Pandora: Bronson's artistic sideline blocked

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The Independent Online

Stand by for fireworks. A striking row has broken out within the prison service over the right of Charles Bronson, so-called "most violent man in Britain", to send paintings to friends.

Bronson has become a keen artist since his imprisonment in 1974 and, thanks to his notoriety, the works are thought to be of considerable value to collectors. He has even donated one – a cartoon of Prince Charles – to be sold at a charity auction.

Not long ago, however, wardens at HMP Woodhill began to suspect that Bronson may be pocketing some of the cash from the sale of his paintings. "There was a correlation between the people to whom he sent the works and those who sent him money," explains a Ministry of Justice spokesman. Of course, prisoners are prohibited from profiting from their criminal status. So, were the allegations correct, Bronson would be acting illegally. The Prison Service promptly banned him from sending out any work, provoking his solicitor, Harriet Mather, to pen an angry letter to the service's in-house newspaper, Inside Time.

"It was very distressing," explains Mather. "It's his way of corresponding. He has been doing it for many, many years."

Since the stand-off, we're told some headway has been made in resolving the situation by allowing Bronson to send out art to some of his correspondents – although how long the truce will last remains to be seen.

"That's a new development, says Mather. "I haven't even had the chance to see Charles about it."

Rescue me! Cracknell hitches a lift

The Olympic rower James Cracknell doesn't strike us as the most likely candidate for a sea rescue. Still, it takes all sorts. We hear he was surfing on New Year's Day when a lifeboat approached asking him to go inland. "I was pretty tired so I thought if you're going that way I'll get a lift," reflects Cracknell of the incident. Cheeky!

Ross's colleagues in mourning

Jonathan Ross's soon-to-be ex-colleagues at the BBC are, we gather, just about managing to cope with the distressing news that the multi-million pound chat show host is to leave the Corporation. Just 12 minutes after the news broke yesterday morning, Malcolm Brabant, the BBC's reporter in Athens, remarked on Facebook: "I'm so sad that I've had to put my handkerchief in the spin dryer. I don't think I'll ever recover." Neither will we, Malcolm.

Jagger Jnr looks to the film industry

James Jagger's extracurricular activities are not, it seems, strictly limited to performing with his face paint-wearing heavy metal band Turbogeist. The son of Sir Mick – whose sisters Georgia and Elizabeth have both succeeded in making names for themselves as models – is, we learn, hoping to find his niche in the film industry. He is currently working on a screenplay which he hopes to finish later this year. "It's about the Korean war, and it's a bit of a sob-story really," he told us at the premiere of Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll. "I was reading a book on it. I'm a bit of a history nerd." No doubt Dad'll be proud.

Rees-Mogg gets letters in a twist

Hungry? Jacob Rees-Mogg, the accident-prone Tory candidate for North-east Somerset caught by Pandora parroting The Sun in his campaign material, obviously was when he sent out his New Year's message. Launching a blistering attack on Gordon Brown's leadership, he rants: "We are spending more than we earn, while public services work fitfully and often at a high cost... the government has been run for the next day's headlines rather than for the long term food of the country." Whoops!

pandora@independent.co.uk

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