The spectator

Tired and emotional but he'd have insulted White anyway
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The Independent Online

The men in tights slipped into mufti last week to mark the departure of Major-General Peter Grant Peterkin, Sergeant-at-Arms. But the occasion was marred by an ungentlemanly exchange. When Michael White of 'The Guardian' aired the rumour that the 'Mail on Sunday' story about proxy donors had been spoon-fed to the paper by the Tories, Simon Walters, evidently in an emotional state, leapt to his paper's defence, explaining that it was the result of a trawl through official records. If White was a better reporter and not so "pompous", said Walters, he could have had the story himself. Even now, the ire of Walters has not cooled. "You don't need drink to insult Michael White," he told a friend.

Good week for

Catherine Bennett: Star columnist for 'G2' magazine, the features pull-out of 'The Guardian' who is joining 'The Observer'. She has been hired by the paper's new editor, John Mulholland, who is a long-standing admirer of Bennett's work.

Bad week for

Adult TV channel Babeworld: Which was fined 25,000 by media watchdog Ofcom after it broadcast sexually explicit material only 15 minutes after the 9pm watershed. The channel's owner, Connection Makers, which has a poor track record of complying with Ofcom stipulations, said it had improved compliance by retraining the producer who had been in charge of the programme on the evening in question.

Who will edit 'The Times'?

Rupert Murdoch is due to close 'The Wall Street Journal' deal on 13 December, and 'The Times' is bracing itself for a new editor should the incumbent, Robert Thomson, take a transatlantic flight to help out at the 'WSJ'. 'Times' deputy editor Ben Preston, who was heavily tipped to take the helm, has been looking long-faced and there's a strong feeling that business editor James Harding is Murdoch's chosen one. The 'Times' board, which has to approve the editor, meets on 11 December.

And why is it being so nice?

'Times' leader writers do not usually deign to mention media handlers, but on Friday the Thunderer praised David Miliband's "two astute media advisers, perhaps inevitably dubbed Trinny and Susannah". This slip is being ascribed to opinion page supremo Danny Finkelstein, who is friendly with Sarah Schaefer, one half of the "astute" duo. Why should he mention her in the leader page? Because it is possible that her husband, Matthew D'Ancona, may become the next editor of 'The Times'.

You scratch my back...

"Let us acknowledge at once that Gordon Brown has behaved entirely properly since the exposure of the secret donations made to his party by a property developer." Who issued this ringing endorsement on Wednesday? Jack Straw? The Labour Party? Er no, Middle England's favourite, the 'Daily Mail'. Let us acknowledge that its editor, Paul Dacre, must feel a little compromised since accepting the PM's offer of a seat on a committee to study the delay in releasing government documents.

'Going all intellectual'

'The Sun' is usually among the first papers to chastise the Government about falling education standards. Yet an article last week on Wayne Rooney was accompanied by a mocked-up picture of the England footballer wearing a top hat and monocle. Why? Because Wayne is studying for his GCSEs. 'The Sun' sneers that Wayne is "going all intellectual". Clearly the author of the article thinks 'Sun' readers are not overburdened with qualifications. The scribe's name? Gordon Smart.