The Feral Beast: Did Dom reach for the skive?

Playful, but with sharp claws
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The Independent Online

The Sun editor Dominic Mohan has maintained a whiter-than-white image since the hacking scandal erupted. So what to make of worrying allegations in a book by ex-News of the World journalist Graham Johnson?

In Hack, he claims Mohan, who started out as a reporter on the Screws, was once caught lying to his boss. "On surveillance jobs, it was common practice for reporters to skive," writes Johnson. "Reporters and photographers would make a pact to go home rather than spend hours and hours staring at a brass knob on a door they were supposed to be watching....

"On the odd occasion that I was late for a job, I opened the window of my bedroom, stuck my head out, and checked in with Ray on the mobile – pretending that I was on the plot somewhere....

"My colleague Dominic Mohan was turned over for this. After suspecting Dominic was blagging him from home, Ray zoomed around to Dom's flat. In his leathers, like a man on a mission. Parked up outside. Called Dominic on his mobile – and smiled as he observed Dom stick his head out of the window to answer the call. Bang to rights."

According to my records, Mohan didn't tell this anecdote in his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, but said: "As editor, I have always been determined to foster a culture of honesty, integrity and high ethical standards at The Sun". Could the first two be the operative words?

Ecclestone flashes his cash

Also in Graham Johnson's book is an intriguing story about Bernie Ecclestone. Johnson recalls how he exposed a crook, who was trying to blackmail Formula One's Ecclestone with a made-up sex scandal smearing Bernie's wife, Slavica.

"When I got back to London, Bernie invited me round to his Knightsbridge office to thank me," he writes. "He said I was scruffy, went to his safe, and pulled out a grand in cash. I think he wanted me to buy a new suit, rather than influence me... I immediately reported the grand to the new Sunday Mirror editor Brendon Parsons.

"We agreed to give it back straight away. Bernie was a bit pissed off I'd told anyone. But we remained half-mates, going out for lunch now and again."

Nimbys turn on Murdochs

Rupert Murdoch has been begging his son Lachlan to take a bigger role in the company, now that James's stock has fallen. But Lachlan has been resisting, saying he's perfectly happy in his native Australia. Now, he may want to think again, as nimbyish neighbours in Sydney have begun giving him grief over planning permission.

Lachlan and his wife Sarah recently bought the former French consulate in the upmarket Bellevue Hill area for £16m, and have submitted plans to spend a further £7m doing it up. But neighbours are horrified at their proposals, which, in addition to all the usual add-ons, include posts for armed security guards.

No doubt the young billionaire will find a way to persuade council officials these plans are necessary. After all, only last year his dad was attacked with a shaving foam pie.

From expenses to wedding list

Toppers off to Julia Goldsworthy, who got married yesterday. The ex-Lib Dem MP turned Treasury wonk wed her long-term partner Christopher Church in Cornwall.

Once tipped as a future party leader, Goldsworthy lost her Camborne seat in 2010, after constituents wondered why they should fund her taste for pink rocking chairs from Heal's, at £1,200 a pop (she later repaid the money).

But it pains me to report her return to Cornwall was not entirely triumphant. Though several Lib Dem grandees turned out, there was no sign of Nick Clegg, even though he was in the county the day before. He was there with David Beckham and Princess Anne to greet the Olympic torch as it landed at Culdrose. As if the bride hadn't been upstaged enough, guests then arrived for the reception at the Eden Project to find the torch was just leaving. Here's hoping someone chose the his'n'hers rocking chairs from their wedding list.

Following father Foot

The release of Sam Hallam from prison after seven years for a murder he didn't commit, was met with jubilant scenes on Wednesday. Among his supporters was the lawyer Matt Foot, who gave an interview to the Today programme.

What nobody noticed is that Foot is the son of the late great Paul Foot, who spent his life campaigning against miscarriages of justice. Through his journalism, he helped overturn convictions against the Birmingham Six and Bridgewater Four. Foot the younger is now an equally dogged campaigner: other clients include Eddie Gilfoyle, who spent 18 years in prison for murdering his wife, a crime he has always denied. Dad Paul would be proud.

Talented and not too posh

As a group of all-male Oxford University students, the a capella singers Out of the Blue were never an obvious choice for Britain's Got Talent. Still, they made it to last year's semi-finals, and won support from Jessie J, who was in talks to stage a joint gig. Now, their spokesman Patrick Lee tells me they may try again, this time without the Oxford connection.

"We had a great time and did well, but part of what BGT played into was an expectation that we'd be posh or stuck up." In fact, their act is like something out of Glee.

"We loved that whole reversal of expectations thing, but maybe in a couple of years we'll pitch it differently." Meanwhile, they're hoping to fill 3,600 seats with two concerts next month. Good luck!

Snitches rat on sausage dog

The Tory MP Greg Barker has disgusted colleagues by heating his dachshund beanbag in the departmental microwave. They say it's unhygienic, as it's where they heat their lunch. But Barker is unrepentant, saying Otto, a sausage dog, is a great bonding tool.

Now, the briefing has started, and more snitching arrives from his office. I'm told that, as well as fretting about Otto's cushion, Barker insists on serving him water in a bone-china teacup. The cup and saucer stand on the floor of his office, regardless of whether the dog is in or not.

One insider has been quoted saying Barker's pandering to his pooch "proved he thinks more of the dog than us", and colleagues spend their days tip-toeing about, terrified of treading on the dog or its cup.

According to palace rules, only police and guide dogs are allowed in parliament.