The Guardian has apologised to Isabel Oakeshott, the journalist who reported leaked diplomatic cables about Donald Trump, over a “fictitious” comment speculating about how she acquired the private files.
In a “satirical sketch” by journalist John Crace, he appeared to imply that Oakeshott (pictured) had obtained the confidential files by sleeping with prominent Brexiteers Nigel Farage and Aaron Banks.
Crace’s comment appeared in the Guardian on 8 July, the day after Oakeshott’s front-page report in the Mail on Sunday exposed UK ambassador to the US Sir Kim Darroch’s private views on the Trump regime.
In it Crace claimed: “…the only way Isabel Oakeshott, the journalist who got the leaked emails, ever gets a scoop is if Nigel or Arron Banks slips it to her”.
Oakeshott tweeted at the time that the comment was “demonstrably false and extraordinarily sexist”, adding: “My work speaks for itself.”
The piece was amended online to read “…if he or Arron Banks leave it conveniently tucked under her pillow”, according to political blog Guido Fawkes, but this was later changed to “…if he or Arron Banks leave it conveniently to one side for her”.
It now reads: “Not least because the journalist who got the leaked emails was the Brexit-supporting journalist Isabel Oakeshott,” after she engaged lawyer Donal Blaney and threatened legal action.
In a correction, the newspaper has said: “A satirical sketch originally included a comment – fictitious, of course – that could have been interpreted as being of a sexual and vulgar nature about Isabel Oakeshott.
“Although this was not our intention, we acknowledge the potential for distress and misinterpretation and we apologise to her for any distress this has caused.
Following its publication on Friday, Oakeshott tweeted: “It gives me great pleasure to teach John Crace and the Guardian a little lesson about casually slurring women whose politics they dislike.”
The Guardian would not reveal if it had paid any damages to Oakeshott when asked by Press Gazette, but Guido has reported that it paid a five-figure sum.
The Mail on Sunday revealed yesterday that a 19-year-old Brexit Party worker first acquired the leaked cables sent by UK ambassador to the US Sir Kim Darroch and worked with Oakeshott on the story.
The Met Police are still hunting the source of the leak.