The Feral Beast: Snacks on the paparazzi

 

Blunkett, the dog that didn't bark

If anyone finds David Blunkett's moral compass, please could you send it back?

In only February, the MP for Hillsborough signed a £49,500 contract with News International to advise it on "social responsibility". A few weeks earlier, as we revealed, he accepted a secret "substantial" pay-off from Rupert Murdoch's company, because his phone was hacked. All this on top of his £65,000 salary for representing the people of Hillsborough, scene of the worst betrayal of civilians by British authorities in recent history. Last week, when the truth about Hillsborough emerged, he said: "One of the lessons that has to come out of this is surely that cover-ups can only cause, and continue to cause, the greatest hurt and harm to those involved, and that in a democracy transparency and openness must be, and always will be, the right way forward to get to the truth." So, how much did Blunkett do to expose the truth? From 2001-04, as Home Secretary, he could have ordered an investigation into the disaster that claimed 96 lives, but didn't. As a columnist on The Sun, the Murdoch title that insulted the dead, he could have called for justice. Can he really advise anyone on "social responsibility"?

Price of fame

Salman Rushdie's account of life under the fatwah, Joseph Anton: A Memoir, hits the bookstores this week. But literary editors and reviewers have felt a bit fatwah-ed themelves by publishers' demands not to disclose its contents. The signing of a non-disclosure agreement for major books is standard practice, but this one says Random House reserves the right to charge €200,000 to anyone they think might have leaked. Cripes! The fine was generously discounted to €175,000 when we questioned the legality of such a clause, but why would anyone sign these documents? Last week it emerged that the publishers of J K Rowling (above) have issued a super-embargo on The Casual Vacancy, her first novel for grown-ups, which binds journalists into not even mentioning the existence of an embargo (oops!). When we asked Little, Brown's lawyers why this was so, they needed a lot of bullying to come up with an answer, and even then didn't answer the question convincingly. When did writers become such tyrants against free speech?

Out, by design

Strange goings-on at the Design Council, the charity and former quango set up by Hugh Dalton during the Second World War. Tony Burton, director of policy, has been made redundant only six months after he was recruited, on the last day of his probation period. The move comes a week after a new chief executive, John Mathers, was appointed. Burton says the two roles were considered too similar, so he had to go. "I have enjoyed my all-too-brief immersion in the design world and am a convert to the power of design thinking," he says. "I am disappointed by the way things have unfolded, having been headhunted just six months ago." Burton is now warning that, without his expertise, the Design Council could lose its "unique position" advising government. "Our access to government, and a lot of the reason people were interested in talking to us, was because we were a cause, a design movement, as well as a consultancy," he told the magazine Building Design. "We were trusted to work even-handedly with any partner. The risk is it becomes just another consultancy trying to make money."

Annecy secrets

Former SAS author Chris Ryan has an intriguing take on the Annecy killings. Ryan knows the area well, having a house of his own just a few kilometres from where three members of the al-Hilli family were murdered. He says that unless the murderer had put a satellite tracker on their car, he must have been told in advance that the family would be on that remote mountain road: either Saad al-Hilli told someone, or he had a phone call intercepted. And Ryan thinks the make of gun used, a Skorpion, is highly significant. "It's a gun that was much used by the Serb hit squads," he tells me. "Given that there were children involved, this looks very much like a professional job – carried out by a nasty, cold-blooded person who has done it before. The border is so close, the killer could have been in Italy on a motorbike within 40 minutes." Ryan's latest novel, Osama, is about the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

Whoopsadaisy

Fans of red-haired maidens and heavy curtains are flocking to Tate Britain for its Pre-Raphaelites blockbuster. A hefty catalogue, priced at £25, promises to "be the key work on the Pre-Raphaelites for years to come." Sorry to quibble, but we've already spotted our first howler. In a description of Sir John Everett Millais' famous work The Order of the Release the flowers strewn across the floor are described as buttercups. As any dilettante knows, they are primroses. The picture depicts a Scottish rebel soldier, imprisoned after the Jacobite uprising, weeping as his wife presents him with his order of release. Some say the fallen flowers symbolise a loss of innocence, raising questions about how the wife secured his release. The model for the woman was Effie Gray, wife of John Ruskin, Millais's patron. She later left Ruskin for Millais. The tale has been made into a film, Effie, starring Dakota Fanning and Tom Sturridge, out next year.

No Moore chivalry

Lovable lady's man Roger Moore has knocked together a book to mark 50 years of James Bond. The blurb for Bond on Bond calls him the actor who gave the role "the most panache and charisma". But the old smoothy isn't above making a few catty remarks about Grace Jones. Of A View To A Kill, he says: "I chopped the top off a Renault 11 taxi in the Parisian scenes while trying to chase Grace Jones. Wish I hadn't bothered trying, actually." Elsewhere, he says sex doubles were used in that film. "Well, would you expect me to get into bed with Grace Jones?" And beneath a photo of Jones, of whom Moore once said he "had a genuine dislike", the caption says "she who shall remain nameless". How childish!

Room at the top

Matt Warren, the unladylike editor of The Lady, abseiled down St Pancras station on Friday. The publicity-shy hack, whose stunt came after Prince Andrew's descent of the Shard, was raising money for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund. But has Matt just dropped into a diplomatic row of his own? He didn't think to tell Harry Handelsman, part-owner of the

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, who lives in one of the luxury flats at the top. "As it is for charity, I suppose I don't mind too much," says Handelsman. "But had I known, I would have asked him to take a bucket and chamois and clean the windows on the way down". Well, domestic staff is what The Lady does best.

Howard's life as an also-ran

Michael Howard has learnt to live with disappointment, never quite making it as PM. Just as well, as the racehorse he co-owns failed to trouble the engravers at yesterday's St Leger Stakes. The former Tory leader was given a 20th share in Guarantee by his wife Sandra for his 70th birthday last year, but the colt came seventh out of nine. Mrs Howard hasn't always been keen on her husband's hobby. "She did not approve of the time I was spending reading the racing columns," said Howard before the race, "but happily in those days the racing in The Times was next to law reports".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones