Will Neil's disclosure lay Rupert bare?

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The Independent Culture
Andrew Neil is to lift the lid on his often stormy relationship with the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, owner of the Sunday Times, in a provocative book to be published next month.

Full Disclosure is based on details of conversations, telephone calls and stories which Neil noted in a series of notebooks following his appointment to the editorship of the Sunday broadsheet in 1983.

It also spills the beans on his four-month affair with Pamela Bordes, whom he subsequently discovered to be a call girl. He successfully sued the Sunday Telegraph for suggesting in a leader that he was unfit to be editor because of the relationship.

Neil is reticent about revealing details about his portrait of Murdoch,but says it is likely to annoy a number of people.

During his 11 years on the paper Neil took on the unions over Wapping, the Government over Spycatcher, the Royal Family over Andrew Morton's book on the Princess of Wales and medical orthodoxy over Aids. He inspired awe and fear in his staff, who were often terrified of his moods.

However, he also revolutionised the paper by taking it into the middle market and overseeing its hugely successful expansion into several sections.

Neil finally broke his long association with Murdoch - in 1994 after the cancellation of the prime-time show on Fox Television which he had left Britain for Los Angeles to present.

He is now a freelance writer and broadcaster.

Macmillan has thrown its weight behind the 500-page hardback with an initial print run of 30,000, and has gone to great lengths to keep details secret before its serialisation in the Daily Mail.

But it is understood it contains stories about as many as 85 journalists, some positive, but many negative. It is also said to contain details of two death threats - one from a friend of a high-profile journalist who was sacked shortly after he started as editor - and recounts his shock at arriving at the newspaper in 1983 to find that office chairs and typewriters were chained down to stop them being stolen.

Yesterday Neil said: "I used to keep notebooks, not a diary in the sense that every day I would write something. By the end I had 22 of them.

"I kept notes of all important conversations. Everybody knew I kept a notebook with me. It was a pretty verbatim record."

Neil added that he also kept "crucial" memos and letters from journalists, although he did not say whether they included the notorious letter from one correspondent who provoked his own departure by peppering Neil with a volley of insults.

Although devoted to the Sunday Times years, Full Disclosure also deals with Neil's upbringing - in a Paisley council house in a staunch Tory household - followed by a stint at Glasgow University, as the first member of his family to gain a degree.

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