Matthew Norman's Media Diary

Whittingdale shoots! And scores!
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The Independent Online

ONE AREA in which John does differ from his predecessor is that of privacy legislation - a pet project of Gerald's to which he is strongly opposed. Let's make it clear now that this has nothing to do with his party's desperation to regain the support of the Murdoch press; let alone with the day's shooting at Glympton Park he enjoyed as a guest of Associated Newspapers on December 4 last year. How on earth can anyone be properly informed about the business if he doesn't spend a little time shooting pheasant with industry leaders? I suppose some might question the wisdom of taking such expensive hospitality (a day's shooting costs many thousands per gun) from those on whose activities he routinely offers an opinion, but you won't find any of that puritanical nonsense here.

HATS ALOFT to the Sun for Friday's "world exclusive" on Kate Moss's heroic cocaine consumption. Such a great scoop was this (who'd have thought a hyper-skinny model with a heroin junkie boyfriend would dabble with Class As?) that it feels churlish to quibble. Yet I must point out the eerie similarity between the Sun report and the world exclusive on Kate in the previous day's Mirror. We know how all-consuming a cracking showbiz story can be, and in the excitement it's understandable if Sun executives were too frantic to glance at their main rival's front page on Thursday. Even so, when I was starting out, the golden rule of journalism - my colleague Stephen Glover will back me up - was "always read the papers".

SPEAKING OF cocaine brings us to the Spectator columnist Taki, who is in the wars again. It's nothing on the lines of his spell in the jug for importing the stuff through Heathrow, thank God, but it's troubling for all that. In his latest opus, Taki refers to a sub-editor on an American journal removing a racist reference; but forgoes mention that Boris Johnson's number two, Stuart Reid, recently excised an offensive remark about black people. It's several years now since Taki used the appellation "sambo", so it seems a bit pernickety to censor him now. It's PC gone mad, as the Southend police constable's son Simon Heffer might put it.

POIGNANT NEWS from Associated, meanwhile, where Roderick Gilchrist has been resigned as the Mail on Sunday deputy editor. It seems that the editor-in-chief, Paul Dacre, wanted to create vacancies to prevent his more ambitious executives being poached, and Roddy was the first victim. Those of us who worked with him after he and the former Welsh shepherd Jonathan Holborow (now doing such brilliant work as a haberdasher in Tenterden, Kent) took over the paper in 1992 perhaps remember it with more amusement than we felt at the time. But how can you not love a man who tears up all the travel pages on a whim, screams for replacement copy, sees the words "to do" heading a list of possible travel features on a Post-It pad, and declares: "Todo! I want someone sent to the tropical island of Todo NOW!!!". He was offered a showbiz column on the Daily Mail, but felt it required too much socialising.

THIS COLUMN isn't a huge fan of humorously apt employee names (the education department press officer used to be a Mr Andrew Thick: that kind of thing), but now and then one crops up that cannot be resisted. So I'd ask you to join me in congratulating the new public relations executive for Durex in France. We wish Cecile Hardon the very best with the account.