders to their private homes. The property is also used for Government conferences from time to time.

So having got that out of the way, what is happening? It seems that an Esso oil pipeline runs under the estate, and that 1.4 million gallons of fuel, worth £8 million, were siphoned off by criminals from the pipeline in 2014. There is a on-going police investigation and they have just released photos of two suspects.

The Mirror reports on a criminal case, but takes the opportunity to use weasel words, alongside photos of the house, to imply that Nick Clegg owns the estate and lives a life of luxury there. OK, no surprises that the Mirror knocks Clegg, but I just wanted to make the point, yet again, that the media opposition to the Liberal Democrats is sometimes expressed in quite subtle ways.

There was a more balanced account of the original discovery on BBC News.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • Mary, The Mirror may have embroidered this story as your article implies.
    However, the use of Chevening House by Nick Clegg over the last five years has not been exactly as  you describe it in your article.

    The fact is that there have been quite a lot of guests who have been to Chevening following an invitation  from Nick Clegg who are anything but representatives of visiting foreign governments.   

    Talented and entertaining though Claire Balding is she has not so far become head of state or foreign secretary of a leading world power (unless you count BT Sport as a leading world power).

    Annie Lennox may have an accent from North of the Border but she does not come from a foreign land.

    Anyone interested in who Nick Clegg has had at Chevening can find out because his guests are listed and available to the public  in answer to Freedom of Information questions.   Here is an example of the guest list provided in response to one such question and a press report–

    If LDV is going to criticise The Mirror  for being unbalanced then it is important that we get the facts straight to set them a good example.   🙂

    BTE —  My invitation for a weekend of fun and frolics in the splendid surroundings of Chevening must have got lost in the post. 

    I told the not to sell off the Royal Mail but … .. .

  • John – you misrepresent me.

    I referred to Foreign Secretaries entertaining Foreign ministers and was quite aware that Nick would not have used it for the same purpose. Read my post again and you’ll see that I only linked him with national and community leaders. I didn’t embellish that phrase but of course it would have included broadcasters, entertainers and others in the public eye, that is, people exactly like Claire Balding and Annie Lennox.

    Sadly I haven’t been invited either …

  • Tony Dawson 26th Jan '15 - 8:17pm

    Surely, not being invited to this rotting remnant of a bygone age and attitude is a badge of honour?

    As, of course, is being defamed by the Mirror! 😉

  • Mary,
    Apologies. When I read your words “national leaders” I took that to mean leaders of other nations. My mistake.

    Nevertheless, I think people will find it enlightening to read the actual list of guests —

  • Simon McGrath 27th Jan '15 - 8:41am

    @john – areyou suggesting the the DPM should not entertain distinguished people from the UK ? Or what ?

  • David Boothroyd 27th Jan '15 - 10:14am

    Given this whinge about a news report which “incorrectly refers to Chevening as ‘Nick Clegg’s estate’”, can you remind me whether you complained about the stories in 1997 over refurbishment of the Lord Chancellor’s apartments within the Palace of Westminster? Practically all the stories referred to it as if it was owned by Derry Irvine; almost none acknowledged that it was simply occupied by him while he was Lord Chancellor.

  • Nick Thorne 27th Jan '15 - 5:56pm

    Chevening House and the 3,500 acre Chevening Estate are not owned by the Government as you state. They were left by the late Earl Stanhope in trust with various potential occupiers specified in the trust deed, and the owners are therefore the Trustees. I would think most people would describe having the use of the house and grounds as being a “luxury”!

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