David Montgomery and the Mirror Group were seen as having pulled off a major coup by recruiting former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie to head the company’s television interests. The news added 5p to Mirror Group shares but caused consternation at News International, MacKenzie’s former employer, which saw The Mirror as a major rival. His “defection” was said by some NI insiders to be as treasonable as Major James Hewitt bedding the Princess of Wales.
HOME SECRETARY SPURNS LOCALS
Local journalists and a news agency were banned from a press conference given by then Home Secretary Michael Howard during a
visit to Reading University. Howard chose to speak only to the BBC, ITN and The Guardian. A Reading Evening Post reporter and the local INS agency were given the brush off. Post assistant editor Kim Hewitt said: “It is outrageous that a government minister should deny journalists the chance to question him.”
MUD PIC IS CLEAR WINNER FOR ASHDOWN
David Ashdown of The Independent was named European Sports Photographer of the Year for a portfolio that included this shot of mud-caked England footballers Paul Gascoigne and Ian Wright.
MPs RESIGN AFTER “WITCH HUNT “
The Guardian’s 15-month investigation into the “cash for questions” affair led to the resignation of MPs Tim Smith and Neil Hamilton. Guardian editor Peter Preston denied the paper’s probe involved entrapment. Hamilton claimed he was a victim of a “media witch-hunt”.
KEEGAN BARS THE JOURNAL
Newcastle United Football Club had banned the Press Association after it refused to stop supplying pictures to The Journal, Newcastle. The football club had withdrawn all press facilities from The Journal in a row over articles written by executive sports editor Tim Taylor, which had angered United manager Kevin Keegan. Journal editor Bill Bradshaw said: “Keegan telephoned me, suggesting The Journal was not behaving like a local paper. If, by that, he is suggesting we are not sycophants, he is absolutely right.” Mike Riches, PA news executive (pictures)told Press Gazette: “We would never pull the plug on an individual paper. This dispute has nothing to do with PA. I just hope it is not the shape of things to come, with Premier League photographic licences.”
CELEBRITY REPORTERS MAKE A STAND
Showbiz journalist Garth Pearce was taking a stand against actors who wanted to set conditions for interviews. Pearce, a
freelance, refused to guarantee that he would not sell an interview with actors Joe and Paul McGann to The Daily Express, The Sun, The Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, News of the World or The People. He received the demands only two days before he was due to interview the McGanns. Pearce, of celebrity features agency Wordstar, said: “In the world of film and showbusiness journalism, these demands are becoming a plague.” Piers Morgan, then editor of The News of the World, was typically acerbic. “If you are Sylvester Stallone you might pick and choose who you talk to, but if you are Joe McGann, who only one-third of Malawi may have heard of, then it’s pretty rich to dictate who you do interviews for.”