UK Politics

Owen Paterson Tells Me: Horsemeat Could Be "Injurious to Human Health"

10 Feb 2013 at 15:28

A nice little scoop from Environment Secretary on my LBC show this morning. We spent ten minutes discussing the horsemeat scandal and towards the end of the interview (you can listen to it HERE) this exchange took place…

ID: There are no health implications, are there?
OP: As we speak this morning, this is an issue of fraud and a conspiracy against the public, probably conducted by criminal elements. They have substituted a cheap material for that which is on the label. It is a labelling issue, which we may find out as the week progresses and the results comes in that there is a substance, which is injurious to human health, which is not the situation at the moment. At the moment it is a labelling issue.

Frankly, I was grateful Owen Paterson appeared. Last night I got a frantic message from LBC to say that his press office had called to query me tweeting that Paterson would be on the show. They said he wouldn’t be. I knew different. You see nine times out of ten when our producers call a government press office to ask if we could have a minister on my Sunday show, they say no. Half the time I’m sure the press officer don’t even ask the ministers. The Department of Health, Home Office, Department of Education and the MoD are the worst offenders. It gets to the point when you wonder what on earth the dozens of press officers in those departments actually do all day. Every time I am turned down by the Department of Education I have a simple policy. I text Michael Gove. And more often than not he texts back to say how delighted he would be to come on. So that’s what I did when the Defra Press Office gave my producer the runaround yesterday. I texted Owen himself, and hey presto, he readily agreed to come on. Good on him. That was early evening. Just before midnight, following the phone call to LBC Defra and I had this following Twitter exchange…

Credit to the Defra twitter people, though. Their next tweet read “Oops, have a great show!”