Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton mulled pulling strings to get UK culture minister Ed Vaizey fired to replace him with the grandson of former prime minister Harold MacMillan.
Vaizey, a democratically elected Tory moderniser, oversaw "digital industries" for Britain's Coalition government – from broadband to copyright shakeups. He was comfortably reelected in 2010, and slotted into the Ministry of Fun by Prime Minister David Cameron.
The revelation that Sony's powerful Lynton wanted shot of Vaizey emerged fresh from the mountain of emails and documents leaked from Sony Pictures by hackers, all of which were bunged into a searchable online database by WikiLeaks this week.
Brit-born Lynton was sharing breakfast with Bella Pollen – a UK socialite, journalist, and novelist – in Los Angeles in August last year when he fired off an email to her husband David MacMillan, publisher and grandson of former Prime Minister Harold MacMillan, that read:
I am sitting here with Bella and conspiring as to how to make you Minister of Culture and Sport. You are perfectly qualified. First step is to get Ed Vaizey fired. I will do this with George Osborne. Next step is to get you appointed. This requires you meeting Charles Dunstone and having him recommend you. I will make the introduction in September. The games afoot !!!
Dunstone – chairman of Carphone Warehouse – is a big contributor to the Conservative party.
Two hours later, MacMillan, in the UK at the time, responded:
Need to be elected to parliament or raised to the peerage to proceed further with your plan, but love the idea Like all being in Charles Dunston's gift, Think Osborne will be fearful of Vaizey as he wishes to avoid the publication of various school time photos ... or maybe he feels comfortable with his past.
While the tone was clearly jokey, Lynton shot back: "Your MP is 70. Time for him to move on. Photos are in the cloud. They will be gone soon."
The photographic evidence MacMillan mentioned was quite possibly a reference to an infamous snap taken in 1994 of a 22-year-old George Osborne with his arm around his pal Natalie Rowe. In 2013, she published an autobiography describing her time as a dominatrix, and had her home raided by the UK plod after tweeting tatty photos, dating back to the 1990s, of Osborne at a party.
Today, Osborne is the UK Chancellor, and hopes to be re-elected as MP for Tatton in Cheshire, in the north west of England.
The email exchange between Lynton – also the chairman and chief exec of Sony Pictures Entertainment – and publisher MacMillan was likely no more than banter between friends. However, it highlights again the clubby atmosphere in Blighty between an elite group of politicians, journalists, and businessmen.
David MacMillan and Bella Pollen were voted one of the top 50 power couples over the age of 50 in 2013. ®