The Feral Beast: 'Mail' plays social worker and takes Conway's daughter away

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The Independent Online

Now you see her, now you don't. Claudia Conway, daughter of Tory MP Derek, is the latest victim of the airbrush, being erased from a family picture splashed across Wednesday's 'Daily Mail'. The attempt to rewrite history wouldn't have been so obvious had 'The Daily Telegraph' not run the unadulterated version, taken from the Conways' most recent Christmas card, the same day. The 'Mail' deleted Claudia and erased the words 'Merry Christmas', leaving an odd blur on young Freddie Conway's arm.

Good week for

Mary Wakefield, assistant editor at 'The Spectator', now elevated to deputy ed. Her promotion is tinged with sadness, however, as she replaces the brilliant Stuart Reid, who is to retire. Under Boris Johnson, Reid heroically manned the fort while Johnson juggled other commitments. But hats off to editor Matthew d'Ancona for rewarding Wakefield's loyalty; last year she turned down an offer from 'The Economist'. Apart from her looks and singular intellect, Wakefield is known for sitting cross-legged on the floor in conference.

Bad week for

Michelle Hogg, the make-up artist who has a £7m bounty on her head after turning in the robbers she helped disguise in the £53m Securitas depot heist. Her appearances provided the Old Bailey with some unusual lighter moments as she described how bra straps and baby bottle teats helped disguise the raiders. Unfortunately, though, Ms Hogg was unable to use her talents for her own benefit; several papers published full-page photos of her while reporting that she has had to go into hiding. Responsible journalism, anyone?

One-to-one with Doris

Good to see Alan Yentob hard at work. The BBC's creative director was at last week's Wallace Collection party to present Doris Lessing with her Nobel Prize. Last year Yentob admitted to not carrying out all his own interviews but I am happy to report he talked to Lessing and drank his champagne all by himself.

Long live 'Libération'

Berets off to 'Liberation', the French newspaper founded during the Nazi occupation. Each week until this summer's Beijing Olympics it is giving a whole page to the Reporters Without Borders campaign group, in protest at China's human rights record. The ad features a celebrity wearing a T-shirt with the campaign logo, the Olympic rings as handcuffs. Last week's celeb was ex-Bond girl Carole Bouquet. Which UK papers will follow suit?

The two faces of Chavez

Confused messages from the 'New Statesman'. Political ed Martin Bright has been investigating Ken Livingstone's activities, unearthing stories that do not show the London Mayor in "an entirely good light", including details of his oil deal with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez. 'Statesman' readers are currently being lured to subscribe with a free Hugo Chavez T-shirt.

Doyenne of décolletage

Wednesday's 'Daily Telegraph' ran Celia Walden's piece on plunging necklines – Jacqui Smith bad, Emily Maitlis good. But can we trust Celia? Her byline pic once prompted a reader to plead: "Would someone please tell her to put a dress on. She puts me off my breakfast."

Preston's 'Times' is up

Farewell then to Ben Preston, who leaves 'The Times' after 15 years. Three weeks ago he switched from dep ed to editor of international editions under new boss James Harding. But Preston is now leaving altogether. He emailed colleagues on Friday: "I've loved my time here and I've loved working with so many smart, funny, warm, generous people. I'm off to relax for a while before a new (ad)venture. Good night."

Snow gets an icy response

Poor Jon Snow thought he was being supportive when he backed Shami Chakrabarti, the director of civil rights group Liberty, for a Great Britons award, presented at the Guildhall on Thursday evening. Snow commended her for her "ethnic diversity". Accepting the award, she declared: "What an extraordinary feat for one person to be ethnically diverse. Jon Snow obviously knows more about my parentage than I do."

Hung out to dry: the true story of Paxman's pants

The Beast would like to have the last word on Jeremy Paxman's pants. After the story broke in the 'Mail on Sunday', columnists had a field day expostulating on Paxo's self-importance, in the belief that he had gone straight to the top by emailing Marks & Sparks chief exec Sir Stuart Rose. In fact, I learn Paxman made only a passing remark on his gusset anxiety to Sir Stuart at a party, and did not fire off a furious email, as many commentators gleefully imagined. The original 'MoS' article did not quote from the alleged email, which has yet to appear.

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