Charles ups the ante to silence former secretary

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The Independent Online

* Having won round one of his legal battle against The Mail on Sunday, the game is once more afoot for the busy (and expensive) team of show-business lawyers retained by the Prince of Wales, right.

In a couple of months, his former secretary Sarah Goodall intends to publish a memoir of her time at the Royal Household, entitled The Palace Diaries.

A synopsis recently supplied to booksellers makes the bombshell claim that it will provide a "hilarious" insiders' account of both of the future king's marriages.

"Sarah witnessed the personal strain suffered by the Prince when he was pilloried by the press for his long-running affair with Camilla Parker Bowles," it reads. "She gets herself in numerous compromising situations [before] the fairytale comes crashing to an end, when she gets on the wrong side of Camilla. Not even a dramatic final encounter with Prince Charles can save her from the axe."

Not surprisingly, our future king intends to do his damnedest to prevent The Palace Diaries from ever reaching the shelves. His solicitors, Harbottle & Lewis, are currently bombarding the Edinburgh-based publishers, Mainstream, with letters.

Intriguingly, however, Mainstream has a cunning plan. "If we do get injuncted in the UK, we aren't going to go quietly," says an insider.

"In fact, we still intend to have a number of overseas editions of the book printed. It'll be just like Spycatcher."

* There is news of yet another blow to Ross Kemp's jealously guarded "tough guy" reputation.

Six months after he was beaten up by a girl, Kemp has struck up a curious friendship with Brian Sewell.

Quite what he shares with the celebrated aesthete is anyone's guess, but their relationship seems to run deep.

"I'm desperate to do a show with Brian - we get on really well," Kemp tells this week's TV Times.

"We'd drive around visiting country houses and galleries, and, through me, he'd teach people how to look at a painting.

"The idea of going around in an old car with his two dogs in the back would be interesting, and camp."

Yesterday, Sewell revealed that the project was born over a "boozy" dinner.

"I'm greatly encouraged that Ross is still keen to do it, because I think he's educable," he told me.

* Auto-cutie Kate Silverton was passed this column by co-host Simon McCoy during yesterday's BBC Breakfast show. This caused a minor marmalade-dropper, since my top story had carried the headline: "BBC to unleash fashion 'disaster' Kate on Ascot".

It revealed the decision to appoint KS as a fashion pundit at the race meeting, days after she'd been forced to apologise to viewers for wearing a psychedelic green and yellow blouse.

Having regained her composure, Silverton, who debuts on Panorama this Sunday, giggled the following defence: "In fairness, I was asked to do the job before the blouse incident."

She also - quite rightly - bridled at being described here as a "striking blonde". Her elegant mane is in fact brown, with highlights.

* John Reid's latest effort to breathe fresh air into the Home Office involves hiring one Justin Russell as his new policy adviser.

It's a splendidly New Labour appointment, since Russell's previous employer was a private health firm - and Reid used to be Health Secretary.

"The other irony is Reid's claim to be a new broom, sweeping away the faults of his predecessors," says a colleague. "Justin was Labour Party criminal justice officer from 1995-1997, Straw's special adviser, 1998-2001, and Blair's criminal justice adviser, 2001-2005.

"In the last job, he worked heavily on asylum, because Blunkett was making a hash of it. So he's not exactly new blood."

* Margaret Beckett can no longer claim to be the proud owner of Westminster's smartest caravan. The Sun's lofty political editor, George Pascoe-Watson, has purchased a luxury Winnebago to provide, as his newspaper might put it, a weekend "love nest" to share with girlfriend Kay Burley.

By way of a prank, colleagues decided to enrol the happy couple in the Caravan Club of Great Britain. "Someone filled in a form, but instead of using Pascoe's correct name, described him as 'George Pikey'," I'm told. "Unfortunately, he'd already tried to join under his real name, so the Caravan Club called up in a tizzy, demanding to know what was going on. They consider 'pikey' to be a term of racist abuse, you see."

GP-W is not amused; he didn't return calls yesterday.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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