Paddick's colourful career with boys in blue nears end

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The Independent Online

* Say what you like about Brian Paddick, his glittering career at the top of Britain's police service hasn't often failed to create a stir.

Now the colourful copper, whose private life manages to inspire almost as many column inches as his famous "softly, softly" approach to drugs, is on the verge of hanging up his truncheon.

Speaking at a fundraising party for the pressure group Stonewall on Wednesday, Paddick revealed that he's likely to quit the force this year after falling out with the Metropolitan Police chief, Sir Ian Blair.

"Things are not going well at the moment," he said. "The commissioner and I had a difference of opinion over the Stockwell shooting.

"They made a comment about it, then issued a retraction, but it was a compromise.

"It's caused tensions. The option to take my pension in the autumn has always been there and I may well end up doing just that."

As Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Paddick is Britain's most senior openly gay policeman.

Last month, it emerged that he'd told an inquiry that, contrary to their previous evidence, senior Scotland Yard officers knew the "wrong man" had been killed within hours of the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting.

As to what the future holds, Paddick adds breezily: "I'm exploring other options. I've got a reputation for integrity and independence, though, so that probably rules out politics."

* In an incident to launch a thousand right-wing conspiracy theories, the Pet Shop Boys have been subject to political censorship.

On Sunday, they performed their new anti-war single "I'm With Stupid" on Top of the Pops. Six backing dancers wore masks depicting (in no particular order) George Bush, Bill Clinton, Vladimir Putin, Tony Blair, David Cameron and Menzies Campbell.

Bizarrely, it now turns out these outfits had been altered shortly before transmission.

"Originally, there were three Tony Blairs and three George Bushes," says a statement on the PSB website. "But the BBC insisted, for 'political balance', the other UK party leaders had to be shown, and there could be only one Blair and one Bush."

Putin and Clinton masks were therefore acquired from a party shop. The Cameron and Campbell ones were knocked up from newspaper photos.

* In the pop of a champagne cork, Kathy Lette has kissed goodbye to a final shred of her artistic integrity.

Literary sources say the manuscript of Lette's new novel, How to Kill Your Husband, was "bastardised", for commercial reasons.

"At the last minute, she inserted a load of references to Krug champagne," I'm told. "In return, Krug provided booze for her launch party. It's totally incestuous."

* On Wednesday, at that very bash, Lette admitted: "I'm guilty as charged. But it is lovely champagne, and I actually only added the one plug."

Pandora isn't convinced, though. HTKYH actually includes three references to Krug: p55, p126 and p128.

On Wednesday, the Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett, was invited to a cocktail party at Soho's Courthouse Hotel.

A few days earlier, her office had contacted the organisers with a list of the minister's dietary requirements.

"It was several pages long," I'm told. "Things she can't eat include butter and cheese (all milk must be soya-based), tomatoes and citrus fruits (so it was indicated that lemon sole must be served without lemon).

"Although she won't eat rare meats, Marge isn't a vegetarian. As for booze, she can't drink red wine. Oh yes, and the whole request was translated into four languages when her PA faxed it over."

So, is Beckett on a trendy diet? "This is a private matter," chunters a spokesman.

* Sad to report that the historian and controversialist David Starkey has written an essay ruling out a "CP" with boyfriend James Brown.

"I don't want a white wedding, thank you very much," it reads. "The family eruptions, the nonsense, the tensions. Do we really, when we consider the state of heterosexual marriage, want to go down that route?

"It's a bit of red meat thrown in the direction of the left-wing. The only gay Tony Blair cares about is celebrity: Elton John, Ian McKellen and the like.

"I get very worried about when people become professionally gay. It's something that's happened to Ian McKellen. It's really, really dangerous."

Starkey's comments jollify The Way We Are Now, a book published by Stonewall. I trust McKellen, a Stonewall founder, won't take them to heart.