Murdoch reaches for Sky to defuse 'Sun' editor's arrest

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The Independent Online

Until now, Murdoch has tended to prevent one part of his media empire from interfering with another. In 1998, for example, he instructed HarperCollins to can Chris Patten's book on Hong Kong so as to protect business dealings in China.

Yesterday, however, his channel Sky News "broke" the story of Wade's arrest, and pursued it throughout the day. Although Murdoch was not consulted before the news first appeared, I gather senior colleagues did formally sanction its broadcast.

Later, Murdoch himself in London for today's BSkyB AGM, instructed the channel to "keep at the story" during the afternoon.

On the surface, this looks like bad news for Wade, left. However, sources at News International reckon rumours of her impending demise are wide of the mark.

"Murdoch has given the impression that he's treating this story as a bit of a joke," I'm told. "We think he's of the view that Sky's coverage will take some of the sting out of tomorrow's papers."

Wade returned to the office yesterday afternoon.

* I never thought I would write these words, but Pandora is tempted to feel sorry for Kelly Hoppen.

The frizzy interior designer, a fearsome litigant, is the subject of a press release from a law firm that has got one over on her.

Davies Arnold Cooper, solicitors, recently rebutted an injunction by Hoppen against their client L Kelaty, a rug wholesaler. They're so delighted, they yesterday hired a PR company to trumpet the victory.

A statement headlined "Davies Arnold Cooper pulls the rug from under Kelly Hoppen's Feet" boasts that they prevented her injuncting L Kelaty for an alleged breach of copyright.

"It has certainly proved to be a very costly exercise for Miss Hoppen," it reads.

Hoppen, who had claimed that Kelaty had been selling rugs designed by her after a licensing agreement had ended, was ordered to pay costs.

The judge found "no evidence" to support Hoppen's claim, pending a hearing at trial. She declined to comment yesterday.

* The Fleetwood Mac guitarist Jeremy Spencer - who quit the band during a 1970s' US tour to join a religious cult called the Children of God - has delivered an unceremonious snub to his own children.

He's just cancelled plans to visit the UK for the launch of Jynxt, a band that four of them have formed, after being offended by a track on their debut album.

Apparently, Spencer, pictured in his heydey, was highly upset by the lyrics to their track Don't Believe: "I don't believe in God/I don't believe in you/I don't believe in anything/That nobody wouldn't do."

In a letter to his offspring, seen by Pandora, he explains: "If you have a song saying 'there is no God', I cannot and will not endorse the CD. I don't know if I need to get into more details than that, except that the philosophy goes against my very grain."

* There's yet another financial scandal surrounding David Blunkett's downfall. When the Work and Pensions Secretary resigned on Wednesday, BBC News 24 responded by chartering a helicopter to follow him for the day.

This comes at a time when the cash-strapped Beeb is sacking 4,000 staff, many of them front-line journalists.

Asked to explain the extravagance, a BBC spokesman insists that they got a decent rate for the hired chopper.

"Value for money is always at the forefront of our minds," I'm told. "There are often camera positions that can be hampered on the ground and it can really boost coverage."

How many times were mid-air shots used in that day's main news bulletins? "They had a significant role."

* There is a refreshingly lowbrow debate at Britain's poshest literary establishment, the London Library in St James's Square.

The aristocratic novelist Victoria Glendenning is so upset by declining standards at the members-only institution that she has vented her spleen in the suggestion book.

"The women's cloakroom needs upgrading, both as regards plumbing and decoration," she writes, splendidly. "It's really quite bad."

Beneath her entry, the boulevardier and man of letters Christopher Hart writes: "Couldn't agree more." However, he fails to elaborate on his apparently intimate knowledge of the ladies' conveniences.

Meanwhile, a third correspondent complains that the Gents doesn't flush properly: "Consequently, much unpleasant time is taken up in inspecting and disposing of other members' faeces."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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