Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Turning on the Screws

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Turning on the Screws

Article excerpt

You may be wondering why my mobile-phone voice messages were never leaked by the News of the World. Could it simply be that they are so fruity and controversial that even a bottom-feeding rag--sorry, I mean fearless crusading newspaper--would think twice before revealing their contents?

Or is it that my privacy is guaranteed by my long-standing relationship with Rupert Murdoch? After all, Rupert is probably my second-best friend in the whole world. My best friend is Roman Abramovich, but only because Roman has got more money than Rupe. If the News of the World had been tapping my phone, this is one of the messages it would have heard last week: "Alan? It's Rupert. Are you there? If you are, put that Sheila down and pick up the phone, you Pommie bastard.

"OK, never mind, I need a favour. I want someone I can trust to get round to the News of the World offices and find out what the fuck they're playing at. I mean, this cock-up is going to cost me a minimum of 20 million. That's three weeks' pocket money for Chrissakes! Be even more if I paid tax! I'm depending on you to get to the bottom of this.

"Now I've got to go and get ready for Berlusconi's latest party. I think he's going to call it the Christian Democrat Bunga-Bunga League."

So, late that night, I slipped into News International headquarters, using the pass key that the flame-haired editress Rebekah Wade gave me, back when we were really close. (She only got together with Ross Kemp on the rebound from yours untruly. …

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