Michael Jackson’s death may bring back painful memories for Dominic Lawson.
At the time of Jacko’s child abuse trial, Lawson was editor of The Sunday Telegraph and sent John Preston to cover it at great expense.
Alas, the verdict did not come in until Monday, rendering it useless for the Sunday. Insiders remember Barbara Amiel, wife of ex-proprietor Lord Black, encouraging Dominic to fill the gaping hole with a long boring piece she had written about how the rich cannot get justice in America. He duly did. On the Monday, he found himself being marched out.
The answer's definitely 'no'
Jackson's death comes at an awkward time for Q magazine, whose July issue, out yesterday, features Jacko on the cover with an accompanying 5,000 worder "unmasking" the great man, by Cole Moreton. Editor Paul Rees has already issued an online apology, but Moreton, formerly of this parish, is sanguine. "It's a terrible tragedy but I stand by the piece. We were asking whether he could have done the concerts, which turns out to be quite pertinent."
Hacks sniff at Auntie's flu tips
When an editor at the BBC caught swine flu last week, head of news Helen Boaden sent an email to keep staff informed. With a salary of £340,000, Boaden is one of the BBC's 12 highest-paid executives. So it was kind of her to take the time to give a tutorial in hygiene. "You should make sure you use tissues if you cough and sneeze," she wrote. Some were unimpressed: "Does she think we normally wipe our snotty noses on our sleeves? Instead of this nannying rubbish she could reduce the spread of infection by ending hot-desking in the newsroom." Pow.
Veil over Mandy's font refusal
A timely piece in the Telegraph last week tackled the thorny question of whether it is acceptable to decline to be a godparent. Timely because one of the paper's newest contributors was turned down by Peter Mandelson when she asked him to be godfather of one of her children. Oddly no mention is made in the piece of this well-known Fleet Street tale, but politeness prevents me from disclosing her identity.
Ironside moves stageside
Hurrah for Virginia Ironside, The Independent's celebrated agony aunt. Following the success of her book, No! I Don't Want to Join a Book Club, she has written and will star in The Virginia Monologues, debuting at Edinburgh this summer. It's about being a sexagenarian, which apparently entails "fun funerals, boring for Britain and unlimited free drugs." Much like the life of a diarist.