Breaking news... Cherie attends function for free

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The Independent Online

Cherie Booth, who is rarely underpaid as a QC, is bravely striking out into cooler waters in her bid to shake off the yoke of being a Prime Minister's wife and boost her prospects of winning a job as a senior judge.

I hear that the human rights lawyer is to appear – gratis – as chairwoman of a talking shop on Islamic law. Next to her on the platform on 3 December will be none other than her brother-in-law (in law) William Blair QC, a shorter, balder, brainier and (for now) richer version of Tony.

Delegates to the exciting "Islam, International and Comparative Law: Current Issues" will pay up to £120. "We are trying to explore the relationship between Islamic law and international law and the chairs will be commenting on our speakers," said an organiser. "But they are not going to be paid."

Bill Blair, a leading barrister in banking law, is more likely than Cherie to become a High Court judge, were he willing to take a hefty cut from the £1m a year he is rumoured to trouser. He is a deputy (part-time) High Court judge. Earlier this year, he won Zambia's fight over its debt and launched Qatar's first civil and commercial court. He helped Cherie with her racy read The Negligence Liability Of Public Authorities (£145).

John Cooper QC, a Bar Council member and criminal barrister, believes it is the first time Bill and Cherie have appeared together in such circumstances.

"I've actually been up before William Blair for a case at Snaresbrook Crown Court. He seemed like a very nice, sensible chap," he says.

* Heather Mills: the celebrity who keeps on giving.

On Monday, Lady Mucca will take to her soapbox at Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park to demand that we all stop eating meat and dairy products and instead move to a plant-based diet – to allegedly reduce global warming. (Apparently, less farming means less methane from livestock and less forest lost to grazing.)

She will feature in two adverts for Vegetarians International Voice for Animals (Viva). The first blames meat-eaters for rising earth temperatures, and carries the strapline "Hey Meaty, you're making me so hot!"

The other is directed at self-styled "environmentalists" who eat meat, fish and dairy. Headline: "You haven't got a leg to stand on." Genius!

Says Mills: "End your involvement in this vandalism overnight. Change your diet, change the world!"

This is what happens when your publicist sacks you.

* Jamie Spencer is clearly not the misty-eyed sort for memorabilia. The two-times Champion Jockey had to share this year's prize after dramatically finishing with the same number of winners (190) as his rival Seb Sanders.

The enormous silver trophy will not take pride of place atop the Spencer household's television.

"I think Seb and myself are supposed to share it for six months each," Spencer, 27, told Pandora at the relaunch of The Brasserie restaurant. "But I'm not sure I'll bother. I'm not one for that. I give all the trophies to my valet instead."

Spencer's apparent modesty infuriates his wife Emma, 28, the Channel 4 racing presenter, right, who says she wouldn't mind polishing the baubles. "I'm always having a go at him about it but he's not interested," she adds.

* The junior Home Office minister Lord West made a bumbling explanation for his sudden U-turn on extending the 28-day limit for detention without charge. He is a mere "simple sailor", it is reported, and so "didn't choose my words very well".

Funnily enough, that's not the way the former First Sea Lord is remembered by his 1960s contemporaries at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. "Alan had the gift of the gab and a way with the girls," says one. "Legend has it that he once chatted up Lulu."

* The former prime ministers Stanley Baldwin, William Gladstone and Harold Macmillan were last night torn from the walls of a corridor in the Commons and carried into the lifts, after a pipe burst above the ceiling.

* Holy acid house trance! Next week the Vatican will release Santo Subito!, a music DVD about the late John Paul II. The score, part of the escalating campaign to see PJP2 beatified, was composed by Simon Boswell, an agnostic divorcee who lives in sin with the actress Lysette Anthony.

"Some of the music and images would not be out of place at a rave," promises Boswell. "It had to be quite hypnotic to portray the trance-like nature of prayer. I also used trip-hop because John Paul spoke in such a soothing rhythm." He pines for a papal audience: "Benedict [surely Pope Benedict?] has a copy. I would be happy to go along and hear his opinion of it."

If the disc reaches No 1, His Holiness would join an elite club of dead chart-toppers, including the rappers Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G.