The Feral Beast

'City AM' subs suffer the terror of the Torpe

The entire desk of sub-editors at freesheet 'City AM' has been given its marching orders. Managing director Jens Torpe (left) said: "We have informed them that they are at risk of losing their jobs, and are not expected to come in next week during this consultation period." He confirmed that one news reporter and the picture editor, Lee Martin, are also on what he called the "at risk" list. The move, which would reduce the editorial staff by a quarter, comes only weeks after the paper's distribution figures reached a record 101,758. "I've been involved in launching free newspapers in 17 countries around the world, and I've never known them to employ subs," explained Torpe. "I don't know how we're going to get Monday's paper out," said one staffer. Meanwhile, an advert for a sub-editor at 'City AM' continues to appear on the media jobs website Gorkana, with applications to John Reynolds – one of those facing possible dismissal.

Height of good manners

Many happy returns to Geoffrey Levy, the small but perfectly formed 'Daily Mail' colour writer, who celebrated his 70th birthday last week. 'Mail' proprietor Lord Rothermere threw a lunch for him at Langan's Brasserie, attended by, among others, managing director Guy Zitter and columnists Peter McKay and Richard Kay. The Beast hears that on Rothermere's arrival everyone at the table got up except Levy, prompting someone to ask why he hadn't. "I am standing up!" wailed Levy. The story can't be true, but the old jokes are always the best.

Matthew's mystery girl

Who was the mystery blonde who arrived at the swanky 'Tatler' summer party with Matthew d'Ancona (below)? 'The Spectator' editor has recently separated from his wife, Sarah Schaefer, the fair-haired special adviser to David Miliband. D'Ancona's entrance with his guest went largely unnoticed as most eyes were fixed on Lucian Freud and David Hockney.

Style guru heads for States

Is London going out of fashion? As rumours swirl that Madonna is moving back to New York, I hear Vanessa Friedman, fashion editor of the 'Financial Times', is doing likewise. "I go in two weeks," she tells me at the Pink 'Un party at the Orangery in Kensington Gardens. "But I'll continue to edit the FT's fashion pages from the States." Among other guests gobbling smoked salmon with pink champagne were Alistair Darling and Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. What credit crunch?

Post-Blair blues

Long-serving 'Times' political commentator Peter Riddell is said to be having some political problems of his own. Riddell, friend of Whitehall's many Sir Humphreys, was much favoured by his past two editors, both of whom were Blair sympathisers. Amid all the excitement at 'The Times' since the arrival of James Harding, Riddell's articles have been appearing with less frequency, prompting some furtive whispers among political hacks. Watch this space.

They go on for ever

Is Alan Rusbridger thinking of moving on? Absolutely not, although excitable voices in Farringdon Road suggest the 'Guardian' editor will stand down following the integration with 'The Observer' and the move to new premises in King's Cross. A Guardian Media Group spokeswoman strongly denies this: "Guardian editors have a reputation for long service – Peter Preston was with us for 17 years. Alan has been editor since 1995 and may well be looking to beat C P Scott's record of 57 years!"

The cat and the columnist

Like actors, journalists should avoid children and animals, it seems. Tim Dowling of 'The Guardian' made the mistake of relating in his light-hearted Saturday column how he went on a two-week holiday and forgot to make arrangements for the cat. Although the poor mog managed to find a bag of cat food and "gnaw a hole the size of his head through it", I gather one anxious reader has reported him to the RSPCA. Columnists: think twice before writing a confessional.


Murdoch, Thatcher, Diana ... Letts lays into 'em all

It's a brave journalist who takes on Rupert Murdoch. It comes as no surprise that Quentin Letts of the 'Daily Mail' (and who once worked for the Digger) has done just that. Murdoch is one of those under attack in a forthcoming book by Letts called '50 People Who Buggered Up Britain'. Jeffrey Archer, Ed Balls, Greg Dyke and Alastair Campbell are all included. More surprising are his choices of Margaret Thatcher (brave for a 'Mail' hack) and Princess Diana (brave for anyone). "The woman was a liability," says Letts of the latter, "a soufflé of false ideas, a super-model with all that that entails. She was the glamorous tool of cleverer men, a plaything for the powerful, a delusion worshipped only by the impressionable."

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