For once, discretion is the better part of valour for Desmond

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Last night, the owner of Express newspapers was concluding an out-of-court settlement to stave off Young's constructive dismissal case, which was due to be heard in Croydon this Thursday.

The deal will end a long-running dispute that began when Young quit as the company's production editor, claiming to have been punched by Desmond during a bizarre argument over the 1960s pop star Carl Wayne.

According to witnesses, the row started when Young failed to run an obituary of Wayne, a close friend of his proprietor. He received a right hook for his pains.

The terms of the settlement - under which Young apparently gets a six-figure sum - means neither party can now discuss the case.

However, yesterday morning, before it was signed, Young's lawyer Jonathan Savitt said his client had subpoenaed five senior Express journalists to give evidence against their boss.

"This is a straightforward case of an employee being assaulted," he said. "My client was unemployed for five months, and suffered considerable financial losses, not to mention other injuries."

On Friday, Desmond - who had denied the alleged assault - attempted (unsuccessfully) to have the case adjourned for medical reasons. He declined to comment.

* Kate Moss has got the hunting, shooting and fishing brigade in a state of high excitement after she was pictured making merry with an air rifle on Ibiza this week.

The skinny beauty was photographed at Jade Jagger's villa, taking pot-shots at tin cans in the midday sun. She was nursing a large drink, having neglected to go to bed for 48 hours.

It's quite an endorsement for their sport, reckons the British Association for Shooting and Conservation.

"Should Kate wish to continue airgun shooting when she gets back to the UK, we'd be more than happy to help," they say.

"I'm sure the queue of instructors looking to assist her will be very long, although for obvious reasons we'd advise against shooting after a heavy night."

The BASC will have to tread carefully around Moss, mind. In December, her lawyers dispatched stern letters after a TV company wrongly claimed that she was among "high-profile pro-hunters" making a documentary on country sports.

* Paul McGann is strangely absent from the latest outing of his family acting dynasty, the new West End play Tom, Dick and Harry. The show, a farce on the topical issue of adoption, stars all three of McGann's brothers - Joe, Stephen and Mark - in the title roles. But their famous sibling Paul was unavailable for selection.

"Paul was busy working on other projects at the time they started rehearsing," explains a spokesman for the producers. "We approached Joe first for the lead role, and then the writers realised that he had brothers and it would work brilliantly."

It's exactly 10 years since the four McGanns teamed-up for The Hanging Gale, a TV series about the Irish potato famine.

Paul was not expected to attend last night's opening, due to work duties. I trust he was applauding from the stalls in spirit.

* Several scantily-clad girlies joined cap'n Tony Blair on his yacht in Barbados, but who was that chubby bloke in blue bermuda shorts?

Why, none other than Charles Dunstone - the colourful owner of Carphone Warehouse - who was recently a dinner guest at Chequers, and who also paid for Labour's election-night party.

Elsewhere on the boat, a second leading capitalist was applying the sunscreen. He was Russell Chambers, a merchant banker who advises the PM on financial matters, and who holidayed with the Blairs last year.

For future reference, both Dunstone and Chambers should now be pegged as top cronies - and can expect a peerage before Tony's time is out.

* Richard E Grant has at last spoken of the painful decision to sacrifice artistic credibility in order to appear in TV adverts for the Argos catalogue.

The lofty actor claims he was required to parade across our TV screens - wearing a rock-star wig and skin-tight trousers - in order to remain financially solvent while he wrote and directed his autobiographical film, Wah-Wah.

"A certain advertising campaign saw me through a particularly lean period," he told an audience at the Edinburgh Film Festival. "I couldn't act for three years so I had to get money from somewhere."

The actor also refused to apologise for another regrettable brush with commercialism: the Spice Girls film Spiceworld. "To have your arse slapped on a daily basis by Scary and told you were not bad for an old guy was great."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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