Kensington leads the charge against Mayor Livingstone

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The Independent Online

The latest lobby to bring lawyers into play against London's Mayor are the hapless residents of Kensington and Chelsea where, despite strong local opposition, he intends to introduce a congestion charge in just over a year.

Members of the West London Residents' Association - which boasts a hatful of well-connected supporters, from Tom Conti to Jasmine Guinness - will meet tomorrow to vote on plans to launch a formal legal challenge to Ken's scheme.

According to the group's spokesman, Dr Gordon Taylor, lawyers have identified two ways in which the plan can be contested through the courts.

"One is through the GLA Act, and the question of whether the board of Transport for London - which has two members opposed to the extension anyway - has a fiduciary obligation to meet in opposing the scheme," he tells me.

"The other route we are looking at involves seeking a judicial review of Livingstone's decision.

"Westminster Council did this when it disputed his original congestion charge, and had their fingers burnt, but they were forced to go alone. This would be more widespread, but could end up being very expensive."

Whatever happens, Livingstone won't back down without a fight. The well-heeled residents of K&C are just the sort of Tory voters he likes to pick a fight with.

* Darlings! Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley are reprising their working relationship, for the first time since they brought us Absolutely Fabulous.

Today, Saunders and Lumley begin filming a new comedy series called Jam and Jerusalem, a satire about the Women's Institute.

Lumley says that the series has been written by Saunders, and contains cameo appearances from a host of her former co-stars.

"There's going to be stars too numerous to mention in it, so actually I only have a tiny little role as an old woman in the village where it all takes place," she said at the launch of The Moneypenny Diaries.

"It's a straight-up comedy - irreverent and very funny indeed, so of course I'm looking forward to it."

Maybe so, but will the WI take kindly to being sent up? "Absolutely not," says a source there. "We're trying to portray ourselves as a modern organisation, and we haven't even been consulted about this project."

* The row over Richard Littlejohn's megabucks move from The Sun to the Daily Mail will today be played out in the High Court.

The red-top newspaper has applied for an injunction to prevent Littlejohn writing for their middle-market rival until his 12-month contract with them runs out next year.

For his part, the pugnacious columnist intends to claim that he ought to be allowed to write for the Mail this week, since it is damaging to prevent him from practising his profession.

Meanwhile, sources close to the Mail say the paper's lawyers will claim that The Sun is "too downmarket" to be pegged as a commercial rival. Lofty!

* The actor Richard Briers, 71, has become the latest "national treasure" to effect a transformation into the role of grumpy old man.

Briers - best known for his role in The Good Life - has decided to boycott show business awards parties after an unsavoury experience at ITV's recent Avenue of the Stars event.

"It was awful, so badly put together, full of these young girls with plunging necklines," he said at the launch of Eric Sykes's autobiography. "They're tarts; that's what they are. I said to my wife: 'Oh there's another one, another tart out tonight'.

"I had to present an award to Ronnie Corbett, but there was no Autocue. It was so badly organised. All I got at the end of the night was a tatty tile. It'll certainly be the last public appearance I make at an awards."

* Here's a fine literary row. Rupert Murdoch's publishing house HarperCollins is accused of pinching ideas from a smaller rival, Canongate.

Last month, Canongate published a guide on seduction called The Game. It ended up a surprise bestseller for the unknown author Neil Strauss.

This week, a different hardback hit the shelves. It's called The Layguide, is published by HarperCollins, deals with the same subject matter, and has a near-identical cover to Canongate's.

The smaller firm's now crying foul. "This is flagrant passing off," they say. "We put artwork in trade magazines at the start of the year, and they've obviously seen it. "HarperCollins also changed their subtitle to The Rules of the Game, which isn't exactly subtle."

Murdoch's firm wouldn't comment yesterday, but looking at the evidence they've got quite a case to answer.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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