Matthew Norman's Media Diary

Will Sir Christopher surprise us?

SINCE ITS inception in 1990, the Press Complaints Commission cannot be accused of covering itself in glory. The perception that it's little more than an industry-funded fig leaf was endorsed by the knowledge that Guy Black, who ran the shop when Lord Wakeham was chairman, regularly shared holidays with Sun editor Rebekah Wade, and Wakeham's resignation over the Enron scandal (he was a director) didn't help. Nor did The People paying £250,000 compensation to Sarah Cox for publishing pictures of her naked on honeymoon, in flagrant breach of the code of practice its editor Neil Wallis, so astonishingly a commission member, had been involved in drawing up.

So the PCC's response to the News of the World's bugging of royal phones would seem a defining test of its resolve. It's a huge relief that the current chairman Christopher Meyer "deplores" Clive Goodman's crime (I'd made him 4-7 on to throw a drinks party to celebrate it), but the only salient question is what he plans to do to establish what the NoW's then editor Andy Coulson knew about it. Despite Mr Coulson's resignation when Mr Goodman was sent down, a suspicion persists that this was a tactical manoeuvre to suppress demands for further investigations.

If Mr Coulson had lived in blissful ignorance of these activities, hats off for the first honourable resignation since Lord Carrington. But there must be a chance, however infinitesimal, that he had a vague clue why £112,000 was paid to Mr Goodman's accomplice Glenn Mulcaire out of his editorial budget. So far as we know, Sir Christopher has not discussed the matter with Mr Coulson, who is rumoured to be lined up to replace Ms Wade on The Sun. Still, it's early days, and perhaps he'll surprise us yet. Let's hope so, because if not the PCC will establish beyond doubt that it is as serious and effective a regulatory body as its near namesake the Police Complaints Commission. And that really can't be good.

IN MR COULSON'S defence, a compelling precedent for a beguilingly laissez-faire approach to fiscal matters was set by the minister ultimately responsible for newspapers, when Tessa Jowell revealed that she had known nothing whatever of her own lively mortgage history. Concerns that the job is becoming too much for her were raised last week by photos of Tessa dozing on the front bench. Although there is no official explanation for her fatigue, it is believed that she went straight to the Commons from an all-night session at the Victoria casino near Marble Arch, where she had a long winning streak at roulette on 18 red (you will recall, from an even more memorable photo, that this is her favourite number).

Sources at the Culture, Media and Sport Department insist this embarrassment will not be repeated, and that whenever she finds herself exhausted in the future, she will be replaced in the chamber by the inflatable doll that has so ably deputised for her at cabinet meetings for the last four years.

WE ALL know what Tessa thinks about gambling, but the Daily Mirror's attitude is less clear. The editorial line is that actively inciting people to get hooked isn't a great idea. Meanwhile, its betting expert Derek McGovern, whose genuinely brilliant daily column is brought to us in association with Betfair, told us on Friday about how a punter won £88,000 on a slot machine on Betfair's online casino in two days. Most confusing.

I AM distressed beyond measure by news of an old boss. Jonathan Holborow, erstwhile editor of The Mail on Sunday, has been banned for 16 months and fined £1,700 for drink driving.

Mr Holborow, whose penchant for holding his white cotton handkerchief Oswald (named after Sir Oswald Mosley) to his face at times of stress endeared him to staff, was particularly unlucky. On leaving a dinner at the club of Folkestone Conservatives, of which he is chairman, he managed a distance of almost five feet in reverse before colliding with another car. He was promptly nicked, and found to be almost twice over the limit.

Until this misfortune, he was last heard of running a haberdashers in nearby Tenterden. No one has ever established why he invested part of his £1m MoS pay-off in such a venture. I've always assumed that he was worried about Oswald, who always seemed prone to loneliness, and wanted to provide him with some cotton playmates. But that's pure speculation.

REASSURANCE FOR those petrified by the IPCC report on climate change published 10 days ago, at least so far as the threat from rising sea levels due to melting ice-caps. Regardless of what the world's finest scientific minds may think, there is nothing to fear. We know this because Tom Utley has explained in the Daily Mail that, when the ice in his gin and tonic melts, it doesn't make the liquid spill out over the top of the glass. So please don't give it another thought.

WITH HIS rigorous commitment to sticking to the facts, perhaps Tom should be put to work overseeing the Mail's handling of statistics. "A third of all GPs have private health", reported the newspaper's front-page headline on Thursday. Beneath this, the report informed us: "Of the 600 family doctors questioned, 28 per cent have actually taken out private medical insurance". Is 28 per cent a third, or is it in fact closer to a quarter? It's a pedantic point, I know, but with the Mail so concerned about poor numeracy levels in schools, someone has to set an example.

m.norman@independent.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
US comedian Bill Mahr
people
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Sport
football
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Life and Style
Models – and musicians – on the catwalk in Dior Homme for the men’s 2015/16 fashion show in Paris
fashionAt this season's Paris shows, various labels played with the city boys' favourite
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Sauce Recruitment: Programme Sales Executive - Independent Distributor

£25000 - £28000 per annum + circa 28K + 20% bonus opportunity: Sauce Recruitme...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Are you an ambitious, money mot...

Guru Careers: Investment Writer / Stock Picker

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A freelance Investment Writer / Stock Picker ...

Guru Careers: PPC Account Executive / Paid Search Executive

£20 - 24K + Benefits: Guru Careers: An enthusiastic PPC Account / Paid Search ...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us