Sky News claimed a general election scoop yesterday when it was the first news outlet to broadcast Gordon Brown’s unguarded comments about voter Gillian Duffy, following a walkabout in Rochdale.
According to Sky News, producer Tami Hoffman, watching the footage from the Sky News Centre in West London, “noticed a forced joviality in Brown’s exchange with pensioner Gillian Duffy”.
The broadcaster said that this prompted her to more closely examine the audio and pick up Brown describing Duffy as a “bigoted woman’as he was driven away.
Brown was wearing a wireless audio mic for the benefit of broadcast journalists during his walkabout and still had it switched on as he was driven off.
Sky News claimed a second scoop when political correspondent Niall Patterson invited Duffy to listen to Brown’s comments at its satellite truck.
Her reaction when she hears the word bigot used (pictured) is clear to see. She said: “I’m disgustedâ€¦.I don’t think I will vote, I don’t think I’ll vote now. It’s a postal vote and I don’t have to send it in. He has just absolutely, well; he has shot me down completely. It is very upsetting, that.”
Politicians frequently use radio microphones while on walkabouts, enabling their conversations to be picked up by broadcasters and meaning technicians don’t have to chase after them with boom mics.
Brown told BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show afterwards: “I blame myself for what is done, but you’ve got to remember that this was me being helpful to the broadcasters, with my microphone on, rushing into the car because I had to get to another appointment and they have chosen to play my private conversation.
“These things can happen, I apologise profusely to the lady concerned.”
Gordon Brown’s comments in the car:
Gordon Brown: “That was a disasterâ€¦”
Aide: “What did she say?”
Gordon Brown: “Well, just…You should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that?”
Aide:”I don’t know, I didn’t see her.”
Gordon Brown: It was Sue I think…It’s just ridiculous.
Aide: “They’re pictures, I’m not sure they’ll go with that one.”
Gordon Brown: “They’ll go with it.”
Aide: “What did she say?”
Gordon Brown: “Oh, everything, she’s just a sort of bigoted woman who said she used to vote Labour. I mean it is just ridiculous.”
Gillian Duffy’s reaction after listening to a recording of Gordon Brown’s comments in the Sky News satellite truck:
Gillian Duffy: “I’m disgusted.”
Sky News political correspondent Niall Patterson: “Now you said to me before that you are a Labour supporter, what has this done toâ€¦”
Gillian Duffy: “I don’t think I will vote, I don’t think I’ll vote now. It’s a postal vote and I don’t have to send it in. He has just absolutely, well; he has shot me down completely. It is very upsetting, that.”
Niall Patterson: “I spoke to you immediately after the exchange and you seemed happy with the answers that he gave you.”
Gillian Duffy: “What did I say to be bigoted there, what was bigoted in that that I said? I just asked about national debt.”