The Feral Beast


As the champagne flows, Valentine is breaking hearts

Emotions are riding high at the 'Evening Standard' following Boris Johnson's victory. But the excitement has been tinged with sadness. For I hear its much-respected reporter Valentine Low has handed in his notice after more than two decades on the paper. He will be joining 'The Times' to fill the position left vacant by star colour writer Alan Hamilton, who retired at 65 last month. Low, the brother of novelist Penelope Lively, was offered more money to stay but wants to move on. His book 'One Man and His Dig', a collection of stories from his allotment in East Acton, London, is published on Tuesday.

Return of the grandee?

Following the recent round of massacres at 'The Daily Telegraph' there are scarcely any staffers left from the days when Charles Moore edited the paper. Moore continues to write a weekly column and is still paid as a consultant. But for how much longer can the paper's resident grandee hold his tongue? As a Roman Catholic convert, he is unlikely to have welcomed the dismissal of the religious affairs correspondent in the week that the post of showbiz editor was created. Might it not be time for Moore to use his position to urge restraint on current editor Will Lewis?

Lewis is no ladies’ man

The loss of three female columnists from the 'Telegraph' will be a blow to Lewis, who is known to rue the lack of senior women on the paper. Rachel Sylvester joins 'The Times' next month and Jan Moir the 'Daily Mail' later this summer. Two weeks ago Alice Thomson denied being offered a job by James Harding. I can confirm she is leaving the 'Telegraph' after 11 years, to rejoin 'The Times', where she started as a trainee.

Steamed Heffer

Meanwhile, the sacking of one of thepaper’s more erudite writers, Michael Henderson, may cause problems for Lewis. Henderson is a close friend of number-three executive Simon Heffer. Not a man to be crossed, Heffer was on holiday when "Hendo" was sacked and is said to be "steaming with anger".

Lobby loses a gentleman

One of the few lobby hacks to specialise in the Lib Dems has left Westminster. Greg Hurst of 'The Times' has returned to the paper's Wapping HQ, where he will join the news desk. The gentlemanly Hurst wrote a biography of Charles Kennedy – a book that was notable for not getting into all of thirsty Charlie's problems.

Dark voices intrude on Dacre’s dreadlock holiday

'Daily Mail' editor Paul Dacre departed for his Caribbean hideaway soon after poaching Jan Moir. This left gossips at Derry Street wondering where space would be found in the already column-packed pages. What does Ms Moir's arrival mean for the likes of Amanda Platell , Allison Pearson and Richard Littlejohn? The tweet-tweet of Mr Dacre's mobile has reportedly been shattering the quiet of the Caribbean air as he deals with various bruised egos.

Peers pressure

Having inherited his title 10 years ago, the 4th Lord Rothermere, Jonathan Harmsworth, is no stranger to the House of Lords. But the major stakeholder of Associated Newspapers is due to appear before his colleagues in quite a different capacity, when he gives evidence to the House of Lords Communications Committee later this year. The inquiry is investigating the influence of proprietors on their newspapers. Paul Dacre, Will Lewis and Rebekah Wade are among those to have given evidence to date.

Jobs for their boys

'Standpoint', the new right-wing magazine, launching this month, will boast a stellar cast of writers. Mark Steyn, Alain de Botton and Nick Cohen have all signed up. And there's no riff-raff on the staff, either, even down to the "workies". I hear the two stooges making the tea are Christopher Hitchens's son and one Luke Amis. No prizes for guessing who his father is.

‘Guardian’ researchers milk the Nestlé controversy

Food mega-manufacturer Nestlé is unlikely to have many defenders among staff at 'The Guardian', but shouldn't employees be allowed to make up their own minds? Hacks logging on to The Guardian's intranet, Spike, have been surprised to see a "Boycott of Nestlé" listed as a date for the diary on 17 May. Sandwiched between Israel's 60th anniversary and the Chelsea Flower Show, a link takes clickers straight through to the Babymilk Action website, which campaigns against Nestlé's presence in Africa. So is it company policy to boycott Nestlé? "The pages are looked after by the research department," says a Guardian Media Group spokesman. "They choose events that they think may be of news interest to our journalists." Totally impartial, then.

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