'You are a nasty piece of work, aren't you?': Boris Johnson's father Stanley attacks Eddie Mair over interview on Andrew Marr Show

London Mayor left floundering by a series of damaging questions from BBC presenter

Boris Johnson’s past troubles finally returned to haunt him yesterday when he gave what senior Conservatives called a “car crash” television interview which they said had dented his hopes of becoming Conservative Party leader.

The colourful, humorous Mayor of London is often treated with kid gloves by interviewers but Eddie Mair, who hosted the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, was wearing boxing gloves. He subjected Mr Johnson to the awkward questions and scrutiny he could expect if he were running to be Prime Minister rather than running the capital.

“You’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you?” asked Mr Mair. Mr Johnson looked surprised and distinctly uncomfortable as the presenter asked him about his being fired by The Times newspaper for making up a quotation; being sacked from the Tory frontbench for telling “a bare-faced lie” to the party leader Michael Howard about his affair with the journalist Petronella Wyatt and the claim that he agreed to provide a reporter’s address to his friend Darius Guppy, a convicted fraudster, so the journalist could be beaten up.

An exasperated Mr Johnson said he would “dispute” all three allegations.  Only up to a point, it seemed.  He admitted he had “mildly sandpapered something someone  said” for The Times, saying it was “very embarrassing” and he was “very sorry”. He insisted he never spoke directly to Mr Howard about the affair, although at the time in 2004 he publicly denied it as “an inverted pyramid of piffle.”  He told Mr Mair: “I could explain that I think all three interpretations you’re putting on those things aren’t wholly fair….  the case of my old friend Darius [Guppy] yes, it was certainly true that he was in a bit of state and I did humour him in a long phone conversation, from which absolutely nothing eventuated. But I think if any of us had our phone conversations bugged, they might, you know, people say all sorts of fantastical things whist they’re talking to their friends.”

The softly-spoken, dry but deadly BBC presenter, standing in for Mr Marr while he recovers from a stroke, told Mr Johnson: “I want to talk about you.”  Revealingly, the Mayor replied: “Well that’s exactly what I’m trying to avoid.”  He insisted it was “nonsensical” to talk about whether he wanted to be Prime Minister and insisted he wanted David Cameron to win the next election, even though some Tory MPs dream of installing Mr Johnson as party leader before or after the 2015 poll.

The Mayor complained that he had in effect been blackmailed by Michael Cockerell, the veteran documentary-maker,  into co-operating with a  programme about him to be screened by the BBC tonight

Asked about his ambitions, Mr Johnson told Mr Cockerell: “I think it’s a very tough job being Prime Minister. Obviously if the ball came loose from the back of the scrum – which it won’t— it would be a great, great thing to have a crack at it. But it’s not going to happen.”

Some of those interviewed by Mr Cockerell were less than flattering about his subject. “Boris isn’t pretending to be chaotic; he really is utterly chaotic,” said Sir Max Hastings, his former editor at the Daily Telegraph. Conrad Black, who appointed Mr Johnson editor of The Spectator magazine, describes him as “a sly fox disguised as a teddy bear.”

Yesterday Mr Mair had the advantage because he had already watched a sneak preview of  “Boris Johnson: The Irresistible Rise”, to be shown at 9pm tonight on BBC2. “I’m not going to watch it,”  Mr Johnson told him. “No. I’m certainly not, not after what you’ve told me.”

And this morning Johnson's father, Stanley Johnson, defended his son, telling Nick Ferrari on LBC radio: "I thought Eddie Mair's interview was about the most disgusting piece of journalism I've listened to for a very long time."

"The BBC sank about as low as it could. If grilling people about their private lives, accusing them of guilt by association and openly abusing them is a legitimate interview, then frankly, I don't know where we are coming."

But later this morning Johnson himself said: "Eddie Mair did a splendid job. There is no doubt that is what the BBC is for - holding us to account.

"He was perfectly within his rights to have a bash at me - in fact it would have been shocking if he hadn't. If a BBC presenter can't attack a nasty Tory politician what's the world coming to?"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Recruitment Genius: Reprographics Operator

£12500 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest independent Reprogr...

Recruitment Genius: Web Design Apprentice

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a well established websit...

Tradewind Recruitment: French & German Teacher

£120 - £145 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: French & German Teacher X2 Materni...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer / Systems Administrator

£25000 - £32500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in SW London, this compan...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee