Pandora

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ON THIS New Year's morning, looking back at disorderly 1998, all its 365 limbs now splayed out in a fatally hung-over heap on the scruffy sheets of history, the temptation is simply to leave it there. Shut the door. And throw away the key. But, no, the temptation to take one last glance over the year is too great to resist. Here are Pandora's 12 Greatest Hits of 1998.

IT WAS the greatest mystery of Princess Diana's will, but it took Pandora to question why, with a total bequest of pounds 21,711,486, not a single pence was earmarked for charity? (9 March)

POOR DERRY Irvine (pictured) faced a huge and unforeseen personal tax bill for the controversial improvements, decoration and new furniture that were deemed necessary for his Lord Chancellor's apartments, according to the implications of a statement from Treasury Minister Dawn Primarolo. (20 March)

PANDORA WAS first to notice that Mohamed Al Fayed had begun to wear a glamorous custom-made wig that replicated the hairdo of his former press- spokesman, Michael Cole. (27 March)

LORD CHANCELLOR Irvine presented the "Freedom of Information Awards" in the City, striking Pandora as a bit rich since Derry had required his own curtain-weavers to sign the Official Secrets Act. (9 April)

THE BRITISH Embassy in Washington DC hosted Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams to lunch but, Pandora revealed, had never invited any of the officers of the US branch of the British Labour Party to enjoy its hospitality. (17 April) Months later, Pandora exclusively reported that Ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer and his wife, at the end of his first year in office, had hosted a splendid gala dinner dance to celebrate their first wedding anniversary - at the British taxpayers' expense. (3 November)

PANDORA WAS first to see that the newly ennobled Lord Bragg would be forced to resign from his job as presenter of Radio 4's Start The Week because of a possible political conflict of interest. (7 July)

FOLLOWING HIS fall from grace in the "Cronygate" scandals, Derek Draper's University of Manchester student political career - variously described by his peers as "criminal", "out of control" and "mad" - was recounted by Pandora. (9 July)

PANDORA DISCOVERED that ballot papers for Labour's National Executive Committee election were numbered, making a "secret election" rather unlikely. (27 August)

AT THE height of Pandora's widely supported Anti-Rucksack On The Tube Campaign, a reader sent in the shocking story of a young man who narrowly escaped death when a luggage lout bumped him off the platform at Leicester Square underground station.

(28 August)

A LETTER from Lionel Jospin, Prime Minister of France, came to Pandora's

exclusive attention. It seemed the French PM had turned down the invitation to attend Blair and Clinton's "Third Way" seminar in New York, finding the whole affair absurd. (8 September)

SNIFFER DOGS were being used by British Transport police to indiscriminately screen commuters, including Pandora, at London's Camden Town tube station. This was part of "a new general initiative to crack down on crime", later deplored by civil libertarians. (10 September)

Former Tory Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath was not, in fact, a fully paid-up member of the Conservative Party. (6 October)

After discovering that the Nobel authorities in Norway had booked the Irish band The Cranberries for a December concert, Pandora's source revealed - accurately - that the Nobel Peace Prize would be shared among several Irish peacemakers. (13 October)

A FENG-SHUI expert, Rosalyn Dexter, had been invited to inspect the inside of 10 Downing Street and offer her New Age comments on the furnishing arrangements, Pandora first disclosed. (11 November)

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