"Scientists Beware" thundered a Labour press release faxed to The THES by shadow science spokesman Adam Ingram. Apparently, during last week's Commons debate on prior options, the Government's scrapped attempt to privatise public sector research establishments, Labour "exposed letters showing that Heseltine and Portillo have wanted to privatise all these laboratories at least since 1995".
Naturally, The THES asked Ingram's press office for evidence. First obstacle: they were in a filing cabinet in Labour science spokeswoman Ann Campbell's office and could not be got. Could we call Campbell instead? Next problem: her secretary did not know about them and suggested trying again when Ms Campbell reappeared.
Hours later, difficulty number three. The secretary rings back and says: "We did have the letters but I am afraid that they are no longer in our possession. But we do have a newspaper clipping from 1995 referring to them. Can I fax you the story ?"