Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Dining out

From Barbara Amiel Black

Sir: A final comment for the record re the Eleanor Mills complaint. She writes (Letters, 14 February) that it is 'strange that she [Barbara Black] should know so little about my being asked to leave . . . and yet claim to have such a close recall of the events . . . after that'.

I claim no personal recall of the events. After her last letter, I asked my assistant, Mrs Penny Phillips, if she knew what had happened. She remembered, as it fell to her to escort Miss Mills out.

Miss Mills writes, 'Conrad Black was aware when I was invited to dine that I was about to take up a position at the Sunday Times. Thus the fact that some of the guests had an "imbroglio with that paper" cannot have been the reason for my eviction.'

As Miss Mills knows, the dinner at our home was for the British and American directors of Sotheby's. Miss Mills was a last-minute addition of my husband's to even up numbers. On introducing her, my husband told our guests of her new job. Apparently, a few of them then became agitated as they felt they would be unable to talk freely about Sotheby matters due to difficulties at that time between Sotheby's and the Sunday Times. My husband was urgently requested not to have a Sunday Times person present. He very reluctantly agreed to ask Miss Mills if she would leave.

He apologised profusely to her at the time. He wrote a letter to Miss Mills directly after the evening, apologising again and once more referring to the situation that caused her departure. He apologised to Miss Mills's stepfather when he asked about the evening shortly afterwards. We've all apologised to Miss Mills. Had a similar incident happened to me, I'd be upset, though I'd like to think I wouldn't go on about it as much.

Having said that, I think the spin being put on events by Miss Mills is malicious. At a guess, I'd say that in the six years since this incident occurred Miss Mills has dined out so often on the story that she now genuinely believes her own fiction. The actual events were unfortunate enough; they needed no embroidery by her.

Barbara Amiel Black

London W8

From Penny Phillips

Sir: My role in Ms Mills's now much-discussed exit was perfectly straightforward as I explained to Barbara Black when she asked me, and I am at a loss to understand Eleanor Mills's explanation. Conrad Black did ask me to order a taxi, as she writes. I asked Ms Mills if she would like to wait in the privacy of the library. She declined. The front hall area was crowded with guests and she asked if there was a quicker way out. I said we could leave via the basement and she happily agreed. I have never, and neither has anyone else in this house, called the basement entrance the 'servants' entrance', so her recall of my conversation with the taxi company is incorrect.

Penny Phillips

London W8

In praise of Black

From William Shawcross

Sir: I would like to echo Mark Steyn's praise for Conrad Black as owner of the Telegraphs and The Spectator ('The last press baron', 14 February). He has been a superb proprietor; all of British journalism, not just his own papers, has benefited from the stability, the growth and the intellectual curiosity that he enabled to flourish in his titles. It is hard to see any future owner matching his generous record.

William Shawcross

St Mawes, Cornwall

How aircraft evolve

From Sir Michael Armitage

Sir: Max Hastings's rant about UK weapons systems ('How to lose the battle for Britain', 7 February) takes too narrow a view of the Eurofighter, aka Typhoon. To be sure, it was designed mainly to defend Nato airspace against Warsaw Pact bombers. Without a clear justification of that kind, the project would never have made it past the front door of the Treasury. But combat aircraft are best seen as simply platforms in the sky. Those platforms can be adapted to fill a very wide variety of roles. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.