Thursday, September 07, 2006

Nick puts the Hell in Hellen

Nick Hellen, the Sunday Times deputy news editor (the job is not as grand as it sounds) is not a very nice person, I am very reliably informed.
In his early days at Wapping the lanky lollop was tipped to remain a hack, first as a media correspondent and then as "social affairs editor" - in short a glorified royal correspondent where he enjoyed the nickname Lord Percy after the royal crawler from the Blackadder comedy series. In that job he usually did little more than put up stories fed to editor and fellow lanky lollop John Witherow by one-time ST hack Charlie Peat (whose Dad was the former private secretary to Prince Charles, Sir Michael Peat and, I can reveal, a leaker of the highest order).
After a lunch with Hellen a few years ago, Witherow told his lieutenants to remind him "never to give that man a senior job on the paper". But then Witherow, something of a nasty little jackboot bully himself, decided that the news section "needed a kick up the arse" and brought Nick in to give everyone a foul time.
So he is now deputy news editor where he enjoys tormenting junior staff, screaming down the phone and trying to cover up his own errors by blaming others. People who deal with him describe him variously as a "psychopath" or a "loony", a "bully" or just "a plain nasty piece of work".
An enjoyable game at the ST is doing a "Nick cuts search" where his name is inputted into the cuts machine and all his spun or inaccurate stories are seen in their full glory with the benefit of hindsight.
Sadly colleagues had to lid their giggles when a story filtered into the news room about him being thrown out of a mini-cab after he asked the Asian driver if he was an "illegal immigrant."
There were no giggles though when an attempt to leave his job came to nothing. Earlier this year he tried to relinquish his deputy news editor post for the sunny pastures and furnishings of the ST's Home section. He lost out to dep foreign ed Peter Conradi for the job and is stuck where he is.
This is not good for junior hacks under him, although his attempted move maybe a hint that even he is tiring of his lowly work.
But still - and it pains me to report this - there can be few people so morally unpleasant and self-seeking in journalism that colleagues would say of them, "the world would be a better place if that man was dead", as some ST hacks I spoke to have said of Mr Hell.
If he would like to get in touch I can recommend some counsellors to help move him towards the light.


Anonymous said...

I beg to differ.
Nicholas Hellen is an unusual and uncontraventional man, yes. I have rarely met a personal I have greater respect for. His intellect makes real life often seem boring and perhaps this can come across as dismissive or arrogant. Remarks should be treated in the same spirit as they are given.
If nothing else, you have to award points for the perfect grammar and structure of his email; rare these days. I may not agree with all the devices but I do respect Nicholas,as an individual,away from his job.
He was always funny, protective, knowledgeable and (usually) calm on the odd occasions we worked in parallel. Good work got picked up on, helped and occasionally praised, mistakes and accidents got the dressing downs they deserved.
Abby cannot have expected to have run a blog and written a book both anonymously without running the chance of disclosure, and she should have had a plan in action for this event. Could her sales have been dropping in January when she went public with the email? Let's not forget, an editor must sell papers and an authoress her books. 'Circulation' is a nasty but necessary game and the mud isn't sticking to the sales figures!

Anonymous said...

No, Madame Arcati is absolutely right - the man is a pompous twat. He is not particularly clever, his problem is more that he thinks that he is very clever. One should never confuse speed of thought with truth. Surely, he has a speedy and agile mind, but that does not make him infallible. His rudeness is quite simply, just that, and it cannot be excused. Should I might him in a dark alley one night only one of us will emerge from that darkness. And it will not be him.

And by the way - his journalism is shit - so much for his intellect - he has a tabloid imagination.


Anonymous said...

apologies for the typo

meet him, not 'might'. Oh, for a human editor.

Anonymous said...

I know this is a very old post, but I've recently had to deal with this cretin, and was delighted to find this blog.

Nicholas Hellen is so lacking in social skills that I would periodically laugh in his face. He is one of the most arrogant and socially awkward people I've ever come across, and believe me, I've met plenty. He talks very very loudly over you so you can't get a word in to contradict him. He talks endlessly about himself and his entire life story, then panics and points out how little time he has to listen when it's finally your turn.

An odious, terrible little man.

[This letter has been edited for legal reasons. My apologies. MA]