Shooting season opens on Labour's huntsman

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The Independent Online

Not for the first time, a New Labour official finds himself at the mercy of the more passionate wing of the animal rights lobby.

He is Martin Salter, the MP for Reading West and currently the party's vice-chairman (environment), who is under attack after agreeing to become a centenary patron for the British Association for Shooting and Conservation. The organisation campaigns on behalf of all sporting shooting in the UK, which includes shooting deer.

Animal rights groups are particularly disappointed since Salter was a vociferous campaigner in favour of the hunting ban. "Mr Salter clearly holds views that are at odds with most of the Labour Party and, for that mater, the majority of the population of this country," says a spokesman for the League Against Cruel Sports.

"He seems to think bloodsports are a good thing." One particularly colourful outfit, called Animals Count, is similarly fuming that Salter is planning to use this year's Labour Party conference to host a rural reception sponsored by the BASC and are said to be considering launching a protest at the event.

Says a spokesman: "The Labour Party claims to be the government responsible for most animal welfare advances, yet promotes killing for sport. "

Unfortunately, Mr Salter was unavailable to argue his corner on the matter because, his office tells me, he is currently on a holiday. Possibly a shooting holiday?

Graffiti artist strikes gold with Spacey

Kevin Spacey is doing his utmost to keep our capital's bustling cultural scene in full swing.

Last week, The Old Vic theatre, where Spacey resides as artistic director, enjoyed some much-needed praise for its new production of Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother.

Between curtain calls, the Hollywood star found time to view graffiti artist Goldie's exhibition, Love Over Gold, in Shoreditch, east London.

Clearly impressed, Spacey snapped up two of the former music star's pieces.

"I'm liking it,"¿ Spacey told me. "He is turning the idea of tradition, taste and respectability on its head, which is what all art should do – be provocative."

Goldie should take his new fan's patronage as quite the compliment. Spacey has a keen eye for art and has built an impressive personal collection. "I'm a big fan of art galleries," he added.

Horsley goes unobserved

The controversial artist Sebastian Horsley released his Wildean memoirs last week, entitled Dandy in the Underworld, in which he claims to have slept with more than a thousand prostitutes.

Perhaps not entirely unsurprisingly, a review of the (so far well-received) book failed to appear in yesterday's Observer. Horsley, who is best known for having undergone a voluntary crucifixion, was last year fired from writing a sex column in the Sunday paper after penning several lurid pieces on "suburban" sexual practices.

One senior journalist at the paper was said to be so distraught by the contents of one week's column she confronted her editor, Roger Alton, about it in tears.

Bowled over

It was nice to see the England and Indian cricket teams were able put behind them for a good cause some of the bad blood that has stained this summer.

After last week's thrilling game at the Oval, players attended a special dinner at Annabel's nightclub as part of one-day captain Paul Collingwood's testimonial year in aid of Marie Curie cancer care. The evening was entirely civil. And not even a jellybean in sight.

* Poor old Pete Doherty has revealed his former girlfriend Kate Moss was never a fan of his music. "It was always a bit of a choker," he tells this month's Q magazine.

So, must we deduce the supermodel was with Doherty for his looks?

Tufnell's ready to go ape

After once surviving 10 weeks in the I'm a Celebrity... jungle alongside such needy characters as Daniella Westbrook, Phil Tufnell knows a thing or two about endurance.

The former cricketer will, nonetheless, need all his stamina in a fortnight's time when he partakes in a 7km marathon through London dressed in a gorilla outfit. The lark is an attempt to raise money for The Gorilla Foundation, though I do hope Tuffers has been in training. Not only is he known to enjoy a drink but he also reputedly has a 30 gaspers-a-day habit.

"He doesn't actually know he's doing it yet, but I'm sure he'll be fine, " insists a spokesman for the event. "Though I have tried one of the gorilla suits and can say he's likely to get jolly hot."