Anglophile ambassador hauled back to France

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The Independent Online

With his political honeymoon now well and truly over, Nicolas Sarkozy has decided it's time for a shake-up of his diplomatic staff in London.

Gérard Errera who been the French Ambassador here since 2002, is to return to Paris at the end of November after a successful five-year stint in the big smoke. Pandora understands he has been appointed permanent under-secretary to Sarkozy's Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner.

The move will come as a surprise to many in diplomatic circles, as it was widely believed that 64-year-old Errera, who is a committed Anglophile, would eventually retire and remain in England.

In the five years he's been here, he has become a well-known figure in London circles, and has been a popular host at the Ambassador's opulent residence in Kensington Park Gardens.

Earlier this year, Harold Pinter paid a visit to "Millionaires' Row" after being awarded the prestigious Légion d'Honneur, and Jude Law followed months later to collect the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

It's not yet known who Errera's replacement will be. Whoever it is, it is safe to say he will have a less immediate diplomatic task on his hands than his predecessor.

Errera came into the job just months after the previous ambassador, Daniel Bernard, sent shock waves through diplomatic circles when, at a dinner held by the former Daily Telegraph proprietor Lord Black, he referred to Israel as a "shitty little country".

Burberry fur incurs the wrath of Julie

Julie Christie has fired off an angry missive to one of Britain's most influential figures in the world of fashion. The elegant actress has penned a letter to Christopher Bailey, the creative director of Burberry widely credited with turning the brand around.

In the letter, which has been seen by Pandora, Christie blasts Bailey for his label's use of fur.

"I had always thought of the Burberry label as a British classic – established, yet progressive. However, my friends at Peta showed me images of Burberry models wearing fur on the catwalk in Milan, I have had to change my view," writes Christie.

"For the sake of basic decency and humanity and for the sake of your company's reputation, won't you please stop using real fur in your designs? I look forward to your response."

Bailey, I'm told, has yet to respond to the letter, and is in Milan to attend Burberry's catwalk show.

Dead cool

A press release excitedly announces the line-up for the London Jazz Festival, in association with BBC 3, which takes place in November. One of the acts on offer, it claims, will be the keyboard player, and former colleague of Miles Davis, Joe Zawinul.

This I shall have to see for myself. Zawinul died two weeks ago.

* Further to my story last week that the Welsh actor Rhys Ifans was continuing his relentless partying around London despite being on crutches, I'm now told he's taken to using a bejewelled cane. Snazzy fellow.

How Green woos the valleys

Philip Green has once again dipped into his whopping £4bn fortune in the good name of charidee.

Last week, the big-spending high street retailer attended the British Fashion Council's lavish bash in aid of the Rotary Flood and Disaster Appeal. During the evening's charity auction, he forked out a princely £10,000 to hear the shapely Welsh opera star Katherine Jenkins sing.

"Green was his usual generous and adventurous self," says the evening's popular auctioneer, Nick "The Colonel" Stewart. "He wanted Katherine to sing him a two-minute aria from an opera by Puccini. After a quick bit of gargling, she carried it off beautifully."

Green seems to be developing a fetish for this sort of thing. Last year, he coughed up £60,000 at a charity do at Annabel's to watch Kate Moss snog Jemima Khan.

A diet to die for, nearly

With London party season now in full swing, an invitational "stiffy" arrives from the west London home of Michael Winner.

It's to celebrate the launch of his book Fat Pig Diet: How I Lost Three and a Half Stone – And Kept It Off.

It's a strange sell, because most people are under the assumption that the high-living bon viveur shed his (previously) sizeable girth after contracting a life-threatening illness in the Caribbean over the new year.

"No, no, this is a mistake that must not be made. It's true I lost weight when I was ill, but I lost three and a half stone before it happened," the great man insists. "I wouldn't launch a diet book on how to lose weight, brackets, because I had a fatal illness."

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