The feral beast: Travails with my aunt

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The Independent Online

Cuts at the staff-heavy Sunday Times have claimed young reporter Abul Taher. His departure last weekend coincided with the paper's splash on Baroness Uddin, right, alleging she claimed £100,000 expenses on an empty flat. As it happens, Lady Uddin is Taher's aunt. Sources say the poor chap spent his last day in the office reading about his aunt on the system.

Rippon rips up 'Newsnight' jobs

Only six months into the job, Newsnight editor Peter Rippon is implementing cuts as the BBC looks to shed 90 staff across news. One awkward anomaly is that the programme has not one but two cultural correspondents, Madeleine Holt and Steve Smith. Holt, just back from maternity leave, is credited with inventing the post, and Smith was only recently poached from a good job at ITV, so which to lose? Fortunately both are staying, but they've been demoted to general reporters. "It'll be quite a shock to go from doing profiles of BB King to covering Tamiflu," whispers an insider.

Dale's blog? A lot of old gossip

Bloggers love to complain about newspapers, especially diary columns, stealing their stories. How odd then to see Iain Dale post a story on Thursday under the headline, "EXCLUSIVE: Sun Axe the Whip!". His so-called scoop, that The Sun is dropping its gossip column, had been reported the previous day in the Evening Standard's media diary. Unlike journalists, bloggers clearly don't feel any need to check the cuts.

'Standard' is a girl's best friend

It was crying out for a "storm in a D cup" headline, but who broke the story of Marks and Spencer's £2 "tit tax" on bigger bra sizes? The Daily Mail, Evening Standard and The Sun all claimed a victory when M&S chief Sir Stuart Rose, right, dropped the excess last week. "As The Sun has shown, it's clear we got it wrong this time," he was reported as telling The Sun. The Mail said "Bra-vo!", calling it a "triumph" for the paper. But it was the Standard that first highlighted the £2 charge last summer. Credit where it's due.

O'Hagan returns to the dark

Intriguing to learn Andrew "brainy" O'Hagan is the Evening Standard's new film critic, given he once said, in effect, that the job was no longer necessary. Signing off as the Daily Telegraph's man in the dark in 2002, he wrote, "Rock writer Lester Bangs said 'everybody is a rock critic nowadays', and I believe that has become true of film. We live in a world where we are all film critics."

Conspiracy? What conspiracy?

David Aaronovitch's new book Voodoo Histories dismisses conspiracy theories over 9/11 and the death of David Kelly. We admire his certainty, just as we did at the time of the Iraq invasion, when he wrote: "If nothing is eventually found, I ... will never believe another thing that I am told by our government, or that of the US ever again. And ... neither will anyone else. Those weapons had better be there somewhere. They probably are."