Newspaper Press Fund has a surprise visit...

Blair backs hacks

A VERY low-key Prime Minister Tony Blair, possibly a bit sensitive from the Sun splash attack over his alleged views on the single currency, grinned broadly as he admitted to a crowd of news-media people last month (June) "Sometimes we DO disagree...but we NEED you. We couldn't govern without you..."

Introducing himself in the Sun's terms as "the most dangerous man in Britain" he cracked : "Without US... what would YOU have to write about ?"

As a surprise guest of honour at the Newspaper Press Fund's annual London get-together, Mr Blair, with no spin-doctor in sight, rubbed shoulders on 25 June with staff and freelance journalists, media execs and proprietorial brass, together demonstrating that the news business is an extremely broad church when involved with charity.

Held, by tradition, in the vast lobby of Australia House, the biggest auditorium within range of Fleet St (remember it?) the event gave a lot of legendary byline holders, some now turned bosses, a rare chance to talk shop again.

Horror for fashion-writers: a preponderance of terribly well- pressed navy-blue pin-stripe suits, with olfactory conflict between mothballs and aftershave.

The 400 guests were welcomed by the Australian High Commissioner, Philip Flood and the event raised nearly £6500 for the NPF's charitable aid to needy news people and dependents -- who last year received help totalling more than half-a-million pounds.

Run by a voluntary council of journalists, the Newspaper Press Fund is keen to enrol new members. Forms and details available from London Freelance Branch committee member Charles Cowen at 01438-861909 or direct from the Fund's office, Dickens House, Wathen Rd, Dorking Surrey, RH4 1JY.

Jul 1998
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