As Calpurnia warned Julius Caesar: ‘The heavens themselves blaze forth
the death of princes’. It has thus been a symbolic week. The uninsured
Euro-rocket goes up in pounds 565 million smoke. And Europe’s top civil
servant threatens British ministers for their bloody-mindedness about
Europe’s illegality in imposing a world ban on British beef exports.
Jacques Santer even hints that we shall be thrown out of the club, which
approximately half the British people would like to leave in any case.
This is unseemly behaviour from a bureaucrat who is supposed to be
answerable to politicians. Things are going off the Euro-rails. It was
bound to happen sooner or later. We need a bust-up to clear the air.
Which brings me to Julia Felthouse who has had a bust-up with her
ministerial Romeo, Rod Richards who, as a consequence, has had a bust-up
with the Government, which he has left in disgrace.
Now I do not normally waste this column on garrulous, ageing - she’s 28
- bimbos. But Ms Felthouse has been widely reported to be in PR. Indeed,
the News of the World, in which she exhaustively - well, it reads like
it - discloses the minutiae of her romps with Richards, says she was PR
boss for the National Canine Defence League. No doubt she was kinder to
dogs than she was to the apparently amazing Mr Richards or to herself -
let alone her chosen profession.
I hold no brief for Mr Richards. Public men cannot expect to get away in
these days of media piety and hypocrisy with proclaiming family values
at elections and then close encounters with twittering birds. Nor should
they. No privacy law likely to be enacted by Parliament would exclude a
defence of public interest in exposing double standards. It might,
however, usefully prohibit the media from paying either in cash or in
kind the likes of Ms Felthouse for their graphic reports from assorted
lovenests. Their motives would then be clearer.
But my interest in Ms Felthouse is more professional, if you see what I
mean. At a time when PR is trying to improve its tarnished image, and
distance itself from the inventive world of Max Clifford, here we have
a PR official being extensively quoted in the positive creation of
Now, it may be that I am an old fogey. Indeed, I believe that the
reticent world in which I was brought up was infinitely healthier than
the modern one in which they let it all shamelessly hang out. But what
are our clients, who value confidentiality, to make of PR bosses who
tell all about their love lives with ministers?
Ms Felthouse has done nobody any good. And certainly not PR. Her utter
lack of discretion will have reinforced the prejudices of many against
our trade. As I said, it has been a symbolic week.
Sir Bernard Ingham writes for the Daily Express