Is time playing with Lord Bethell’s memory? Beleaguered ex-Ministry MD sees himself as an innovator – but does his own record stand up to scrutiny?

There have been lots of stories in the press over the past week about Lord James Bethell of Romford. Many are to do with Bethell giving a parliamentary pass to former Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s mistress, despite the fact she never worked for him. Exactly why he did this remains unexplained at present.

Perhaps he thought he was being innovative. Bethell is a fan of the concept and frequently likes to talk about innovative he is. Here’s an example from a speech he delivered on March 3rd this year. In it, he spends some time discussing his days at Ministry of Sound, where he was managing director between 1993 and 2001.

He describes Ministry of Sound as “a start-up before the words start-up were even invented”. He says they “had a great data business before Facebook had been invented” and he mentions “we were live to the global internet directly from the club each weekend, pioneers of internet broadcasting”.

Ah, I remember those days. Ministry of Sound’s website was a painfully slow experience even by the standards of the time. And as for Ministry of Sound Radio – that’s what got the then James Bethell sacked from the company, alongside 40 other members of staff in October 2001. Funny how this fact didn’t make the final speech, isn’t it?

Getting his tin ears on further, he says of their compilation business “When we launched our first album, it was enough to stick the famous portcullis club logo on the front cover to top the charts. There were loads of clubs… so the battle was for the big-name DJs… they soon oversold themselves, and the competition came for tracks. The Ministry of Sound thrived because we were ahead of each consumer twist”.

Really? Until Clubbers Guide to 2001, the compilations were mixed by a well-known DJ – and often not particularly well either. And as for tracks, many of the bigger records of the time didn’t appear on their mixes, mostly because other labels imposed licensing restrictions.

Boy George mixes might well have been fun and enjoyable, but the mixing was nothing special and the tracks weren’t revolutionary. Sell by the bucket load, they did. Innovate? That’s more open to discussion…