Pandora: Boris gets the backing of Ken's billionaire property foes

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The Independent Online

Ken Livingstone's row with the billionaire Reuben brothers ranks as one of the most unpleasant political spats in recent memory. So it comes as little surprise to hear that the property developers have been lending support to the London Mayor's main rival, Boris Johnson.

According to the latest Estates Gazette, the Reubens have lent their assistance to Bozza's campaign team, which includes their friend, the former Tory treasurer Lord Marland.

Although Johnson has not received any financial donation, the brothers are apparently using their bulging network of contacts to help raise cash. David Reuben's sons are also reported to be organising a breakfast hosted by Johnson, with wealthy players in the property world invited to attend and donate 5,000 each. "It is true Jonathan Marland knows the Reubens and their sons, so they may have helped with a few names, but here has been no active participation from them," says Johnson's spokesman. "They have certainly not been involved with the campaign directly."

Marland insists the only support they have had from the Reubens is from David's son Jamie, who is working with them to gain political experience.

This is unlikely to quell hostilities between the family and Livingstone, who fell out last year over a building site for the London 2012 Olympics. Despite the brothers being of Iraqi-Jewish heritage and hailing from India, Ken insensitively suggested they "go back and see if they can do better under the ayatollahs".

Erin rules out moving to Greener pastures

I do hope Erin O'Connor isn't about to reignite hostilities between Sir Philip Green and his fellow retail giant Stuart Rose.

O'Connor was spotted by a mole in Top Shop's flagship store on Oxford Street over the weekend, being shown around by one of the store's employees.

Such a sight wouldn't usually raise eyebrows, except that Top Shop is Green's turf and the edgy supermodel is currently signed up by Rose as the "face" of Marks & Spencer.

"She was being talked through the ranges by a smartly dressed woman who looked like a stylist," I am told. "Erin was offering her opinion on them some good, some bad. She didn't like the colour of the jeans."

A spokesman, however, insists there is no chance of a defection in the offing. "It is a very popular shop with all the models," he says. "Erin was probably just picking up a few last-minute Christmas gifts for friends and family."

Major in the thick of it

Some of the best lines in the hit BBC satire The Thick Of It are said to be ad-libbed, so it's a pity that John Major cannot play along.

According to the show's star, Peter Capaldi, he once spotted the former Prime Minister, right, crossing the street while shooting of the programme was in progress, and attempted to involve him in the scene.

"I just carried on acting, went up to him 'Hey John' and started talking, but the camera didn't quite get the right angle and Major didn't have a clue what was going on."

"Politicians have no clue about popular culture," he adds. "A friend of mine was at a recording of Question Time a year ago and David Cameron hadn't heard of The Thick Of It which is a bit crap."

Brand loyalty

Just the thought of Russell Brand hanging around the colleges of Oxford is enough to provoke collective claret-spluttering among the institution's venerable dons.

Brand, as seen on BBC2's The Culture Show, was at the university recently to promote his autobiography, My Booky Wook. But when the priapic comedian popped in for dinner at Oriel College, he was reportedly a model of good behaviour, despite his colourful image.

"He was very late coming in to dinner but the students waited patiently for him to arrive," says the dean, Dr James Methven. "He mainly chatted to the junior common room president and his girlfriend, and a student who had performed in the Oxford Revue."

Adds one student: "He couldn't have been nicer."

Ma Hatton knocks 'em dead

Now that Ricky Hatton's doomed campaign to topple the arch-pugilist Floyd Mayweather is over, Pandora will miss the early morning musings of the Mancunian slugger's mother, Carol. She has been a fixture on the BBC's 5 live Breakfast over the past week or so, offering her two-penn'orth to host Nicky Campbell. Yesterday, she popped up to speak about the A-list crowd which attended Sunday morning's fight in Las Vegas. "I think she's been on the SlimFast plan a bit too long," said Mrs H of Angelina Jolie. "I don't think she needs to go to WeightWatchers any more." When asked about Jolie's husband Brad Pitt, Mrs Hatton replied: "Let's say I wouldn't ask 'im out of bed."

Instead of getting Wayne Rooney to carry his belts into the ring, can't Ricky just have his mum do a warm-up act?

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