Pandora: McCartney's paymasters come off second best in nuclear battle

When it was revealed last year that Ian McCartney was being paid more than £110,000 a year to advise the American nuclear power giant Fluor – just months after he quit as Trade minister – the pint-sized Scot was accused of filling his boots.

The former Labour Party chairman's involvement came under the spotlight when it emerged that Fluor was part of a consortium bidding for a £5bn contract to take over the running of the Sellafield plant.

See apology, 17 October 2008

Quite how much longer his services will be relied upon, however, remains to be seen. It has been confirmed that Fluor has lost out in the bidding to its British rival Amec. To make matters worse, Amec had recruited McCartney's former colleague, the ex-Sports minister Richard Caborn, whose advisory services came in rather cheaper at £75,000.

What McCartney's role was in assisting Fluor has never been totally clear. The company insists "Wee Macca" had no role in lobbying the Government, while McCartney maintained it had hired his services because of his work with "trade unions over employment regulations and proper business ethics".

He also curiously stated that his fee "was not going to me personally" but would enable him to "maintain an office presence in London".

News of the setback for McCartney's employer is privately being met with little sympathy in the Labour ranks. Says one colleague: "We are already speculating how long they'll now want to keep Ian on."

Noble's mobile mystery

If Ross Noble is wondering what happened to his mobile phone, Pandora might be able to help. A mole was at last weekend's Latitude music festival, when the Geordie comedian went screeching past on his motorbike. "Ross's wheels must have got stuck in the mud because he went flying over the handlebars," I'm told. "I think he was a bit embarrassed as he jumped back on pretty swiftly, without realising he'd dropped his phone. One of the stewards chucked it into the crowd. I suppose it'll be on eBay by now."

Running away just isn't Emily's style

Emily Mortimer, whose blossoming Hollywood career Pandora has been monitoring closely, is fast discovering that movies can be a brutally honest business.

Mortimer, who has landed her first action role alongside Woody Harrelson and Ben Kingsley in the new thriller Transsiberian, has revealed some of her scenes had to be heavily edited by the film's director Brad Anderson.

"They told me I'm not actually that convincing when I'm running," she says. "Brad tells me that he really had to edit the hell out of the scene with me running away in the snow, because I look so bad."

Mortimer, it seems, has been teased about her running action all her life.

"In fact, my friends will make me run for a bus to give themselves a cheap laugh," she adds. "So I really do have to be edited a bit to be a convincing action heroine."

Terry to investigate

Spotted in the lecture halls of London's Centre for Investigative Journalism over the weekend: former Coronation Street actor Nigel Pivaro, who played Jack and Vera Duckworth's wayward son, Terry. He had enrolled on the centre's three-day summer course and was spied among a group attending a talk given by the documentary film-maker John Pilger. Pivaro gave up acting two years ago to become a journalist, and has previously done work for the Manchester Evening News. According to my aspiring muck raker seated in the row behind, Pivaro was "very attentive throughout and was busy taking lots of notes".

Jilted MP fights back

Like any jilted lover still nursing the painful effects of being stung by one of Cupid's arrows, Lembit Öpik needs get up off the canvas.

As noted previously in this column, Öpik has long pinned his hopes on succeeding Simon Hughes as the next Liberal Democrat president, and will be hitting the campaign trail at the party conference in September. Öpik has his work cut out, however, as I hear his rival to the post, Baroness Ros Scott, is already attracting plenty of support. The final result will be announced in November.

"Of course since that Cheeky lass dumped him he's lost an easy photo-op," says an insider. "Though on balance, that might just be a good thing."

Sir Ian admits he's lost the plot

It's hard to know quite what brought Sir Ian McKellen to the premiere of the new Batman film, The Dark Knight, in Leicester Square on Monday evening.

When questioned about the lucrative film franchise, not only was Sir Ian not able to give Pandora the name of a single Batman villain, he'd also never heard of the film's prequel Batman Begins.

"Well I don't know. I've not heard of it," he told me. "What's that? Who was in that one?"

Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson...

"Oh really," he replied, "Oh what a pity, I rather like Liam Neeson, think I might have missed out on something there."

pandora@independent.co.uk

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Project Manager (Procurement & Human Resources)

Unpaid: Cancer Research UK: If you’re a professional in project management, lo...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star