Radio 4 Today presenter John Humphrys bribed a police officer.
This was the startling admission made by the veteran broadcaster when he picked up the London Press Club broadcast journalist of the year prize. OK, it was 50 years ago and it was with a bottle of whisky at "Merthyr Tydfil nick" when he was a 17-year-old cub reporter.
“Now they would be banging my door down at 5am in the morning”, noted Humphrys in a well-received jibe at the Metropolitan Police.
Fortunately Met commissioner and guest speaker Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe had already left Stationers’ Hall after delivering an anodyne 15-minute speech mostly about diversity. There was not a word in his address about the 60-plus journalists his force has arrested over the last two years, the ongoing furore over secrecy around arrests or the new allegations of a Met cover-up over Leveson evidence. And sadly no time for questions.
Humphrys said that he shouldn’t really be getting the award and instead favoured BBC World Affairs Correspondent Paul Wood: “All I had to do was get the director general sacked.”
Humphrys revealed that when he first joined Today he was told: “The purpose of The Today programme is to prove to the nation that if you listened to the Today Programme you didn't need to read a newspaper.
“I’ve thought about that over the years and it's bollocks.The Today programme has done awfully well and all that but we cannot do it without newspapers precisely because they make trouble, because they are difficult, because they are awkward, because they have opinions and they do the sort of stuff that the BBC cannot do. So we need to have newspapers. Please God circulation will stabilise and go up because God knows what we would do without you."