The National:

IN the midst of the extraordinary brouhaha that followed the revelation that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds had been staying at a cottage near Applecross, the Tories tried to blame Scottish nationalists – and particularly Ian Blackford – for outing the location.

Today, The Jouker can exclusively reveal who gave away the location of the cottage – his own security team.

It happened like this: one of Scotland’s leading photojournalists, Peter Jolly of Northpix, is the son of the legendary Ian Jolly, who sadly died of cancer just before Christmas.

Between them, Ian and Peter have covered news and events in the north of Scotland for over 60 years and The Jouker is sure that Peter won’t mind if we say that professionally, he’s a chip off the old block.

With legions of contacts from Perth to Cape Wrath, from Oban to Thurso, and all the islands to boot, there was no way that Peter was going to miss out on getting the picture that should win him at least the news photograph of the year. Sure enough, Johnson’s arrival in the locality was soon known in Applecross, a tight-knit community if somewhat spread about the eponymous peninsula in Wester Ross.

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Now, there’s no way Peter will reveal his source, but he was happy to tell The National that it was not Blackford. “Absolutely, definitely not,” he said.

The truth is that practically from the day he arrived, people in Applecross were sure the PM was among them and the question was where exactly Boris had hunkered down.

One source close to the story was happy to confide to The National: “It was easy. All you had to do was drive along the road and there outside the cottage were these two guys in a van watching you through their binoculars.”

Then came the most amazing development. Peter duly got his pics early on Thursday morning and sold them to the Daily Mail – his by-line was on the front page – as any freelance would do.

The Johnson-loving Mail seems to have known roughly where Boris was because as they reported online, a “holidaymaker” had spotted him hiking last Wednesday. But it didn’t matter who actually said where in Applecross he might be, because it was the presence of the security team that gave away the exact location – not their fault, we should add, because they were only doing their job.

Now, a lot of people detest the Mail, but they know their English Tory market well and picking up on the sense of outrage that is prevalent across England about Boris being on holiday during the colossal exams fiasco – 10 times worse down there than up here – the Mail’s English edition followed the Scottish Daily Mail’s lead, as did Mail Online and printed the whole story complete with pics and descriptions. It took most journos about ten minutes or less to spot the cottage on the internet and the game was up for the most infamous staycation in Britain.

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Might we suggest that it was fear of the paparazzi descending on his holiday cottage rather than rampant nationalists surrounding him with Saltires that made Boris decide to head back to London, where he should have been in the first place as his Government crumbled under the pressure of Examgate?

As for the Tory conspiracy theories later amplified by the likes of Neil Oliver, well, they have been proven to be rubbish. The story was achieved through good honest local journalism, not the conspiracy of anyone, as Peter Jolly will happily confirm.

The Jouker’s advice to Ian Blackford is thus simple – sue the Tories’ backsides off for defamation.