Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Pandora: Emily's no longer kissing for her supper

Nowadays Emily Mortimer prefers to try out for Hollywood blockbusters than trail the English drama circuit. And who can blame her? During one of the dainty actress's first major forays into British cinema, The 51st State, her audition merely required her to snog the Scottish actor Robert Carlyle.

"Don't you think that's strange? That you have to make out with someone in order to get a job in the movies. That's pretty much all the audition consisted of," she says. "I had to say 'ooh' and 'aah' and make out with this guy endlessly. I was totally unsuited to the part of the coolest woman in the universe on a motorbike, but he obviously didn't mind kissing me."

Mortimer, who was promoting her new film, Redbelt, by David Mamet, will appear next year in Martin Scorsese's film Ashcliffe opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. Certainly beats kissing Glaswegian tough-nuts.

Stop the War claim epic victory over John Bolton

The arrival of John Bolton on these shores is proving to be one the most controversial visits by an American politician in recent times.

Later today, the hawkish former US Ambassador to the United Nations is due to appear in Hay-on-Wye, where he will address an audience at the distinguished literary festival.

His appearance has already caused uproar among prominent anti-war figures, including the journalist George Monbiot, who has called for a citizen's arrest to be made.

Now, further controversy has emerged over a talk Bolton was due to give on Thursday at the Bristol Festival of Ideas. Over the past few days, visitors have been informed that he will no longer be speaking.

Organisers claim this is a result of a disagreement with Hay over who should pay his travel expenses.

"The Hay Festival asked us to cover half his travel costs to the UK," I'm told. "This was all done via Bolton's office. I suppose Hay felt that because we were having him whilst he was here, that we should pay some of the costs. But we couldn't afford that, and Bolton agreed – that was not our prior arrangement, so he had to pull out."

Others reckon, however, Bolton's famously bushy moustache was twitched over a proposed demo by the Stop the War Coalition.

Certainly, a Stop the War spokesman is treating the matter as a coup.

"We didn't have to do a demonstration, we just announced one and we find that Bolton has pulled out. It's all a bit co-incidental."

People are strange...

Although BBC2's biopic on Mary Whitehouse tonight is expected to be largely sympathetic, Newsnight will afterwards reveal her paranoid side.

During the anti-Vietnam War demos in 1968, Whitehouse wrote to Special Branch warning them about the arrival of The Doors, the American band fronted by Jim Morrison.

"I have information from an American friend that an organisation called 'THE DOORS' who are a political extremist organisation, are in England," she wrote in notes obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. "They are singing at the Roundhouse, Chalk Farm this Saturday and Sunday evening. I do not think their arrival is a coincidence."

Morrison was charged the following year with exposing himself on stage. That would have been enough to finish the old girl off.

Andy in a spin

As any wily spin doctor will tell you, the first rule of PR is not to become the story.

So now that Andy Coulson is quietly spinning on behalf of David Cameron, he'll not be too happy about having his name appearing in the transcripts of an unseemly employment tribunal hearing which took place last Friday in Stratford, East London.

The hearing concerns Matt Driscoll, a former sports journalist at News of the World, where Coulson was editor until January last year when he resigned over the paper's royal bugging scandal.

When Driscoll became ill with stress in the summer of 2006, Coulson allegedly sent an email to his deputy editor saying: "I want him out quickly and cheaply." The hearing is adjourned until September.

This quest could cost "the chief"

Speaking of the Screws, it's interesting that Lord Stevens' security company Quest has been assisting Max Mosley in his legal tussle with the Sunday red-top.

Although Quest keeps the identity of its clients a closely guarded secret, it's been widely reported that Mosley enlisted the former Met chief's services after he was exposed in the News of the World for taking part in a sado-masochistic sex orgy with five prostitutes.

Until not so long ago, Stevens would pen hard-hitting (and no doubt lucrative) opinion pieces for the same paper on big crime stories under the authoritative banner of "The Chief".

I doubt he'll be invited back.