I was astonished when I watched this part of it:
KGM: Have you ever hit anyone?
GB: I have never hit anybody in my life.
KGM: You know this is all what's being said…
GB: Let me just say absolutely clearly, so that there is no misunderstanding about that, I have never, never hit anybody in my life.
KGM: Or shoved them?
GB: No, I don't do these sorts of things.
It’s extraordinary for a Prime Minister to be in the position of making such a denial. But not completely without precedent. Watching it, my mind was cast back to 17 November 1973:
In all of my years of public life, I have never obstructed justice. And I think, too, that I can say that in my years of public life that I welcome this kind of examination, because people have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got.
I don’t know how Nixon’s denial was seen at the time, but in retrospect it has become one of the defining moments in his disgrace.
Is Brown’s “never hit anybody in my life” in the same ball park?
Probably not. Guru-Murthy may have inadvertently done Brown a huge favour in asking too strong a question. Andrew Rawnsley’s book doesn’t contain any allegations that Brown “hit” anybody. The nearest is that Brown “roughly shoved” someone aside. While hitting is unambiguous – either you wholly deliberately strike someone with your hand or no such thing happens – what a “rough shove” amounts to is unclear both physically and in terms of intention.
But by airing the notion of Brown’s having hit sometime, Guru-Murthy has drawn attention away from the actual allegations and also made them seem less serious by contrast (Brown also denied any shoving, but that’s barely been noticed).
NB I generally respect Rawnsley’s work, and while his explanation of how he decided whether things he was told were “utterly reliable accounts… from impeccable sources” or not is basically empty, I can quite believe that Brown has a nasty temper on him and that he can be terrible to work for.