Mr Fixit: I tried to save Saddam and stop the war

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The Independent Online

* With his once reputed billion-dollar fortune and an array of far-reaching contacts, former arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi was often referred to as the international "Mr Fixit".

Intriguingly, he has revealed he hooked up with one of George Bush's former advisers back in 2003 in an attempt to avert the American invasion of Iraq.

Khashoggi, pictured, claims he attempted to broker a deal with the Washington hawk Richard Perle and Saddam Hussein that would have seen the Iraqi leader skip the country in return for peace.

"He just didn't listen, so he's where he is now," he says. "It seemed the Americans were ready to listen and let him go.

"It could have been a better thing for everybody. But we failed. He refused to leave. I don't think he believed the Americans would come in."

Khashoggi makes the claims in an interview, which will be screened in the United States in the next few weeks, with the internationally renowned television interviewer, Daphne Barak, who has recorded interviews with world figures including Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mother Teresa and Robert Mugabe.

"We just talked to Perle at that time, and we asked him if the Americans would let him go, and he came back and said, "Yeah. He can go." And we told Saddam, 'You can go'."

When Khashoggi sought Saddam's decision on the offer, he was apparently brushed off with the words: "Thank you very much for your efforts."

* These days, Eric Clapton seems to spend most of his time writing his long- awaited memoirs and campaigning to save the countryside.

Good to see, then, that some of the younger members of the Clapton clan have decided to continue their father's musical legacy.

Next month, his 21-year-old daughter Ruth, pictured with her father, will be performing her first solo concert in her home town of Doncaster.

Ruth, who in the past has appeared as a backing singer during her father's shows, is Clapton's daughter by Yvonne Kelly, whom he met at a recording studios in the Caribbean in the 1980s.

"I don't care about being famous, I could have done that years ago," says Ruth.

"I don't want it to be like that. I want it to be about the music, and if someone likes it, even if it's just one person, I'll be happy."

* A brief lesson in the art of seduction, in a nutshell, from Michael Caine.

"I think one of the greatest things you can do if you want to be a seducer is make her laugh," he advised me recently. "People say give her diamonds but if you make a woman laugh you've got relaxation. Laughter is complete relaxation and she's feels at home with you and then get them to take their shoes off.

"Once they take their shoes off that's it," he added.

It's worth noting that Caine has enjoyed a happy marriage of some 30 three years to the exotic beauty Shikira Baksh, a former Miss Guyana, so is probably worth listening to.

* The most curious parliamentary question tabled in the past week comes from the Tory MP Paul Goodman, who wants to know: "How many health authorities are piloting gowns or veils modelled on (a) the hijab (b) the niqab (c) the shalwar kameez (d) the jilbab (e) the chador (f) the burka?"

It's a strange question and one which calls for explanation.

"I asked it because of a story which I read saying Muslim women could receive their own burkha-like hospital gowns and I wanted to look further into it," Goodman tells me. "The Department of Health have replied saying they don't collect that information, which suggests to me it's something they don't want to go into."

* The former Tory MP George Walden's recent literary rant, Time to Emigrate?, is providing the most delicious spats among London's intelligentsia. Two weeks ago, Walden denounced the historian Tristram Hunt as "a spoilt child" after the pair became embroiled in a heated debate over the book on Radio 4's Today programme.

He then turned his guns on the journalist Suzanne Moore, who denounced the book in her Mail on Sunday column. In a letter to the paper last Sunday, Walden wrote: "readers have a right to know that [Moore] was commenting on a book she had not read. Not very professional."

Unfortunately, the letter was changed to "readers have a right to know that she was commenting on selected extracts of a book".

"Expect this row to run and run," says a chum.