The night I saw Jeremy Hunt hide behind a tree before dinner with James Murdoch
The title really says all that needs saying, to be honest.
But the party wasn’t up to much; it was just a lot of people trying to get a word with James Murdoch, presumably to say how riveting his speech had been. I snaffled a drink, wandered around for 20 minutes or so, talked to a few people I knew, was introduced to James Murdoch’s charming wife and then decided to go out to get some air and make a few calls.
It was then, as I stood on the steps with my Blackberry, that I spotted the then new Secretary of State for Culture Jeremy Hunt in the middle distance, walking across the square. He was walking fast and was glued to his mobile phone. He was heading in my direction, towards the Murdoch drinks party. I don’t know whether he saw me, or if something else diverted him, but he suddenly changed direction and darted to the side of the square and over towards a large tree.
I know Hunt, he’s a thoroughly decent man, and thought about going over to help him with directions. He was obviously looking for the Murdoch drinks party and I could help point him towards it. But he was deep in conversation on his mobile, although he kept looking over towards the door, and the party, behind me. So I decided to just stand there and see what happened. Hunt then moved himself behind the tree so that he was partially obscured.
I wandered back into the party and ran into one of the organisers. The Culture Secretary is out there hiding behind a tree, I said. We know, came the response, but he doesn’t want to come in because all the media correspondents are here.
I went out for another look and Hunt was no longer next to the tree, or as far as I could see behind it either. The guests from the party were starting to trickle away, I was starving and it should have been time for dinner.
As I left, so did various Fleet Street media correspondents, separately but at the same time as me (presumably heading to the pub). We walked towards the gates across the square, at which point Hunt reappeared, walking smack into the group of media journalists he had been seeking to avoid. I think one of them was Steve Hewlett. A nervous looking Hunt certainly said: “Hello Steve.”
It’s like the Thick of It come to life. Check out the article, the illustration is brilliant.