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William Hague's former Press Secretary Amanda Platell
William Hague's former Press Secretary Amanda Platell
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: AMANDA PLATELL JULY 15TH, 2001

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: Now throughout the last two years all William Hague's media appearances were carefully orchestrated by his trusty spin doctor, Amanda Platell. Fiercely loyal to him. She ran the whole Tory media operation, until a week ago when she left abruptly from Tory HQ. It was when her secret nocturnal activities were revealed. She hadn't admitted to William Hague that every night of the campaign she went home and recorded her own video diary which she then allowed Channel Four to turn into a documentary, and Amanda Platell is here with us right now. Amanda, good morning.

AMANDA PLATELL: Good morning, David.

DAVID FROST: You are all over the papers today. The programme is well and truly promoted. The people who talk about betrayal and so on. Should anybody feel betrayed this morning?

AMANDA PLATELL: I haven't betrayed any confidences in this film and I think that what people should do before they make judgements is they should actually just watch it.

DAVID FROST: And you haven't betrayed any confidences, and when did the idea come up, when did Channel Four approach you?

AMANDA PLATELL: It was actually a filmmaker, Zad Rogers, it wasn't Channel Four. And I just met him and he said would you be interested in doing this. And at first I thought, oh, no. But then I thought about it and I thought it was intriguing and on the basis that I said to him all along he had to take all the risk and there was only ever a 20 per cent chance that we'd do anything with it, and he had to know that, and I had complete control over the films. So long as he agreed to that then I was prepared to go along with it.

DAVID FROST: So, did anyone other than the two of you, this great secret, did anyone else know about it?

AMANDA PLATELL: My mom and dad knew and my little brother in Australia, but other than that it was, it was absolutely crucial that it was kept secret because, I mean I didn't tell William, I didn't tell Sebastian, I didn't tell any of my colleagues. And I used to do it very late at night, for about half an hour, not every night, but sometimes a little bit longer, but it was quite easy to keep secret. I used to go back to the hotel room.

DAVID FROST: Different hotel rooms, or...

AMANDA PLATELL: No, no, I was staying at a hotel round the corner...

DAVID FROST: You were based in, you weren't out on the road, so you were, I see. And in terms of, when did you tell William for instance?

AMANDA PLATELL: About a week after the election.

DAVID FROST: And what did he say?

AMANDA PLATELL: I don't break confidences, David.

DAVID FROST: Was he surprised?

AMANDA PLATELL: He was very surprised, yes.

DAVID FROST: Was he shocked?

AMANDA PLATELL: I think you'll have to ask him that.

DAVID FROST: But the relationship still exists?

AMANDA PLATELL: We're still in touch with eachother, yes.

DAVID FROST: And is the film, or the video, as tough on Michael Portillo as the papers all tell us?

AMANDA PLATELL: This is a film about William Hague. I think as a journalist what frustrated me so much over the two and a half years that I worked there was that everyone else was always telling a story and they seldom got it right. So I decided that I wanted to tell William's story. And as you know, as you mentioned before, you know, I am a great admirer of that man, I think he's an extraordinary man. And I never felt as though that greatness was coming over and I thought the only way it would would be if I made a film about him. And of course Michael Portillo and other members of the shadow cabinet are in it, because they were part of the election. But it is not a film about Michael Portillo.

DAVID FROST: And so what would have happened to the video if William Hague was now prime minister? Would you have still made it into a...

AMANDA PLATELL: No. No, I'd always said if we'd won or if we did really well then they were conditions under which it would never be seen. It would end up, as I used to joke with Zad, a video, a Christmas video for my mom and dad, all 20 hours of it.

DAVID FROST: And is it being sold around the rest of the world?

AMANDA PLATELL: I don't know, actually, I don't know.

DAVID FROST: Is the, is the timing, is the timing Channel Four's or your's?

AMANDA PLATELL: It's their timing, I don't have control over their timing.

DAVID FROST: But do you still have control over, you had control over the video, did you?

AMANDA PLATELL: I had control over the content, yes, that was always very, I think that's one of the reasons that I felt comfortable doing it. I not only had control over whether or not it would ever see the light of day. But I also had control over, a reasonable control over what would end up inside it.

DAVID FROST: What would end up inside it as well? And what about, when you go on to your next stellar appointment, whatever that is, do you think people interviewing you for the job will be a bit worried about the fact that they may be featured in your next video?

AMANDA PLATELL: I think I'll face that when I come to that. I think that anyone who knows me knows that I've been fiercely loyal to William Hague and to the Conservative Party and I'll go on being loyal to them. But one of the things that, an old saying that, that loyalty was the secret weapon of the Conservative Party, I'm afraid in the last two and a half years I've discovered that they have lost that weapon, and its...

DAVID FROST: You talk about treachery in the, your piece in the Mail on Sunday. How, that's a very strong word. How much treachery?

AMANDA PLATELL: You'll have to watch the film, David, I don't know, I think it's very important that you see it in context. As you know, David, it is very, very important that you see, what I was told, people were doing in the election, which was working against the campaign. And I think to highlight, to pull it out, is unfair. It's unfair. It takes it out of context.

DAVID FROST: Yes, but you said, those words, about treachery.

AMANDA PLATELL: I know, I know.

DAVID FROST: And so, how much treachery did you see?

AMANDA PLATELL: Too much.

DAVID FROST: Too much. And from any one quarter, do you say, or from all directions?

AMANDA PLATELL: It would be wrong to imply in any way that the Conservative Party is treacherous at every level. It certainly isn't. There are people there who are so loyal to that, to the cause, to the campaign. But there was a small group of people who were not.

DAVID FROST: And when you write, when you talk about and write about Michael Portillo, you very much talk about what his aides did rather than him. That's deliberate, is it?

AMANDA PLATELL: Yes.

DAVID FROST: Because you have no evidence it was him?

AMANDA PLATELL: I've, all I've ever mentioned in the video is the people around Michael.

DAVID FROST: And what about the candidates in this election? Michael Portillo, Kenneth Clarke, Iain Duncan Smith. Do you have a view on this race?

AMANDA PLATELL: Not one that I'm going to express.

DAVID FROST: Not one you're going to express. Well, we'll look out for the, we'll look out for the piece. And you really, you really don't feel that the people who feel betrayed have any reason for being so?

AMANDA PLATELL: I think when they see the film tonight they'll see that I have not betrayed any confidences. It's a very personal story about what went on during the election from the very heart of it. But a lot of it's from my heart.

DAVID FROST: And you talk about people briefing against, against William Hague. Did you never brief against any other Conservative?

AMANDA PLATELL: No

DAVID FROST: Honestly? Cross your heart.

AMANDA PLATELL: William set out at the beginning that he wanted to do things differently and that's the way we did it.

DAVID FROST: That's the way you did it. No briefing against other people?

AMANDA PLATELL: No, not our style.

DAVID FROST: So when they said things like, people close to William Hague say żż. That wasn't you?

AMANDA PLATELL: No. I think that what a lot of people, some people, some people believed was that if they saw a story in the paper which criticised them, it may have even criticised their parliamentary performance, if it was criticising that must have come from some person hostile to that politician. Journalists do make up their own minds about things you know, as you know.

DAVID FROST: And so what, and if Michael Portillo ends up as leader, you'd be quite happy with that?

AMANDA PLATELL: I will go on, being, working with the Conservative Party for as long as I possibly can.

DF: Amanda, thank you very much indeed.

AMANDA PLATELL: My pleasure.

END

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