The feral beast: Hencke finds new dirt to dig

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The Independent Online

Farewell then to David Hencke, The Guardian's veteran political correspondent. Hencke has worked for the Graun since 1976, but with a handsome redundancy cheque under his belt is off to write books and to dig his allotment.

"I'll still be writing freelance," he tells me. Hencke's scoops included the 1994 "cash for questions" scandal which led to Neil Hamilton's resignation; and the revelation of Peter Mandelson's secret £373,000 loan from Geoffrey Robinson, which led to Mandy's first resignation. We wish him well.

Cherchez la femme

George Osborne is reported to have known about James Purnell's resignation hours before it happened, informing a meeting of senior Tories that morning. But how did he know? Purnell orchestrated the release of his resignation with precision. No doubt his girlfriend, Sophie Sutcliffe, knew. She is a bright young corporate affairs executive at News International, the former home of Andy Coulson, David Cameron's right hand man. But the connection is too absurd to countenance, surely?

Job cuts pleasure short-lived

The Guardian was pleased with its story about BBC stars being called into a meeting last Monday to be told they faced 40 per cent pay cuts. How ironic, then, that a similarly devastating meeting has been scheduled for Guardian staff tomorrow. The day after the scoop, managing director Tim Brooks sent an email asking everyone to attend a briefing at which he will explain the need to make 33 redundancies. The union immediately hit back, saying "hard times are NOT a justification for poor management".

Don't mince your words, Nick

Don't expect Observer columnist Nick Cohen on the Today programme any time soon. The firebrand launched a blistering attack on its presenters on Facebook, saying: "If you want to meet a pea-brained, slack-jawed, lolling-tongued, hunch-backed, club-footed, string-wart covered simpleton, look no further than John Humphrys or James Naughtie. Unusually stupid seven-year olds are smarter than Today programme presenters." The "string-warts" comment was unkind.

Norton's queered his pitch

Graham Norton is being groomed as the Beeb's biggest star, with a prime time show called Totally Saturday airing later this year. But is he as popular in the nation at large as he is with metropolitan BBC types? A producer who put out feelers in the old car world for an enthusiast to appear on the show met a hostile response. "Why would anyone want to have the piss mercilessly taken out of them?" came one reply.

Wossy as Twanky?

Much talk of Jonathan Ross's profile at the BBC diminishing, and it's safe to assume his three-year, £17m contract won't be renewed after next year. But Wossy is already carving a new career for himself as token sleb. Yesterday he opened the Hampstead Garden Suburb annual flower show. We look forward to seeing his Widow Twanky at Guildford panto this winter...