Jodie pulls no punches in bullying campaign row

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It's been a while since the last great spat between a politician and a celebrity - Noel Gallagher's angry realisation that he'd been a mere cog in the wheel of New Labour's PR machine springs to mind.

But there's an absolute cracker brewing between the Lib Dem front-bencher Phil Willis and the glamour model Jodie Marsh.

The unlikely locking of horns comes after Willis spoke out against Marsh's plan to visit schools around the country to promote the work of the children's charity Beatbullying.

After reading her official weblog, which contained some pretty fruity language when referring to some of her housemates on Celebrity Big Brother, the education spokesman suggested that Marsh was a far from ideal role model for youngsters.

But in a three-page rant on her website, Marsh has hit back.

"I want people to know why he's wasting so much public money on getting up to speak about something he hasn't done any research on," she says.

"Has anyone heard of Phil Willis? No, I didn't think so. This man knows that if he starts a public war with an already famous person, he can suddenly be all in the papers and magazines. It's that simple. I'll fight this man all the way, if he so wishes."

When I call Willis's office, he is less keen to trade blows.

"I don't want to enter into a slanging match with her," he says. "I feel sorry for her. I'm sure she's a lovely girl."

* Strangely, it appears Princess Michael of Kent's writing talents might be in more demand then we previously believed.

After her first stab at literary immortality in 2004 with the bizarrely titled The Serpent and the Moon, "Pushy" is set to release another tome this summer called Cupid and the King.

What's more, she's been pencilled in to give a talk on her new tome at this year's annual booky love-in at Hay-on-the-Wye.

"It's a story that centres around five Royal mistresses, and we plan to release it around June" says a spokesman from her publisher at Simon & Schuster. "As for Hay, the Princess has a 45-minute talk booked, which may mean her reciting of extracts from the book."

Landing a royal performer is quite a coup for the festival, but the Princess will be in esteemed company. Organisers have also secured the services of Bill Clinton's former Vice President Al Gore who, I'm told, will be speaking about climate change.

* Both Sir Paul McCartney and Brigitte Bardot have sought an audience with the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, in an attempt to avert this year's cul of baby seals. Their efforts have so far been to no avail.

But now the animal-loving folk at Peta are rolling out the big guns.

They have persuaded former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson to pen a letter to Harper in a last-ditch attempt to save thousands of cubs from slaughter.

"On Monday, I'd love to come to Ottawa to meet with you personally about these concerns, as well as to deliver the thousands of petitions I've collected," she writes. "As a proud Canadian who frequently travels abroad, I am alarmed that people are starting to see us as a country more beholden to a pack of greedy hunters."

If that doesn't work say Peta, nothing will.

"Because Pamela is a Canadian icon, we hope the Prime Minister will feel obliged to meet with her," a spokesman tells me.

* All in all, things aren't working out too badly for Michael Baigent.

The author caused a storm in the literary world when he recently took the Da Vinci Code scribe Dan Brown to the High Court over claims that he'd ripped off his book, Holy Grail, Holy Blood.

Whatever the outcome of the High Court case, Baigent is doing pretty well off the back of it. Not only is HGHB riding high in the bestseller lists, it was announced yesterday that he'd signed a deal with HarperCollins to release a sequel to the book, called The Jesus Papers.

Say what you like about Baigent's claims that he was plagiarised, it just goes to show there's no such thing as bad publicity.

* The Prime Minister has form when it comes to dabbling in affairs beyond his brief, but surely influencing the selection of the next England coach would be a step too far even for him.

With the manager's chair about to become vacant, fans might be worried to hear Tony Blair may have had his say on who will be Sven-Goran Eriksson's successor.

In a newly-published list of guests at Chequers, it has emerged that the PM has entertained Brian Barwick, the man responsible for the appointing the next national coach.

They met in February, just days after it was confirmed that Sven would be standing down following this summer's World Cup.

Ever since doubts were raised over Tony Blair's questionable lifelong allegiance to Newcastle United, his footballing prowess and has been treated with suspicion.

Here's hoping Barwick treated any views the Prime Minister may have had with extreme caution.

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