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Porn, politicians and regulators

It seems improbable that the husband of the lovely Jacqui Smith, our home secretary, should have sought solace in her absence by watching adult movies, and equally incredible that the couple should have tried to have the cost met by the public purse.

But that’s what they did and now they’re paying the price, not in pounds but in ridicule.

That Mr Smith might want to watch porn is maybe not so odd, although it is fun to speculate on what the movies in question were. Whitehall Vixens has a nice ring to it, as does Party Babes. But no matter, the most puzzling thing is why the couple tried to save themselves a tenner given Smith’s office and the dire consequences of exposure.

But their indiscretion pales into insignificance compared with that of a member of the old Building Societies Commission, which was subsumed into the Financial Services Authority. As a guest of the Building Societies Association at its conference in 1997 he racked up a £500 phone bill to a porn line and left the BSA to pick up the tab.

Those in the know were impressed by his stamina – the bill was run up over two nights and he still attended all receptions – but nobody shopped him.

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