(Peter Stanford’s approach to Darius Guppy came in the form of the email below on 28th March 2013)
Dear Mr Guppy.
My apologies for this somewhat unorthodox method of making contact but I was unable to find a contact number for you or your representative. I am a features writer in London for the Daily Telegraph newspaper and have read with interest your strongly-worded attack in the Spectator on the treatment recently meted out to Boris Johnson by a BBC presenter.
I wonder if you might be willing to develop a little further the challenging points you raise about the whole episode by way either of a phone conversation, or by an exchange of emails? I would very much like to take up the arguments you lay out in a piece in our paper on Saturday.
The points I would like to pursue are as follows:
(1) You seem to suggest early on in the article that the Leveson enquiry was too narrow in its remit and, later, that it failed to address the sort of illegal treatment you suffered at the hands of journalists. I wonder if you would have been willing to give evidence at the Leveson hearings, had you been approached, or if you had your doubts as to the independence of the process?
(2) You pose the question whether private conduct should impinge of individuals holding public office. The historical examples you quote appear to indicate that you feel that it shouldn’t. Would you make any exceptions?
(3) Does your disdain for politicians in general for their lack of big ideas extend to your near contemporary at Eton, David Cameron?
(4) You leave open the question of how far Mr Johnson has been corrupted by the system, or re-programmed by advisors. Are you sufficiently in touch with him now to attempt an answer?
(5) Are the flaws you describe in politicians inevitable in a democracy? You have, for example, spoken in the past of your admiration for the system In Iran, where you have business and family links. Are there lessons the West could learn from there?
These sound very bald set out in writing like this, but I hope you may feel that there is some basis for an exchange of views in what I have so inadequately set out here. If so, you can contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Joyce Smith at the features desk of the Telegraph on 0044 207 931 2000, best of all by Friday am.
Many thanks. Yours