Mail: MP’s petulant outburst
The Hartlepool Mail has strongly defended itself against accusations by local MP Peter Mandelson that its coverage of the recent election for mayor helped a monkey defeat the Labour Party candidate.
The town’s new mayor is Stuart Drummond, who is normally seen as H’Angus the Monkey, the mascot of Hartlepool United football club. His manifesto promised free bananas for schoolkids.
On election night, Mandelson approached Mail deputy editor Neil Hunter and expressed his anger at the paper’s election coverage. He repeated the accusation that he blamed the Mail for the election result "five or six times" at a press conference following the count, claimed Hunter, after he had asked television crews to turn off their cameras.
"I asked him to expand on what he said," said Hunter, "because I did not agree with it. He said he did not have to but said he was looking at the problem. He claimed we had offered a fair wind for the independent candidate to come through and had placed hurdles in the way of the Labour candidate."
The following morning, Mandelson telephoned and asked deputy news editor Peter McCusker to give Hunter a message: "I hope your shorthand note is accurate."
The Mail went into print with the story of Mandelson’s claims and in a leader said: "What a pity that his [Drummond’s] rivals, and especially Peter Mandelson, couldn’t accept the outcome of the democratic process with anything like good grace.
"Mr Mandelson’s petulant and almost hysterical outburst in which he blamed the Mail for the Labour candidate’s defeat is an unseemly snub to the new mayor who won fair and square. His withering attack on the Mail is an insult to the integrity of the paper and its staff."
The leader also said that while it was careful throughout the campaign to be totally impartial, it fully expected to be accused of bias by the Labour Party if it lost.
Mandelson has not spoken to Mail editor Harry Blackwood since last June’s General Election.
By Jean Morgan