My Mentor: Andrew Pierce on Amanda Platell

'I was expecting some Cruella de vil hack but she was completely gay-friendlY'
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The Independent Online

I had read about Amanda in Private Eye and thought she was some mad axe-woman who sacked lots of people. I had been on The Times as a parliamentary reporter for a few years when she approached me from the Sunday Express. I was expecting to meet some ferocious, formidable Cruella de Vil Fleet Street hack, but in fact I met this charming, clever, funny, feisty woman who was completely gay-friendly.

I decided to go to the Sunday Express and it was a complete roller-coaster. It was starved of money but Amanda had a great tabloid gut instinct for a story. She created the "Andrew Pierce" role for me. I had a brief to cause trouble and got into the royals for the first time.

On the night Matthew Parris revealed on Newsnight that Peter Mandelson was gay, Amanda said, as you would expect of a mid-market tabloid editor, "How do we follow it up?" My point was that Mandelson was a cabinet minister who was taking his boyfriend to various public events, and we should write about it. I knew who his boyfriend was and we tracked him down in Japan. The editor-in-chief congratulated us on the scoop, which would be widely followed, but the proprietor Clive Hollick intervened. The story got kicked off the front page but we still ran it and Amanda was sacked. I resigned in morning conference as I thought management had behaved absolutely appallingly. Circulation had been good under her, she was a great editor and a great journalist and has been my career muse ever since.

I don't regret a thing because it raised my profile beyond belief and I went back to The Times with a posh title. I am still learning from Amanda now and she was the first person I asked for advice about moving to The Daily Telegraph. She has been my prop professionally and emotionally ever since and I like to think I've been a prop for her too.

Andrew Pierce is assistant editor of The Daily Telegraph. Amanda Platell is a columnist for the Daily Mail