Is Phillips wrong to take on everybody's rights?

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The Independent Online

* Trevor Phillips is no stranger to hot water - which is handy, because the kettle's boiling. Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality and a chum of Tony Blair, will imminently be appointed head of the new Commission for Equalities and Human Rights.

The super-quango's task is to tackle discrimination on grounds of race, gender, disability, religion, age or sexual orientation.

Phillips's role will be to liaise with the (occasionally conflicting) groups championing religion, women, the elderly, ethnic minorities, disabled and gay people - umpiring the pie fighting over whether some are receiving more equal treatment than others.

"There is no overbearing evidence that Trevor has a commitment to gay equality," says Ben Summerskill, the chief executive of the charity Stonewall. "Gay people are almost invisible in the recent Equalities Review, which he chaired. This is a huge challenge for Trevor to rise to and he will have a very fast learning curve."

One of Phillips's friends is more outspoken, telling me: "It is a completely disastrous appointment. It's like the Government putting Mrs Merton in charge of the Palestinian peace process."

The gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell comments: "Lots of us fear that gay human rights will be marginalised by the new commission under his leadership."

A spokeswoman for the CRE insisted that no decision had been made on the new job, and Phillips was anyhow unavailable to comment.

* Has Jade Jagger strung her last pearl necklace for posh Bond Street jewellers Garrard?

Jagger's five-year contract as the establishment's creative director ended in June and she has not yet signed another.

Last week, one New York gossip column claimed that Garrard was lining up the British designer Stephen Webster (worn by Johnny Depp and Madonna) as a possible replacement for the daughter of Mick and his ex-wife Bianca.

"The rock royal was acting spoiled, insisting upon perks 'even her father wouldn't demand'," reported the New York Daily News. "Jade was getting a guaranteed $2.5m a year. Plus, her overhead was over the top: first-class air, assistants and a driver."

Says a spokesman for Garrard: "We are currently in discussions to renew her contract.

"We are not in discussions with Stephen Webster."

* Ding Dong! Wedding bells ring for Caroline Quentin?

My man in the vestry says that the actress, best known for her role in Men Behaving Badly, will marry her long-term partner Sam Farmer - the couple are pictured right - in the West Country this Friday. Quentin, 45, met Farmer, 12 years her junior, while he was working as a runner on the set of the BBC drama Jonathan Creek back in 1999.

She had previously been married to comedian Paul Merton until the pair separated in 1997.

"Neither Caroline nor Sam have ever wanted any fuss about their relationship," I'm told.

"They prefer to avoid fanfare and want a quiet occasion with family and friends, not scores of celebrities to attract the glossy mags."

* Imagine the scene: two slightly posh gents camped out in the Mozambique savannah, encountering creepy crawlies, big game and questionable sanitation - in the name of the environment.

Greg Barker, the shadow environment secretary, and Robin Birley, the boss of Annabel's nightclub, were in the Gorongosa National Park to look at Birley's "Envirotrade" sustainable logging project.

"We have taken intensely cold showers, and it's not been particularly luxurious," Barker tells me. "But the welcome from people here has been incredible. The trip has been very inspiring and there is a chance that what we've seen could become a model for alleviating poverty and protecting the environment elsewhere in Africa."

* There's no chance that David Davis will be performing a dramatic U-turn in his opposition to ID cards any time soon.

DD was spotted in an awkward skirmish with a credit card while shopping in PC World in Hull last weekend.

"David was trying to pay for some software, but his card wouldn't work," reports my checkout mole.

"It wasn't actually anything to do with him, it was the fault of this stupid machine.

"Obviously it was a potentially embarrassing situation, but he handled it with good grace. I dare say he's been in tougher scrapes."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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