Beaten, bloodied and bruised: MPs who sloped off to Davos

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* MPs are limping back to Westminster this week after a skiing excursion in Davos ended in tears.

The All-Party Parliamentary Ski Trip is an annual event in which British MPs engage in daring competition with their Swiss counterparts. This year, on the event's 50th anniversary, there appeared to be a jinx on the party.

"Malcolm Moss dislocated his shoulder getting out of a swimming pool," says my spy who came in from the cold.

"The Lib Dem's Chris Huhne had his holiday ruined by the Kennedy crisis. Greg Barker was bashed in the face by a waitress's tray and was covered in blood. And Crispin Blunt spent three days in hospital."

It is even worse than it sounds. "I was skiing with my son and we got tangled up," Blunt tells me.

"I managed to land on his ski, which sliced into my right hip. I had to have stitches under general anaesthetic. But it could have been worse: Jackie Lawrence [right], the former MP for Pembrokeshire, broke her leg quite badly."

I am disappointed by the reactions of these MPs' colleagues to their plight. Tories are sniggering over "Crispin's wounded buttocks", while a spokeswoman at Moss's constituency office responded: "Oh dear. I really and truly shouldn't be laughing, should I?"

* It is turning into a good year for the up-and-coming star Alice Evans.

As well as having received a marriage proposal from her actor boyfriend, Ioan Gruffudd, she has landed a plum role in a new BBC series.

The impressionist Alistair McGowan is producing the series called The Gourmayo Murder Mysteries, which starts this spring.

Evans who kicks off the series, boasted to me that it is going to be "the British answer to Twin Peaks" when I met her at the launch of the new Beretti store in Mayfair.

However, young Alice, who starred in 102 Dalmations (on which she met Gruffudd, star of Hornblower), admitted she is not always the best person to promote her own work.

"I can't say who I play in Gourmayo because that would give it away," she apologised.

"I did that with an episode of CSI Miami and never forgave myself. The interviewer said: 'What's your character?' I said: 'The murderer'. Doh."

* After James Frey was accused this week of making up large chunks of his best-selling memoir, A Million Little Pieces, he has turned to writing fiction.

Thesmokinggun.com investigated Frey's poignant book and announced that he had "demonstrably fabricated key parts" of it.

Frey retorted: "Let the haters hate", but grudgingly admitted that events "were embellished in the book for obvious reasons".

Now his agent has sold world rights to a new work. As yet untitled, it is "a multi-voiced, multi-threaded story of contemporary Los Angeles" and will be published in autumn 2007. It will appear on the fiction shelves.

* Et tu, Brute? The latest joke around Parliament says: "What do Julius Caesar and Charles Kennedy have in common? They were both stabbed in the back by men in sandals." Labour MPs are now wondering who is going to be their Brutus, I'm told.

* Are you an old lady? Have you ever been spat at in the street? Was it on the way to the shops?

I only ask because, if so, you could be forming a key plank of Tony Blair's new "Respect action plan". In his speech to launch the initiative, Mr Blair explained that the new agenda is designed to punish "the person who spits at the old lady in the street". So what are the figures regarding this alarming crime?

"I'm pretty confident that there aren't any," said a Home Office spokesman yesterday. "Not through us. But between you and me, I'd be surprised if it doesn't happen. Haven't you ever been spat at in the street?"

Funnily enough, no. But our Home Office flack has. "I have been spat at in the street and I am not an old lady, either," he retorted, tartly. What is the world coming to?

* Following my revelation that the Lib Dem leadership contender Sir Menzies Campbell is the proud owner of a gas-guzzling Jaguar XJ-S, I now hear a claim that his potential rival Simon Hughes has been straying into Parliament's disabled parking bays.

Hughes famously drives a yellow taxi in to town. "I have seen it parked in the disabled bay in Star Chamber Courts quite a few times," says my Westminster spy.

Hughes protests that this is not the case. "There was one occasion when he left it in a reserved bay, about which there was a complaint," says a spokesman in his office. "He has no recollection of parking in the disabled bay. There may have been a one-off when he was late for a vote."

Surely there can't be two yellow taxis in Westminster?

pandora@independent.co.uk

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