Carla is tipped to be our next 'man' at the Vatican

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The Independent Online

Two weeks ago, I revealed that the post of "our man at the Vatican" was being advertised in the small ads' section of newspapers after the recruitment process was farmed out to the controversial consultancy firm, Capita Resourcing.

Now I hear of a high-profile entrant to the list of runners and riders for the prestigious job: the formid-able socialite Carla Powell, one of 1990s' London's premier party hostesses.

Powell, above, who is these days based in a villa near Rome, boasts impeccable connections. Her husband, Charles, was part of Lady Thatcher's inner circle, while her brother-in-law Jonathan is Tony Blair's chief of staff.

Cherie Blair, Peter Mandelson and Henry Kissinger are also counted as friends, which bodes well: the official job advert stipulates that a successful client will possess "proven political and strategic awareness".

Powell has that in spades, and rumours of her hat being thrown into the ring are currently circulating in both Downing Street and the Foreign Office.

The Catholic Herald, Britain's most influential Catholic newspaper, is also thought to look kindly on her candidacy.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office is playing its cards close to its chest. A spokes-man will neither confirm nor deny that Powell has applied for the £50,000-a-year job.

* She's a first-rate supermodel, but when Jodie Kidd dips her elegant toe in the world of business, things rarely go according to plan.

Yesterday, a year after the collapse of her events firm Pret-a-Polo, the skinny beauty launched a dating service for the mobile phone company, 3.

A press release inviting journalists to the launch party promised "Jodie Kidd is available for interview." Unfortunately, all was not what it seemed.

"Kidd was supposed to appear at 9.45 am, but didn't actually arrive until almost 11 am," says one disgruntled hack.

"She did a photo shoot, briefly spoke to the Press Association and IRN, and then left, saying she had a prior engagement.

"Several reporters, who had been booked in for interviews between noon and 1 pm, were sent home empty-handed."

Shame! In defence, an organiser said last night: "Jodie was good with the media. A couple of journalists did miss their slots, but everyone else got a chance."

* Although she's so far maintained a dignified public silence, Nicole Kidman is said to have reservations about Tom Cruise's impending wedding to Katie Holmes, since she's almost 17 years his junior.

Not so the actress Mimi Rogers, who had the good fortune to be the first Mrs Cruise for three years during the 1980s.

Rogers, pictured during that marriage, has travelled to the UK to compete in this weekend's World Poker Exchange London Open. At Wednesday's opening party, she denied reports that her former hubby is pursuing an elaborate publicity stunt.

"I don't know the full story and I am not judgemental, but when you're in love, then you're in love and that is it," she tells me. "As London's old Austin Powers would say: 'It's all about love, baby!'"

* Lofty Francis Maude, the Tory chairman, is behind a new "oath of allegiance" that all of his party's future election candidates must sign.

It forbids 15 deadly sins, including "proclaiming views incompatible with the views of the party," "being the cause of embarrassing media coverage," and "making public statements against the leader of the party".

Plenty of Tory MPs are upset by such nannying, and reckon the list's publication to be an example of breathtaking hypocrisy on Maude's part.

After all, it's only two years since he wrote an article for the Evening Standard publicly calling on then leader Iain Duncan Smith to resign. "I put my cards on the table," it read. "I believe we would do better under a different leader."

On at least three of Maude's own counts, that sentence would merit a sacking.

* News of a signal blow for sexual equality, from forward-thinking performers at this year's Edinburgh Festival.

The Ladyboys of Bangkok - a cabaret troupe appearing in the Scottish capital for the seventh time - have added an intriguing clause to their backstage "rider". It stipulates there should be a "third sex toilet" at the Big Top where the transvestite performers are to appear.

According to a spokesman, the Ladyboys have complained of getting "funny looks" from Edinburgh natives when they use either the Ladies' or Gentlemen's convenience for tending to their boudoir.

"I trust in years to come this will be seen as a landmark in the battle of the equality of the sexes," she (or maybe he) says.