Maximum Impact 05.05.06

HAVING upset the Tories many years ago by helping to expose the damaging tales of Tory sleaze, I now find myself in the opposite corner in the Labour sleaze crisis after John Prescott's former lover, Tracey Temple, came to MCA for media representation. How damaging the revelations of Prescott's infidelity are remains to be seen, although I've been surprised at the apparent strong distaste and anger that the British public seems to hold for the Deputy PM. According to national opinion polls — conducted on the likes of GMTV and various other media — the majority think that Prescott should resign.

I can only think from the strength and depth of this sentiment that he must have been very unpopular before his sexual activities came to light.

I thought the Charles Clarke situation and that of Patricia Hewitt would have created more damage to their political careers and the credibility of the Government. Surely the state of the nation's security and the NHS is more important than Prescott's affair.

Not surprisingly, however, Prescott mounted his media defence by attacking Tracey for being only interested in money as well as being economical with the truth in her Mail on Sunday exclusive. Having spent a lot of time talking to her, I'm convinced that she would never have spoken about the affair had her ex-fiance, Barrie Williams, not brought the story out in the Daily Mirror without her knowledge.

Subsequently she had to endure three days of condemnation and accusations most of which were as upsetting as they were untrue.

If it was only about money she could have broken the story herself which would have earned her a far greater sum. Also, if it was purely financial then why did she turn down the News of the World's offer which was higher than that of the Mail on Sunday?

Incidentally, Tracey was grateful and appreciative for the kind, courteous and professional manner the Mail on Sunday reporting team — Jo Knowsley, Wayne Francis and Dominic Turnball — treated her for the time they spent together working on her story. She was also very relieved and happy that what she said and what she meant was conveyed accurately in the article.

From maximum exposure to maximum protection: Middlesbrough manager Steve McLaren and his agent Colin Gordon approached me recently for MCA to look after Steve. Like a black cloud, the threat of the damaging publicity over his personal life had been hanging over McLaren's candidature for the England manager post for the past few months.

All kinds of rumours had been circulating, but after lengthy conversations with Steve, it seemed there was little substance to them. So I took the initiative and Steve did his own ‘kiss and tell' after discussions with Fergus Shanahan, who was editing The Sun in Rebekah Wade's absence. At that precise time, The Sun and other red-tops were poised with revelations which would have been more damaging to Steve than the truth he revealed to Catherine Lister from that paper.

My thinking, timing and course of action were much influenced by the impending announcement of the new England Manager which, after the Phil Scolari fiasco, has put Steve at the front of the queue.

The fee for this column is donated to CHASE (Christopher's) Children's Hospital

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