Now Sayeed faces criticism over £10,000 local 'donation'

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The Independent Online

* Things are about to get worse for Jonathan Sayeed, the Tory MP who wanted to ask Sir Trevor McDonald: "Do you feel embarrassed at having benefited from positive discrimination?"

* Things are about to get worse for Jonathan Sayeed, the Tory MP who wanted to ask Sir Trevor McDonald: "Do you feel embarrassed at having benefited from positive discrimination?"

With both Sir Trevor, and the race relations lobby on his back, the Mid Bedfordshire MP is now being dragged into a row with his own party activists.

It all concerns a meeting of the local party's executive council on 13 September, at which a Sunday Times article accusing Sayeed of taking American tour groups around Westminster was to be discussed.

Before Sayeed spoke, his Commons assistant Alexandra Messervie, took to the floor. According to documents seen by Pandora, she said that a local donor, Martin Randall, had agreed to give the party some £10,000, so long as "Jonathan is still the candidate at the general election."

That was unwise, since - according to some present - it amounted to a financial inducement for them not to deselect Sayeed. They are planning to raise this issue at the next council meeting, on 1 November.

Sayeed - who is a director of Randall's Crystal Clear double glazing firm - said yesterday that he could "neither confirm nor deny" details of the incident, since he couldn't recall it.

"It was a difficult meeting, I was concentrating on my speech," he said. "I do know that the chairman of Crystal had offered to host a dinner, which would raise £10,000."

* JERRY HALL recently abandoned plans to appear in My Darling Janey at the King's Head theatre in Islington, after a serious bout of the "snogging disease", glandular fever.

That hasn't put her off the dating game, though. For in January, the former Mrs Mick Jagger is to appear on a TV game show, in which 15 eligible American males compete for her affections.

An advert on the internet site of VH1, the satellite channel that will screen the show, says the "perfect" applicant "appears to be between the ages of 25 and 40", and is "ready to jet off to London to mingle with the rich and famous".

The small print adds, cautiously: "No guarantee is made by VH1 or Jerry Hall that the winners will be supported (either financially or otherwise) by Ms Hall or share in her lifestyle following completion of the competition."

* IMOGEN STUBBS hasn't been put off by the failure of We Happy Few - the first play she has ever written - which ended its West End run three months early, after receiving unflattering reviews.

"I'm going riding in Patagonia for a couple of weeks," she says. "I'll turn that into a travel article, and I'm also going to work on another script. I haven't been put off writing at all; this one's a biographical play about two dead composers."

Sadly, fans of Stubbs, above - who was speaking at the opening of the BFI London Film Festival - won't be able to see her on stage for a while.

"I'm taking a break from acting," she adds. "I've got my children, and I really want to spend more time with them."

* TWO DAYS after the sad death of Lynda Lee-Potter, and the succession battle on the Daily Mail has already begun.

Bookies' favourite for the "Glenda Slagg" spot is Amanda Platell, who filled Lee-Potter's page on Wednesday. And in keeping with Fleet Street tradition, potential rivals are already "spinning" against her.

"Platell is being groomed for the job," I'm told. "Paul Dacre recently hired her full-time, and has run a lot of her pieces recently, but how can an Australian ever be the voice of Middle England?"

How, indeed? When Platell was William Hague's press chief, Lee-Potter described her as "foolish" and claimed she "gives him duff advice".

* Call it a coincidence, but two dog-owning socialists - Labour MP Harry Cohen, and Gordon Brown's former spokesman Charlie Whelan - recently named their puppies Rosa, after the left-wing icon, Rosa Luxemburg.

Cohen's new arrival, a Jack Russell, joins a cat called Vanunu - named after the man jailed for revealing Israel's nuclear secrets - in his household menagerie.

"I've only had Rosa for two weeks," he tells me. "My wife has always slept with the cats, and I now go in with Rosa. She's beautiful: I've been joking that it's the first time I've been to bed with a proper little bitch for years."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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