The UK government culture secretary John Whittingdale – the minister in charge of overseeing the British media industry – has been in embroiled in allegations this week after reports suggested that some national newspapers uncovered a potential sex scandal but sat on the story in the hope of influencing the man responsible for press regulation.
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In the spirit of media transparency, Computer Weekly feels obliged to confess to its own run-in with Whittingdale some years ago, when he was chair of the House of Commons culture and media select committee.
The occasion was a BT-sponsored quiz night in a Westminster pub, pitting MPs against technology journalists, in which a team led by Computer Weekly editor in chief Bryan Glick stormed to victory. However, at the last minute, organisers – led by the quizmaster for the night, none other than BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones – decided instead that the winner would be decided by a SingStar sing-off between the captains of the top two teams.
This pitted Glick versus Whittingdale as leader of the second placed quiz team of MPs. The two faced off to the tune of Queen’s classic rock anthem Don’t Stop Me Now – and in a scandalous reversal of the quiz results, victory went to the MP.
Cellan-Jones commented at the time that Whittingdale’s triumph was due to the fact that, unlike our editor, “he could actually sing” – clearly a slanderous and wholly biased allegation from the BBC looking to protect itself against the man who would years later be responsible for the broadcaster’s upcoming charter renewal.
Anyone who has witnessed a Computer Weekly karaoke night and seen Glick in full flow at his signature tune – Gold, by Spandau Ballet – will understand the stitch-up to which Computer Weekly was subjected.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), Cellan-Jones captured the moment on video, but it’s remained unlisted on his personal YouTube channel ever since. If you want to judge for yourself we respectfully suggest you petition Whittingdale to demand its publication as part of his BBC charter negotiation.