A Tube boss who won't always let the train take the strain

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The Independent Online

* Yesterday, Ken Livingstone announced more misery for users of London's transport system. Meanwhile, Bob Kiley, the American brought in to run the Tube, is doing his bit to ease overcrowding on that very network.

* Yesterday, Ken Livingstone announced more misery for users of London's transport system. Meanwhile, Bob Kiley, the American brought in to run the Tube, is doing his bit to ease overcrowding on that very network.

Neighbours of Kiley, right - who is paid in excess of £300,000, and lives in a £2m grace-and-favour house in Belgravia - say he's been using a taxi to travel to and from his office in Victoria.

Although the area is well served by the Underground, Kiley seems reluctant (and who can blame him) to travel with the great unwashed.

"In the morning, I have begun seeing Kiley being picked up from his home," reports a neighbour. "In the evenings, he is often dropped off by a black cab, which stops in front of the gates over the road."

After speaking to Kiley's office yesterday, a Transport for London spokesman admitted that he uses taxis, but stressed that the taxpayer did not pick up the bill.

"Mr Kiley might use black cabs or pre-ordered mini cabs if he has papers with him or is in a hurry, but he always pays for them himself," he said. "He'll normally use the Tube, though, particularly in the mornings."

The Tories aren't impressed. Their leader on the London Assembly, Bob Neill, says: "I have no doubt that Mr Kiley can afford to pay for taxis, but it doesn't exactly show him leading by example."

* THREE DECADES after the Oz trial, Felix Dennis retains an unerring ability to upset the establishment.

On Monday, the publisher, poet and tree-hugger kicked off his latest poetry tour at the Naval and Military Club in St James's. But the arrival of a large - and devotedly scruffy - literary audience caused bad feeling at the club.

"As we were arriving, an elderly female member grabbed a steward on the staircase and started telling him what a disgrace it was that her club was full of 'these sort of' people," I'm told.

"The steward said it was a private party, but she replied that it was no such thing, since it had been advertised on the internet, and flounced off to complain to the Secretary."

The club was not commenting on the matter yesterday. Meanwhile Dennis's audience was recovering, having been encouraged to attend by the various fine wines that he handed out, free of charge.

* PRINCE HARRY garnered positive headlines when he was photographed teaching rugby to primary school children from Coventry last month.

Not that all his coaching sessions are so heavily publicised, you understand. For yesterday, the Prince, below, was at Rugby School - on the pitch where the game was invented - taking a training session for the First XV.

"We heard on Monday he was coming," says a "beak" at the public school. "From the number of female pupils who turned out to watch, you'd have thought a member of Westlife was visiting."

The palace didn't send any photographers, though. "In fact, the school's porters were stationed by the pitch entrance, to stop any snappers or local oiks getting in."

* LORD TEBBIT was absent from last night's "Healing the Brighton Bomb" ceremony, held on the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack.

The event was organised by Princess Diana's cousin, Jo Berry - who lost her father Sir Anthony in the bombing - and attended by several of those involved, including the IRA bomber Patrick Magee.

But Tebbit, whose wife Margaret was paralysed by the bomb, was having none of it. "I regard Magee like the killers of Ken Bigley as pathologically disturbed," he says.

"I'm quite happy to associate with Germans who bombed me during the war, but Magee gives a bad name to the concept of reconciliation."

* The Labour MP Martin Salter has agreed to take part in the annual Lords vs Commons clay pigeon shoot. It's an odd call. Salter is one of Westminster's leading anti-hunting campaigners, yet Friday's event is organised by the pro-fieldsports British Association for Shooting and Conservation.

"There's a world of difference between the humane dispatch of a quarry with a gun and chasing a fox across the countryside until it's torn apart by a pack of dogs," he explains when I call.

Hmm. Yesterday, Salter was in the news for telling the following joke: "How do you know if someone is a member of the Countryside Alliance? When their mother, sister and girlfriend adds up to one person."