Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Journal OF Lynton Charles

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Journal OF Lynton Charles

Article excerpt

FIDUCIARY SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY

Sunday Panic and fear, fear and panic. That terrible moment when you pick up the phone and it's a reporter from the Daily Mail on the other end, and this time it's you he's after, and there ain't no way that you're going to emerge from this (whatever it is) unscathed.

So my heart is in my stomach from the second that Cheryl calls me while I'm having a pee, and tells me that a Henry O'Halloran is on the blower, and that he wants to talk to me about my "royal outburst". The physical response is immediate, a shrivelling and a drying-up happening almost simultaneously. My "royal outburst"? What "royal outburst"? If there's one thing I've learnt in the past three years, it's that ministers don't have "royal outbursts". You're not permitted any outbursts at all, actually, but royal outbursts least of all. And for the very good reason that they always end up with a call from someone smarmy and deadly called Henry O'Halloran from the Daily Mail, and are then followed by a week's worth of storming and denial, at the end of which you are invariably declared by a BBC political correspondent to be damaged goods. Then, God help you, Diane Abbott defends you in that Madame-Mao-when-she-was-a-sweet-little-girl voice of hers, and it really is nearly all over.

O'Halloran is smooth and insistent. He just happened to be riffling through the pages of last month's Accountancy News, he tells me, and was delighted to read an interview with me covering a wide range of fiduciary and other matters. It was a fascinating interview, and he was transfixed by my views on withholding tax and EU legislation. But not quite as transfixed as he was by the less formal part of the discussion in which -- in answer to a question from the junior reporter--I gave the opinion that it was a pity that Prince William had been sent to a school as exclusive as Eton, and wondered whether his social milieu wasn't a little limited. …

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