Pandora: No smoke without fiery Love

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The Independent Online

Following in the volatile vapour cloud of Naomi Campbell – carried off a British Airways flight in handcuffs seven days ago after a screaming row which ended with the model allegedly spitting at a police officer – a fuming Courtney Love has had her collar felt by a British airline's security detail.

On Monday, Love was refused entry to a Virgin Atlantic plane at Los Angeles International airport, after she was discovered smoking in Departures. "I had a fag in the first class lounge, like two hits, and they wouldn't let me on the plane with my daughter," she complained to Virgin Radio. "They made some big thing like I'm a fucking terrorist or something. It was embarrassing." A spokesman for Virgin says Love was allowed to fly to London the following night and has not been blacklisted.

The effervescent rocker should count herself lucky, considering her "previous" with the airline.

In 2003, a pilot reported Love to the police, who cautioned her for abusive behaviour; she admitted "cussing" at a stewardess: "Why are you being such a bitch?"

Investigative 'Fake Sheikh' swaps robes for a book deal

After decades inspecting the dark crevices of the national underbelly, the "Fake Sheikh" Mazher Mahmood, investigative reporter for the News of the World paper, is stepping out from the shadows.

To the sound of collective smashing of champagne flutes in celebrity domiciles, Maz has signed a lucrative deal to write his memoirs with HarperCollins, owned by the NotW's proprietor, Rupert Murdoch.

Titled Confessions of a Fake Sheik and published in September, it will lift the lid of his dressing-up box (flowing robes of rich Arabs) and detail his juiciest stings, among them exposés on Sven Goran Eriksson (said he'd leave England), David Mellor (affair), the former owners of Newcastle United (called Geordie women "dogs" after going to a brothel) and the Countess of Wessex (indiscretions about the Royal Family).

HarperCollins says the book will reveal "the behind-the-scenes stories of how he exposed corrupt officials, drug dealers, paedophiles, people traffickers and terrorists, leading to 230 criminal convictions so far."

Quite how candid Mahmood will be about criticism of his methods remains to be seen: his reports were at the centre of the "red mercury" terrorist trial, which ended in acquittal, and the Victoria Beckham "kidnap" trial, which collapsed. Geor- ge Galloway busted a sting when he recognised Maz's bodyguard's gold teeth.

Unsurprisingly, Maz is reluctant to discuss the tome. "I'm afraid I'm not talking about it," he said, with the air of a man looking over both shoulders.

Coppola targeted by Parisian pilferers

Fortunately, she wasn't shot dead on the steps of the opera house (see ending of The Godfather Part III). Sofia Coppola has, though, experienced her own little problem with organised crime: she has been mugged in the famously luxurious Paris department store, Le Bon Marché.

A pair of upmarket pickpockets liberated the handbag of the actress-turned-director, progeny of Francis Ford, then immediately blew a reported €3,500 (£2,790) on a spree in the store using her bank card.

Alas, the French cops who seemed so détendu about the presence of the infamously "proactive" blue-tracksuited Chinese security agents, during the city's Olympic flame relay, jumped to action at a glitterati cry of "Au secours!" The swindlers were nabbed leaving a shopping complex and arrested. Sofia got back her lippy, purse, etc.

So much for French sophistication. Didn't they know it's rude to go through a woman's bag?


George Clooney's charm, as detailed in yesterday's Pandora, escaped him momentarily on the red carpet at the premiere for Leatherheads, his new movie about a dire American football team. Asked what was the best thing about working with his co-star Renée Zellweger – a pat question if there were any – Clooney rose to the challenge, chuckling: "Worst thing is she's got a bad drinking problem, I think we've all seen it: she falls down a lot." Thwack!

Waters flips Hillary the bird

In the week that Sir Elton John raised just over £1m for Hillary Clinton's push for the Democratic presidential nomination, his fellow ageing British rocker, Roger Waters, flicks her an enormous "V" sign.

"I am a huge fan of Barack Obama and I was so disappointed the other night when the ghastly Hillary got Texas and kept the whole thing going," says Waters. "Please God, let's not have this woman! Hillary will want to make her mark and show that she can be just as good as a male president, and she will fucking invade Iran. Trust me. She voted to declare the Iranian Republican Guard a terrorist organisation!"

Waters, the former Pink Floyd member who hails from Surrey and is now based in New York, is ineligible to vote. He adds: "I would buy a whole page in The New York Times and fly Obama's flag. But I would be terribly afraid they'd go, 'This is that pinko shitbag who's attacking our President in time of war'."