Pandora: Windfall for Blairs as Sedgefield home sells

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The Independent Online

*When Tony and Cherie Blair put their Sedgefield home, "Myrobella", on the market this autumn, property experts predicted a rapid sale despite the steep asking price.

After all, the house – bought in 1983 for just £30,000, but offered in October for a hefty £300,000 – has played host to an array of guests including the former French prime minister Lionel Jospin and the then US president George W Bush.

It also formed a backdrop for some of Mr Blair's most famous photo opportunities, ranging from his "People's Princess" tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, to his walks to the ballot box in his County Durham constituency on election days.

And sure enough, less than two months after it was put up for sale, the four-bedroomed former pit manager's house has, we're told, been snapped up just in time for Christmas, with contracts exchanged and the deal completed last week.

It is not known what offer the Blairs eventually accepted, although there had been speculation as to the wisdom of the asking price after no one expressed any interest within the first month. Still, it is unlikely to have been much less than £300,000. The couple were famously forced to remortgage the house for £297,000 five years ago in order to help them buy their mansion in London's Connaught Square.

The Trulli way to a journalist's heart

*Expect a rosy 2010 for Formula One driver Jarno Trulli – as far as press coverage is concerned, anyway.

The Italian racer has, after 13 seasons in the sport, mastered the art of buttering up the pundits. We're told that scores of motor sport media members, who have never before heard a peep from Trulli, have this Christmas received cases of wine from his award-winning vineyard, Podere Castorani in Abruzzo. Bottoms up!

Cowell's got the political X Factor

*And so the political class's courtship of Simon Cowell continues. Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw was addressing the Labour Finance and Industry Group when he labelled Cowell "Britain's greatest export in the creative industries". But will a tsar-ship follow suit? The Government has some competition – last week David Cameron was extolling Cowell's virtues. Still, we had expected better from Mr Bradshaw. Pandora's Minister of Sound is more keen on Grace Jones than Joe McElderry.

Opik stays schtumm

*Tragedy! Pandora's favourite fame-hungry MP Lembit Opik is ducking out of the limelight. Having endured a year of expenses revelations and reports of luxury cruises while Parliament was sitting, the Liberal Democrat MP for Montgomeryshire's new year resolution is to keep a lower profile. "I feel I have to be careful about what I say," he sighs. For how long?

Davies who?

*Red faces over at Conservative HQ, after Media Wales's Matt Withers asked their opinion of Dr Who writer Russell T Davies's claim the Tories would dismantle the BBC. Their response? "Mr Davies is a backbench MP... his opinion isn't necessarily party policy." Of course, that would be David TC Davies – Tory MP for Monmouth, not the Time Lord's creator.