Stuart Holmes deserves to be lauded. He has attended political conferences for decades and protested outside them about something. It used to be cigarettes, now it’s nukes. Bless him. He’s a national treasure. Bless also his dog.
With the proviso that I feel very sorry for Stuart and his dog, here is a video of the incident:
It is also very interesting to read Iain’s blog post, written shortly after the incident and published at 9:40 on 23rd September. This was before he apologised. It was taken down from Iain’s blog site, but not before 166 people had left comments beneath it. It is now on Google Cache and below (together with the later full statement and apology).
IT SHOULDN’T HAPPEN TO A PUBLISHER: PROTECTING AN AUTHOR DURING A LIVE INTERVIEW
24 Sep 2013 at 09:40
I knew I shouldn’t have had three weetabix this morning…
OK, so here’s what happened. Damian McBride was doing a live interview on Daybreak on the Brighton seafront. I was waiting in my car to drive him to do his next interview with Nick Ferrari on LBC when I noticed that a protester was holding a placard behind Damian which was filling a lot of the screen and totally distracting from the interview. I assumed someone from Daybreak would intervene to stop him, but no one did. So I did what any self respecting publisher would do, got out of the car, ran across and pulled him out of the shot. He started resisting and we ended up in an unseemly tumble on the ground. I was conscious of the photographers and other cameramen who were present filming the whole thing, but I was determined this idiot shouldn’t disrupt what was an important interview for my author.
I am someone who runs a mile from any form of physical confrontation normally, but I never understand why broadcasters seem to accept without question that someone with a placard or a loud voice should disrupt this sort of interview. Anyone who has seen the pictures and video can see that there was no real violence. I certainly didn’t hurt the guy. He threw a punch at me but missed, and the only injury was when the man’s dog bit him on the bum.
Anyway, now you can see why my publishing company is called Biteback.
In some ways I have committed the cardinal sin of becoming the story myself, rather than my author, and I regret that. But do I regret that I stepped in to protect my author? No I do not. One of the snappers afterwards said to me that I did what they had all been dying to do for years, as he regularly interferes with their professional work. Everyone has an inalienable right to protest, but no one has a right to make a continual nuisance of themselves and interrupt interviews like that.
That would be the recently passed “Powers of publishers to make sure their authors have a clean backrgound shot for live interviews Act”.
STATEMENT AND APOLOGY
26 Sep 2013 at 12:23
Following the incident on Brighton seafront on Tuesday morning, I have today voluntarily attended Brighton police station where I accepted a police caution. The police have informed me they now regard the matter as closed. I want to thank them for the fair and courteous way they have dealt with me throughout.
But above all I want to issue this public apology for my behaviour.
I want to apologise and say sorry to Stuart Holmes, who is a passionate campaigner and well known to everyone who attends party conferences and was perfectly entitled to do as he did on Tuesday in trying to get attention for his causes. It was totally out of character for me to react to him in the way I did.
I also want to apologise for the blogpost I wrote after the incident. It was full of absurd bravado and in the heat of the moment I behaved in a frankly idiotic way.
I have embarrassed not only myself but my family and my work colleagues and I apologise to them.
I also want to apologise to Labour leader Ed Miliband and his conference attendees.
I did apologise personally to Mr Holmes on Tuesday afternoon and we shook hands. He agreed to let the matter rest, but I have no complaint that he changed his mind on reflection.
Since the events of Tuesday I have gone through what happened over and over again in my mind. Whatever I felt at the time, nothing can justify what I did.
In addition, having accepted my guilt, I feel I should make some sort of reparation to Mr Holmes. I will pay for a new placard for him and also make a donation to a charity of his choice.
Finally, people have questioned why I didn’t remove the blogpost and why I have said nothing more until now. On the latter point, I was advised not to because the police were involved. On the first point, I felt it important people should be able to have their say. I will have to live with the justified criticisms for a long time.
I know there will be many who will never forgive me for what I did and I understand that, but those who know me will know that I mean every word of my apology to Mr Holmes, Mr Miliband, the Police, my family, friends and colleagues.