Eyebrows raised over UK government press release titled 'Significant Dishonesty'

Eyebrows raised over UK government press release titled 'Significant Dishonesty'

Boris Johnson urges country to 'move on' from Partygate and insists he has 'learned lesson'


Public relations - or simply, PR - is Very Important to any organisation, and the UK government isn’t exempt from that, but one press release published not long after Partygate is taking people by surprise.

Published on Friday, ‘Significant Dishonesty’ is actually about a case overseen by the Scotland’s traffic commissioner Claire Gilmore, not allegations of Boris Johnson misleading MPs over a Downing Street party in November 2020.

The uneventful press release reads: “The [traffic] commissioner found evidence of significant wrongdoing and dishonesty.

“Mr [Duncan] McKee had been a driver at the business run by his parents. Duncan McKee Sr and Mary McKee’s licence was revoked due to significant numbers of serious infringements on the part of drivers going unnoticed.

“That had, in turn, impacted on fair competition and given rise to a significant risk to road safety.”

Mr McKee had committed at least 57 “driver’s hours offences” between April 2018 and August 2019, the webpage went on to add.

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It also revealed that “most of the evidence” in the case “had to be collected by hard-working and diligent [Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency] teams at the roadside” – like some kind of Sue Gray on wheels.

The press release was spotted by former special adviser Sean Kemp, who shared a snap of the page on Twitter and wrote: “Call me picky, but if I was sending out a press release coming from the official gov.uk address I’d probably have gone with a different headline in the current climate.”

Whether the publisher of the press release was aware of the wider political discourse, we don’t – and probably never will – know, but it does remind us of around this time in 2020.

Back then, the official UK Civil Service Twitter account bemoaned “having to work with these truth twisters” following Dominic Cummings’ infamous press conference about his trip to Durham.

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