Pandora: What's the buzz around IDS?

Hear that? Yep, silence. It's the sound of Iain Duncan Smith's bees. The former Conservative leader and self-styled "Quiet Man" of British politics has taken to bee-keeping for relaxation.

Apiculture, as clever types know it, was originally the passion of his wife Betsy. She took up the hobby because of their son's asthma, because of the theory that eating local honey can help minimise allergy to local pollen.

"The Duncan Smiths have their own hives," I am told. "Iain helps out whenever he can and is quite into it, he's not scared. He makes his own honey. It helps him escape from politics and Westminster."

Fawkes escapes Tower – but is electronically tagged

In Britain, hanging, drawing and quartering went the way of the Lada Riva some years ago. Which is just as well for the political blogger "Guido Fawkes", whose determination to be a jabbing cocktail stick in the eardrums of Westminster's elite, by covering their numerous indiscretions, would otherwise see him carted off for some enthusiastic thumb-screwing and a scenic view from a spike on top of London Bridge.

As reported here two weeks ago, police arrested the thirsty Guido – real name Paul Staines, 41 – after catching him with bloodshot eyes and beery breath, drink-driving without insurance in his wife's VW Golf. Yesterday, he narrowly escaped being jailed when he appeared at Tower Bridge Magistrates Court. District Judge Timothy Stone told him he was "fortunate not to be going to prison" and added: "You cannot help yourself, can you? You drink four bottles of wine a week, for a start. Do you realise what a danger you are to the public?"

Staines replied: "I do realise."

He was banned from driving for three years and handed a three-month curfew, which means he must stay indoors between 9pm and 6pm. He will be given a "Peckham Rolex" electronic tag to assist compliance.

His reprieve came from a last-minute administrative fluke: Guido was moved to Court 2 from Court 1, presided over by the notoriously harsh District Judge Shamoon "Judge Dredd" Somjee.

"No late nights for a while," said Staines afterwards. "Imagine me and [alleged illegal quad bike rider] Big Nick Soames sharing a cell; I'd be thirsty and him starving. People would send files inside Madeira cake. We'd scoff the cake and throw away the file."

No Sting in the tale for rainforest gathering

Hang on, man, let me just light the joss sticks... aah, that's better. So: Sting. The middle-aged rocker's presence is demanded by 1,000 Amazonian Indians at a village summit next week to protect Brazil's Xingu River from proposed hydroelectric dams.

A bit random? Not so. Sting was there 19 years ago with Anita Roddick for a similar sitdown to prevent development in the rainforest which is home to the Kayapó tribe. Sting helped make an Oscar-nominated film, and the publicity led the World Bank to withdraw a loan and scupper the project.

The Kayapó say the new dams would destroy their livelihood and have asked Sting and Anita's widower, Gordon, to help. Both have declined – Sting is touring with The Police in the US, his publicist explains. He may run a live video link. Had he gone, mind, he would have been labelled a "green hypocrite" for flying there.

Penn enjoys a cheeky gasper

The actor Sean Penn, who heads the jury at the Cannes Film Festival, busily clings to his lead as Hollywood's cardinal controversialist. Readers may recall his diatribe against George Bush last year, when he told the US president: "We cower as you point your fingers, telling us to support our troops. You and the smarmy pundits in your pocket – those who bathe in the moisture of your soiled and blood-soaked underwear – can take that noise and shove it." Yes.

Now he has again mouthed off about his favourite topic [Bush] – "It's kind of the inane stupidity and absolute evil of it" – and surprised sunburnt hacks by lighting a cigarette during the jury's first press conference, in flagrant disregard for French smoking laws.

Penn has form. In 2006, a Toronto hotel was fined £300 after he lit up during a press conference at the city's film gala.

Problem child

Ahead of next Thursday's Crewe and Nantwich by-election, Tamsin Dunwoody flashes the immigrant card in the battle to replace her late mother, Gwyneth, as constituency MP.

Tamsin says she will "fight to get well-paid, skilled jobs for local people" and "campaign for a sensible approach to immigration that takes account of genuine concerns". One of her leaflets asks voters "what do you think is the biggest problem facing the area?" and offers "immigration" as a tick box.

Her biggest claim – indeed, the reason she was parachuted in from Welsh politics – is that she is a Dunwoody. But what would her dear old ma say?

In November, Gwyneth told MPs of the danger of "deliberately foment[ing] trouble by attacking [foreign] workers ... as though they were not only a wave of invaders who are damaging the economy, but totally unacceptable."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
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

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent