Home Business NewsBusiness He's the new man at News International. But who is Guto Harri?

He's the new man at News International. But who is Guto Harri?

by LLB Editor
21st May 12 3:03 pm

Fresh from masterminding Boris Johnson’s re-election campaign, Guto Harri has now taken up the role of director of communications at News International.

He has won powerful admirers in Downing Street as well as City Hall, but now he is charged with managing the image of the embattled newspaper group. So who is Guto Harri?

The 45-year-old Welshman read politics, philosophy and economics at Queen’s College, Oxford. He became friends with mayor of London Johnson during his time at university and then returned to his home town Cardiff to study for a post-graduate degree in journalism.

It stood him in good stead as he spent 18 years working as a journalist, with the majority of them at the BBC. He worked as BBC Wales’ political correspondent before taking up a new role in London for the corporation

He covered UK and world news for the BBC’s Welsh language news, which was provided to S4C and then rose to the position of BBC News 24’s chief political correspondent in November 2002.

Harri’s career with the BBC saw him take up foreign postings in Rome, where he covered the Pope, Silvio Berlusconi and wine.

He was moved to New York in 2005 when he became the BBC’s North America business correspondent and put questions to senior figures such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Google’s Larry Page and former Enron president Jeffrey Skilling.

Prime minister David Cameron revealed that he had considered appointing Harri as his communications chief while his party was in opposition, but instead went for Andy Coulson, the former editor of News International newspaper News of the World.

Harri eventually left the BBC to work for PR agency Fleishman-Hillard. He spent a month advising the then Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Soon after Johnson was elected as mayor of London in 2008, he brought in his old university friend to work as spokesman and director of external affairs.

Speaking of Johnson, Harri said: “I remember Boris Johnson as a sharp, witty, highly impressive figure even when we first met and I was 19 and he was 20.

“I knew then that he was going to be a brilliant columnist, but he has now proved himself to be a serious political figure with a great vision that has captured the imagination of Londoners.”

Harri helped Johnson through his first term at City Hall and subsequent successful re-election campaign, when his candidate performed well despite negative headlines surrounding the Conservative Party as a whole.

He will now report to News International chief executive Tom Mockridge, who praised Harri’s “experience as a communications professional” and “solid journalistic background”.

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