I don't know you, but you'll know me. The Henry Root Letters - advice to the great and good re this and that - that was mine, plus, and later, Root Into Europe - a five-part docu-drama with my head in frame quizzing the turbulent Gaul and little Greek. Down the autopiste with make-up girls and mise-en-scene. 'Speak up, Gaston. We're British cineastes, here to make a monkey of you in a prime-time slot.'

So, some of your number have been hoaxed by the Sunday Times; more accurately, by one of its reporters posing as a 'businessman' and offering untraceable denominations for favours granted in the House.

I'm not suprised. Not surprised, that is, that News International, careering downmarket like a greased pig, should have resorted now to schoolboy spoofs. That you should have mistaken a Sunday Times reporter - the Estuary accent, the box suit, the award-winning haircut - for a 'businessman' is a surprise, however.

Never mind. Better men than you (Baroness Finchley, Dame Rantzen and Ray Cooney among them) have been spoofed in the past and many will be spoofed hereafter. Not by me, however.

Here's the scam - and you'll forgive me, ignorant as I am of whose among you is the relevant back to scratch, if I address you in confidence and en bloc through the pages of the Independent rather than waste stamps trying to 'give you a drink' individually. The plain fact is I'm in conflict with Hareng SA, wet fish retailers of Le Havre, France and I'd be obliged if you'd intercede on my behalf.

Recently, and pursuant to EC Directive BS673985TT, Francois has been fishing within our waters without so much as a 'Pardonnez-moi, John', shovelling up the mackerel and halibut, landing at Fowey on the Cornish coast, sneering at the local rituals (the floral dance, the immolation of witches on midsummer day), entering the Admiral Drake and, to the accompaniment of accordion and Bordeaux conch, singing 'Je ne me regrette rien' and 'Les parapluies de Cherbourg' - much to the confusion of the honest local population.

Stuff the local population, frankly. My concern is with Henry Root Wet Fish and with my duty to its shareholders - me. I'd be obliged if in return for the denomination offered by the Sunday Times, you'd grease the appropriate palm in Brussels, thereafter lobbying for La Manche and the fish therein to be English once again.

'Dirty British coaster with a salt-cake smoke-stack/Butting through the channel on a mad-March day' - Sir Newbolt, at a guess, or was it Masefield? They don't write poems like that these days, and more's the pity. More's the pity, too, that Hareng et cie can deposit its purloined mackerel on our slabs and make life difficult for honest fishmongers such as myself.

Do your best, plus there's another thousand in your kick if you give me the SP on insider-dealing.

Yours for English mackerel,

(Photograph omitted)