Ben Kentish 10pm - 1am
The best stories don't come from the well-behaved writes John Sweeney
31 October 2022, 08:41 | Updated: 31 October 2022, 11:28
The best stories are those that power and money don’t want told.
They don’t come from the the well-behaved. They’re told by people who have been in trouble. Big trouble. When Global suggested I do a podcast series of talks for them, I wanted to talk to people who have done serious stuff with their lives and then got into a hole. I don’t want to lecture them about that. I’m kind of a professor of troubleology myself – note my battles with North Korea, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Tommy Robinson, the Church of Scientology and, this year, the Russian army.
But I’m fascinated by how people handle the darkest moments of their lives and how they pull through and get to the other side.
Sweeney Talks launches today with two interviews, the first with Dr Rachel Clarke, author and NHS palliative care doctor, the second with Christopher Steele, the former MI6 spy who wrote the dossier saying that Donald Trump had been kompromatted by the Russians.
Steele tells me: “Darkest moment in my career would be the declassification of material or documents on me and our work in the United States … if somebody is named in a US government document as a source of ours in Russia, they're in big trouble.”
They could die?
Did some of them die?
“I am not going to go there. It [was] revenge on us.”
What's it like being at the wrong end of the anger of the President of the United States?
“It's uncomfortable… History is proving us right… weeks, we've seen these classified documents down at Mar a Lago, some of which I'm sure actually relate to us and contain information on me.”
Some of the documents that Trump has allegedly stolen are about you?
We’ve asked Team Trump for a reply to Steele’s story that some of the Mar-A-Lago classified documents are about the former British spy but thus far we have received no reply.
Dr Rachel Clarke was in Kyiv a few weeks ago when it was hit by Russian missiles but her darkest moment was struggling to cope with a young toddler and being a trainee doctor. Her brightest moment? As a palliative care doctor, helping a dying man have a drink – let’s say Southern Comfort on the rocks – with his family.
Dr Clarke calls on her old foe, the new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to increase funding for the NHS. She tells me: “If you are sincerely committed to patient safety, part of your job is to speak out and tell the truth about the ways in which patients right now are dying in every hospital in the NHS. Because we don't have enough doctors, we don't have enough nurses, we do not have the resources we need. If you stay silent about those facts, because your political career is more important to you, than those avoidable deaths of patients, you cannot stand up and say, I'm a patient safety champion.”
“Jeremy Hunt has written an entire book about patient safety, where he says in that book explicitly, that the NHS is not sufficiently funded…. It might not be political to be that outspoken, but it's honourable. And if you have true integrity, you have to speak out.”
And then there’s Johnny Mercer MP on saving a pal’s life in Afghanistan and being sacked by Liz Truss. Remember her?
I could go on but listen out for Sweeney Talks on Global Player or wherever you get your podcasts. And if you really can’t enough of me, listen out for Sweeney Keeps On Talking, bonus content only on Global Player, when I chat about the latest interviews with my producer, Helen Burke.