Meet Simon Hughes Mk 2: Outspoken gay rights advocate

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Three months after Simon Hughes was involuntarily dragged out of the closet by the Sun newspaper, he's now relaunching himself as a tub-thumping campaigner for gay rights.

The Liberal Democrat MP whose leadership campaign was left in tatters when he lied about his sexuality to The Independent, will next month deliver a keynote speech at a party to launch PinkNews, a new gay newspaper.

Hughes is hoping that the occasion will finally draw a line under the whole sorry saga, which threatened to ruin his political career.

Not only will he be speaking, but Hughes has also agreed to a candid interview with the magazine.

In it, he describes himself as "bisexual", and greatly relieved now that his once secretive past is now out in the open. "Yes, I'm happier!" he says, triumphantly. "It's a burden lifted. I tried always to say: 'These things aren't secret, but they're private'; it's no big issue.

"Up until the interview with The Independent, which I'm cross with myself a bit for, I did not answer the questions about sexuality, saying, 'it's none of your business', or saying simply 'if I was gay would it make any difference'?"

It's all certainly a far cry from the Simon Hughes of last February, who repeatedly told journalists that he wasn't gay.

In an interview with this newspaper, asked whether the rumours about his sexuality were true he replied: "The answer is no."

O'Brien looks to life after Rocky Horror

Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Picture Show has been keeping the actor in hand-made silk stockings now for nigh on 33 years.

Last week, the transsexual musical kicked off yet another UK tour after O'Brien and the original cast performed a one-off show at London's Royal Court.

But for all its undying popularity, O'Brien is now keen to get another play running on the circuit.

"I've got this script I've just finished which is a sort of 1950s detective story which I'm now hoping to see on stage soon," he told me at last week's opening night of Immortal at the Courtyard Theatre.

"I came up with a lot of the ideas for it after reading a whole load of pulp fiction."

Sounds like a Hollywood-inspired project then?

"No, nothing to do with that rubbish written by Quentin Tarantino," he added crossly. "I'm talking about those funny old books you bought years ago for half a crown and then left behind on the train."

Clarkson dirt file is empty

A few months back, Pandora reported that an unauthorised biography of Jeremy Clarkson was being written by that Fleet Street scandal-monger, Jane Kelly.

Kelly had promised to uncover some dirt on the boisterous Top Gear presenter's past and, in particular, shed some light on his close friendships with the Duchess of York and TV producer Elaine Bedel.

Sadly, after several months of siftingmuck, Kelly now tells me she's thrown the project in the bin. Surprisingly, for someone who enjoys a reputation as something of a "man's man", Clarkson's past apparently remains devoid of any juice.

"I just couldn't go on with the Clarkson book, I just couldn't dig any real dirt on him," she says. "I just don't think there is any, he is just a very successful journalist."

Boring!

Trev backs Kev

Such is the fickle world of showbiz, when an actor's audience starts to desert him, his friends aren't far behind.

So, as Kevin Spacey continues to face flak for the mess at the Old Vic, he'll be cheered to have one of the stalwarts of British theatre, Sir Trevor Nunn, backing him to the hilt.

"I'm definitely going to be doing something with Kevin at the Old Vic in the near future and am speaking about it to him regularly," he told me at a recent cocktail party. "He is totally committed to that place, and people should hold off on their judgement of him and wait and see what he achieves there."

Nunn's kind words will be a particular boost to Spacey. The pair's collaboration on Richard II remains his sole success story since taking up the post of creative director of the Old Vic in 2003.

Miliband shock confession: 'I was a bit square'

If David Miliband (as some suggest) does decide to launch himself as an alternative to Gordon Brown, he's going to need to brush up on his public image. In a recent interview with the Hampstead and Highgate Express, he shows no sign of shaking off those unkind comparisons to geeky Thunderbirds character, Brains.

Speaking about his time at school he says: "I was a bit square. Elvis Costello was about as wild as I got. I did further maths at Camden School For Girls - that was a treat."

As for the so-called "Primrose Hill set" of Labour MPs, he claims not to be involved. "I don't think there is a Primrose Hill set and if there is, I haven't been invited to the party," he adds somewhat glumly.

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