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The BBC's Carolyn Quinn
"It is a healthier, lean and fit Mr Hague who leads the party these days"
 real 56k

Alcohol Concern's Eric Appleby
"Lads do tend to exaggerate the amount they drink"
 real 28k

Media consultant Max Clifford
"He's decided he wants to make a total fool of himself"
 real 56k

BBC News Online's Tristram Biggs
gauges the opinion of some Westminster drinkers to Mr Hague's claims
 real 56k

Wednesday, 9 August, 2000, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Hague challenged to drink 14 pints
William Hague and Mrs Thatcher
Mr Hague says he was interested in more than politics
Conservative leader William Hague has been challenged to a 14-pint drinking session, after saying he used to drink as much as a teenager.

Mr Hague told a magazine he used to drink a "horrifying" amount while working delivering soft drinks in South Yorkshire.

You worked so hard you didn't feel you'd drunk 10 pints by four o'clock

William Hague
His move was aimed at dispelling the notion that as a young man the only thing he imbibed to excess was political speeches.

But the delivery driver with whom he worked dismissed Mr Hague's claim, saying: "Six pints and he was sozzled."

Neil Baker, who drove Mr Hague on the delivery round, told The Sun: "I worked for his Dad's soft drinks firm for 20 years and I have to say he's not the boozer he'd have us believe."

Mr Baker recalled the young Mr Hague drinking no more than three or four pints during the delivery round.

'He's welcome to 14 pints'

And the assistant manager of one pub to which they used to deliver, poured cold water on Mr Hague's boast - and challenged him to prove it.

Terry Glossop, of The Angel in Rotherham, said: "William Hague is very welcome to come in here and he can have 14 pints of bitter on the house - as long as he drinks the lot."

He said regulars in the pub could remember the young Hague delivering crates - but no-one could recall him supping even a half-pint of lager.

"I think this could be a case where a politician is trying to be one of the lads, so we're hoping he'll come down here and prove he can still do it," said Mr Glossop.

'Fisherman's tale'

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was also sceptical about Mr Hague's story.

He likened the Tory leader's claim to the traditional "fisherman's tale" - an exaggeration.

I think this could be a case where a politician is trying to be one of the lads

Terry Glossop
"I think that is like the fisherman's tale - how big was the fish you caught? This big, OK then keep on drinking," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Mr Hague told GQ magazine: "Anyone who thinks I used to spend my holidays reading political tracts should have come with me for a week."

Between the ages of 15 and 21, he had a holiday job delivering soft drinks and beer to working men's clubs for his father's business.

"We used to have a pint at every stop - well the driver's mate did, not the driver, thankfully - and we used to have about 10 stops in a day.


"You worked so hard you didn't feel you'd drunk 10 pints by four o'clock, you used to sweat so much.

"It's probably horrifying but we used to do that then go home for tea and then go out in the evening to the pub."

Mr Hague agreed it may have added up to 14 pints a day.

He said: "I think when you are a teenager you can do that, especially if you are working hard in the heat - this was always in the summer and it was hard manual work - you get through a lot of liquid."

The charity Alcohol Concern advised people against drinking such a large amount - which is over seven times the amount recommended by the government.

Leading PR man Max Clifford said the opposition leader was "trying to get away from the image of the sweet, precocious, 16-year-old cherub who stood up at the Conservative Party conference."

But added: "It won't work because it is obvious - you don't look at him and see a 14-pint man."

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See also:

12 May 00 | Health
Britain's big booze binge
08 Aug 00 | UK Politics
Hague: I drank 14 pints a day
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