I WISH to make it clear that during recent negotiations for the purchase of the Observer newspaper, it was never the intention of myself, or my colleagues here at the Independent, to buy the Observer and then burn it down. I mean, close it down. Thank you.
Nor, I wish to make clear, was it our intention to put in a bid for the Observer that would force the Guardian to put up its money offer, thus hoping to weaken the Guardian financially by making it bid too high and have to shell out too much money. It is a nice idea, but that was not our intention.
Nor, may I make quite clear, was it my intention to buy the Observer as a birthday present for a nephew of mine who wants to get into journalism, as I intend to buy the Daily Mirror for that purpose at some later date, when the price has come down even lower.
Nor, I think I ought to stress, was it with any view to asset-stripping. That is, we had no intention of selling off the tangible and profitable parts of the Observer empire, such as the buildings and machinery, but especially the legendary collection of private memos from Tiny Rowland to Donald Trelford, telling him what he can and cannot print, and suggesting some interesting African stories for the future, as we do not even believe that such a legendary collection exists, no, sirree.
Nor, may I make it very clear indeed, did I intend to buy the Observer and turn it into a weekly news sheet with reports and updates on all those people who are currently intending to leave the Church of England and take refuge in the Roman Catholic Church, together with profiles of those who in the past have indulged in this very English custom of going over to Rome at the last moment, just in case there is any truth in this rumour about the big entrance examination in the sky (Oscar Wilde, Malcolm Muggeridge, etc).
(Incidentally, I am currently working on a piece about famous English people who, as death approached, have decided to leave the Catholic Church and be received into the C of E, the church of the blessed John Selwyn Gummer, but I am slightly hampered by not being able to find any examples in the whole of history. Any suggestions?)
Nor is there any truth in the ridiculous rumour that we intended to throw open the Observer offices to the public at pounds 8 a throw, in order to pay for repairs after a ruinous fire that has not yet taken place, pending discussions on the most advantageous site for such a fire, insurance-wise.
Nor at any time, may I add, did we intend to convert the Observer's palatial offices into a residential home near the centre of London for Lloyd's names who have lost everything in their syndicate troubles.
Nor is there any truth in the prevalent rumours that the Independent board of directors and myself were dead keen to buy the Observer and get our sticky little hands on the Observer pension funds, in time- honoured Fleet Street fashion.
Nor did we intend to buy the Observer so that we could ask Mr Brian Clough to take over as editor, and give a great man a good job.
Nor is there absolutely any truth in the rumour that we wished to purchase the Observer solely to get to meet Donald Trelford so that we could get to go on some of these exciting snooker and chess expeditions he goes on, and find out when he gets time to edit the newspaper when he is writing all these exciting books about snooker and chess and skiing. No, hold on, it was Harold Evans who was always writing about skiing. Wonder whatever happened to him . . .
Nor did we wish to buy the Observer in order to annoy Mr Rupert Murdoch.
Nor, of course, did we enter into negotiations to buy the Observer as an initial step in our long-term plans to buy Harrods.
At this point in time it is hard to remember why I and the board of directors of the Independent DID set out to buy the Observer, but we think, looking back, it was so that we could get an advance copy on Saturday evenings and thus wouldn't have to read it on Sunday mornings.
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