Isle of Man at war over Clarkson's 'Stalag' fence

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The Independent Online

* Jeremy Clarkson has opened a new front in his bid to become Britain's foremost controversialist.

The Top Gear star is involved in a bitter property dispute on the Isle of Man, where he purchased a lighthouse holiday home a few years back.

At issue: a 150-yard stretch of coastal path that runs through Clarkson's 30-acre property, on the picturesque Langness Peninsula.

Before Christmas, Clarkson decided to erect a barbed-wire fence across the path, blocking off a walking route used by generations of locals.

Ramblers are predictably disgruntled, and have formed the action group Prowl (Public Rights of Way-Langness) in an effort to regain access.

With the support of local councillors, the group recently lodged 127 hostile affidavits with the Manx attorney general.

"Our case is now being heard," says a member. "There's nothing personal about our campaign, and we've never brought Clarkson's name into it. In fact, until you called, no one's even identified him as the landowner involved. But we are very upset."

Prowl's internet site contains several anecdotes about the disputed path, including a heart-rending tale of a local prevented from scattering his father's ashes by the "Stalag 19" fence.

The Clarksons, for their part, say the route in question was never formally designated as a footpath.

"It's private land," says Mrs C, when I called. "The fence went up because we had several sheep killed by dogs last year."

* Heather Mills-McCartney is rolling out the big guns in the PR battle over her divorce from Sir Paul.

In response to revelations about her career during the 1980s, the former erotic model has, as tradition dictates, flagged up her charity work.

This week, Lady McCartney published no less than seven endorsements from "good causes" on her personal internet site.

All stress that, whatever she got up to, past misdemeanours must be forgiven and forgotten.

"She enjoys my total confidence," notes one organisation. "I look forward to working with her in the years ahead," says another. "We thank her for her past, present, and future support," goes a third.

Others criticise the "spite" directed at Lady Macca, "a working-class girl made good".

Have they not heard the Shakesperean maxim about protesting too much?

* Oh, to be a fly on the wall at the Cartier International Polo, which boasts Princes William and Harry as guests.

In a break from (stuffy) tradition - last year's event was presided over by the Queen - an erotic dancer called Immodesty Blaize will perform between chukkas. Blaize describes herself as: "a dazzling, dynamite bombshell with natural curves and gravity-defying assets".

"I will wear a burlesque outfit, and dance on an eight-foot rocking horse," she tells me. "I'll obviously do my best to make William and Harry blush."

Shouldn't be too hard. Blaize, speaking at the launch of Britain's Next Top Model, added: "I've just been in Vegas. I can't stand the heat there. My nipple tassles kept falling off from the sweat."

* On Wednesday, six months after resigning as the Liberal Democrats leader, Charles Kennedy got round to holding a leaving do. His frontbench team was invited to drinks at the Foreign Press Association.

"There was a superb turnout, with one exception," says a guest. "Ming Campbell was nowhere to be seen. As a result, we spent the entire evening bitching about his leadership."

Campbell's office denies any snub, saying: "There was a parliamentary party meeting, and Ming had work to do on the extradition treaty. He sent his head of office instead."

Meanwhile, "Chatshow" Charlie was in chipper form. "He's off the booze and was sipping mineral water," I'm told.

* At this troubled time, there is light relief for John Prescott: he's been "hymned" by Barry Cryer. The comedian has composed an eight-verse adaptation of the 1960s country and western hit "Big John," in Prezza's honour. It's called "Big Fat John" and will premiere at next month's Edinburgh Festival, before being released on iTunes. Happily, Pandora has been passed a copy of the lyrics.

A sample verse: "He came from Hull, he was true grit / He was full of hope and he was full of shit / Although we thought his heart was true / We ended up saying 'what the fuck does he do?' / Big John, Big fat John."

There follows a chorus relating to Prezza's mistress, Tracey Temple. Sadly, it's unsuitable for publication in a family newspaper.