Daily Express editor's tales from the tabloids captivate home town audience
5:01pm Monday 7th October 2013 in News
The Editor of the Daily Express told a Pembrokeshire dinner audience at the weekend that he had absolutely no knowledge that phone hacking was going on until the news broke.
“Although I have sailed close to the wind I have never once been sued or been dragged before a court,” said Haverfordwest-born Hugh Whittow in a fascinating account of his journalistic career.
From his first ‘scoop’ as a junior reporter on the Western Telegraph, when he followed a Police car to Fishguard to witness the arrest of a criminal, to his own arrest at gunpoint and imprisonment for three days in Tripoli which he entered without a Visa.
In response to a toast to The Guests at Haverfordwest Gild of Freemen’s annual Banquet at the Wolfscastle Country Hotel, the Fleet Street journalist, himself an Hereditary Freeman, regaled his captivated audience with stories of his career with the London Evening News, the Sun, the Daily Star and the Daily Express. He was chased out of Soweto, drove through the night to be the first pressman at the scene of the Lockerbie aircrash, befriended Ian Botham and George Best, and was threatened with a ‘whupping’ by Muhammed Ali when he asked him if he was punch drunk.
During what he described as “a crazy” career, he dined with Tony Blair, David Cameron and Prince Charles, was a guest in the Royal Box at Wimbledon, was present when Maradonna scored his ‘hand of God,’ goal in the World Cup, covered the Brixton Riots, and scooped on the Cecil Parkinson and Sarah Keys scandal.
He said that the newspaper industry was going through a crisis as the printed press goes out of fashion because of competition from TV and the internet.
The speaker said he kept sane by making monthly visits to the family home he had kept in Haverfordwest.
He was responding to the toast proposed by the Deputy Master of the Gild, Colonel Martyn Green. Gild Master Charles Davies, responding to a toast to the Gild proposed by County Council chairman Councillor Arwyn Williams, referred to the detrimental effects of out-of-town shopping on the town centre, and welcomed the initiative of the 4-Cs - County and Town Councils, Chamber of Trade and College - to improve the commercial fortunes of the town. The Loyal Toast was proposed by the Lord Lieutenant, The Hon Robin Lewis, and talented music pupils of Tasker Milward provided entertainment.
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