Pandora: Desmond trial unfolds on the Binman's watch

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The Independent Online

Richard Desmond is currently defending his honour in the Royal Courts of Justice. All the while, a shadowy figure is watching.

Benjamin Pell, or Benji the Binman as he's better known, has, we are told, been taking a close interest in the case which pits Desmond against Tom Bower, unofficial biographer of Conrad Black, over claims that, among other things, Desmond interfered in the editorial policy of his Express Newspapers.

The allegations, made in Bower's book Conrad And Lady Black: Dancing On The Edge, are said by Desmond to be untrue. Whatever the outcome, Pandora can't help but wonder what titbits will be leaking out in the wake of the case. Pell, an obsessive-compulsive muckraker, shot to notoriety after selling a series of documents taken from public figures' rubbish bins to national newspapers. Most famously, he flogged a series of Downing Street memos, including correspondence from Tony Blair, to The Sunday Times.

Since abandoning the black bag business, Pell, left has reportedly become fascinated by the Royal Courts of Justice, where he sits for days on end, collecting trivia about cases and the judiciary. The Desmond action has, apparently, proved particularly fascinating. "He also kept a close eye on Max Moseley's business," says a source. What could Benji be planning?

Parliament prepares for the stink

*Fetch the gas masks! The Palace of Westminster is to up its game in the ongoing battle of the bugs. Staff have, we're told, been fighting a nasty moth infestation since the beginning of the year but to no avail: the pesky blighters continue to do their worst. Now the authorities are to distribute a new round of pheromone pellets – highly effective as a pesticide, but less than pleasant to work with. Stored in small white pouches, they emit a "strong, fatty" odour wherever they are placed. We predict a rush for the exits.

Snow gets hot and bothered by 'Heat'

As far as Pandora is concerned, there are few figures whose daily chores we would more enjoy watching than that fine newsreading specimen, Jon Snow.

Clearly, we are not alone: the Channel 4 veteran has made his Heat debut doing just that. "I little thought I'd ever make it into Heat magazine," marvels a bemused Snow. "I was doing nothing more exciting than posting a form to the taxman, when I became aware of a gaggle of paparazzi on motorbikes. Suddenly, the shutters began crackling.

"I told them I was only a hack and of no interest, and I thought no more about it. So this is what sells Heat?" Apparently so, Jon.

MP4 get ready to rock the boat

For those politicos who couldn't quite face Glastonbury's muddy fields, a music event of another kind: the annual summer gig by MP4, Parliament's grey-tipped rock group (Labour's Ian Cawsey on vocals and Kevin Brennan on guitar).

This year's celebrations will take place on a river boat floating up the Thames. Drinks, we're told, are gratis (surely not on expenses?). Aptly, we think, the occasion has been christened "Rock The Boat". But will Hazel Blears show up? Only time will tell.

Can Murray ace the driving test?

Those still prising their jaws from the floor following Andy Murray's dismal go-karting performance at the weekend (it's the new tennis, apparently) can take heart from the news that he has, at last, booked his long-overdue driving lessons. The Scot has complained about his inability to get around, blaming it on a lack of time and promising to begin learning after Wimbledon. True to his word, Murray will take to the road at the end of the week, L-plate in tow. Remember Andy: mirror, signal, manoeuvre.

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