Matthew Norman's Media Diary

Tony's future lies with Rupert
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The Independent Online

INCIDENTALLY, AT the risk of ruining the romantic mood, I'm confused by the police inactivity concerning Mr Blair. As Lance Price reveals when not cataloguing the intimacy of the Blair-Murdoch relationship in his book, a peevish PM once repeatedly referred to "the fucking Welsh". The police, it emerged last week, spent £4,000 investigating allegedly Welsh-ist remarks by our most deeply beloved Anne Robinson. Admittedly, we can't be certain that Mr Blair used the formulation until the Downing Street press office officially denies it, but the least Sir Ian Blair should do, for consistency as much as for publicity, is to interview the PM and warn him as to his future conduct.

STILL WITH the potty-mouthed, what a thrill to find Paul Dacre, the Daily Mail's couth and mannerly editor, breaking the States at last. He plays an elegant cameo in a Vanity Fair piece on British newspapers, in which Michael Woolf informs readers how Paul's editorial conferences are so illuminated by his clever use of the C-word that staff know them as "the vagina monologues". Why he's never near the back bench on days when his people decide that what the nation really needs is another lecture on the obscenity count in Jerry Springer - The Opera remains a mystery. However, in the light of this article, we anticipate an end to Mail censoriousness - and yes, Mad Mel Phillips, that means you, too - towards the coarsest of language.

GOOD TO see Times editor Robert Thomson on such chipper form when interviewed in a so-called "rival media section". "Part of our job," says the affable Aussie of his second section, times2, "is to give readers permission NOT to read something." How very gracious of him, and what a relief no longer to have to bother with a section targeted with astonishing precision at a peculiarly dim and partially sighted undergraduate with the concentration span of a goldfish on Ritalin. Now you keep your pecker up, Thommo old fella, and don't listen to a word they say. You'll get the hang of this editing lark one of these days.

DEEPLY UPSETTING news, meanwhile, for Conrad Black fans everywhere. David Radler, Connie's erstwhile main man at Hollinger, pleaded guilty in New York last week to a £32m fraud, and some speculate that this confession may not be wholly in Connie's interests when he, too, reaches the dock. Apparently, this giant brought low by envious pygmies intends to argue (I paraphrase the defence very slightly) that he knew nuffink about nuffink, honest guv'nor, having ceded total control to Mr Radler and being far too busy buying up FDR's artefacts to pay a blind bit of notice. I for one believe him, and in tribute to Lord B's even greater hero I'm pleased to encapsulate this sparkling defence in the closest thing to an Napoleonic palindrome I can manage: leader was I ere I saw Radler. The rest, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is a matter entirely for you, and no one but you.

CONGRATULATIONS TO Simon Heffer, who is going back to The Daily Telegraph to write two columns a week. The son of a Southend constable (it's a classic case, as we're so fond of repeating, of PC's son gone mad!), Simon is best known for his work on the catwalks of Milan. He will mark his return with a staunch defence of his friend Kate Moss, the Ginger to his Fred, and with whom he has often appeared in collections by Gucci, Armani and Valentino.

m.norman@independent.co.uk

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