Beleaguered Clarke gives prisoners' row exclusive to EDP

By Sarah Lagan

The Eastern Daily Press scooped an exclusive interview with under pressure Home Secretary Charles Clarke at the height of the foreign prisoners’ row.

The beleaguered minister spent 20 minutes at the Norwich offices of the EDP on Sunday, being interviewed by the paper’s public affairs correspondent, Shaun Lowthorpe.

He said the interview with Clarke, who is MP for Norwich South, was the high point of his career.

Lowthorpe put in a call to Clarke’s office on Saturday and two hours later, he agreed to come in to the newspaper’s office on the Sunday to talk about his week. Clarke said the only two ‘no go’

areas in the interview were the number of prisoners and the timings of their release, which the Home Office was due to release officially.

In the interview, Clarke claimed the recent pressures, which have resulted in calls for his resignation, didn’t "remotely compare" to the pressure he was under after the 7 July bombings.

He went on to tell Lowthorpe: "At the end of the day, my own political future depends on my own strength of character; firstly, dealing with the points that are raised; secondly, on the support of my colleagues; and thirdly, on the decisions of the Prime Minister. If I lose that support, that would be different."

Lowthorpe, who also interviewed Clarke for a double-page profile for the EDP in December, said: "I think there are two parts to why he gave us the interview. It was the Eastern Daily Press as opposed to a national newspaper and he has excellent links with the paper; and I would like to think it was also because he spoke to me before at some length. He knew where I was coming from as a journalist and had an understanding of the issues, and that’s why he was happy to talk to me.

"Despite his success up the ministerial ladder, he’s never forgotten his local paper and the importance of keeping in touch on local issues.

"As a political journalist, to be in the centre of a great political story like that is exactly where you want to be. It is a long burn, it takes a long time to get those contacts and it’s good to see all that hard work has paid off."

Since Lowthorpe secured the exclusive, he has been interviewed by BBC News 24, Radio 4’s PM programme, Radio Five Live and Radio Norfolk.

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