DIARY: Kent asylum crisis was enough to make a press officer reach for his strait jacket

Former-Sun journalist Paul Hooper faced a ’baptism of fire’ after taking over the helm at Kent County Council’s press office.

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

Dover.



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

non-existent.’



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