Beleaguered energy secretary Chris Huhne suffered another PR setback yesterday.
After secret tape recordings emerged at the weekend supporting allegations he asked someone to take speeding points him, Huhne made an appearance on BBC News lasting less than 40 seconds.
Huhne began by denying the allegations before adding:
They have been before and they have been shown to be untrue, and I very much welcome the referral to the police as it will draw a line under the matter.
When asked why the allegations were still being made, Huhne replied: ‘I don’t want to say anything more than that.’And when directly asked whether he had asked anyone to take points on his behalf, Huhne simply walked away while the cameras were still rolling.
On Sunday the Mail on Sunday, The Sunday Times, and the News of the World ran reports on the secret tape recording between Huhne and the person alleged to have taken the speeding points (The Daily Mail today reports that person is Huhne’s estranged wife Vicky Price).
When asked how deal with tricky questions from reporters Huhne replied:
Just say, ‘Terribly bad line, terribly sorry bad reception, I’ll talk to you later’ and hang up.
My strong advice if you’re in the same position as me and you want the story not to get in [the Press], the best way is not to talk to a journalist who is working on the story. And that’s what I will do.
Writing in yesterday’s Evening Standard, columnist Sam Leith said that, as far as media strategies go, ‘this is from the school of Mr Bean rather than that of Alastair Campbell”.
One imagines Mr Huhne’s future career (he’ll probably be needing one, let’s face it) as a high-level PR adviser: “If they ask you in the press conference about the – y’know, the thing – don’t deviate from the script.
Stay calm: they mustn’t see you’re rattled. Just stick your fingers into your ears, natural as that, and sing ‘la la la LA LA.