Pandora: Prescott Jnr becomes a freelance PR hound

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The Independent Online

John Prescott appears to be enjoying a new lease of life on the Labour backbenches, where he has been leading a fearless charge against bankers' bonuses. Also embarking on a career change is the former deputy prime minister's son, David, who recently left his position as head of media at Geronimo Communications, the public relations company which, over the years, has enjoyed a particularly close relationship with New Labour.

Prescott Jnr, 38, right, apparently left just over two weeks ago and is now a freelance consultant. His work for Geronimo attracted criticism from Opposition MPs because of the lucrative jobs it was awarded by the Government. In 2007, it was reported that the firm received almost £11m in contracts from the former Department of Education alone.

Prescott Jnr had hoped to follow in his old man's footsteps as Labour's candidate for the Hull East constituency after Prezza steps down at the next election. But his bid failed amid claims that Labour opponents tried to "smear" his campaign. "I'm freelance now," Prescott says. "I'm doing a few things and helping John out as well."

From holy orders to last orders

Ampleforth College, the Yorkshire public school which is occasionally described as the "Catholic Eton", can proudly claim to have nurtured the talents of its rugby-playing former pupils Lawrence Dallaglio and Guy and Simon Easterby.

With that in mind, the Benedictine monks who run the 207-year-old school have spotted a canny opportunity to cash in. For sale on the college website is its very own brand of sloe gin, which, it says, uses sloe berries "picked from the blackthorn bushes that grow around the rugby pitches".

It must be good stuff. Supplies of the syrupy hooch, which cost £5.99 for a 200ml bottle, are currently sold out.

Oxford beckons Larry Flynt

There is nervous excitement at Hartwell House, the country house hotel and spa in Buckinghamshire which once housed the exiled French king Louis XVIII.

Staff at the 17th-century pile are gearing up for a visit next week by Larry Flynt, the legendary smut-peddler and publisher of the American razz mag Hustler, whose life was immortalised on screen by Woody Harrelson.

"Flynt is giving a talk to the Oxford Union, which is quite near us, on 25 February," I'm told. "Because he is in a wheelchair, we have been in close contact with his people making arrangements for his stay.

"However, they've promised us that he will be on his best behaviour."

Speaking of Flynt's behaviour, the 66-year-old, left, has recently been up to his old tricks. Last month, he brazenly sought a £3bn US government bailout for the porn industry, which he said was flagging because of the economic downturn.

PM's hairy moment

Has Gordon Brown begun to model himself on the olive-skinned Iberian crooner Julio Iglesias?

When he was asked to appear before the House of Commons Liaison Committee last week to discuss the regulation of the banking industry, the Prime Minister appeared with his upper-middle shirt button undone.

I'm told there were no signs of a gold medallion, but my scribe on the spot insists that the PM's chest hairs were definitely visible. Macho man!

I never wanted to be Dr Who

David Morrissey, is putting on a brave face after missing out on the lucrative role of Doctor Who.

"I can understand the furore at Christmas, particularly because I was in a special episode called 'The Next Doctor'. It gave everyone something to talk about, but I wouldn't have wanted it," the actor told me at the launch of the erotica book In Bed With... at the Langham Hotel.

"I was never up for it – I wouldn't want to stay in Cardiff [where the series is filmed] that long. Besides, I'm working on three big movies at the moment. One of them is with Michael Caine."

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