GQ magazine has been forced to admit its editor was not at the photoshoot with latest cover star Jeremy Corbyn, after Dylan Jones described it as “tortuous” in a radio interview.
The admission comes after a source at Labour told HuffPost UK that Jones was at neither the Corbyn photo shoot nor his interview with the magazine.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme on Friday, Jones detailed how GQ’s interviewer was left “disillusioned” by Corbyn, and the Labour leader “was being pushed around like a grandpa for the family Christmas photograph” by his own team at the photoshoot.
Jones told the BBC that Corbyn’s photo shoot was “as difficult as shooting any Hollywood celebrity”.
“Never have we encountered such a ring of, he’s got his sort of crew, very particular gatekeepers,” he said, mentioning senior Corbyn advisor Seamus Milne.
“They didn’t really seem to understand the process at all... That he would have to be photographed at all, that he would need to be presentable and he couldn’t just turn up in his anorak.”
Jones said: “It was almost like he was being pushed around like a grandpa for the family Christmas photograph. He wasn’t particularly aware of what was going on.”
A GQ spokeswoman said Jones was “discussing the feedback received from the GQ team at the shoot”.
Jones added Corbyn wouldn’t be interviewed by Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former press man who does GQ’s major political interviews, and has criticised Labour’s leftward shift under Corbyn.
Jones said the journalist Stuart McGurk went to interview Corbyn as “something of a fan” but was “quite quickly disillusioned”.
“He started to subscribe the theory that Corbyn’s a bit Wizard of Oz character. He does appear to be the weaker part of the relationship,” Jones said.
Corbyn could not name any of his business advisors, nor name any film he had seen or book he had read, Jones said, calling this a “strange lack of hinterland”.
He added: “We sent a lot of the younger members of the team who perhaps subscribe to the idea that he can turn water into wine.
“A lot of them came back and said that they wish they hadn’t met him because they found him to be quite underwhelming.”
Jones added: “He’s not fantastic on detail. He’s the most divisive character in Westminster at the moment. He does have an air of authenticity about him and his myopic view is quite appealing.”
The Labour source also told HuffPost Jones was “openly Tory”.
Jones has previously backed the Tories and published a book of his interviews with then-Tory leader David Cameron in 2008.
The Today programme was criticised for not disclosing this.
Cameron was paid almost £20,000 to co-operate with Jones’ book, which he donated to charity, The Times reported at the time.
Journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer said Jones’ Today interview was “a more devastating attack on Jeremy Corbyn than any Tory frontbencher”.
Political journalists debated Jones’ description of what happened. Freelancer Jane Merrick said it chimed with her own experience of interviewing the Labour leader.
But Buzzfeed’s Jim Waterson said the claim Corbyn could not name any novels he had read was “just weird” given his experience of interviewing him during the election campaign.
Buzzfeed editor Janine Gibson said it was “just possible that Corbyn didn’t have the same rapport with GQ, edited by Cameron biography Dylan Jones”.
In the GQ interview, Corbyn said he does not, like most politicians, usually listen to the Today programme each morning but prefers Classic FM or Radio 3, while his wife will put on Magic.
“We don’t obsessively listen, as many political households do,” he said.
The interview will be published on Monday.