Already on social media the air is thick with talk of there having been Establishment plots against Leadsom, as though anyone with an ounce of intelligence could really think after the events of the last three months that the British Establishment is up to organising a successful plot nevermind a protracted drinking session in a brewery. As though the Establishment scrambled Leadsom’s brain and made her say those daft things to Rachel Sylvester of the Times. No, her won comments and a perfectly fair headline precis of those words further damaged her campaign.
But before all that was Robert Stephens, a former colleague of Andrea Leadsom’s who after a career in financial services is retired in Edinburgh. And all he was in this story was a concerned citizen who could not believe that the person he had worked alongside was really about to become Prime Minister, especially when her supporters claims about a career were so overblown. He dug into her CV and found her listed as Chief Investment Officer during her years at Invesco Perpetual, a job title she had not had. He pressed her to change it on Who’s Who (which entrants submit themselves), which she or her staff did. Still other troubling questions remained, such as her claim to have played a major role in the Barings weekend in 1995.
Robert Stephens approached me and, after various enquiries, on Reaction we published his detailed piece expressing concern about the claims made on her behalf. It triggered a process of scrutiny that might have looked tough but not half as rough as it would have been for the rest of us in the country having a PM who would have been unsuitable and a prisoner of the Tory Right.
Robert Stephens act of national rescue and public service has restored my faith in human nature.