'NEVER MIND THE AINSWORTHS'

Pendennis – Oliver Marre

Observer – 20 January 2008

When the official parliamentary record for 10 January was first printed, it attributed the words “absolute bollocks” to Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth in response to a speech from Conservative MP John Baron on equipment shortages.

Shortly afterwards, Speaker Michael Martin decided it was impossible to be sure who had uttered the phrase and had it deleted. However, early editions of Hansard carried the words and one of these was snapped up by the Tory shadow defence team and put on eBay to raise money for an Armed Forces charity. The auctioneer promises “a signed letter of authenticity from the shadow defence spokesman Liam Fox!"

One of Fox's colleagues, Andrew Murrison, says the eBay entry was censored for a short while because of the use of the word 'bollocks', but is back with asterisks. Giggles a third Tory defence spokesman, Julian Lewis:

“When Harriet Harman was talking rubbish during business questions on Thursday, I called out ‘Absolute Ainsworths’ – but that doesn't appear in Hansard either.”

[For further developments, click here.]