Rumpole has his say on Labour's new terror laws

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The Independent Online

When New Labour swept to power in 1997 they could barely have imagined 10 years later to be crossing swords with the great Rumpole of the Bailey.

The character's creator Sir John Mortimer is currently putting the finishing touches to the thundering barrister's latest case, which will have him delivering a stinging rebuke to the Government.

Rumpole and the Reign of Terror apparently finds Rumpole defending a man accused of being a terrorist whilst landing several blows on the government's new terror laws in the process. It's the latest in a series of "pops" Mortimer has delivered to Labour over the past few years after once being one of its most strident supporters as well as a donor.

"The main message of the book is that we mustn't allow terrorists to take away our civil liberties," explains Mortimer. "It is my attack on Labour. I don't mind them selling off peerages but I don't want them selling off the Magna Carta and freedom of speech which is what seems to be going on at the moment.

"I am in negotiations with several independent TV companies over the book so hopefully it will make it to television soon."

If so he'll need to find a new leading man since the last actor to wear Rumpole's battered wig, Leo McKern, left, died in 2002. He could look no further than Timothy West, who alongside his wife Prunella Scales, will be performing for a series of Rumpole on Radio 4 in June.

* Rory Bremner likes to keep his brand of satire strictly on the jovial side but at the end of last week he stood accused of anti-semitism.

According to the latest Jewish Chronicle a number of complaints have been lodged with the Jewish Board of Deputies over a recent TV sketch in which Bremner lampooned the Labour party's chief tin-rattler Lord Levy.

The gag depicted Levy as Fagin singing along to You've Got To Pick a Pocket or Two.

"We expect satire from this show, not incitement to racial hatred," said one complainant.

Fair charge or not, the use of Fagin in political imagery is probably best kept off limits.

Similar complaints were made to the board of deputies last year when Labour's election team planned to use pictures of Michael Howard dressed up as the petit thief in campaign posters.

Unfortunately Bremner was unavailable for comment.

* Further to last week's story that Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson are writing their first comedy since The Fast Show, one of their former colleagues from the sketch series has also penned an effort of his own.

Simon Day, who Fast Show devotees may remember as gruff East End eco-warrior Dave Angel, has finished a script which he plans to put into development.

"It's bit of a nightmare as it goes," he said at last week's launch of GQ Style at the Prada store on Bond Street in London.

"Getting the script finished is the easy bit. After that it's meeting after meeting trying to get the damn thing on telly."

* Am I alone in wondering whatever happened to that former favourite of the celebrity lad-mag rags, Catalina Guirado?

Guirado was last seen storming off the set of I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! a few years ago after a stand-up row with Antony Worrall Thompson.

Since then, she's quit the modelling game and has upped sticks to Los Angeles where she claims to be earning a tidy living as a record producer.

"I basically ran out of money and was lucky enough to get this gig looking after bands in LA," she told me at a recent cocktail party. "I actually had a record contract before I started modelling so I knew quite a lot about the music industry."

Guirado was in town to promote a band called i-94 who she claims sound like a hybrid of U2 and Oasis.

"I'm glad I've finished with all that celebrity rubbish because this is much more my sort of thing," she added.

* As a lot of Londoners will tell you, Ken Livingstone is no friend of the small businessman.

The latest entrepreneur to have the bossy hand of the mayor feeling his collar is nightclub owner Brian Baker.

The GLA has blocked the opening of his new nightclub The Rembrandt (which promises "an erotic fun night out with the guys") on the baffling grounds that as a lapdancing club it could have an impact on female workers at nearby city hall.

Now Baker has hit back.

"I just wish Mr Livingstone would see it's not a lapdancing club at all," he tells me. "It's a cabaret club. Of course there will be some nudity but it's also going to be a restaurant and cocktail bar."

Come on Ken, lighten up!

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