Pandora: Religious hacks fume over top press job

The Archbishop of Wesminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, has attempted to build bridges with the British media this Christmas after recently agreeing to appear as a guest editor of the Today programme.

Elsewhere, I fear, some of his colleagues at the Diocese of Wesminster look set to enjoy a more frosty relationship with parts of Her Majesty's press. Over the summer, a much sought-after vacancy arose in the diocesan press office, after the sudden departure of its communications officer, Eddie Tulasiewicz, a former BBC producer.

The post was widely advertised in the religious press, and was thought to have attracted interest from a number of well qualified members of the media. But although numerous applications were received, no one was hired and the position remained empty for several months. Now I hear that Tulasiewicz has been mysteriously reappointed to the post.

"It was all incredibly unprofessional," says one unsuccessful applicant. "We were invited in for interviews, which some of us had to take off work to attend whilst others had to pay babysitters, only then to receive a letter saying the job was no longer available."

Several candidates are thought to be looking in to whether the diocese's actions broke any labour laws. Tulasiewicz, meanwhile, declined to comment on his sudden return.

"I don't really want to go into the reasons," he says. "As a press officer, I prefer not to become the news myself."









Kim makes a beeline for Dover Street

There is a welcome – albeit surprising – addition to the fusty ranks of London's clubland. Kim Cattrall, who plays Sex in the City man-eater Samantha, has recently joined the books of the Arts Club in Dover Street.

Cattrall decided to take up a membership of the Mayfair haunt, which is currently under the presidency of Sir Peter Blake, after she was introduced to it last month.

She posed there semi-nude for a photographic recreation of Titian's Diana and Actaeon, part of a promotional drive to keep the £50m masterpiece on display at the National Gallery.

"Kim liked the feel of place and is also very passionate about art," explains one fellow member.

"More than anything, she thought it would be a nice place to bring friends when she's in town. People often forget, she was born in Liverpool and her parents are English, so she spends quite a lot of time over this side of the pond."

Says a spokesman for the club: "We're very much looking forward to her popping down in the New Year."

Emily gets an unwanted fan

The Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis is discovering the perils of responding to fan mail, after she recently gained an unwanted pen pal.

"[He] is an elderly man from Newcastle called George," says Maitlis, pictured. "He asked for a signed photo and I duly sent the standard publicity shot with a few kind words.

"He now writes frequently to tell me how concerned he is about the 'sad, hurt' expression on my card. I suspect that's the last time I shall attempt to look fiery and cerebral."

Maitlis was describing her worst moments of 2008 in Christmas edition of The Spectator. In case you're wondering, she reserves the top honour for the time she mistakenly implicated the Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, in the Jonathan Ross/Andrew Sachs affair.

BBC won't draw twice

Following the voting fiasco on Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday night, there was much tittering among guests at the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year Awards the following evening.

As the evening wore on, a rumour spread around the Liverpool Echo Arena that barely a cigarette paper separated votes for the front runners, Chris Hoy, Lewis Hamilton and Rebecca Adlington, pictured.

Says one audience member: "We thought the organisers might bottle it and let them share the trophy and carry the votes they got over to next year."

New Thai premier keen on the Toon

The former Thai premier (and fleetingly the owner of Manchester City football club) Thaksin Shinawatra was accused of being not much of a football fan. The same charge apparently can't be levelled at his successor, Abhisit Vejjajiva, who was voted in yesterday. A contemporary from his Eton days – where he was affectionately known as "Mark Vejj"– remembers him as a "mad keen" follower of Newcastle United.

Tom finds time for 'The X-Factor'

Labour MP Tom Harris spent his Saturday evening in front the box "live blogging" the X-Factor final. The former transport minister cheered on Alexandra, complaining that his vote wasn't going through because the phones lines were engaged. ("This is just like Florida 2000 all over again!")

"I wonder how I'll fill my time now," he pondered once the show finished. Wrote one reader drily: "You could always spend time in Parliament."

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