POLITICS

Nick Clegg Announced 5p Plastic Bag Charge From A Dogging Spot, Ex-Press Officer Reveals

04/03/2016 14:38 GMT | Updated 04/03/2016 14:59 GMT

A former Lib Dem press officer has revealed that he once booked a photo opportunity for Nick Clegg to announce a policy pledge at a popular dogging site.

Ben Rathe, who used to handle media relations for the then junior coalition government party, told how he arranged a press event to reveal the 5p charge on plastic bag in a Glasgow favourite for outdoor sex.

“It was the Liberal Democrat Conference 2013, and my role back then was planning all of the visits that Nick Clegg was doing over the course of the 5 days in Glasgow," he wrote in a blog post. "This included finding somewhere suitable to announce a new 5p charge on plastic bags."

"I picked out a lovely nature reserve just south of Glasgow called Cathkin Marsh, which allowed us to tell the story of how discarded carrier bags murder cute, furry animals, damage the environment and ruin picturesque landscapes."

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Clegg talking to a TV crew in the dogging spot

Rathe explained that when a police officer commented that it was an "interesting place" for the deputy prime minister to visit, he was told what local Glaswegians used it for.

"I mean because of what the locals use it for" the policeman said.

Rathe elaborated in his blog: "Now, ‘what the locals use it for’ is never a good sentence to hear, because usually ‘the locals’ are never using ‘it’ for anything good.

"I didn’t want to ask what he meant, mainly because I knew what he was going to say if I did, but felt that I had to.

"So I did. And then came the reply I had both expected and dreaded.

"‘Oh, it’s a dogging site.’"

"And as planned, Nick Clegg the next day did indeed unwittingly make his 5p plastic bag charge announcement. In a dogging spot.

"A dogging site. I’d arranged for the Deputy Prime Minister to visit a dogging site…