David Parkin recalls his interview with Prince Andrew, meets a legend and sees a stage success

IT’S not hard to see why Prince Andrew has only done a few media interviews over the years.

His appearance on Newsnight last weekend was initially described as a “car crash” by commentators but now looks more like a nuclear explosion which has wrecked his reputation and caused collateral damage to the Royal Family.

It seems the Duke of York has only ever agreed to a handful of one-to-one interviews with the press.

One was with me.

It was back in 2005 when Royal Ascot came to York Racecourse for one year only during the time that Ascot was being rebuilt.

And while the subjects we covered were Yorkshire, business and the benefits of bringing Royal Ascot to York, I had a glimpse then at some of Prince Andrew’s many flaws which were laid bare during his interview last week.

The Duke of York had agreed to speak to me, then the business editor of the Yorkshire Post, about the charity projects he supported in the region and his role as an international ambassador for British business.

The interview was arranged by Keith Madeley of the Yorkshire Society who was helping the Duke of York get involved in more charity projects in the city and county whose name he carried.

Arriving at some historic buildings at the side of York Minster, I ascended some stairs to a wood-panelled boardroom where I was introduced to Prince Andrew before we sat down and did the interview for around half an hour.

There was only me, the Duke and one other person in the room.

His wiry, flinty-eyed security officer who looked like a cross between Vladimir Putin and Andrew Marr.

I didn’t know whether he was going to interrogate me or karate chop me.

I don’t recall much about the interview because it was more a monologue by the Duke rather than a question and answer session.

What I do remember is that he came across as arrogant, intransigent and not very bright.

That was all confirmed during his excruciating experience on Newsnight.

You’d have thought that getting a face to face interview with a senior member of the Royal Family would be a career highlight for a journalist, but, do you know, I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it since.

And regular readers will know I don’t need much encouragement to talk about interviews with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sir Ken Morrison and Lord Hanson.

The only time I’ve ever thought back about it is on those infrequent occasions that Prince Andrew makes a public appearance.

I wonder what benefit there was to him in agreeing to do it?

Unlike many of the rest of his family, he has long had a reputation for being selfish, entitled and rude.

I was once told that the only way you got Prince Andrew to Yorkshire to visit a business or attend an event was to hold it on a Friday and hope that he fancied flying in by helicopter and then heading off for a shooting weekend on the moors or visiting a lady friend at her country pile.

I don’t need to add my twopenn’orth to the pages of analysis of Prince Andrew’s interview with Emily Maitlis.

We still don’t know whether any of the allegations made against him by Jeffrey Epstein’s victims are true.

But the interview turned a searchlight on the Duke and the world saw a man with a complete lack of empathy, an astounding lack of judgement and an overwhelming sense of entitlement.


I CALLED into the barbers the other day and already in the chair was veteran Leeds stockbroker Keith Loudon.

Now the world ‘veteran’ is bandied about far too often these days but given Keith is in his 80s and still working hard in the family stockbroking business started by his father then I think he qualifies to be called one.

Although given he is a former Lord Mayor of Leeds, huge charity supporter, has been awarded an OBE and is an all round top guy I think he deserves to be called “legend”.

Keith understands how the media works and always used to send me stories, normally on a Sunday when I was scrabbling round to find stuff to fill the newspaper or the website for a Monday morning.

He’s a regular reader of this blog and mentioned a recent milestone for his firm, Redmayne Bentley.

“I’ll send you something over,” he said as the barber brushed his collar following his trim.

There was a press release waiting in my inbox by the time I had had my haircut.

And given my lack of follicles, that not a lot of time.

Redmayne Bentley has recently celebrated a 20-year partnership with a primary school.

Since 1999, members of staff from the Leeds office of investment management and stockbroking firm Redmayne Bentley have been visiting children at Castleton Primary School in Armley to listen to them read as part of the Right to Read programme.

The partnership began when a former investment manager at the firm, who was also a governor at the school, helped set up the programme. 

Keith, the chairman of Redmayne Bentley, who has been involved with the programme from the outset, said: “If you cannot read you will miss so much in this day and age. Most people learn to read at school and the expectation is that they will become more fluent with practice. In many homes the routine is that children have a bedtime story. Gradually, children relate words to pictures and so move forward to reading by themselves – which is great.

“Sadly, some families, for a number of reasons, don’t have family reading. This can put their children at a disadvantage on the road to knowledge. 

“It is most important to be aware this programme is not taking the place of normal school learning; it’s an addition.”

And Redmayne Bentley has recently won two major industry awards, being named ‘Best Stockbroker for Customer Service’ and also ‘Best Self Select ISA’ for the second year in a row.

The Investment and Wealth Management Awards recognise the best financial service providers for excellent service and value for money, as voted for by Investors Chronicle and Financial Times readers.

Keith’s mantra has always been to treat your clients’ money like your own.

He bought me a coffee and a mince pie in Costa in 2013.

If I publish a couple more of his press releases, I think he’ll accept I’ve repaid my debt to him.


IT was nice to read about the success of family-owned Yorkshire business Brilliant Stages.

The business, which has designed stages for world tours by the Rolling Stones, Robbie Williams, Beyonce, Take That and Coldplay, has been bought by US group TAIT.

Brilliant Stages was founded by former teacher Adrian Brooks and is now run by his son Ben.

I met Adrian years ago and have spent plenty of good times with him and our mutual friend Jonny Hick.

The two used to meet in a bar near Wakefield called The Greenhouse and discuss business opportunities.

They called it “blue sky thinking” and subsequently bought a Fairline yacht based out of Majorca named, “Blue Sky Thinking”.

Unfortunately it sank, but that’s another story.

I first came across Adrian’s business when it was known as Litestructures.

I received a press release about a company based in South Kirkby near Pontefract which produced scaffolding.

It was a pretty boring press release until I got to the last paragraph which said that the firm had diversified into making staging for live concerts and had recently produced the entire stage set for Janet Jackson’s world tour.

Cue finding a photo of our Janet in concert (no, not her Super Bowl performance with Justin Timberlake where her nipple was revealed) and the story made the front page of the Yorkshire Post business section.

And the press release took pride of place in my file marked “Crap PR” which I would take with me whenever I was asked to do a ‘meet the media’ panel discussion or a talk to wide-eyed PR bods.

If you haven’t worked it out already the lesson is not to hide the most interesting information in the final paragraph of a press release.

I later interviewed Adrian Brooks and he gave me a tour of his base at Production Park near Ponty.

They had built a huge hangar where they could set up the stages they had built for world tours and some of the greatest living entertainers would come in to rehearse their shows in this huge facility squeezed between the A1 and a housing estate.

When I went there was a huge stage being built for a tour by Scissor Sisters, who I believe are a popular beat combo named after their love of hand-operated shearing tools.

I wonder if they’ve got a pair of grape scissors?

Adrian told me some of the locals had got wind that big stars had been visiting his business to rehearse their world tours.

I asked if having fans and groupies outside had caused any problems.

“No, not really, because we’ve managed to nip it in the bud,” he told me.

Apparently he’d found a young mum with a pram outside the gates one day.

She paused from taking a drag on her cigarette and stopped chewing gum for a moment to ask him: “Have you got Robbie Williams in there? I’ve heard him singing.”

Quick as a flash Adrian replied: “No, we’ve just got the radio turned up really loud.”

Have a great weekend.


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