Diary: Facebook alert - do not comment on this story
Strathclyde Police decided to improve their relations with the public this week by joining Facebook. Almost the first announcement on that page was posted late on Wednesday night, to reveal that "a 44-year-old man has been arrested in connection with alleged perjury before the High Court". David Cameron's former spin doctor, Andy Coulson, a witness in the trial of the socialist Tommy Sheridan, is 44.
Though it is an admirable idea for the police to use social media to bring them closer to the public, there is a danger, because Facebook entries provoke public responses – which, in a case like this, could threaten the principle that every accused person is innocent until proved guilty. The brief message about Mr Coulson was "liked" by some Facebook users, and drew comments from others, one of whom said, "I would love to be on that jury." A bit of monitoring might be in order.
Mr Greedy's stealth tax
My colleague Nigel Morris broke the story yesterday about how a change in Treasury regulations has had a catastrophic impact on the skip-hire businesses by hitting them with a huge stealth tax. One detail garnered by the Politics Home website is that the official who introduced the change is Mr Darren Greedy.
The spin doctor who doesn't spin
Damian McBride was a Downing Street spin doctor during Gordon Brown's premiership, whose name is often invoked by David Cameron and other Tories as someone whose penchant for negative briefing poisoned public life. Yesterday, on behalf of his current employer, the Catholic charity, Cafod, Mr McBride delivered a verdict on George Osborne's latest policy U-turn. "It is clear that the spirit of charity is alive and well in Britain," he said. "The Chancellor has listened with care and acted with wisdom..." Shocking!
Don't count on Kent Council
I begin to wonder what the people in the finance department at Kent County Council are on. These are the geniuses who invested £50m in three Icelandic banks, and who this month have pulled out the £3m they had placed in a Spanish bank, Santander. They are also trying to recover £21,000 they accidentally paid to a maintenance worker, Paul Carter, in the mistaken belief that he was Paul Carter, leader of the council, but are having difficulty because he has moved to China. When a Kent pensioner, Diane Warren, read about Mr Carter in the local free sheet, the News Shopper, she decided to tell her story. From 2003 to 2006, she worked 25 hours a week in a Kent care home, but they mistakenly paid her for 37 hours. They uncovered their mistake three years later and demanded that she repay more than £15,000. She paid £100 a month until she retired last year, still owing more than £3,000, and anticipates being in their debt until she dies. Mrs Warren's verdict on the finance department is that it "doesn't know its arse from its elbow".
A good start at the last Orange Prize
Madeline Miller, a classics teacher from Massachusetts who was awarded the last ever Orange Prize this week, was not the night's only winner. There is a lesser award, the Orange/Grazia First Chapter Competition for best opening paragraph, which was won at the second attempt by 30-year-old Jennifer Cullen, who lives near Naas, in a rural part of County Kildare, Ireland, and whose day job is breeding race horses and sheep.
She has never had anything published, but writes compulsively and was persuaded by her twin sister to put in for the prize.
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