Pandora: Lammy takes a break from his brief

Pandora very much hopes that David Lammy – MP and Mastermind contestant extraordinaire – hasn't ruffled too many Foreign Office feathers with his recent article in support of London's Tamil protests.

Lammy, a member of the cross-party group for Tamils, has long been a passionate exponent of the rights of the Sri Lankan minority group.

So far, so noble. Except for the fact that Lammy is also a minister for Universities and it is well known in Westminster that ministers aren't supposed to comment across departmental lines, especially when it comes to such a volatile issue. To make matters worse, the piece, published yesterday on the website Open Democracy, lends sturdy support to the protesters, despite the fact that their demonstration is, in fact, illegal.

It also takes a considerably harder line in condemning the actions of the Sri Lankan authorities than the Foreign Office has done so far.

Sadly, Lammy had already departed for his Easter break when Pandora rang to hear his point of view. A spokesman for the Foreign Office assures us that they don't plan on amending their policies to incorporate his view any time soon.

John halted in his (expired) tracks

*There is a new, if somewhat unlikely, poster-boy for any tax rebels among you – in the unassuming form of John Leech, the Lib Dem Spokesman for Transport. He's just been forced to take his car off the road after being snapped driving his navy Mini Cooper with an expired tax disk. "It's ultimately my fault but I do feel a bit annoyed," laments Leech. "I didn't receive a reminder and I think it's fair to say that that is what normally alerts people. I would like to think people recognise that I'm not just stupid." Mm.

Hugh's badge of honour stripes

In what may – due to sheer breadth of possibilities – have to become a regular feature, Pandora would like to draw your attention to this week's Least Fathomable Exercise in Publicity.

Take a bow, if you will, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who, along with several similarly celebrated chefs, this week undertook to sit the Beaver Scouts' healthy eating exam.

He did, I'm reliably informed, manage to scrape through the required mental acrobatics and is now the proud owner of his very own healthy eating badge. Which is to say he is certifiably able "to prepare a fruit salad, create a healthy snack, design a nutritious sandwich and list a selection of unhealthy foods".

Quite a relief, isn't it?

Sarah avoids her husband's tweets

*Sarah Brown's rapidly expanding list of Twitter companions has assumed a decidedly glitzy veneer.

As well as the cerebral Stephen Fry, Brown is currently "following" the tabloid regulars Britney Spears, Naomi Campbell, Demi Moore, and Martha Stewart.

Conspicuously absent, however (at least he was the last time that Pandora checked), was any trace of her considerably less glitzy husband, the Prime Minister.

Rosenthal critiques the theatre critics

*Revolutionary musings from Amy Rosenthal, the literary-minded daughter of Maureen Lipman.

She reckons that far too many theatre critics these days are cut from the same moth-eaten old fabric. "There's no doubt about it, we need some younger ones to start as well," she tells Pandora.

"Virtually every critic we have now is a middle-aged man. Perhaps they will go for someone younger at the Standard now that Nicholas de Jongh is leaving."

Over to you, Geordie...

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