So... Gordon Brown is accused of bullying, Mandelson says he's just passionate, then the head of the National Bullying Helpine contacts the BBC to say Mandelson is talking bollocks and that they've had people that work with Gordon Brown call them, and Downing Street refuses to comment.
Obviously a much needed spin job will be at hand, and the ever servile Kevin Maguire is already noting that Ann Widdicombe is a patron of the charity and thinks they might have been duped - presumably he means that someone called, said they worked with the PM, but they were lying.
Now let's get down to the nitty gritty as it were. The National Bullying Helpine told the BBC that "over the last three or four years" the helpline had "probably received three or four calls" from people working directly with Gordon Brown.
This is quite funny, because for the last three or four years, I've been reading Hansard every day, and guess what, departmental bullying in Brown's offices has come up a few times.
In May 2007, before he became Prime Minister and was still at the Treasury, the following was revealed,
David Simpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many complaints of bullying have been investigated in his Department in the last 12 months; and how many complaints have been upheld;Then, in February 2008, after Brown became Prime Minister, we have this,
(2) how many grievance procedures have been initiated in his Department in the last 12 months;
(3) how many complaints of sexual harassment have been investigated in his Department in the last 12 months; and how many complaints have been upheld.
John Healey: In the last 12 months fewer than five grievances have been raised and investigated. No complaints of bullying or of sexual harassment have been upheld. As the number of complaints of bullying and of sexual harassment was fewer than five, the exact number cannot be disclosed on grounds of confidentiality.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) how many cases of bullying have been reported in his Department in each of the last 12 months;And then, in March 2009, we also have errrrr... this,
(2) whether any cases of bullying have been reported in the Prime Minister's Office in the last 12 months.
Mr. Watson: The Prime Minister's Office forms an integral part of the Cabinet Office. In order to protect the confidentiality and privacy of individuals, it is standard Government practice not to publish records relating to five or less individuals.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many staff in (a) the Prime Minister's Office and (b) the Leader of the House's Office were disciplined for (i) bullying and (ii) harassment of colleagues in each of the last three years.So... that's "three or four" calls, in the last "three or four" years, which is rather handily less than "five" which happens to be the number that Brown's own departments have confirmed have made complaints - might it be the same people that moved with him?
Mr. Watson: It is not the policy of the Cabinet Office to release personal data relating to individual staff. I can confirm that in the period specified, there were fewer than five cases in the Department where staff were disciplined for bullying and harassment of colleagues. It would not be appropriate to provide a further breakdown.
I knew reading Hansard would pay off eventually! And for those in the national press.... yes, I love doing your research for you.... for free!