News International’s beleaguered spin machine has a new public face: Andrew Honnor, who shares the same Conservative Central Office pedigree as the Prime Minister.
In 1992, when David Cameron was helping prepare John Major for Prime Minister’s Questions and the coming general election, Honnor joined Conservative Central Office to help out.
Having risen through the world of City public relations, Honnor was yesterday named as the Murdoch media group's Interim Director of Public Affairs, replacing Simon Greenberg, the former sports journalist who has been the public face of News International during the recent excesses of the phone hacking scandal.
Greenberg has joined NI’s former general manager, Will Lewis, and Lord Grabiner QC, in the company’s management and standards committee, the unit responsible for co-operating with the various inquiries into illegal news gathering techniques.
Honnor has spent the past decade at the financial PR company, Tulchan.
While still at Exeter University in 1990, Honnor worked as an intern for the Republican Party during the 1990 congressional elections.
Fellow Conservative campaign workers in the early 90s said they had expected Honnor to follow the same path towards becoming an MP as both Cameron and the chancellor, George Osborne.
A year before the 1997 general election, Honnor became a special adviser to Virginia Bottomley, then the culture secretary. He followed John Bercow, now the Commons speaker, into the Bottomley camp. One MP who knew him said “Andrew can’t be bribed or bullied.”
News International said yesterday that Honnor’s appointment will be only till the end of the year “after which he intends to start his own communications company.”
Although Honnor's former clients have included the Daily Mail and RBS, fellow spinners in London’s leading corporate affairs companies say his experiences with one Australian hedge fund manager, Greg Coffey, was a perfect grounding for his new post.
Mr Coffey gave up a bonus of $330 million when he quit GLP Partners to set up his own company. Hunted by the media, Coffey said he could not afford the time to deal with the press. Former colleagues joke that Honnor was hired to repeat the phrase “My client is saying nothing. He’s not doing interviews.”