Pandora: Mick's new social circle

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The Independent Online

Despite the chatter, don't bet your house (even if it is one you have bought outright with a parliamentary second home allowance) on Michael Martin, the hitlisted House of Commons Speaker, resigning before this year's summer recess.

Mr Martin, who each morning has had to check the Speaker's chair is not wired into the mains current before gingerly lowering his buttocks, is to host a drinks reception on 15 July, one week before the House rises for its 11-week siesta, for an organisation in which he may soon develop more than a passing interest.

Who other than the grandly battered-looking bunch known as the Association of Former MPs?

The naked truth: I'm bigger than that, fumes angry actor

The Royal Opera House, the spiritual home of opera and ballet in the UK, has become entangled in a peculiar squabble.

The ROH has received a series of angry missives from the Argentine actor Juan Pablo Di Pace, who appeared in the chorus in a production of the Verdi opera Rigoletto back in 2001.

The Latin beefcake's naked body was used in the promotional literature for the Rigoletto.

Di Pace has since carved out an acting career. We saw him caught in a shipwrecked love triangle with Kelly Brook in Three, and he features in this year's Hollywood adaptation of Mamma Mia!

The same starkers image of him has been used repeatedly by the ROH to promote numerous subsequent productions of Rigoletto in which Di Pace never featured, including one last July.

Not only is he unhappy about such continued use of his image, he believes the photograph has been unflatteringly distorted.

"It's disgraceful," says a friend. "It is hugely embarrassing for a 28-year-old actor for them to plaster his naked body across billboards and buses to advertise their opera, time after time, and doing to his image whatever they wish.

"In the 2005 poster, for example, they airbrushed his penis entirely to shrink it, they made it look like he barely had one at all." He is speaking to his lawyers.

A spokesman for the ROH confirms it is corresponding with Di Pace, but plans to stand firm. "It's standard practice to take promotional photos," he said. "And this was a very striking image."

Not striking enough!

A letter from Wossy's lawyers for Beed mag

A tin hat can come in handy for journalists who write about Jonathan Ross's pay deal at the BBC.

The oft-quoted figure of £18m over three years for the presenter's considerable output is disputed, and he insists it is a private matter between him and the corporation.

The latest publication to hear from Wossy's lawyers, Schillings, is the Beeb's own in-house magazine, Ariel.

Six weeks ago, Ariel quoted Channel 4's deputy chairman Baron Puttnam ventilating about the BBC's negotiating skills when it came to signing up Ross until 2010.

Schillings has since been in touch with Ariel and Broadcast magazine, which followed up the report, complaining that their articles carried material inaccuracies. Schillings seeks corrections, and Broadcast, at least, faced a request for damages.

There is no resolution as yet. Discussions continue.

Fresh shame for Simpson

There are further, saddening revelations about the seedy and secretive property empire of the Nottingham South MP Alan Simpson. A Sunday newspaper suggested he had used his second home allowance to fund a constituency "eco home", a London mews house and a Tuscan retreat.

Grainy images have since been passed to this column, showing a gloating Simpson posing beside a fourth unregistered property: a "Fairytopia" mansion that sits in the corner of his office.

"His two-year-old daughter uses the playhouse on a grace and favour basis," said a mole. "She has paid no rent on the property for months. Nor does she contribute to heating and lighting. The dolls inside are semi-permanent residents liable for council tax."

Daddy Cool

The guitarist Graham Coxon, once of Blur, missed a scheduled live interview with London Tonight from Paul Weller's Sunday evening gig in Camden, because "my daughter's ice cream is melting."

* Fanny strikes again! Time to welcome back an old friend. The broadcaster and self-styled manners expert Simon Fanshawe, who could do with heeding his own advice, given his puce outburst of A-grade swearing to Pandora, is reinventing himself as a political mover and shaker.

He was at a businessmen's dinner party attended by the education secretary, Ed Balls, and major Labour donors. Fanny says: "I was a guest of the Labour Party, which I am proud to be associated with." Don't cross him!