Monday, January 30, 2006

Parliament Squared

As an ex-lobby man, this story from the Axe Grinder column in this week's Press Gazette brought a smile to my face...

"Fleet Street veteran Rob Gibson, has learnt the hard way about the dangers of email.

The former Daily Express political editor and dedicated fund-raiser for journalists' charity the NPF now runs the highly regarded Gallery News at the House of Commons. Gibson sends out stories daily to a host of outlets, including MPs at Westminster.

Unfortunately, Gibson sent out one email in error last week that was a little too "exclusive".

To the great man's consternation, it contained the minutes of the latest meeting of his Masonic lodge. Now there's open government for you."

The extent of masonry within the lobby - and the Palace of Westminster as a whole - was a constant source of mischievous speculation during my time there.

Correspondents were frequently baffled to find the chairs in the Lobby Room rearranged with one facing the wrong way - a seating arrangement consistent with the masonic initiation ritual in which the candidate sits blindfolded with his back to the room.

On one memorable occasion, a notorious wind-up merchant in the regional lobby put out a spoof tannoy for the Secretary of the Press Gallery Freemasons' Lodge - such a body does exist.

It was answered by a very well-known Sunday newspaper political editor, who maintained he was simply curious as to who was on the other end of the line.....

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