As a press officer you sometimes get calls that need immediate and urgent action. I was in someone else’s office when a call came through saying that I urgently needed to speak to Mark Oaten, the MP for Winchester.
It was apparently an issue about some photographs that were going to be published in The Mirror the next day, and I needed to give them a comment, as Mark was very keen to say nothing himself.
It transpired that a Liberal Democrat council candidate, in my region, had been a little bit over-enthusiastic with Photoshop and messed around with a photograph of Mark.
The photograph, of Mark Oaten, the winner of the Winchester By-election, arriving in Parliament, with leader Paddy Ashdown and all the other Lib Dem MPs was quite well known, and available.
To improve his electoral chances the Lib Dem candidate had super-imposed his own face on that of Mark Oaten’s body and passed it off, on his leaflets, as if it was genuine.
This, as you can imagine, was quite a tricky situation, and one that Mark was keen for an apparatchik, like me, to deal with.
The Daily Mirror came on the phone, ‘so John what do you make of this fraud, perpetrated by your candidate?’
After a moment’s pause, ‘Well, I think it’s very important that all candidates keep their heads during this election campaign!’
So happy was the journalist with his quote, that I merited the description, ‘Wag, John Ault,’ in his piece!