Nick Ferrari, 61, is best known for his weekday breakfast show on LBC and with 1.3 million daily listeners, he’s certainly a hit. One of his most prominent interviews that stuck in people’s minds throughout the 2017 General Election and still raises its head today, was his awkward discussion about police funds with then Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, 66.
It’s not like I’d bumped into her in the street. That’s why I was incredulous
The conversation described as a “car crash” by many, saw the Labour MP announce the party’s new plan for police and crime ahead of the election.
But it all went south when she struggled to relay the costs of the policy to add 10,000 more police officers to the service
As listeners waited eagerly for the figures, she claimed at one point that it would cost £300,000 – the equivalent of £30 per officer.
She said at the time: “Well, erm… if we recruit the 10,000 policemen and women over a four-year period, we believe it will be about £300,000.”
Nick Ferrari LBC host recalls ‘agonising’ Diane Abbott interview
Nick Ferrari admitted to being ‘incredulous’ during Diane Abbott’s 2017 interview
Nick sounded confused and queried the amount: “£300,000 for 10,000 police officers? What are you paying them?” he joked.
Realising her mistake, she tried to clarify but stumbled over her words: “No, I mean, sorry. They will cost… they will, it will cost, about… about £80million.”
But the radio host was relentless and pressed her for more clarification as the figures she had provided didn’t add up.
He explained that it would mean the new police officers would earn an annual salary of £8,000, if her numbers were correct.
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She replied: “We get to that figure because we anticipate recruiting 25,000 extra police officers a year at least over a period of four years and we’re looking at what average police wages are generally, but also specifically police wages in London.”
After an awkward back and fourth over the amount of officers that would be employed and their salaries, she insisted the plan was thought through and fully-costed, paid for by reversing the Conservative Party’s cuts to Capital Gains Tax.
Now, in an exclusive interview with Radio Times, Nick spoke out about the infamous interview and the reason behind why he challenged the Labour MP.
“What people forget is that she knew what she was going to be asked to talk about,” he explained.
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“It’s not like I’d bumped into her in the street. That’s why I was incredulous.”
Nick recalled hearing a “shuffle of papers” on Ms Abbott’s end during the awkward silences when she was trying to work out the costs.
“Silence on radio is so b****y powerful because it’s not meant to happen,” he remembered.
Speaking of a more recent interview with Michael Gove about Dominic Cummings’ alleged breach of coronavirus lockdown rules, the LBC presenter was left “staggered” after Mr Gove appeared to claim that he had, like the Prime Minister’s aide, also tested his eyesight by going for a drive.
Mr Cummings has come under fire for driving over 200 miles to his family’s home in Durham during the strict lockdown, while he and his wife were ill with suspected COVID-19.
It was also reported that he had driven to Barnard Castle with his family to “test his eyesight”, after he claimed he had been having trouble with his vision.
His actions have been dubbed “hypocritical” but in a televised statement, he said he “doesn’t regret” what he did.
Last week, the radio host questioned Mr Gove if he would have gone on a 60-mile round trip to test his eyesight, using Mr Cummings’ family trip to the Castle as an example.
“I have, on occasions in the past, driven with my wife in order to make sure, what’s the right way of putting it,” Mr Gove replied.
Nick grinned and said: “I’m staggered. I don’t know how you’re going to get out of this one but it’s going to be fun.”
The host’s full interview is available to read now in Radio Times.
Nick’s LBC show airs weekdays at 7am.