Pandora: 'Life in Brussels is just dandy', insists Gavin Hewitt

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The Independent Online

Just months into his new plum post as the BBC's Europe editor, Gavin Hewitt insists he's been the innocent victim of a mischievous whispering campaign.

The long-serving broadcaster took the job in September after the previous incumbent, the jovial Mark Mardell, bagged the North America brief – a role some have suggested Hewitt would have liked himself.

Pandora's week began in suitably cloak and dagger fashion when I was contacted on behalf of several "senior BBC colleagues" claiming Hewitt had put noses out of joint by failing to primarily base himself in Brussels – traditionally the required residence for his latest posting. "I'm totally mystified about this," an indignant Hewitt later responded. "I have an apartment in Brussels and I've moved my things to Brussels. Obviously I move around, what with elections and things. But this is just untrue."

So just where in Television Centre could this scurrilous piece of malicious title-tattle have come from? "There were actually quite a few people who fancied the Europe job," suggests one colleague. "This seems just an old-fashioned case of sour grapes."

Pub opens in Church's grounds

Having been the subject of unflattering reports in the past after enjoying one-too-many sherbets in Cardiff , Charlotte Church and her boyfriend Gavin Henson have taken matters into their own hands. Church reveals the publicity-conscious pair have had a pub installed in the garden of their home. "I don't like going into town anymore, everybody's got camera phones," she says. "Gavin and I still haven't quite learned to drink responsibly."

Young Prezza's suspicious mind

Last week I reported that John Prescott's son David was making his second bid to become a parliamentary candidate, this time in the Cheshire seat of Weaver Vale. Sadly for young Prezza, Labour members ended up opting for local councillor John Stockton when it came to the all-important vote on Friday night. Having felt a growing bond with Junior Two Jags, Pandora duly called on Monday morning to offer (mainly) heartfelt sympathy. "I'm sure there will be other opportunities," I helpfully declared. "You're trying to put words in my mouth!" he fired back. What a truly cynical world we live in.

Happy hobbits

Lord Of The Rings star Sir Ian McKellen weighed into the current British Airways strike with the following helpful insight on Absolute Radio, announcing: "Nice well-behaved hobbits don't join unions."

Passage to India

News that Lindsay Lohan, no less, is fronting a new BBC documentary highlighting child slavery is bound to be greeted in certain quarters as a timely spot of re-branding for the paparazzi favourite. "That's not even close to accurate," insists the programme's director, Maninderpal Sahota. We stand corrected.