Michael Cole (public relations)

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Michael Cole
Born1943 (age 75–76)

Michael Cole (born 1943) is a former BBC television journalist and Royal Correspondent. After leaving the BBC, he worked as director of public affairs for Harrods, and thus also as a spokesman for its owner Mohamed Al Fayed.


Cole began his career in newspapers, before moving to television.[1] After a period with the local news programme for Anglia Television, he worked on the BBC's Look East from the beginning of 1969.[2] In 1973, he was one of the three correspondents sent by the BBC to cover the Yom Kippur War from the Israeli side,[3] his first assignment after becoming permanently based in London following brief periods in Northern Ireland.[2] The reforms brought about by former BBC Director General Hugh Greene benefited news coverage, according to Cole, but were accompanied by the heavy drug use of some BBC departments.[4]

Cole covered Margaret Thatcher's career following her election as Conservative Party leader in 1975, told her on camera that Airey Neave had been assassinated, and was on hand at the rescue of Norman Tebbit after the Brighton's Grand Hotel was bombed by the IRA.[5]

Cole inadvertently revealed to a press correspondent's lunch some of the 1987 Queen's Christmas message, apparently her reference to the Enniskillen bombing on Remembrance Day.[6][7][8] According to Cole, he immediately told his employer what had happened, and found the "Cole the Mole" headlines which followed inappropriate.[9] Cole's friend and fellow Royal reporter James Whitaker, later stated that Cole had spoken only in general terms and did not convey anything which was secret.[10] Although the BBC apologised to the Queen for the lapse, Cole was not sacked, and was shifted to a media and arts remit, remaining with the corporation for another ten months.[10]

Later career[edit]

Cole first met Mohamed Al Fayed while working on a BBC programme about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor,[11] The Uncrowned Jewels in 1987.[12] He joined Harrods after leaving the BBC in 1988,[1] telling journalist Nick Cohen days after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales that he loved Al Fayed like a father, although he was a victim of bugging because his boss did not trust many of his employees.[13] He stepped down in 1998 to take early retirement at the age of 55,[1][14] but continued to work for Al Fayed.

In 2008, Cole gave evidence to the inquest into the deaths in 1997 of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed, Mohamed Al Fayed's son.[15]

In 2012, he jointly delivered, with Vernon Bogdanor, a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association lecture, The Crown and the Commonwealth: An emblem of dominion or a symbol of free and voluntary association? at Westminster Hall, part of the Palace of Westminster.[16][17]

He is the chair of Michael Cole & Company Limited, his own public relations and broadcasting company.[18] He has also written a column for the East Anglian Daily Times,[4] and appeared in 1999 as a panellist on the BBC's satirical quiz, Have I Got News for You.[19]


  1. ^ a b c Boggan, Steve (21 February 1998). "Conspiracies abound as Cole quits 'toughest job in PR'". The Independent. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  2. ^ a b Grimmer, Dan; Cole, Michael (10 November 2015). "Former BBC correspondent Michael Cole on Clive Lewis' 'racism' comments". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  3. ^ Graves, Keith (5 July 2004). "Inside Egypt with Israeli troops". BBC. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  4. ^ a b Geater, Paul (7 November 2012). "Suffolk journalist reveals life at the BBC in Savile era". East Anglian Daily Times. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  5. ^ Cole, Michael (9 April 2013). "Gallery: Broadcaster Michael Cole reflects on his time covering the great Margaret Thatcher for the BBC". East Anglian Daily Times. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  6. ^ "The tradition of the Queen's speech". BBC News. 30 December 1997. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  7. ^ Davies, Caroline (25 December 2014). "The royal Christmas broadcast: 10 facts". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  8. ^ Mount, Harry (21 December 2015). "The Queen's speech: a Christmas tradition worth keeping". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  9. ^ Vickers, Hugo (2011). Behind Closed Doors: The Tragic Untold Story of the Duchess of Windsor. London: Hutchinson. p. 231.
  10. ^ a b Nicholas, Ruth (12 September 1997). "Profile: Michael Cole, Harrods: Coping with a Nation in Grief – Michael Cole Has Had the Unenviable Task of Facing Up To a World in Mourning". PR Week. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  11. ^ Gregory, Martyn (2007). Diana: The Last Days. London: Virgin Books. p. 12.
  12. ^ Gregory, Martyn (3 December 2010). "Buying the Royal Jewels". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  13. ^ Cohen, Nick (1999). Cruel Britania. London & New York: Verso. pp. 201, 203.
  14. ^ "Cole steps down as Harrods spokesman". BBC News. 20 February 1998. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  15. ^ Pankhurst, Nigel (10 January 2008). "Detailed evidence for Diana inquest". BBC. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  16. ^ "The Crown and the Commonwealth: An emblem of dominion or a symbol of free and voluntary association?". UK Parliament. 18 April 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  17. ^ "The Crown and the Commonwealth – 18 April". Commonwealth Journalists Association. 16 April 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  18. ^ "Michael Cole & Company Limited – public relations and broadcasting". 25 September 2007. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  19. ^ "Have I Got News for You Season 18 Episode 5 Gyles Brandreth, Michael Cole". TV.com. Retrieved 16 February 2017.

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