Culture Secretary John Whittingdale caught in prostitution scandal
Byline can reveal a year long relationship between a senior figure in David Cameron’s government and a dominatrix which potentially jeopardized government security and left ministers open to blackmail. John Whittingdale, now Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport was involved in a long relationship between at least November 2013 and January 2015 with Olivia King, a well known escort who specializes in domination and sado-masochistic practices. It is unknown whether the relationship continues.
During this period, Whittingdale was accompanied by her at locations including the MTV Awards in Amsterdam in November 2013, the SportBall, attended by Kate Middleton, also in December 2013 and a New Years Eve party at the House of Commons in 2014/15. The photos below were taken the night following the SportBall. During this period, his movements and private conversations with her were well known by the tabloid press, allowing photographs of the couple to be photographed at these locations. They are a selection of the photos Byline has obtained, taken following the November Sports Ball:
As Culture Secretary, Whittingdale’s brief includes press regulation, the BBC Charter and OfCom, including the implementation of press regulation based on recommendations from the Leveson report.
Whittingdale’s relationship has been an open secret in Westminster and Fleet Street circles, and major tabloid and broadsheet papers including the Mail on Sunday and The Independent have undertaken extensive investigations and written stories, only to have the stories abandoned at the last minute. The Editor of The Independent, Amol Rajan decided in October that he had made the decision to not run the story on ‘editorial grounds’. The previous day, Rajan had met with Whittingdale and Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre at the Society of Editors Conference in October 2015. When Whittingdale delivered his keynote address, he stated that he was minded not to implement a major recommendation of the Leveson inquiry and passed by Parliament as part of the Courts and Crimes Act.
Whittingdale told the conference:
“The costs provisions in the Crime and Courts Act, when brought into force, will have the effect that publishers who are not members of a recognised self-regulator will normally lose the ability to claim back their own costs in libel and privacy cases – whether they lose or win. This will be a serious and significant change for the industry. I know that it is a matter of particular concern to many small publishers who had absolutely no involvement in the abuses the Leveson Inquiry was set up to tackle.
I have to say that at the moment, I am not convinced the time is right for the introduction of these costs provisions.”
One senior source associated with a major tabloid newspaper said they believed the story had been withheld for ‘political’ rather than editorial reasons because of Whittingdale’s significant influence over legislation related to the media.
Other internal correspondence from The Independent claimed that the paper could demonstrate that Whittingdale failed to declare a trip paid for by MTV to the company’s annual music awards to the Register of Members Interests. However, Whittingdale did declare the trip on previous occasions, when Ms. King did not attend. The following email was written by the then News Editor.
We can also reveal that while she was involved with Whittingdale, Ms. King was also involved in a relationship with a member of the London underworld, who has a previous firearms conviction. Whittingdale’s relationships with prostitutes are said to be well known in the London underworld and could potentially leave him exposed to blackmail considering his senior position in the Government. While there is no evidence or suggestion that Ms. King ever attempted to blackmail Whittingdale, what is clear is that information about their relationship and movements was regularly conveyed to the press and other parties.
In particular, information about her visits to Parliament and the Royal Sports Ball, which raises serious questions event security and Whittingdale’s judgment in bringing Ms. King to highly secure locations and events, and also with entrusting her with sensitive information. A senior Labour MP confirmed that he had seen Whittingdale with a prostitute at the House of Commons, although was unaware if it was Ms. King. When pressed on how he was aware of this, he told Byline that she was giving out business cards to other MP’s.
Our tabloid source drew a parallel to the Profumo scandal of 1962, where the Minister of War, John Profumo, was forced to resign after the revelation of his relationship with Christine Keeler, an escort who was also dating a Soviet attaché.
These revelations mean that David Cameron has questions to answer on whether he knew of Whittingdale’s relationship with prostitutes when he appointed him Culture Secretary in May 2015.
John Whittingdale has questions to answer over whether the possession of this story by a number of media publications ever influenced his political actions as Culture Secretary and when he was Chair of the Culture, Media and Sports Committee. In September 2011, then Liberal Democrat MP Adrian Sanders stated that Whittingdale had warned MP’s against calling Rebekah Brooks to testify before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, because of the risk of their personal lives being investigated. Whittingdale strongly denied this claim
This is the first instalment of a developing story. Byline has many more revelations to follow on the story and why it has so far been hidden from the public view, so stay tuned.