Battle over Beckham's 'ethnic' award heading for the courts

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* The row over the decision to name David Beckham "Sportsman of the Year" at last year's Ethnic Multicultural Media Awards looks like ending up in court.

* The row over the decision to name David Beckham "Sportsman of the Year" at last year's Ethnic Multicultural Media Awards looks like ending up in court.

Imran Khan, the prominent human rights lawyer, has agreed to represent the organisers of the Emmas - Britain's biggest annual awards do of its kind - in a legal action against their sponsor of seven years, the NatWest bank.

It follows a lengthy dispute, in which NatWest decided not to renew its £300,000 support for the event after criticism of the decision to overlook athletes from ethnic minorities to present Beckham, above right, with the gong.

Khan who is convenor of the Emma judges, agreed to take up the case earlier this week. He will argue that NatWest's decision - which has just caused this summer's bash to be cancelled - was a breach of contract.

The bank, for its part, was not satisfied with the outcome of last year's ceremony. Among other things, it has complained that its broadcast on the BBC was five minutes shorter than originally planned.

Yesterday, the Emma founder Bobby Sayed said that he and Mr Khan were "going to come out fighting", and claimed various high-profile supporters, including John Fashanu and Lorraine Heggessey.

NatWest, meanwhile, would say only: "As this matter is unfortunately subject to legal discussions it would be wholly inappropriate to comment at this time."

* TRINNY WOODALL has never shied from taking pot shots at the rich and famous, so it's odd to find her sticking up for our Royal Family.

Asked about the dress sense of Prince Charles's future bride, the well-bred TV presenter tells me: "Camilla has always known how to dress to her shape.

"She knows instinctively what suits her, and has chosen a wedding dress designer she knows already, which is a good idea. I'm sure it will be a great success."

That sort of sucking-up is out of character, but Woodall - speaking at a fundraiser for the Hope House charity - appears to be softening in her old age.

"I know most people don't welcome competition, but I'd be delighted if there were more shows like What Not to Wear ," she adds. "There's too much work out there for just the two of us."

* GORDON RAMSAY recently boasted that two chefs are required to replace him in Hell's Kitchen . And so they are. But sources close to the TV show deny they're struggling to fill his boots.

"It's true we need two chefs, but not because of Gordon," I'm told. "What's happened is that Jean Christophe Novelli was hired, but during screen tests people couldn't understand his French accent. So another chef is needed as a translator; hopefully it'll also create a bit of comedy."

Meanwhile, Ramsay's tip for the second presenting job, Aldo Zilli, has apparently been rejected. The Savoy Grill's Marcus Wareing is now bookies' favourite, while Tom Aikens' ex-wife Laura is expected to assume maitre'd duties.

* HERE'S A depressing insight into the workings of New Labour. Brian Sedgemore, MP for Hackney, has sent a letter of apology to his local party, to explain why he recently tabled several sycophantic parliamentary questions.

"I don't normally, or ever until now, put down planted questions, but in this case I was asked to do so by the Deputy Chief Whip, Bob 'no brains' Ainsworth," it reads.

"Don't ask me what the questions or answers were. My job was just to get them down on the order paper ... I feel deeply ashamed for having just become a poodle of the whips."

If nothing else, you've got to admire his blistering honesty.

* The farming industry is going to drastic lengths to make us buy British. With other foods endorsed by telegenic TV stars, the Beef and Lamb Executive has hired the former cricketers Ian Botham and Alan Lamb as the "face" of our national dishes.

The cuddly duo star as cartoon characters "Beefy and Lamby" in a £4.5m series of TV adverts, narrated by Test Match Special's Henry Blofeld.

"We wanted to do something with a famous chef, but time restraints meant that they came up with this animation instead," Lamb tells me. "It's turned out well."

By way of a perk, I'm told they'll receive free burgers and chops during this summer's Ashes series.

Nice work if you can get it!

pandora@independent.co.uk

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