MEDIA PROFILE: Kevin Maguire, chief reporter, the Guardian - The Guardian’s mischief man

Ensconced in a political hacks’ pub called the Westminster Arms, Kevin Maguire is enjoying playing up to the political hack cliche. When we shake hands I ask how he is. ’Why? What have you heard?’ he quips.

Ensconced in a political hacks’ pub called the Westminster Arms,

Kevin Maguire is enjoying playing up to the political hack cliche. When

we shake hands I ask how he is. ’Why? What have you heard?’ he

quips.



During the interview, he receives a call from a Cabinet minister whose

name he won’t reveal. It’s a terse conversation and Maguire promises to

call him back in an hour. ’That should cause a bit of mischief,’ he

grins.



Mischief is a theme with Maguire. He’s just leaving his post as

political editor of the Mirror to head to the Guardian as chief

reporter. He delights in the role as it will allow him to ruffle

feathers both inside and outside Westminster, where he has formerly been

confined to political reporting.



Not that that’s stopped him. John Prescott regularly phones to complain

bitterly about headlines like ’Prescott wants to speak posh’.



’When it comes to mischief, Maguire’s the man to cause it,’ says spin

doctor-turned-journalist Charlie Whelan. ’He’s the most widely respected

of the political journalists, but he has a great sense of humour. In the

cabinet reshuffle, it was Maguire’s touch that made the Mirror mention

that Cherie Blair kept her position. He’s got great contacts, not just

with the Government, but with the unions and pressure groups. He’s a

force to be reckoned with.’



But Maguire’s not so popular with all spin doctors. ’Mandelson never

trusted me,’ he reveals. ’He always thought I was too close to Gordon

Brown to be trusted. I like Alastair Campbell, but I’m not sure if he

likes me. He’s hard on tabloid hacks, but harder on broadsheets because

he never worked on one and always wished he did,’ Maguire laughs

wickedly.



Those in PR should take this sardonic approach to spin doctors as a

warning. Maguire is looking forward to his new off-diary role, saying

there are thousands of people and companies out there that need to be

exposed - ’you just lift up a rock and they all crawl out’, he says.

Complaints from a protective PRO simply makes him feel he’s doing

something right.



Having started out on the Western Morning News in Plymouth, Maguire

moved to London with his journalist partner when they had a child

together.



They drew lots as to who would get a safe staff job and who would get

the career-building shift work and he ended up as the municipal

correspondent for the New Civil Engineer. ’I thought I’d be there

forever,’ he recalls.



A move to the Press Association six months later gave him the industrial

beat just as labour unrest swept the nation in 1988. It gave him the

chance to move to the Daily Telegraph under Max Hastings shortly

afterwards.



’I only met Hastings twice,’ he says. ’Once when I was asked to attend a

lunch for hacks with attitude who didn’t agree with his hunting and

shooting policies and once in the lift. I think the only thing I ever

said to him was ’twelfth floor, please’.’



When I ask what his dream expose would be, he drifts away with a smile

on his face before snapping back. ’I’ll be in trouble here,’ he

says.



’It would have to be Blair. That would be the story of the year.’ And

that’s the kind of mischief you can expect from Kevin Maguire.



HIGHLIGHTS



1990: Labour correspondent, the Daily Telegraph



1996: Political editor, the Mirror



1999: Chief reporter, the Guardian.



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