How Max Clifford acted as midwife to `the scoop of the millennium'

SO, HOW did The Mirror get the story? The rumour among lobby journalists last night was that Cherie Blair had visited a seamstress to let out one of her dresses. And a third party may have then tipped off the paper.

The Mirror's editor, Piers Morgan, refused to divulge the source yesterday, and said no cash was changing hands, though he would be buying "a large Christmas dinner" for the publicist Max Clifford, who had been involved in the later stages of the story.

Mr Morgan said yesterday: "I got the tip myself about six days ago from someone I thought would know. But we couldn't stand it up. Then Max Clifford rang me up and I learnt some more details. And we learnt that Tony and Cherie had told the children.

"But I had to be absolutely sure on this one. This is the Prime Minister's wife and we are The Mirror. It would have been morally irresponsible to publish the story if she had been less than three months pregnant, so I had to be satisfied that was not the case. When I got confirmation of that I decided to publish."

Mr Morgan rang Alastair Campbell mid-afternoon on Thursday only to discover he was at the dentist. "I hoped after that he might splutter and keel over at my phone call," said Mr Morgan.

Instead, Mr Campbell talked to Mr and Mrs Blair, after failing to convince Mr Morgan that he should hold off publishing for a few days. The Prime Minister then spoke to Mr Morgan.

"He accepted it was a big story and we were going to go ahead," the Mirror editor said. "But they would have preferred us to delay. Even Cherie's father didn't know." Mr Campbell, however, did know, and had known for about a month.

The Mirror described the story on its its front page as "Scoop of the Year." The Sun, all too predictably, labelled the same story on its cover a "World Exclusive".

In fact, it was clearly The Mirror's story, though it will be up to the British Press Awards panel next March to decide whether or not it has earned the title it has awarded itself.

Alastair Campbell decided to release the news to all the press shortly before 9pm, thus taking a little gloss off The Mirror's scoop as television news bulletins and the next morning's papers had time to catch up.

But Campbell did a deal with The Mirror, agreeing that he would acknowledge the paper in his statement, which he duly did. The Mirror can congratulate itself on a scoop that will take its place in newspaper history.

However, The Mirror did make one mistake. It wrongly announced that the Blairs' fourth child would be the "first baby in Downing Street" and wrote on the front page: "It is believed to be the first time a PM has become a father while in office." In fact, as was widely reported elsewhere, Lord John Russell became a father at the age of 56 while Prime Minister in1848.

The Mirror was, though, able to give Mrs Blair advice from its own staffer Jill Palmer, who became a mother for the first time at the age of 41. Curiously, she revealed that she was unaware she was expecting a baby for the first three months of her pregnancy. Ms Palmer is the paper's medical correspondent.

Piers Morgan, meanwhile, is revising his opinion that the story is the scoop of the year. "I'm now calling it the scoop of the millennium," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine