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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 July 2007, 07:08 GMT 08:08 UK
Boris Johnson's media scrapes
Boris Johnson approaches the media after announcing he will stand

Conservative MP Boris Johnson, who has been selected as his party's candidate for London mayor, has created plenty of headlines. Here are a few of the controversies:


After graduating in 1987, Mr Johnson became a trainee reporter with the Times newspaper but was sacked within a year for falsifying a quotation from his godfather Colin Lucas.

He described the episode in an interview with the Independent in 2002 as his "biggest cock-up", saying he had needed a historian's quote for a story and had rung Sir Colin - who later became vice-chancellor of Oxford University - and had misquoted him in a way that had jeopardised his academic reputation.

"It was a complete nightmare of a disaster, and to make it even worse, that very week Colin was trying to become master of Balliol College. He later succeeded - but not that time. Of all the mistakes I've made, I think that takes the biscuit," he told the newspaper.


In October 2004, while editor of The Spectator, Mr Johnson apologised for an unsigned editorial which criticised the city of Liverpool over grief expressed for Ken Bigley - the British contractor who was taken hostage and later killed in Iraq.

Mr Johnson accepted responsibility for the article, which said Liverpudlians "wallow" in their "victim status" and attributed blame to Liverpool football fans for the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

The then Conservative leader Michael Howard ordered him to go to Liverpool to apologise, which he did, to mixed reviews.


In November 2004, Mr Howard sacked Mr Johnson from his frontbench team for failing to tell the truth about claims he had had an affair.

But Mr Johnson later told reporters: "I did not mislead Michael Howard."


Boris Johnson
Mr Johnson has never been far from the news during his career

With World Cup fever in the air in May 2006, Mr Johnson took part in an England vs Germany: The Legends game, at Reading's Madejski Stadium.

Coming on as an unlikely "super sub", he used his bulk to floor Germany's bemused Maurizio Gaudino in a rugby-style tackle.

"I'm a rugby player really and I knew I was going to get to him and when he was about two yards away I just put my head down," explained Mr Johnson.

"There was no malice in my actions. I was going for the ball with my head, which I understand is a legitimate move in soccer."


In September 2006, Mr Johnson went one better than irritating the people of a city by managing to annoy an entire country.

In a Daily Telegraph column, he wrote: "For 10 years we in the Tory Party have become used to Papua New Guinea-style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing, and so it is with a happy amazement that we watch as the madness engulfs the Labour Party."

Papua New Guinea's high commissioner in London was not best pleased by this comparison and demanded an apology.

Mr Johnson obliged, saying: "I meant no insult to the people of Papua New Guinea who I'm sure lead lives of blameless bourgeois domesticity in common with the rest of us."

He promised to "add Papua New Guinea to my global itinerary of apology".


At the 2006 Conservative annual party conference, Mr Johnson became the biggest story around when he was quoted as taking a swipe at TV chef Jamie Oliver's campaign to improve school dinners.

He allegedly told a fringe meeting at the Bournemouth event that "if I was in charge I would get rid of Jamie Oliver and tell people to eat what they like".

The MP reportedly stood up for mothers who helped their children avoid healthier options, saying: "I say let people eat what they like. Why shouldn't they push pies through the railings?"

Mr Johnson later claimed he had been misquoted, describing Mr Oliver as a "national saint".


In April this year, Mr Johnson annoyed Portsmouth councillors by calling the city "one of the most depressed towns in southern England, a place that is arguably too full of drugs, obesity, underachievement and Labour MPs", in an article for the men's magazine GQ.

They demanded he apologise and visit the city. But the Conservative Party said figures backed Mr Johnson's comments and politicians should not criticise him for speaking the truth.

Lib Dem MP for Portsmouth South, Mike Hancock, said at the time: "This is simply outrageous and beyond belief. It is an insult to the whole city.

"David Cameron should immediately sack Mr Johnson from his post as a spokesman."

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