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Has Home Secretary Michael Howard caught the beginnings of the lurgy currently afflicting the Tory Party chairman, Jeremy Hanley? Certainly, according to witnesses who attended a meeting on victims' rights at the Home Office on Monday between Howard, a lobby group composed of the relatives of murder victims, Justice for Victims, and a new (controversial) ally of theirs, Liberty - lobbyists campaigning for both victims and suspects. Howard, it seems, was having problems controlling his temper. As Joan Bacon, the spokeswoman for JFV, got up to introduce Liberty's leader, Andrew Puddephatt, Howard intervened with what was later described as inexcusable, extraordinary rudeness. 'Here is a man who has done his utmost to block everything I have done to help victims,' he reportedly burst forth, before Puddephatt could even get to his feet. The JFV delegates were greatly distressed since they view Puddephatt's contribution to their cause as a great bonus. 'One can only hope he will view our requests less pugnaciously than our delegation,' explains one insider. The Home Office meanwhile seems impervious to their head's behaviour. 'It wasn't an angry meeting at all,' says a spokesman . . . Hmmn, perhaps Mr Howard and Mr Hanley really do have problems with defining punchy situations.

One loathing the public celebrations of racing driver Stirling Moss's 65th birthday at the weekend was his namesake - a persecuted Pc at Pinner police station. Every time he gives his name in court he is subjected to howls of laughter from elderly magistrates. 'We need more 15- and 16-year-olds on the bench,' he moaned from hibernation on Sunday. 'You see, they're more likely to chuckle at Damon Hill.'

Woops] The magazine that, as we all know, never gets it wrong has slipped up in a more elementary fashion than usual. This week's Hello] magazine shows GMTV's fitness instructor, Mr Motivator, gathered in large towny house - which ought to look rather familiar to all those who bought Hello] magazine last week (I confess I am not one of their number). With a fresh eye, therefore, I compared the two - Ah yes . . . I see exactly the same mantlepiece, the same ornaments, the same decor in both; trouble is last week's text dexcribes the background as 'the Surrey home' of the picturesque Valerie Campbell (mother of Naomi). I rang the magazine. 'Did Ms Campbell generously loan her house to Mr Motivator?' I inquire. 'Of course not,' a woman snaps rudely. 'Well - they're photographed in the same setting - which you describe as her home,' I reply. 'And you want to write a story about that?' says the Hello] mouthpiece incredulously. I click: the term is unfamiliar. 'Yes that's right a . . . STORY.'

Evidence that Tony Blair's socialism is already proving acceptable to the establishment has come my way. On my desk is a copy of a letter from the traditionally conservative Institute of Directors asking the rather radical Tony Banks, Labour MP for Newham North West, to join its ranks. The letter offers Mr Banks, who lists trade union history as one of his interests, free use of meeting rooms at the Director's Club in Pall Mall, a Visa gold card and a half case of wine upon joining. Unsurprisingly, Mr Banks, often found chaining himself to railings in support of animal rights, ha s decided to decline. 'I don't care if their membership fee is tax-deductible,' he said bluntly. Pause. 'To be frank, their choice of wine is appalling.'

The transfer of Channel 4's headquarters to the new Richard Rogers building in Horseferry Road is not without alarming repercussions. News presenter Jon Snow (below), seldom encountered about town without his hard hat and bicycle, has discovered that there is no bike rack there. 'I have taken the matter to the very top,' he tells me grimly, but adds: 'Actually I think a rack might be a blemish on this building - oh well I can always chain my bike discreetly to the army barracks next door . . . '

(Photograph omitted)

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