I am sure the PM can afford his own legal advice, but let me break a professional habit and offer some for free. If the allegations published in today's Observer are untrue, as both he and Lord Mandelson have now said, he has a clear cause of action. There is no doubt that to accuse a man falsely of the kind of behaviour in Mr Rawnsley's account is to lower his reputation in the eyes of right thinking members of the public. Indeed a right-thinking person would consider such behaviour bonkers. It is therefore libellous.
Such accusations against a man in one of the highest offices of State; a man due soon to face an electorate that could be influenced by such falsehoods are particularly blameworthy. If Mr Rawnsley and the Observer are indeed lying to "flam up" the newspaper and sell the book, then I am sure the judge would seriously consider an award of punitive damages. In my opinion, no defence of "fair comment on a matter of public interest" would be available to the dastardly (by the Prime Minister's account) author, in the context of what he has described as "malicious fabrications."
I am normally cautious when it comes to such matters. The man who trained me always gave a warning speech to clients about setting sail on the stormy seas of litigation, advising them that - however sturdy their craft might seem - a safe harbour can never be guaranteed. However, if the Prime Minister's account is true then he is a man much injured and his ship is ironclad. I really think he should sue and donate his winnings to charity. Perhaps he might donate them to the Treasury his government has so comprehensively emptied?
Of course, if he wishes to clear the matter up quietly, as behoves a man of the gentle temperament he claims, perhaps he could just ask Sir Gus O'Donnell to deny he ever told the Prime Minister to curb his temper? That should sort it out. Sir Gus is an independent and honourable servant of Her Majesty. No political lickspittle he. His word, surely, can set this scandalous matter to rest?