Emily Maitlis received text message from Dominic Cummings after Newsnight reprimand

PUBLISHED: 12:22 24 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:43 24 July 2020

Emily Maitlis on Newsnight. Photograph: BBC

Emily Maitlis on Newsnight. Photograph: BBC

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Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis said she had a text from Dominic Cummings after she was reprimanded by the BBC over her monologue about the adviser.

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The BBC said the episode “did not meet our standards of due impartiality”, while its head of news, Fran Unsworth, said it belonged “more on the op-ed page in a newspaper”.

But Maitlis told Tatler magazine that the prime minister’s chief adviser “sent me a text of support”.

Emily Maitlis introduces BBC Newsnight with a summary of the government's reponse to the Dominic Cummings story. Photograph: BBC.Emily Maitlis introduces BBC Newsnight with a summary of the government's reponse to the Dominic Cummings story. Photograph: BBC.

“It was peak surreal getting a message of support from him in the middle of all the crazy stuff,” she said.

In the monologue, Maitlis said the prime minister’s chief adviser had “broken the rules” and “the country can see that, and it’s shocked the government cannot”.


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Maitlis said she had more support from viewers after the controversy than she did following her interview with the Duke of York.

It included a petition of support from concerned viewers after she did not appear on the following night’s programme as scheduled.

“I think that was the biggest I’ve had – more than Andrew, more than anything. I was overwhelmed by it,” she said.

“I wasn’t expecting such a flood of warmth.”

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On the Prince Andrew interview, she said the royal “was very pleased” after the cameras stopped.

“He was actually so generous with his time. He took us on a tour of the extraordinary corridor of Buckingham Palace, he pointed out the statues, the staircases and where the Queen has her audiences with prime ministers.

“He said to me, ‘Next time you come, we’ll talk about Prince Albert. He was the entrepreneur of the family’.”

But the presenter said she had not “grasped exactly what was in the interview until I finished”.

Maitlis added: “You’re so determined not to miss a beat, to check with yourself you haven’t used the wrong tone or got something stupendously wrong, that actually you’re not sitting there grinning, thinking, ‘Hahaha! That’s amazing!’”

She also spoke about her friendship with Piers Morgan.

“I think of Piers as someone who’s incredibly loyal. I know if I was in prison, Piers Morgan would come and see me,” the Newsnight host said.

“I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but he’d be there. And I like the fact that I can have a row with him without it affecting our friendship – I don’t think I’ve ever had dinner with him without it ending in a massive row.

“I think that’s a good thing.”

• The full feature is in the September issue of Tatler available via digital download and newsstands on Thursday July 30.

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