Editor peppered with pellets at royals' shooting school

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The Independent Online

As Washington recovers from the Dick Cheney "quail-gate" scandal, London's chattering classes are digesting news of a mysterious shooting accident on this side of the Atlantic.

Jonathan Young, the editor of The Field magazine - journal of record to the hunting, shooting and fishing fraternity - is recovering after being shot in the arm at one of Britain's poshest shooting schools.

The incident, at the Royal Berkshire clay ground, is currently the subject of an official investigation. Although all involved deny an attempted "cover-up", details have remained out of the public domain for more than a week.

Exactly what took place is even now a mystery. One friend said yesterday that Young has made a full recovery, after a "very minor accident - nothing really, a few shotgun pellets in his left arm".

However, separate unconfirmed reports suggest he was airlifted to hospital, where 21 pellets were surgically removed from the wounded limb.

"Word is that a cartridge exploded down the barrels of Johnny's 12-bore," I'm told. "These accidents are extremely rare, but can also be very serious. He's been jolly lucky."

Either way, we'll have to wait to discover what really went on. The Royal Berkshire - whose royal patrons have included Princes William and Harry - didn't return calls yesterday.

Meanwhile, Young's employer said: "West Berkshire's environmental health officer is compiling a report on the incident, and it wouldn't be appropriate to comment until his findings are published."

* It's been a good few months since Gordon Ramsay exchanged public F-words, so thank goodness for Pied à Terre's outspoken head chef, Shane Osborn.

In an interview with The Sharp Edge magazine, Osborn picks fights with first Ramsay, then TV chef Jean-Christophe Novelli.

"I became a chef to cook, not to appear on some crappy TV show," he says. "I can't understand how Gordon Ramsay finds time to get into his kitchens.

"As for Novelli, he probably only visits his kitchens once a month, and then only because there's a mirror in there."

The outburst comes as a surprise, since Osborn and Ramsay are supposed to be chums, and share a PR agency.

Later, Osborn takes a sideswipe at Tom Aikens, his predecessor at Pied à Terre who was sacked for "branding" a junior employee with a hot knife: "We're seeing the end of that now; it's no longer acceptable."

* Chris Bryant, the Labour MP who flaunted himself, in Y-fronts, on a gay internet site, is making another appearance in his scanties.

In a fortnight, he will be one of 15 MPs taking part in the annual Lords vs Commons swimming race.

The occasion will be sponsored by Speedo, a swimwear manufacturer famed for "packet bashers," and all contestants are required to model their products.

"Contestants have a choice of briefs, for the men, or all-in-one outfits for the women," I'm told. "Given the average MP's physique, it won't be pretty."

Elsewhere, Peter Stringfellow will provide a team of lap-dancers to act as cheerleaders. For Bryant and his chums, anything goes!

* Having been cruelly mistreated by Boris Johnson, Petronella Wyatt is now facing the wrath of another leading Tory: George Osborne.

The Shadow Chancellor is highly upset by an (apparently) innocuous interview with Wyatt in last week's Daily Mail.

Osborne claims to have been "misquoted" several times in the article, which was carried next to a notorious photograph of him with a cocaine-snorting prostitute, Natalie Rowe.

"George was misquoted throughout the article," claims his spokesman. "Vast chunks of quotes couldn't be attributed to him. The Mail have now agreed not to reproduce or quote from it in any way."

However, Wyatt was standing by the article yesterday.

"It's extraordinary of George to complain. He and Petronella are very old friends, and this piece was actually incredibly nice to him and his wife," says a chum.

"Besides, the whole interview was tape-recorded and Petronella is adamant that her quotes are accurate. Either way, you haven't heard the last of this."

* Now that he's seen off the "fake sheikh", George Galloway is free to concentrate on his showbusiness career.

The Respect MP has invited the left-leaning Hollywood star Sean Penn to accompany him on a trip to the Gaza Strip next month.

The unlikely duo became chummy last year, when Galloway visited Washington to be grilled by the US Senate. They've even discussed (only half in jest) making a film of "gorgeous" George's life.

If all goes to plan, Penn will visit a children's project funded by Galloway's stint on Celebrity Big Brother.

"It's not definite yet, though," says a spokesman. "There's a problem. Hamas is viewed by the US as a terrorist organisation, and as a result, we understand that, like all Americans, Penn could be arrested if he visits Gaza."