The Feral Beast

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The Independent Online

Who'd want to work in a freebie-free zone?

The shrieks could be heard across Hanover Square. Staff at Condé Nast, publisher of 'Vogue', 'Tatler' and 'GQ', have been banned from accepting freebies. The decree from on high forbids editors to accept gifts from fashion houses and PR firms unless the goodies are "perishable or artisan". Free shoes, make-up and handbags have long been one of the perks for "mag hags" toiling away in high-pressure fashion journalism. But now the samples cupboard will be bare. "We'll get round it," whispers an insider. "They'll just have to be delivered to our homes."

The wrath of the Waldens

If Piers Morgan, ever hoped to get 'Telegraph' hackette Celia Walden's hand in marriage, he can forget about it now. Writing in Thursday's 'Daily Mail' in praise of 'The Apprentice', Morgan scorned the "pathetic bleating" of critics, singling out Luke Johnson, chairman of Channel 4. Luke's mother, Marigold, is the sister of Sarah Walden, Celia's mum.

You didn't read it here first

'Sunday Times' arts editor Richard Brooks likes to think he has his finger on the pulse. So the appointment of Jenny Abramsky as chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund will have come as a shock. In February, Brooks pronounced: "The battle to succeed Liz Forgan as chairman of the Heritage Lottery board is into its final lap. It is Lady Cobham, the squeeze of the erstwhile Tory Cabinet minister David Mellor, versus Paula Ridley, just retired as chairman of the V&A." Unreliable, those straws in the wind.

Hacks of all trades

You can take the journalist out of the paper ... but former 'Financial Times' hack James Harding hasn't lost all his 'FT' ways. As editor of 'The Times', Harding is overseeing a restructuring of editorial staff. His latest change is to adopt the pink 'un's rotation system for specialist correspondents, so that journalists learn about different fields rather than getting stuck in one. Polymaths are always in demand, but will they come at the expense of experts?

Husbands in high places

Sarah Lancashire, seen in the first episode of the new series of 'Doctor Who', below, has spoken of the golden handcuffs she has with ITV. So could her role in the Beeb's flagship drama have had anything to do with Peter Salmon, chief creative officer of the BBC? He is also known as Mr Sarah Lancashire.

Will doesn't pull his punches

Fielding questions at a literary festival, Will Self, was asked "Who is the biggest wanker you've ever worked with?" "It's a tough call," said Self, "but it would have to be Richard Littlejohn. A bigot, a homophobe, and an apologist for the British National Party. With his bingo wings I found him physically repulsive."

Oliver Foot remembered

A memorial service for the late Oliver Foot will be held at the journalists' church, St Bride's, Fleet Street, on 2 May. Although not a journalist himself, Oliver was the charismatic younger brother of Paul Foot, and nephew of Michael. The service is being co-ordinated by 'Spectator' etiquette columnist Mary Killen, a trustee of Orbis, the flying eye hospital pioneered by Foot. "Like the other Foots, Oliver exerted a huge charisma," says Killen.

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