What the papers say: Scarlett labelled with ‘crony’ tag

Sub editors were quick to spot the headline opportunities in John Scarlett’s appointment as the new ‘C’ at MI6. ‘“C” is for suspected crony in spying HQ,’ was The Sunday Times’s reaction (9 May), and reflected the broad thrust of coverage.

Central to media criticism was Scarlett’s role in the alleged sexing-up of the Iraq WMD dossier, and his readiness to save Tony Blair’s skin during the Hutton Inquiry by insisting he retained ownership of the dossier.

‘The appointment is a reward for enthusiastic bootlicking,’ (Daily Star, 6 May) was a view expressed widely.

Blair’s attempts to counter the media uproar with the messages that the appointment was made on merit by an independent panel were largely dismissed.

‘Blair was guilty either of stunning naivety or wanton disingenuousness,’ noted The Herald (7 May), while The Guardian lamented the Government’s ‘disastrous PR’ (8 May). Labelled a crony even before he has signed his first letter, Scarlett has an uphill job to prove that, unlike his Thunderbirds namesake, he is not a mere puppet.

Analysis conducted by Echo Research from data supplied to PRWeek from NewsNow. www.echoresearch.com www.newsnow.co.uk

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