How Mike Smith influenced the career of a budding solicitor - and government minister.

Obiter was as sad as any pop music fan at news that radio DJ and TV presenter Mike Smith – host of the BBC’s Live Aid coverage, and part of the soundtrack of our youth – has died. Among the stories that have emerged is that Smith almost influenced events in the world of law and politics.

The year was 1990, and the occasion was the Radio Academy Young Broadcaster of the Year Award at London’s Savoy Hotel, just down the road from Obiter Towers.

It was a year that had Sinead O’Connor singing Nothing compares 2U and, albeit a little further down the hits list, Go West singing King of Wishful Thinking.

But we digress. One name from the event that caught Obiter’s eye – James Brokenshire, one-time solicitor and corporate lawyer, now MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup and minister of state for immigration.

A few runners-up handed an award by Mike Smith that day went on to have high-flying careers in broadcasting – but not Brokenshire, whose constituency website now places ‘listening to music’ after ‘watching cricket’, and between ‘jogging’ and ‘hill walking’.  

Had Smith and showbiz turned young James’s head, Obiter reflects, there would have been no ‘successful campaign to get Waitrose to open in Sidcup’, and perhaps ‘negotiations with the Jordanian government to secure the deportation of Abu Qatada’ might have gone less well too.

Do we have all the information we need to make the decisions we do in our youth? Perhaps not – but for now, RIP Mike Smith. And if you were a law student in the 1990s, maybe dust off (or download) a few singles to play later.