| Lord Howard |
Gorseinon, United Kingdom
|Alma mater||Peterhouse (Cambridge), Inns of Court School of Law|
|Member of||Königswinter/Speakers, Le Cercle|
UK Home Secretary
Shadow Home Secretary
|"Did you threaten to overrule him?"|
On 13 May 1997, BBC Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman interrogated Shadow Home Secretary Michael Howard about the controversial dismissal of the head of the prison service, Derek Lewis, by repeatedly asking the same question: "Did you threaten to overrule him?" and not getting an answer.
Twenty years later in August 2017, the former Tory leader, who now sits in the House of Lords, sought to explain why he had not given Paxman a straight answer at the time:
- "Look, I was being asked these questions by Jeremy years after the event.
- "This interview took place during the 1997 Conservative Leadership campaign. These events had happened two years earlier. I’d been campaigning all day, I hadn’t remotely been thinking about Derek Lewis or prisons, I’d been thinking about the Tory Leadership…
- "This is not an excuse but perhaps an explanation. At the end of the day, long day when you’re tried, you know what these days are like, that – I wasn’t able to go back over the history and so I answered in my own way, as the phrase goes."
Lord Howard has previously described the grilling as “not the most enjoyable experience ever” while political commentators frequently refer back to it.
|Leader of the Conservative Party||“All Tory leaders have surrounded themselves with an inner circle, which has given them ballast and in certain important respects defined their leadership. John Major had a winning fondness for palpable fakes, like Jeffrey Archer and David Mellor; Margaret Thatcher liked hirsute North London entrepreneurs with a ‘can-do’ attitude and heavy jewellery. Michael Howard’s chosen milieu is constructed of dapper, well-spoken men and women, many of whom live within walking distance of one another in west London. Cameron is unmistakably the leader of these Notting Hill Tories, but others include Michael Howard’s political secretary Rachel Whetstone, his speechwriter Ed Vaizey, marketing expert Steve Hilton, policy man Nick Boles, along with the newspaper columnists Edward Heathcoat Amory and his wife Alice Thomson.”||Peter Oborne||19 June 2004|
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