The Feral Beast


Terminal prognosis for 'Times' doctor in residence

So farewell to veteran 'Times' doctor columnist Thomas Stuttaford. After 27 years, he has been given his marching orders by excitable new editor James Harding. Dr Tom, 77, first got wind his days were numbered prior to the recent relaunch of the T2 section, when several hacks got a letter informing them they did not fit in with the editor's vision for the paper. But after Stutters instructed his lawyers to respond, he was reassured that he would be kept indefinitely. A third letter arrived 36 hours later saying that, after a review, he was indeed going. "It was a shambles," he tells me. Stuttaford's last column will appear on 31 December, but I gather there has been interest from other publications.

Thighs, ties and goodbyes

Over at the 'Evening Standard', it's adieu to Harry Phibbs, who left the Londoner's Diary last week after 20 years' service. At a lunch at Maggie Jones's, the Kensington restaurant said to have been a favourite of Princess Margaret, friends recalled the highlights of Phibbs' career, including the £20,000 libel damages he won from the 'Mirror' for its misrepresenting of his political views, and the time he quoted Lord Lamont, saying, "I've always admired Richard Whiteley's thighs." Lamont had said ties.

Parlez-vous anglais?

The 'Daily Mail' was among the first to send a reporter to Clermont-Ferrand, home of the two students brutally murdered in London. But Sam Greenhill has been amusing the local press. 'La Montagne' notes wryly that Greenhill "speaks not one word of French". It also wonders why he reached Clermont "via Nice". Oddly, the 'Mail' has several stringers in France, not least one who speaks fluent French in nearby Provence.

TV review called out

For most, the men's final at Wimbledon last Sunday was a highlight of sporting history. But for the 'Metro', it was the cause of great embarrassment. Monday's edition carried a TV review of 'George Gently', a new drama scheduled to have run at 8pm on BBC1 the night before. But as 13 million viewers know, it never appeared, as Nadal and Federer's epic took precedence. Somebody at Metro must have had his eye off the ball.

Myler's court record

'News of the World' editor Colin Myler has had a busy week in court defending his "Mosley Nazi orgy" story. He claims he ran the story in the public's interest. But it's not the first time his judgement has been questioned. In 2001, he resigned as editor of the 'Sunday Mirror' after running a story that prejudiced the trial of two footballers charged with assault. At the time he was thought lucky to escape jail for contempt.

Kitchen confidential

As the editor of the Homes and Property supplement in the 'Evening Standard', Janice Morley should know a thing or two about home improvements. But when she had a new kitchen fitted, I fear she was short of some elementary practical advice, as the cabinets were installed around the existing tiles. Now she wants new tiles, which will prove almost impossible without damaging the gleaming new cabinets. Doh!

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