Pandora: Conviction politics - Gavron aide quits over nasty slurs

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Like a number of her colleagues in New Labour, Ken Livingstone's trusted deputy Nicky Gavron is facing unwanted accusations of breaking the rules. So she could hardly have picked a lousier time to lose one her most trusted lieutenants.

Gavron, who was accused last week of failing to declare dozens of free meals, was greeted yesterday with the resignation of Miranda Grell, her controversial assistant who has quit the Labour Party after failing to overturn a high-profile court conviction.

The 29-year-old councillor, who was widely-tipped as one of the party's rising stars, was found guilty in September of spreading false paedophile slurs against her Lib Dem rival Barry Smith, who she narrowly defeated in local elections last year.

On Friday, Grell lost her appeal against conviction, just days after Pandora revealed that Labour bosses would no longer bankroll her bid to clear her name. As a result, she said she was quitting both the party and her post as Gavron's aide.

"Although I know I am innocent, what I have been convicted of amounts to bringing the Labour Party into disrepute and gross misconduct of the Greater London Authority constitution," says Grell. "I cannot expect either of these organisations to formally support me in these circumstances."

Gavron, meanwhile, was unwilling to talk about her former employee yesterday my request for a comment from the Deputy Mayor's office was met with silence.

Clarke set to perform in a political (soap) opera

For all the Labour Party's current woes, it has had no trouble in wooing yet another celebrity to stand at the next General Election.

The glamorous opera singer Suzannah Clarke has just made the shortlist for the Stockton North constituency on Teesside, where the outgoing Labour MP Frank Cook has a healthy majority of more than 12,000.

Clarke previously sought out a seat in 2005 without success, but has since proven herself a skilful operator in the thorny art of diplomatic relations. She has reportedly persuaded Kim Jong-il to allow North Korea's state orchestra to tour Britain next year thanks to her pin-up status in the rogue state.

Sadly, mindful of the quagmire that her party currently finds itself for breaching regulations, Clarke refused to speak about her new political ambitions yesterday.

"I'm not sure I can say anything at this stage because of the rules," she said. "I have to be careful."

Ivana stamps her foot

Following Donald Trump's failure to charm Aberdeenshire Council into accepting his 1bn golf resort, his ex-wife Ivana has been similarly putting toffee-nosed conks out of joint among the residents of Chelsea.

Yesterday afternoon, a leopardskin-clad Trump, 58, strolled into a post office in the King's Road, followed by her exotic young beau Rossano Rubicondi, and demanded a provisional driving license and some stamps.

"Quite rightly, the assistant told her to get to the back of what was a very long queue," says a witness. "Her young man then pleaded that Ivana shouldn't have to wait like everyone else before they both eventually stormed off. Bob Geldof always used to wait in line here patiently, why couldn't she?"

Small change

The leggy socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson served up a hefty dollop of humble pie on Fleet Street's doorsteps last week when it was announced that her luxury events company, Three's A Crowd, had been floated on the London stock market for 2.5m.

But she would be advised not to go sticking up two fingers at any further dodgy reality television offers just yet.

According to the business's stock market filing, despite being billed as a "founding director" of the company, P-T owns only just under three per cent of its shares.

Says a red-braced wag: "Tara has been awarded the title of non-executive director but with what looks like a strong emphasis on the non-exec part."

Biggins's marital strife

The disclosure by Christopher Biggins, the king of ITV's celebrity jungle, that he once married a woman before realising he was gay is not the only dramatic volte-face he has performed in his colourful private life.

As my colleague Johann Hari points out on The Independent's OpenHouse blog, Biggins once penned an article for The Mail On Sunday in which he expressed doubts about the concept of civil partnerships. He said: "I am not sure if I will be going down the road of a civil partnership."

But since he won I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, it has emerged that Biggins entered a "CP" with his long-term partner Neil Twimaps in 2006. So why the change of heart? "He didn't mean to say he disapproved of them," says a spokesman. "He was just pointing out they weren't the same as a marriage."

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