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Alistair Darling loses a small fortune after leaking of his memoirs

Sunday Times massively reduces fee for serialising former chancellor’s memoirs after leaking of early draft

As the first chancellor in history who had to duck during a lively meeting with the prime minister, Alistair Darling is a calm figure who rarely shows any emotion.

So in all his media appearances over the last two days the former chancellor has given no clue that he has just lost a minor fortune.

The Sunday Times, which serialised his memoirs over the weekend, has massively reduced the amount it is paying his publishers for his book after an early version was leaked to Labour Uncut. I am told that the use of the word decimated, which is invariably misused by journalists, is correct in this instance.

The Sunday Times is not for a moment suggesting that Darling is to blame for the leaking of his memoirs, Back From the Brink: 1,000 Days at Number 11. It is standard practice, in the cut-throat world of book serialisations, for a newspaper to reduce its fee if the contents are leaked. This is for the simple reason that the extracts have less impact.

A statement by Darling’s publishers, Atlantic Books, that most of the leaks were wrong appeared not to have cut much ice with the Sunday Times. Labour Uncut appeared to have got hold of an early draft of the book. Enough information was in the public domain to make the Sunday Times decide that the book had been severely devalued.

Darling may not be too bothered because he is not in the slightest bit materialistic. But all may not be lost if he fancies supplementing his MP’s salary and ministerial pension.

Tory MPs, who cannot believe the treasure trove of damaging quotes in the Darling memoirs, are joking that he would make an excellent candidate to head up the IMF if Christine Lagarde falls foul of a corruption scandal in France. One senior Tory tells me:

George Osborne loves all the big tent stuff. It would be so sweet to finish off Gordon Brown by nominating Alistair Darling over him.

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