The small-circulation Wandsworth Borough News scooped the nationals
over work and pensions secretary David Blunkett’s possible breach of
code of conduct by using Commons headed paper to object to a planning application near his house.
paper, which sells 4,000 copies a week, also discovered that Blunkett
had not mentioned his ownership of the property concerned, referring to
himself as a “former resident”.
Reporter Saxon East was contacted by a resident who said Blunkett’s tenant was objecting to a planning application.
East then discovered Blunkett’s letter on a planning applications database.
stepped down as Home Secretary last year after an official inquiry
revealed a chain of events linking him to the fast-tracking of a visa
application for his lover’s nanny.
East said: “I think the hardest thing was keeping a lid on the story, which broke over a week before we published.
problem we had was we didn’t want to approach too many people for
comment, especially anyone in the Conservative party because they might
have just spun it and leaked it to the nationals for their own
purposes. We just had to let the story speak for itself.
“It was a real team effort and it shows that small newspapers can have an impact with big news and can still do great scoops.”
Tory leadership contender David Davis has referred the matter to the Parliamentary Commission for Standards.