Black, Brown, and a case for Bower's solicitors

Click to follow
The Independent Online

* When the investigative journalist Tom Bower recently released his sizzling biography of the former Daily Telegraph proprietor Conrad Black, the deposed newspaper baron issued a typically long-winded riposte that boiled down, in effect, to "see you court".

Intriguing, then, to discover that the first legal notice to be served in connection with the tome has come from neither Black nor his imeldific wife Barbara Amiel, but from the author of the book himself.

Bower, above, has instructed his lawyers to take action against The Mail on Sunday after the paper recently published a review of the biography by the renowned satirist Craig Brown, which he's now taken issue with.

"The review read like one of Craig's standard piss-takes, poking fun at Bower's descriptions of Barbara Amiel's boobs and all that sort of stuff," I'm told. "But I think the dispute is more to do with some of the jibes he makes about some of Bower's research, which is what he has taken exception to."

Although it's not known what Bower is seeking by way of rapprochement, some observers reckon its the sort of row which could run and run.

"Yes, the whole thing is a bit of a bore," says Brown.

"Bower's lawyers have written to the legal department at The Mail on Sunday.

"Personally, I don't think journalists should be threatening to sue other journalists, but there you have it."

* In just under two years, Joss Stone's husky vocals have brought fame, plaudits, and a reputed £5m fortune.

But according to guests at a party at the UK Music Hall of Fame on Tuesday evening, the teenage soulstress appears to have picked up that other British pop diva essential: a mid- Atlantic twang.

"It was quite odd, it was like she'd just walked out of a Nashville recording studio," I'm told. "I remember not long ago she was just a sweet young girl from Devon, but there you go."

Stone was at the event to present an award in honour of the late Dusty Springfield, to whom she paid a gushing tribute in her newly acquired Yankee tones.

"I suppose she has been spending quite a lot of time over in America recently," says a spokesman. "She's been recording an album there, so that may be the reason for it."

* Thanks to his success in America over these past couple of years, Rod Stewart looks to be in danger of getting a little too big for those winkle-pickered boots of his.

In an interview in this month's edition of Rolling Stone magazine, he offers a frank opinion as to why the likes of Sir Elton John and Sir Mick Jagger no longer enjoy the chart success they once did.

"They're not new any more... when you've been around the block so many times it's hard to come up with something different," he says.

Some might say Rod's comments are a trifle rich. His latest album, likes the last few before it, is just a rehash of various old cover versions.

* Generous chap, that Marco Pierre White.

This week, the fiery chef threw a lavish dinner party for his old chum Frankie Dettori in honour of the jockey's recent triumph at the Breeders Cup.

Guests at the bash, held at the pair's restaurant Frankie's, were apparently treated to main course of chips shaved with white truffle taken from Marco's own private stash.

"It seemed like a natural combination," he tells me. "Since my father was from Yorkshire and my mother was from Italy, I was bringing the best of both worlds together."

The cost of the truffle used? A princely £2,000. Ain't life (a couple of) grand!

* Ever since George Bush effectively outlawed Michael Howard from Washington last year, there has been a distinct froideur between the Tory party and the White House.

Thanks to that renowned parliamentary wag William Hague, relations might not be getting smoother any time soon.

Earlier this week, Hague appeared as a guest speaker at the Accountancy Age Awards in Battersea. Strangely, he made a bizarre quip to the audience that "It would have been better if Plymouth Rock had landed on America's founding fathers."

"It certainly seemed a strange thing to say from a possible future Foreign Secretary," says one audience member.