Former-Sun journalist Paul Hooper faced a ’baptism of fire’ after
taking over the helm at Kent County Council’s press office.
Within just four days of becoming the council’s media and public affairs
manager two weeks ago, Hooper found himself dealing with a barrage of
press interest, when more than 100 Slovakian asylum seekers landed in
Hooper ended up handling more than 1,000 requests for interviews from
TV, radio stations and national newspaper reporters, including his
former colleagues at the Sun.
’Talk about being thrown in at the deep end - from the moment I got the
first call about the Slovakians on the Friday night, the phones never
stopped,’ he tells me.
’We had requests for interviews from TV and radio stations as far away
as Japan, who were running daily bulletins on the problem. I think that
over the ten day period of the crisis we didn’t turn down a single
interview, which is a great tribute to the press office staff and the
council’s officers,’ he says.
’The last time I was in Dover for that length of time was when I was
covering the seamen’s dispute for the Sun,’ he reminisces. ’It was funny
this time, being in the middle of a major story and not having to file
copy every hour.’
’The affair did have some notable incidents,’ he adds. ’One of the most
memorable being when a Japanese reporter, whose grasp of English was
slender, tried to interview the Slovakians, whose English was