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  1. Long reads
15 December 2003updated 24 Sep 2015 12:01pm

Boobs of the year

Clangers, blunders and embarrassments of 2003 compiled

By Paul Rowland

“He is an extremely disturbed individual.”
Margaret Hodge
, the children’s minister, in a letter to the BBC chairman Gavyn Davies on Demetrious Panton, abused as a child in care in Islington. Hodge, who was trying to stop the Today programme running a story about her handling of child abuse claims during her time as Islington council leader, later apologised.

“Who is that? Is she good?”
, the new children’s book author, when asked whether she wanted to be the next Enid Blyton.

“I don’t borrow on credit cards because it is too expensive. There’s no question that a credit card is an expensive way to do borrowing. I would not recommend to anybody that they chronically borrow on a credit card.”
Matthew Barrett
, chief executive of Barclays Bank.

“I have slept in a bed with many children.”
Michael Jackson
in an interview with Martin Bashir.

“In Lambeth, where I live, I would give my right arm to send them [my children] to a fee-paying school. If necessary I would go out on the streets and beg rather than send them to the school where I live.”
Oliver Letwin
, shadow chancellor.

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“This guy was a Walter Mitty.”
Downing Street spokesman Tom Kelly in a non-attributable briefing on the late Dr David Kelly.

“Mr Schulz, I know there is a producer in Italy who is making a film on the Nazi concentration camps. I will suggest you for the role of kapo [privileged prisoner who guards other prisoners]. You’d be perfect.”
Silvio Berlusconi
to the German socialist MEP Martin Schulz.

“We have heard from Lord Hunt, who apparently rang the Today programme up to tell them he is going to resign. I don’t know who Lord Hunt is.”
John Prescott
on the resignation of Lord (Philip) Hunt, health minister.

“It is a great pleasure to be here in Newcastle, as ever a privilege to be among you.”
Iain Duncan Smith
speaking in Sunderland.

“I bet his heart monitor was singing the tune of ‘Staying Alive’.”
Graham Norton
on the death of the Bee Gee Maurice Gibb.

One meaning of the Punjabi word “bundh“, the name for a range of sauces launched by Sharwood’s in November.

“I think that gay marriage . . . should be between a man and a woman.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger
, now governor of California.

“Hong Kong will take your breath away.”
Ad slogan during the Sars scare.

“It is surprising the way things have changed since I first became chancellor of the university 50 years ago.”
Prince Philip
at York University, which was founded 40 years ago and whose chancellor is the opera singer Dame Janet Baker.

“Jane, come here. Me Tarzan!”
Thomas Ragno
, a US immigration judge, to a woman (first name Jane) who had been raped and tortured in her native Uganda and was seeking political asylum.

“Silly girl!”
John Prescott
, off-camera, to the experienced ITN journalist Libby Wiener, who tried to question him about the £1.1m of taxpayers’ cash spent on his Admiralty House residence in Whitehall.

“I am all in favour of black advancement, but there’s now hardly a TV pub, police station, soap, vox pop or ad without rather more than its fair share of black participation . . . Political correctness has got completely out of hand and now requires that the imbalance be readjusted.”
Sir Ludovic Kennedy
, writing in the Oldie magazine.

“It’s so bad being homeless in winter. They should . . . go somewhere hot like the Caribbean where they can eat free fish all day.”
Lady Victoria Hervey

“If you arrive in Windhoek, it doesn’t seem like you’re in an African country. Few cities of the world are so clean and beautiful as Windhoek.”
Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva on a visit to the capital of Namibia.

“Erm, no.”
China’s first man in space, Yang Liwei, when asked if the Great Wall of China could really be seen from outer space.

“Bonkers Bruno locked up”
The Sun’s front-page headline when the boxer Frank Bruno was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. The headline (changed in later editions to “Sad Bruno in mental health home”) led to angry protests and a donation from the Sun to a mental health charity.

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