Pandora: Handbags in the tea room as Dorries and Flint square up

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The Independent Online

Gordon Brown and David Cameron's duel at PMQs yesterday was another lively joust, but nothing compared with the fireworks which preceded it between Tory MP Nadine Dorries and Employment minister Caroline Flint.

On Tuesday afternoon, the pair bumped into each other in the Commons Tea Room and became embroiled in what was described to Pandora as a catfight of Dynasty-like proportions.

According to one witness, the row kicked off after Flint approached Dorries and began angrily demanding an apology. Apparently, Flint was fuming with the Tory backbencher after she recently reported her and several other female Labour MPs to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards for allegedly failing to declare donations from pro-abortion campaigners.

"I was a bit shocked. She just came up to me in the tea room in her usual cocky, full-of-herself fashion saying I should apologise," Dorries tells me. "She obviously thought I was going to back down like hell I was. One northern Labour MP actually suggested I should have decked her."

As for Flint, who has been cleared of the accusations by the Commissioner Sir Philip Mawer, it looks as though she is now prepared to let the feud run.

"Nadine Dorries is a desperate attention seeker who was found to be completely in the wrong by the Commissioner of Standards," says a spokesman. "She should have the decency to apologise to the MPs concerned."

Sophie's royal link pays dividends

Producers at ITV couldn't have picked a more suitable actress than Sophie Winkleman for their forthcoming drama, The Palace.

The comely star, best known as posh totty "Big Suze" in the Channel 4 comedy Peep Show, plays the sister of a party-loving prince who unexpectedly finds himself crowned king.

Ironically, Winkleman is currently stepping out with Prince Michael of Kent's hell-raising son "louche" Lord Freddie Windsor, whose party-going ways have been delighting headline writers for years. "Windy", widely regarded as the Republicans' secret weapon, reportedly got together with her in the summer.

So Winkleman's flattering comments about the Royals yesterday were unsurprising. "I think for the real Royal Family it must be immensely hard work," she gushed. "I think they do a brilliant job."

Comrade Moore joins the fight

For all Sir Roger Moore's flashy suits and expensive cigars, he is still not too grand to join a picket line.

Earlier this week, Moore approached a group of staff from a Cadbury's chocolate plant outside Bristol, who were demonstrating outside the head office in the city centre.

"One of our stewards went to speak to him and explained we were there because Cadbury's were shutting the factory at Keynsham," says a Union rep. Moore then surprisingly stayed to join in a protest song sung to the tune of Oh Christmas.

Adds the rep: "He was very supportive. He said his father had always enjoyed Cadbury's chocolate."

That will have warmed the cockles of their hearts as they continued protesting in the freezing December air.

Pinter payday

The British Library was cock-a-hoop this week after it managed to acquire the personal archive of Harold Pinter for 1.1m.

What wasn't quite clear was whether the money was paid to a collector, or had gone straight to the 77-year-old playwright's pockets.

"Yes we bought them from Harold Pinter, we've had his scripts here on long-term loan for a while and so we have a good relationship with him," confirmed a library spokesman. "He said he was intending to sell them, but he gave us first refusal."

Pinter has said he's "delighted" the archive will remain in his homeland. Being a committed socialist, it's surprising that the Holland Park-dwelling lefty didn't just donate them to the library.

Terry needs to curry favour

The footballer John Terry has much to fear about Fabio Capello's probable appointment as England manager.

It has already been widely reported that Capello may relieve Terry of the captaincy if he gets the job. I suspect the notoriously bossy Italian will also want to have stern words about his diet.

A mole spotted Terry last Saturday in the Panahar Tandoori, a popular Indian restaurant near Terry's home in Esher, Surrey. He departed carrying with him what was described as two "bulging bags" of greasy takeaway food. Capello, nicknamed "the iron sergeant" has no room for porkers in his teams. During his time at Real Madrid he once chastened the Brazilian superstar Ronaldo, 31, with the words: "You're fat. You should be ashamed."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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