Behind closed doors

2nd July 2004 at 01:00
News reaches me of a touching display of unity between ministers and their back-bench colleagues inside the toilets of the Palace of Westminster. Ivan Lewis, the skills minister, was with Barry Sheerman, chairman of the education select committee, when he needed to answer a call of nature.

Mr Sheerman waited patiently but became concerned after his colleague failed to emerge.

Mr Sheerman went in to investigate and heard from the direction of the cubicle the unmistakably Mancunian tones of the Bury South MP. "Help, I can't get out," the voice pleaded.

Despite discreet enquiries, I'm not in a position to say how this situation was resolved.

Mr Sheerman is too much of a gent to go into details. And as for the press office at the Department for Education and Skills?

It has a strict policy never to comment on leaks.

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