Pandora: City Hall backs author over book row

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The Independent Online

Hackney Council's decision to cancel the launch of Iain Sinclair's new book hasn't gone down too well at Boris Johnson's office.

The event had been scheduled to take place at a local library but was cancelled after the novelist published a scathing article in the London Review of Books in which he labelled London's decision to host the Olympic Games in 2012 a "scam".

Councillors promptly claimed that the event had become "inappropriate", but it seems that City Hall would beg to differ.

Asked about the decision yesterday, Munira Mirza, the director of Arts, Culture and Creative Industries Policy for the Mayor of London, described the cancellation as a "bizarre attack on free speech" and called for it to be reversed.

"We may not agree with Mr Sinclair's view of the 2012 Olympics," said the one-time Radio 4 presenter, "but we defend his right to express his opinions without fear of censure. The Olympics are strong enough to withstand scrutiny and criticism without Hackney's heavy-handed tactics. We hope common sense prevails and that they reverse their decision."

In the meantime, another venue has kindly volunteered its services for use: the independently owned Pages of Hackney.

Dizzee disses the Olympics legacy

Meanwhile, Tessa Jowell may justify the ever-expanding London Olympics budget with promises of urban regeneration, but the rapper Dizzee Rascal remains unconvinced.

The Mercury-award winner, who grew up just around the corner from the Olympic site in London's East End, tells me he is sceptical of the promised legacy of the Games.

"You know, it's just a two-week event. I keep thinking about what will happen in the future," he says. "Everyone talks about it and they take all this money from taxes but no one knows what happens afterwards. It's just two weeks and everyone makes such a big fuss, but how will the area cope when it's over? I don't think it'll make that much difference."

Of less interest to Rascal was the American election. "I couldn't care less who wins. I'm not interested in either of them."

Henry's handy tips

Feeling the pinch? Henry Conway may have the solution. The fashionista son of Tory MP Derek Conway was on ebullient form when I ran into him at a recent party, sharing his tips for surviving the credit crunch.

"Times like these spur a massive amount of creativity – I really think that craftsmanship is the way forward. It's perfect for the credit crunch. Things like knitting and so on are very important and very English. It's definitely a good time to start making your own things."

He was less forthcoming on the subject of his father's colleague George Osborne and his dealings with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. "I couldn't possibly comment on that."

Adie's admirers are getting younger

No doubt Kate Adie has faced many a testing scenario in her time, though I'm told her role as director of this year's Cheltenham Literature Festival threw up one unusual challenge for the BBC's renowned former war correspondent – in the form of a particularly persistent teenage admirer.

Visitors to the event were treated to the sight of a young lad following Adie, right, from event to event, imploring her to go out for dinner with him.

"He followed her around everywhere," says my spy. "He went to every event that day. Poor chap, he was clearly smitten."

Needless to say, Adie declined though not without conceding the boy's charms. "He was very sweet," said her publicist.

The other Corfu scandals

George Osborne's dalliance with a Russian billionaire isn't the first whiff of scandal to engulf Corfu. Lord Ryder was staying at the Corfu Palace Hotel during the British Leyland saga of 1977. And just up the road from the Rothschild pad is a villa belonging to the former Sunday Times editor, Frank Giles. It was there that he received the bombshell that he'd been sold a pup, after his newspaper had published the famous (and entirely bogus) "Hitler Diaries".

Brown's search is in a spin

It looks as though Gordon Brown's hunt for a communications chief will have to be extended. Last week I reported that Colin Byrne, the hotly-tipped favourite for the post, would be a tough catch given that he was said to be "very happy" with current employers Weber Shandwick. Now it's been confirmed that Byrne is to be promoted to the role of European CEO at the firm.

Weller considers his options

Oh to lead the life of a rock 'n' roll offspring! Nat Weller, son of the Jam frontman Paul, tells me he's in no hurry to get on the career ladder. "I'm not planning to go to university yet, it's not for me," he says. "And I'd never do TV. The only thing I might do would be a movie. Maybe a horror film."

Rocking on

Salman Rushdie made an incongruous sight among the skinny jeans at Tuesday's Nokia Comes with Music launch. Reluctant to get into literary discussion, he explained that: "It's really not the place for that kind of thing."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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