Maximum Impact 24.02.06

INTERESTING to read from Mark Bolland how Prince Charles tries to influence and persuade MPs and leaders of all walks of life about matters of importance to him. Nothing wrong with that in my view — whatever the constitution might say — as in Britain today he is certainly a role model to many.

In a healthy democracy, we should know what Charles really stands for, cares about and believes in. This is obviously the best way to get to know the man himself for what he is.

In a country where all and sundry express themselves often in a very violent and destructive manner and are allowed to do so, surely the future king should be encouraged to express himself. By the same token, if he wants to use his power and influence to try to influence those in power, then he himself must be transparent and open to scrutiny.

IN the past couple of weeks, three leading professional footballers have contacted me to ask for advice and guidance regarding the News of the World gay footballer allegations. Whether they themselves are those about whom the News of the World claims to have information, only time will tell, but threatened and concerned they certainly are. All three have absolutely no doubts that if they were named they would be shamed and their careers would be over. Can it really still be the case that in 2006 to be revealed as either bisexual or homosexual would have such dreadful impact and consequences? If so, what does it say about our national game?

UNTIL Tuesday I’d never heard of Tim Luckhurst (apparently a journalist), who wrote about me in an article this week in the Independent on Sunday. Mr Luckhurst claims that my dispute with Andy Coulson has left me pleading to sell my tips to the News of the World. I tried calling Mr Luckhurst, whose number I got from Ian Burrell at The Independent, three times and he refused to take my call. Make of that what you will.

For his information and education, however, I have never sold tips to Andy Coulson or Rebekah Wade, Phil Hall, Piers Morgan or any of their predecessors in the many years I have been breaking major stories. I have of course sold many a major story to Andy and the others. Since our disagreement I have had no dealings whatsoever with the NoW, but continue to sell my stories for equally large sums of money to the other editors of Sunday and daily national newspapers.

I hope that you manage to grasp that, Tim. If in doubt, check with any of the editors I have mentioned, including Andy himself.

I always stand up to be counted, but it’s a shame when others do not have the courage of their convictions. If what he’s written about me is typical of his work, no wonder I’ve never heard of him.

The fee for this column is donated to CHASE (Christopher’s)

Children’s Hospital

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