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SUNDAY 19  MAY 2024

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How dodgy Stan the Adman finally got his comeuppance

from the old Daily Express

MYERSON: A ‘distasteful and unpleasant’ individual

Those of us who earned a crust on the Daily Express in the Eighties and early Nineties, look back fondly on that time. We worked hard, we played harder and we forged friendships that thankfully last to this day.


But it was a nest of vipers. Some of those at the top were incompetent, crooked back-stabbers and, in any other industry, might have landed in jail for their antics.


I have been re-reading a book by Andrew Cameron, former Managing Director of Express Newspapers, called Express Newspapers: The Inside Story of a Turbulent Decade.


The writing is dreadful – turgid, cliched and perhaps self-serving – but it dishes the dirt on Press barons, editors and unions alike.


One man who gets fearsome stick, in a chapter called The Adfolk: Sex, Scandal and Spies, is Stan Myerson, who would go on to be Joint Managing Director of Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell company.


Cameron alleges that Myerson ratted out his boss, Advertising Director David Lammin, for running a scam that involved advertising rental caravans he owned in the South of France in the columns of the Express and neglecting to pay for the space.


Confronted with the evidence, he held up his hands and was soon gone. But his deputy Myerson – “sleek saturnine, immaculately and expensively dressed,” according to Cameron – failed to get his job. Instead, it went to Mike Moore, who was brought in from TV-am.


At first, he and Myerson made a “formidable team,” says Cameron. But while Moore was away on holiday, Myerson asked to see him on “a personal matter”.  He claimed Moore had approached his wife Clare and asked her: “Where do you think Stan is tonight?” The question was meant to sow doubt in her mind, Cameron claims.


When Moore got back, he too went to see Cameron and alleged that Myerson was bullying staff unmercifully and had to go “for the good of the company”. Cameron, trying to steady the ship, moved Myerson out of the advertising department.


Myerson then claimed that Moore had “cheated the company out of hundreds of thousands of pounds.” He would allegedly give an advertiser free or discounted space in exchange for kickbacks. It was known as “contra dealing”.


Cameron knew this would be difficult to prove but, given the sums involved, he could not ignore it.


“It was at this stage that I took a decision I was later to regret; a decision that eventually led to our actions being splashed over three pages in the Mail on Sunday, which revelled in our embarrassment,” Cameron writes.


He decided to bug Moore’s office before he had a meeting with the advertiser behind the kickbacks. Cameron called in a security firm specialising in shadowy surveillance work – and Myerson was part of the “bug implant team,” he writes.


The recording was indistinct and yielded no proof of wrong doing. Myerson’s reaction was “almost frightening in its ferocity”. He told Cameron: “If you can’t prove it, I will.”


He hired a firm of private detectives. It was apparently at his own expense but they were hired on company notepaper and when they weren’t paid they demanded the cash from the Express.


They followed Moore to Manchester, where he hosted the Express advertising department’s summer party. Days later, Myerson reported that they had seen Moore ushering a married classified ads manager from his hotel room while wearing Ruper Bear patterned underpants.


Moore resigned and left with a handsome payoff. A few weeks later, the story of his weekend in Manchester was spread across three pages in the Mail on Sunday, including the details of his unusual underpants.


But Myerson’s actions only served to put the spotlight on him. Cameron claims he uncovered evidence that he was guilty of extra-marital affairs, fiddling his expenses, manipulating sales figures to boost his bonuses, intimidating staff and lying about his background.


“At one point, he confronted my principal investigators, Administration Director Struan Coupar and Production Director Paul Rudd, and exploded into such a paroxysm of anger that the two men feared for their safety,” writes Cameron.


Myerson was sacked for gross misconduct and, says Cameron, “was probably the most distasteful and unpleasant man I met in all my newspaper years.”


Blimey, and we used to worry about drinking too much and the waiting time on our cabs home!

*****

Jobsworths in the Cabinet Office have apologised to TalkTV presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer for labelling her a “vaccine sceptic” and then telling US counter-terrorism officials.


Pah! I could have spared them the embarrassment, if only they had asked.


The verdict was so wide of the mark that it makes me wonder what else they were getting wrong.


I worked with Julia when she was Political Editor of the Sunday Express. It was at the time of the MMR scandal, when a research paper by Dr Andrew Wakefield linked autism to the three-in-one vaccine meant to protect children from measles, mumps and rubella.


The newspaper did not back Wakefield but I thought, and still do, that some babies could react badly to so much vaccine all in one shot. So we argued that the individual components should be available as separate vaccinations.


Julia, 55, whose mother is – or at least was – a GP, took grave exception to the piece. She argued forcefully that the jab was essential to child health and we should not write anything to dissuade parents from allowing their children to receive the vaccine. Or indeed to encourage the Wakefield view.


Later, during the pandemic, she was vaccinated against Covid herself and extolled the vaccine’s virtues on her breakfast show. Yet the chumps at the Cabinet Office rapid response unit, charged with combating Covid disinformation, lumped her in with the deniers based on just one tweet.


Two Government Ministers, Sajid Javid and Nadhim Zahawi, pleaded in the Daily Telegraph for parents to get their children vaccinated against Covid. Julia believes the vaccine should not be given to children and tweeted in response: “No. No. No. NO!!!!”


If her views on the Covid vaccine and the MMR jab seem at odds with each other, trust me, she will have read up on the science before she formed her opinion.


She called the Government’s move against her “sinister” and added: “I am shocked that the British Government spent time during a pandemic monitoring, attempting to censor and smearing a journalist who was simply trying to do her job by asking the right questions and challenging the prevailing orthodoxy.”


The unit, now disbanded, also identified Tory ex-Minister David Davis as a sceptic.


Hartley-Brewer added: “I am particularly concerned by the fact that the British Government shared this false information about me with a US counter-terrorism unit set up to tackle Russian, Chinese and Iranian propaganda. This is very sinister.”


She’s right, of course, and it shows up the Civil Service for the bungling, biased, inefficient lot they really are.

*****

A Richard Desmond story that I hadn’t heard before. I can’t confirm that it is true but it’s from the pages of Private Eye and it rings true enough.


Desmond, former owner of the Express newspaper titles, walks into the offices of Channel 5 TV station, which he also owned, and finds a young man at a desk eating from a packet of crisps.


He rips the packet from the lad’s hands and yells at him: “You’re here to work hard, not stuff your face, you fat c***.”


Bad mistake. The youngster legged it in tears and it turned out he was only there on work experience at the invitation of Stan Myerson, Desmond’s then right-hand man.


Worse, his father was chief executive of a top advertising agency and soon afterwards, all advertising for Asda, one of Britain’s leading supermarket chains, was pulled from the Express and the Star.


Doh!

*****

Thefts of bicycles from railway stations are up by 40 per cent in a year, The Times reports.


Worryingly, one of the worst affected stations is at Walton-on-Thames, near the home of Bradley Wiggins lookalike Alastair McIntyre, our saintly Editor.


I do hope his Cannondale Bad Boy with its 8-speed Shimano gearing is not among the swag. It costs almost £1,800 and moves so fast that if he wasn’t wearing pink Lycra, he’d be little more than a blur. (These days I prefer to take a sedan chair, sporting model, of course — Ed)



31 October 2023