The Feral Beast

'You cannot question the judgement of an editor'
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The Independent Online

A busy week for Bob Satchell, head of the Society of Editors, who brokered the deal between the Ministry of Defence and the press over the Prince Harry story. General Sir Richard Dannatt instigated talks back in July but it was not until December that a deal was struck. The MoD originally wanted to impose a Defence Advisory notice to gag the media, but Satchell rejected it. "A DA can only be used for matters of national security," he tells me. "This would have been inappropriate. The MoD wanted to draw up all kinds of blame causes, but we said no. I warned the MoD that if a paper broke the agreement, they'd have to accept it, as you cannot question the judgement of an editor."

Nick's bad week just...

Relations between Labour and the BBC, never good after the Hutton Report, are in peril again. One of the Labour MPs who signed the early-day Motion complaining about BBC political editor Nick Robinson was Derek Wyatt. Robinson is held by Labour tribalists to have been too strong in reporting the sleaze allegations against Speaker Martin. Wyatt is significant because he is parliamentary private secretary to the Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, the cabinet minister with responsibility for... the BBC.

... keeps getting worse

Poor old Nick Robinson. Not only are MPs on the warpath, but he failed to get a nomination for the George Orwell Prize for political writing. To make matters worse, his BBC colleague Andrew Marr is on the longlist for his book 'A History of Modern Britain'. I gather Nick was so incensed by the slight, he fired off an email to one of the judges. "We'd better send him some flowers," sighs an insider.

On a winger and a prayer

Punters were given a top tip for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the 'Evening Standard' last week from footballer Matthew Etherington. The West Ham Utd midfielder is unequivocally backing favourite Kauto Star. But is Etherington really the man to turn to for gambling advice? In the past few months he has lost his driving licence, temporarily split from his wife and admitted he had "hit rock bottom" because of a gambling addiction.

Tilda's no monster

A headline over Jane Moore's column in 'The Sun' screamed "I'd make these vile monsters suffer every day", alongside a picture of actress Tilda Swinton. Moore is paid to pack a punch, but what could poor Tilda have possibly done to rile La Moore? A closer read revealed nothing more than an unfortunate bit of subbing. The headline referred to Soham murderer Ian Huntley, and Swinton was hailed as "delightfully unaffected" further down the page. Phew!

Can the 'Mail' wrap it up?

The might of the 'Daily Mail' is beyond doubt after the extraordinary effect of its campaign to ban plastic bags. So does this mean the end of plastic wrapping on its Saturday magazine and sister title the 'Mail on Sunday?' "A huge amount of work is being done on research into biodegradable packaging, with particular reference to polybagging," says a spokeswoman.

Wadley gives up the bottle

Meanwhile the 'Evening Standard' is campaigning for London restaurants to serve tap, not bottled, water. Editor Veronica Wadley is leading by example: the mineral water on her desk has vanished.

Shake-up at the 'Standard'

Newspapers scrambled to get the 1am earthquake into Wednesday's paper. The 'Evening Standard' managed an eye-witness account for its first edition, which gets off at 8am. Chief reporter Robert Mendick interviewed Elizabeth Hopkirk, who described being woken up by the tremor. Could that be the same E Hopkirk who works as a night shift reporter on the 'Evening Standard'?

Gordon's bizarre greeting

Showbiz editor of 'The Sun' Gordon Smart may regret his full body pic on his recently acquired Bizarre column. At last week's NME awards he learned the price of infamy when four well-refreshed 'Sun' readers spotted him interviewing a minor sleb on the red carpet, and ignoring the celebrity began the chant "GORDON. GORDON. GORDON. GORDON. GORDON". Ah, the joys of anonymity.

This may not have been Statesman-like behaviour

Uncertain times at the 'New Statesman' clearly don't frighten political editor Martin Bright. He appears to be on a collision course with proprietor Geoffrey Robinson. He uses his blog to attack a 'Compass' statement in support of Ken Livingstone, put out following Bright's unflattering doc about the London Mayor's office. One of the signatories is one G Robinson. Bright goes on to praise journalist Tom Bower for an article on Livingstone in the 'Daily Mail'. Bower is known for his hatchet biographies of millionaires, one of whom is ... Geoffrey Robinson. How long can Bright remain at his desk?

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