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The Old Un's Note

Old Un's Notes | May 2018

The Old Un reveals the £4.15 bill that was the cheapest scoop in Fleet Street history

Miles Goslett is the investigative journalist who first exposed the wicked ways of Jimmy Savile in The Oldie. As he wrote in the Spring issue of the magazine, he also first sensed something was wrong with the children’s charity Kids Company at the Oldie of the Year lunch in 2014.

Now he has written An Inconvenient Death: How the Establishment Covered Up the David Kelly Affair. Readers of The Oldie helped to raise £40,000 for a judicial review of the decision forbidding a coroner’s inquest into Dr Kelly’s death.

One of the book’s gripping revelations is the £4.15 scoop that launched the whole tragic affair. That was the cost of the Coca-Cola and the Appletise that Andrew Gilligan, then the defence correspondent of the Today programme, bought at the Charing Cross Hotel on 22nd May 2003. 

Gilligan was buying the drinks for himself and Kelly. And, in return, according to Gilligan, Kelly ‘allegedly then went on to tell Gilligan that there was considerable unease within the intelligence services about the accuracy of a dossier published by the British government on 24th September 2002’. This dossier – called ‘Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, the Assessment of the British Government’ – made the infamous claim that Iraq could deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes.

Does that £4.15 bill make Gilligan’s story the cheapest scoop in Fleet Street history? The dossier exposing the 2009 MPs’ expenses scandal cost the Daily Telegraph £110,000 – cheap at the price, given the scoop’s impact.

Then again, the British Press Awards Scoop of the Year the previous year cost absolutely nothing. That was the 2008 story about Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross making obscene phone calls to Andrew Sachs. The reporter got the scoop just by listening to the Radio 2 show, for free.

And the name of that reporter? Miles Goslett.

This story was from May 2018 issue. Subscribe Now