PANDORA

Hello, hello! Opik forgets to register a nice little earner

There are several months to go until Lembit Opik marries the TV weather forecaster Sian Lloyd, but they have already been hit by the curse of Hello!

This week, the happy couple, right, granted an "at home" photo-shoot and interview to the glossy magazine, as they "shared plans for their dream wedding at Powis Castle" in Wales.

It wasn't the first time the Lib Dem MP has graced Hello!'s hallowed pages, since his engagement was announced there last May. So it's odd to learn that he's failed failed to register any income from the magazine.

Despite being paid several thousand pounds by the glossy - insiders say the deal was negotiated directly by a celebrity "fixer", the Marquesa de Valera - Opik's entry in the latest Commons Register of Members' Interests records earnings from just two sources: the BBC, and Channel 4.

This oversight could land him in trouble: other MPs who have neglected to declare outside earnings have faced disciplinary action, and even been suspended from the Commons.

However, when contacted by Pandora yesterday, Opik moved swiftly to limit damage.

"Following your call, I've been in touch with the registrar, and am making a late entry for this," he said. "It should have been declared, but wasn't. I'd made an entry concerning Hello! in previous years and presumed it got carried over. But it didn't."

Dinos applies FoodArt to Fergie

THE DUCHESS of York is recovering from a bruising encounter with the fashionable hero of BritArt, Dinos Chapman.

Mr Chapman, who describes himself as a principled Republican, met Fergie, left, at a recent dinner at Tower Bridge, to celebrate the reopening of the jeweller, Garrard.

"I happened to be sat quite close to Fergie, and I've never liked her," he tells me.

"We were getting stuck into free booze, and by the time desert came, we were plastered. My friends were egging me on to do something, so I threw my dessert at her.

"It was some sort of lychee jelly concoction. She was wearing a strapless gown and it hit her right on the shoulder."

He adds that the (possibly treasonable) act went unnoticed. "She didn't register what had happened, so my attack on the royals went unnoticed." Until now!

Dancing alone

LIKE MANY readers, Pandora is still looking for a "date" on Valentine's Day. But we are in good company: Romola Garai - star of Inside I'm Dancing, and one of the hottest properties in British film - will also be twiddling her thumbs.

"Sadly, I think I'll be spending Valentine's Day with my mum," she confided, at Wednesday's Film Critics Circle Awards. "We'll watch some kind of weepie, like Casablanca. I have a soft spot for Humphrey Bogart. And there'll be lots of good food."

I gather Miss Garai, above, is busy looking for love. Form an orderly queue, chaps.

Neil's own `spectator'

ANDREW NEIL may or may not have hastened Stephen Glover's resignation from The Spectator - Glover quit this week, after being banned from discussing job cuts at the Telegraph - but he's keeping out of other controversies at the magazine.

A noted swordsman, Mr Neil has taken to getting his driver to sit in on meetings with female staff, to avoid yet another "Sextator" scandal.

"I'm greatly enjoying The Spectator, but I can never meet a woman there on my own now," he told friends at Andrew Roberts' recent book launch.

"I always have my driver with me. So, I'll sit in meetings with him in the corner. They'll say, `who's that?', and I'll say, `he's my driver. Don't worry'." Cunning!

Another day, another "flying pigs" row. A fortnight after Pandora discovered Labour had designed "anti-Semitic" election posters, news of a second cock-up involving the Jewish community.

On Holocaust Memorial Day, the Foreign Office minister Denis MacShane flew to Auschwitz with leaders of British Jewry. An RAF plane was chartered, and plenty of food and drink laid on.

Sadly, it wasn't kosher. "The weather was freezing, but the only hot grub on the way out was bacon sandwiches," I'm told. "Then, on the return flight, we were offered pork chops."

MacShane yesterday insisted a range of alternative tucker was offered. "I had fruit and croissant for breakfast," he said. "On the way back, I just wanted a drink. But RAF flights are great - there's always a generous selection."

pandora@independent.co.uk www.independent.co.uk/pandora

Comments