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Medicine a little strong for anchorman

‘Listen, chum, will you leave me alone?’ says tight-lipped Paxman

Jeremy PaxmanFormer BBC Newsnight anchorman Jeremy Paxman, best known for his persistent questioning of politicians, last night showed he was not prepared to take any of his own medicine.

Asked after a dinner engagement in Edinburgh whether he thought Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson should be sacked for his fracas with a producer of the show, Mr Paxman made it clear that he was not willing to declare his position.

“I have very strong views on that,” he told Daily Business.

When asked again, he repeated his answer. Asked a third time, he became agitated and said: “Listen chum, will you leave me alone?” He walked away, refusing to engage in further discussion on the subject.

In 1997 Mr Paxman famously asked Michael Howard, who had been Home Secretary until 13 days earlier, the same question 12 times.

That interview earned a reputation in some circles as one of the toughest political interviews ever conducted. Whether this was the case or not, it was thought at the time to have contributed to the stalling of Mr Howard’s political career.

Mr Paxman, who stood down from BBC2’s Newsnight last year after 25 years presenting the programme, was guest speaker last night at the National Association of Pension Funds dinner at the National Museum of Scotland.

He was questioned about Mr Clarkson’s future while signing autographs for some of the guests of the National Association of Pension Funds.

In a speech reflecting on his career he spoke about interviews he had conducted with the Dalai Lama and Michael Fabricant.

He said he had retired from Newsnight because he had become “a little jaded”.

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