Blair faces legal challenge from disaffected Labour supporter

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The Independent Online

Graham Ennis, a retired scientist who has supported the party for 40 years, has already taken solicitor's advice over the party's refusal to allow him to attend the conference, amidst security fears

"I have supported Labour for all my adult life," he says. "But I left for a few years because I am not a natural Blair supporter. This year, I was persuaded by friends to rejoin, but they have declined my request to go to the conference."

The reason they have given for declining his request for a pass is that he officially signed up for membership too recently. Labour is motivated, apparently, by the desire to prevent a repeat of the scenes of anarchy last year, when pro-hunting protesters gained access to events by joining the party in the weeks running up to the conference. The government fears activists on this, and other issues, blighting their show of unity and celebration next week.

If they do not lift the ban, Mr Ennis plans to proceed with legal action against the party for contravening his rights as a party member.

Nobody in the Labour press office was returning calls yesterday.

* Here is an insight into the priorities of Ken Livingstone, who is a very busy man. The Mayor of London was at a party on Sunday night, to kick off London Fashion Week. Surrounded by beauties, he was there to receive a cheque from the supermodel Linda Evangelista, left with Ken, who was presenting £100,000 from Mac Cosmetics to the Loomba Trust.

Red Ken had told organisers he would have to shoot off at 9.15pm because he had a second, less glamorous engagement to move on to. But at the appointed hour, Evangelista hadn't arrived.

"She was stuck at Giles Deacon's catwalk show, which over-ran horrendously," I am told. "She was on the verge of abandoning the catwalk because she wanted to present Ken with the cheque, but really couldn't just disappear."

So, it was fortunate for all concerned that the Mayor was still enjoying the company of fashionistas when Evangelista eventually pitched up, at almost 10pm.

"She looked ravishing. I hope he thought the wait was worth it," says an organiser.

* None of the minor members of the royal family, it seems, can sleep safe in his bed any more. First, the poor old Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have been forced to flog their country house. Now Lord Lichfield, right, another cousin of the Queen, is under fire from staff for living in too much of his own stately home.

A leaked memo from the Education, Interpretation and Collections Officer at Shugborough Hall blames Lichfield for making the house less attractive to visitors than its rivals.

"I was impressed by their house and their servants' quarters, both of which seemed fuller than ours (mainly because they don't have Lordy nicking half the rooms!)" it reads.

Shugborough's estate manager says the memo is normal operational practice, but "unfortunately the way she has chosen to word it has come across in a negative way".

* Entries to Pandora's competition giving readers the chance to "turn the tables" on Piers Morgan, when he subjects himself to a grilling from David Blunkett continue to roll in.

The best so far concentrate on Piers's personal life and background. Like this one: "Would you have been so successful in your red top career if you had kept your original name, Piers Pughe-Morgan?"

It's not too late to enter. Questions by e-mail, please, to the above address.

Some readers may remember that a similar competition ended up provoking a spat between a Tory and Trevor MacDonald, when Jonathan Sayeed MP (who has since stepped down) e-mailed me to pose a racially insensitive question to the newscaster.

* It is tempting to draw a line under the marriage of Tom Parker-Bowles, which has already enjoyed rather a lot of coverage elsewhere. But a detail has come to light - courtesy of Hello! magazine - which bears repetition.

"Some of the ushers, including Zac Goldsmith, Luca del Bono and Laura Parker-Bowles's boyfriend, Henry Lopes, adjourned to the pub next door, as there were not enough seats for them inside the church," reads the mag's report.

When I call del Bono to ask whether he regretted missing the service, which is often thought to be the most important part of a wedding, he denies the story. But he promises the ushers won't be demanding a correction, which leaves Pandora wondering ...

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