In a painful echo of TV’s

Body­guard, his wife had an af­fair with his pro­tec­tion of icer. Then Alan John­son lost his job at the Home Of ice...

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - FRONT PAGE - IN­TER­VIEW BY

NCOLE MORETON

obody knows the pres­sure of be­ing Home Sec­re­tary bet­ter than Alan John­son, whose wife had an af­fair with their close pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer while he was in the job. So the Labour heavy­weight turned award-win­ning writer has been watch­ing the BBC’s Sun­daynight drama Body­guard, star­ring Kee­ley Hawes, more sus­pi­ciously than most.

‘They got the pres­sure of the job right. She’s al­ways in the back of her car do­ing pa­per­work, she’s al­ways got a box there, it’s un­re­lent­ing. When you’re a min­is­ter, you’ve got that red box ev­ery night. The whole civil ser­vice works to­wards giv­ing you five hours of work to take home with you at what­ever bloody time you leave Par­lia­ment, which is of­ten ten o’clock at night.’

‘I think they got hold of some­one who has some idea of how the Home Of­fice works – but only some idea. There are glar­ing anom­alies.’ Such as? ‘There’s only so much you can say when you know all the state se­crets! A sim­ple one: he’s still fol­low­ing her around in the Houses of Par­lia­ment. That’s a safe space, you don’t need your body­guard to stand at the door of your of­fice. But I know if you’re go­ing to make a story out of it you can’t have him wait­ing out­side all day, he’s got to be on the scene.’

Body­guard has cap­tured the big­gest rat­ings for a drama se­ries for more than a decade – but when we meet, John­son has not yet seen the scenes that will surely make him squirm the most. The Home Sec­re­tary Ju­lia Mon­tague gets very close and per­sonal in­deed with her close 12 pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer David Budd (Richard Mad­den). That must make him wince, be­cause the par­al­lels with real life are un­canny: Alan John­son was Home Sec­re­tary un­der Gordon Brown in 2009 when his wife Laura be­gan an af­fair with his per­sonal body­guard, Paul Rice.

Just like in Body­guard, Rice, 45, be­came the new Home Sec­re­tary’s close pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer in the wake of his own mar­i­tal break­down, while he was liv­ing apart from his wife and child. A po­lice in­quiry into how an of­fi­cer act­ing as close pro­tec­tion to the Home Sec­re­tary had an af­fair with the Home Sec­re­tary’s wife heard that he and Mrs John­son, 47, ar­ranged to meet in se­cret when he was off duty.

Alan John­son kept silent when it came to light in 2010 (and re­fuses to dis­cuss it to­day) but his sis­ter Linda said at the time: ‘I know he will be ab­so­lutely dev­as­tated.’

The be­trayal was shat­ter­ing be­cause even more it emerged af­ter Labour lost the elec­tion and John­son lost the big job at the Home Of­fice – and he re­veals for the first time to­day that he had a burnout in the midst of it all.

‘As soon as the elec­torate de­cided to dis­pense with our ser­vices I had a midlife cri­sis kind of thing. I’d just turned 60. I went out and bought my­self a con­vert­ible! I needed a new car. Black As­tra Sport. And I went to a mu­sic shop not far from the Houses of Par­lia­ment and bought my­self a Yamaha acous­tic

Left: Alan John­son with ex-wife Laura at the 1997 gen­eral elec­tion. Be­low, left: PC Paul Rice, John­son’s former close pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer. Be­low: TV’s Body­guard, with Kee­ley Hawes as the Home Sec­re­tary and Richard Mad­den as her se­cu­rity of­fi­cer

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