The prime minister’s alleged £535 debt could have affected every aspect of his financial life. I discovered that the hard way a long time ago

It was a piece of singular brilliance from Private Eye to do a speculative search on county court judgments (CCJs) and see if the prime minister’s name turned up. Imagine the delight in the office when there it was, as recent as last October, with “10 Downing Street” as the address, for an unpaid amount – to an unknown creditor – of £535. It was too good (and we all know how that ends) to be true. Downing Street successfully struck out the CCJ in a nanosecond; it was apparently a mischievous claim for defamation from a Covid conspiracy theorist, and you can add your own conspiracy theory here if that’s your poison.

Personally, I’m relieved. For an entire morning, I was experiencing the most unsettling mood change towards the prime minister: fellow-feeling.

Zoe Williams is a Guardian columnist

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