Cock-up or conspiracy? Straw and Annan shelve UN bash

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* It's another diplomatic triumph for Jack "safe hands" Straw. The Foreign Secretary is involved in some curious horseplay with the good people of the United Nations.

On Tuesday, Britain was to host a glitzy party at Methodist Central Hall in Westminster to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the inaugural meeting of the UN's General Assembly.

The great and good of the international community, together with Straw and Kofi Annan, above, were expected at the historic venue, the actual scene of that first meeting in 1946.

Yesterday, however, it emerged that the shindig has been cancelled by the Foreign Office in confusing circumstances.

Staff at Methodist Central Hall, which holds 2,000 guests, learned that their venue was now unlikely to be used for any anniversary celebration.

The sudden news has sent Whitehall's rumour mill into overdrive. "We don't know if the FCO has forfeited its venue hire fee," says one insider. "What we do know is that there will be no bash on next week's anniversary.

"Some say it's evidence of poor communication between Britain and the UN; others are talking about diplomatic tensions. But most of us blame a cock-up rather than conspiracy."

Straw's office says an alternative event will be held at an unspecified London venue later this month, when Annan is in town anyway.

"It's been postponed rather than cancelled," they claim. "It was a case of tallying up Mr Straw's and Mr Annan's diaries."

* Over the years, Kevin Spacey has faced many unwanted intrusions into his private life.

But few can be quite as galling as being accidentally "outed" by Britain's gay rights movement.

Organisers of this year's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month have accidentally included Spacey on a list of "famous gays" on their internet site.

They advise teachers to chalk his name up in classrooms, next to Dale Winton and Tennessee Williams, as part of an awareness project backed by £20,000 of government money.

Since Spacey's sexuality remains a matter of conjecture (he used to deny being gay, but recently switched to a policy of "no comment"), this marks a spectacular blunder.

"It's a complete mistake," says an organiser. "We'd love to be able to explain how it happened, but we can't.

"We deeply apologise for the distress we've caused. It's the sort of thing we're totally against, and stupidly, we've ended up doing it ourselves."

* Unlike many showbusiness rivals, Steve Coogan is gloriously unafraid of poking fun at his own misfortune.

In a pressing case of life imitating art, Coogan's new film, A Cock And Bull Story, sees his character fall victim to a tabloid "sting" involving a frisky lap-dancer.

By co-incidence, exactly the same thing happened to the man himself, in 2004, when the Sunday Mirror told how Coogan had "reeled off favourite Alan Partridge catchphrases as he spanked a lap-dancer during a cocaine-fuelled romp."

The story led to the breakdown of his marriage. But Coogan is taking it on the chin.

"It was written in the script and I thought, 'Ooh, shall I do that?'" he tells Empire magazine.

"Then I thought, 'Oh fuck it'. I'd rather people wrote nice things about me, but that sort of thing doesn't bother me as much as people think it ought to."

* After David Cameron's public V-sign to Thatcherism, the new-look Tories are poised to strike another body blow to the Iron Lady.

The Centre for Policy Studies, a right-wing think-tank founded by Lady T in 1974, is rumoured to be facing a forcible merger with its leftish rival Policy Exchange, which boasts the arch-moderniser Nick Boles as director.

"Obviously the wonks will be up in arms, because it'll mean Cameron's pet think-tank effectively eating up Thatcher's," I'm told.

"But it makes sense financially as CPS has been losing money as well as influence in recent years."

A CPS spokesman denies concrete plans to merge, but admitted yesterday to "vague discussions about whether we could pool resources".

* Yesterday, I noted Piers Morgan's brassy claim - in an interview for Easy Living magazine - to be "above average" in the trouser department, with a "skilled and energetic" bedroom technique.

Readers with reason to disagree were asked to get in touch. And one of you, who we shall call "Sally", had the good sense to do just that.

"Due to an unfortunate incident I try to forget in a hotel room a few years back, I can tell you that Piers [right] is some way off the mark," she writes.

"For a person of over 6 ft, he was normal, maybe even disappointing. But his real problem was an embarrassing tendency to let himself down at key moments. Piers apologised a lot, but even with help, 'Mister Floppy' was certainly not 'skilled and energetic'."

Over to you, Mr Floppy!

pandora@independent.co.uk

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