Pandora: Opik's anti-terror crusade continues

He may be down but the man's not out: having lost out on the Liberal Democrat presidency, Lembit Opik has no intention of going quietly.

Quite the opposite, in fact, as the colourful politician tells me he intends to launch a one-man diplomatic mission in the direction of al-Qa'ida.

Opik, who was beaten into second place by Baroness Ros Scott despite an expensive and long-running campaign, insists he will devote all his energies to establishing dialogue with the terrorist organisation, and argues that his experience as the party's Northern Ireland spokesman will prove crucial to his mission.

"I'm serious about talking to al-Qa'ida," he says. "If they'll talk to me, I'll talk to them. It worked in Northern Ireland. I came into politics to make a difference, and one way or another, I'm going to."

The MP, who gave up a frontbench post in order to campaign for the presidency, has also launched his first outspoken attack on his party. "They have no courage in their campaigning approach," he claims.

"I stood for the presidency and they declined my offer. But the crusade continues."

No WAGs but riches for Lavin

Pandora would rather stay on the right side of model-turned-actress Jo-Emma Lavin – after all, her boyfriend is Wales's undefeated boxing sensation, Joe Calzaghe.

So now might be an opportune moment to make clear that we absolutely did not, under any circumstances, snigger when she asked not to be called a "WAG". No, not even a bit.

"I'm modelling and acting," she explains.

"Anyway, when Joe's preparing for a match it's a full-time job for both of us.

"He eats a special healthy diet. I cook all his meals for him. When he can't eat cakes and biscuits, I don't either. When he has to give up alcohol, I quit."

At any rate, she rightly points out, the $10m (£6.7m) prize money collected after Joe beat Roy Jones Jnr in Madison Square Gardens was a drop in the ocean compared to most sporting salaries.

"Boxers, even champions, don't earn anything like the insane amounts footballers do. I've got a couple of designer handbags," she insists. "That's it. I'm crazy about shoes, but mine are from Dune and Faith – ordinary high street shops. I certainly can't afford to swan out and snap up dozens of pairs of Jimmy Choos."

Poor girl. It almost makes you think Wales's golden boy should reconsider his much-mooted retirement.

George's Tesco habit

Despite all his gloom over the pound, George Osborne isn't shy of associating himself with one of the country's biggest businesses.

In a weekend interview the embattled shadow Chancellor was eager to stress that his family was feeling the pinch as much as anyone else.

"Like everyone we're looking at the family budget," he insisted. "I have a Tesco loyalty card in my wallet."

It's not the first handy mention that Osborne has given the groceries giant in recent weeks.

Not long ago in his Tatton constituency he took part in a cosy photo-op, presenting a Tesco-donated video camera to a local school.

As they say, every little helps.

Chace takes his pick

Further to my story last week that Chace Crawford, star of teen drama Gossip Girl, was spotted meeting production bosses at the Donmar Warehouse, some details of the fetching actor's theatrical ambitions emerge.

"My ideal would be to do an Arthur Miller or a Chekhov play," Crawford confirmed to me at a cocktail party. "Although it's very early days at the moment, I'm definitely keen to come to the West End rather than Broadway. That said, I've not done any theatre before so I'm not sure I'd be quite ready for the leap into musicals yet."

Oh go on Chace, be brave!

Leonard practises his tree pose

Unusual images from back stage at the Royal Albert Hall, where Leonard Cohen is performing the London leg of his international tour. I'm told the brooding musician, who converted to Buddhism a while ago, has taken to engaging staff in collective mediation sessions. "He does the tree pose," says Charley Webb, one of Cohen's banking singers. "He stands there in his Armani suit, balancing on one leg and singing Latin songs."

Christmas is cancelled (again)

The credit crunch has claimed another victim, in the festive form of Sudeley Castle's annual "Christmas at the Castle" party. The historic monument, which last year hosted Liz Hurley's wedding, has announced it will not be hanging up the Christmas mistletoe because of financial pressure. "People just aren't spending as much as usual," explained a spokesperson.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

E150/2014 - English Language Checker (Grade B3)

On Application: Council of Europe: The European Court of Human Rights’s judgme...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial