Litigious Charles kicks off another legal battle

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The Independent Online

* Like a moth fluttering around a flame, the Prince of Wales is growing increasingly partial to the occasional bout of private litigation.

As our future King prepares to sue the Mail on Sunday, claiming its decision to publish his private journals was a breach of copyright, he's instructed lawyers to pursue a separate case against his former secretary, Sarah Goodall.

Goodall, who worked in his office for most of the 1990s, has collaborated with the author Nicholas Monson on a memoir entitled The Palace Diaries.

As a result, I gather that she has been contacted by Harbottle and Lewis, a firm of showbusiness lawyers acting for Charles, who say the book would breach the confidentiality clause in her contract.

Although Palace sources say they won't pursue the matter until publication later this year, their legal letter threatens to further confuse the forthcoming Mail on Sunday case.

Goodall, you see, was named in preliminary hearings as the member of royal staff accused of photocopying and selling the diaries, in which Charles describes Chinese officials as "appalling old waxworks".

Yesterday, Monson, son of the hereditary peer Lord Monson, accused the Palace of "over-reacting" to his book.

"It is going to be a light, breezy book, and they have nothing to be offended about," he said. "Sarah worships the Prince of Wales, and would never knowingly put her name to something that would upset him."

* Dame Kelly Holmes may be given to reflect that Olympic competition is nothing compared to the emotional trials of reality TV.

On Saturday, Jason Gardiner - a judge on Dancing on Ice, in which Holmes stars - informed her: "You run the risk of looking like a man in drag."

Since Dame Kelly - pictured with skating partner Judd Sands - can be a sensitive soul, this led to what onlookers at Elstree studios describe as "the mother of all backstage bust-ups".

Now ITV have been forced to offer a grovelling apology on the next show.

"Our executives will have a chat to her later this week, and if she insists on a proper apology then that is what she'll get," says an ITV spokesman.

"Kelly was clearly very upset by the remarks. It was really quite a horrible thing to say to a national icon."

Holmes was interviewed immediately after the show. "Jason is vile," she noted. "This figure got me two gold medals, and I'm not going to change it for an ice skating show."

* Ewan McGregor might spend his free time razzing about on motorbikes, but he's also a secret culture vulture.

A few days back, he turned up at the sleepy Dulwich Picture Gallery to look at an exhibition of Beatrix Potter memorabilia.

Staff was told that McGregor was there on the recommendation of Renée Zellweger, who also visited recently.

"Ewan's about to co-star with Zellweger in a film about Beatrix Potter, and dropped in on his own, wearing leathers," says the gallery.

"He said he didn't want any fuss made and was happy just to wander round on his own for an hour or two. "

Sweetly, a curator decided to present the Hollywood star with a memento of his visit. It was a Peter Rabbit notebook bearing the slogan: "You may go into the field or down the lane, but don't go into Mr McGregor's garden."

* Jeremy Paxman hasn't been quite the same since TV viewers saw him blubbing about the fate of his impoverished Glaswegian ancestors.

Now Ian Hislop has popped up to take credit for getting him on the BBC show Who Do You Think You Are? in the first place.

"Jeremy rang me up for advice when he was first approached by the programme makers," says Hislop, himself a veteran of the show. "I, of course, said go for it. It was just brilliant; absolutely great TV. We've seen a new side to Jeremy."

Hislop, speaking at Kate Muir's recent book launch, is quite the celebrity power-broker: he also got Stephen Fry to do the BBC programme.

* If you thought David Cameron might have purged the Tories of swivel-eyed Eurosceptics, think again. Bill Wiggin, the Shadow Defra minister, has put out a press release linking EU fishery policy to - of all things! - the death of the so-called Thames whale.

"It is worth thinking about what might be going wrong out in the sea that could have caused this unusual occurrence," he says.

"If our fish stocks had not been managed through the EU, perhaps there would have been more food for this whale, together with other people and creatures who depend on the sea for their livelihoods."

It's a bit of a stretch. Still, Wiggin sagely concludes: "We all would like to see sightings of magnificent animals like this whale become more frequent, although probably not in the Thames."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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