Humphrys to keep dinner dates despite dressing down

By Julie Tomlin

Today presenter John Humphrys has promised to press on with his
speaking engagements and has not ruled out criticising Number 10 again.

He told Press Gazette he still planned to speak at the Institute of
Directors north west director of the year awards in Manchester on
Thursday night, two days after he was publicly reprimanded by BBC
director general Mark Thompson.

Humphrys was rapped for comments
made in a speech to the Commercial Directors Forum on 8 June – in which
he criticised senior Labour politicians including Tony Blair, Gordon
Brown, John Prescott, Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell – which was
reported in The Times.

Thompson said his comments were
“inappropriate and misguided” and that they called into question the
impartiality of the BBC. He added that Humphrys had been asked not to
repeat them.

Humphrys said on Wednesday: “They said that speaking
engagements should continue. I did one yesterday and I shall do one
tomorrow night.”

Humphrys declined to comment on what he thought
of Number 10 after it emerged that it was former Labour aide Tim Allan
who leaked details of his speech to The Times.

“I might have
something to say about that tomorrow, but I haven’t decided what, if
anything, I’ll say yet. You’ll have to wait and see,” Humphrys said.

did attack as “disgraceful” the journalism of The Times,
particularly the “grotesquely misleading headline” saying:
‘Radio’s king of rude launches another salvo at Labour liars’.

said: “On Saturday it was deemed to be worth two pages, but in the
leader it was only worth a ‘chuckle’,” said Humphrys, referring to The
Times’ comment on Monday that said he should “chuckle and move on”.

“The two were different and I’m quite puzzled by that, but it must be greater minds than I that decide these things.”

from the Manchester Evening News and the northern correspondent of the
FT were among those due to attend Thursday’s dinner.

After-dinner speaking


After dinner speaking is proving a lucrative sideline for
journalists, with the top earners commanding five figure sums for a
40-minute speech on their topic of choice, writes Colin Crummy.

The list of after dinner speakers at one London-based agency is like
a who’s who of media: you can choose from John Simpson, Matthew Parris
and Jeremy Vine.

At the higher end of the scale of media
personalities, it is understood an evening with Greg Dyke will set you
back around £20,000. A less expensive option is ex-Daily Telegraph
editor Max Hastings, who reportedly costs £6,500, as does ex-royal
correspondent and I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! contestant
Jennie Bond.

The higher profile a personality, the higher fee they can command.

to one agency source, Andrew Marr’s move to Sir David Frost’s slot on
the BBC has considerably hiked up the fees for his current round of
after dinner engagements.

He is now said to command about £11,000, as does Andrew Neil.

journalists such as Sir Trevor McDonald and Fiona Bruce can expect to
earn more than print journalists, simply because of being instantly

Being controversial, entertaining and engaging
boosts the speaker’s value. James Brown, founder of Loaded, or Ian
Hislop can expect to be in high demand; it is understood Hislop costs
£13,500 to book.

According to one agency source, John Humphrys’
outspokenness is good for business. The source said: “Bring it on. It’s
absolutely perfect – it just means his name is in the press and people
are talking about it.

“Speaking your mind doesn’t do anyone any
harm. I’m sure John will be watching what he says a little more
carefully, but I don’t think he’ll change completely – John’s John and
that’s what people want to see and hear.”

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