The Journal of Lynton Charles, Fiduciary Secretary to the Treasury

Memorandum to: Director General, BBC.

Cc: MDN, MDR, DMDR, SAPCAR, DSAPCAR, Asst to DSAPCAR, Sec to Asst to DSAPCAR, Ed Today, Dep Ed Today.

From: The Secretary to the Governors.

Re: John Humphrys's interview with Lynton Charles MP, 2 March 2000.

I enclose a transcript of the offending interview, which the governors feel shows off neither interviewer nor interviewee in a flattering light. However, the chairman wishes me to point out that, whereas Mr Charles may be said to be the Prime Minister's problem, Mr Humphrys is most assuredly ours. Your comments would be welcomed.


JH: Ever since the new millennium began in January, the government has been in one sort of trouble or another. It's been accused of cooking the books, failing to deliver on promises, spinning when it should have been acting, being out of touch over policies such as asylum-seekers and law and order. Many commentators believe that the rot really set in with the opening of the Millennium Dome, and the revelation that £800m of the taxpayers' money had gone to create an overturned soup tureen full of tawdry exhibits that no one wants to see.

The latest revelation that the Dome's new management has asked the government for extra funding has, understandably, provoked fury. We asked the minister responsible, Lord Falconer, on to the programme, but he did not wish to appear. Nor did Mo Mowlam or Chris Smith. Instead, the junior Treasury minister, Lynton Charles, who was on the Dome team for a year, is here in the studio. So Mr Charles, where is Lord Falconer?

LC: I beg your pardon?

JH: Where is Mo Mowlam? Where is Chris Smith? Why won't they come on the programme to defend their part in this fiasco, but leave it up to someone of com- paratively junior status to answer the hard questions?

LC: Well, you'll have to ask them, but for my part, I . . .

JH (interrupting): I can't ask them, can I? Because they're not here. Clearly you're not going to tell me, so let me ask if you agree that the Dome has been a disaster for the government?

LC: Well, no I don't actually. Millions of people have visited the Dome and had a wonderful time . . . [JH: snorting noise] No, they have. The vast majority of those who make the journey have enjoyed themselves . . .

JH (interrupting): But you can enjoy yourself at the seaside and it doesn't cost £800m, does it? Surely, for that vast amount of money, which could have been spent on all the things that Mr Blair says he loves so much - education, hospitals, bombing small nations in eastern Europe - the Dome should have been one of the Wonders of the World, and not a tacky assembly of all that's cheap and shoddy about modern society? I mean, a so-called Body Zone that's obsessed with pubic hair, a trapeze show full of men in crimson tights, a place where children can throw plastic balls at each other? Do you want to say sorry?

LC: No. That's a travesty, I'm afraid, John, and . . .

JH (interrupting): It's not a travesty at all - it's an accurate description.

LC: If I can get a word in, in between your opinions . . .

JH (interrupting): Now, now, that's naughty. You know that I'm only here to ask questions. People have a right to know what you've done with their money.

LC: They do, but let me point out that not a penny of tax money has gone on the Dome, the Lottery has . . .

JH (interrupting): That's just pedantry really, isn't it?

LC: Well, no it's not . . .

JH: I'm sorry, but we'll have to leave it there. Lynton Charles, thank you very much.