Sir David performs a U-turn and backs St Bob's 'ego trip'

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The Independent Online

* By anyone's standards, it's an indecently quick about-turn. Barely 24 hours after he very publicly accused Bob Geldof of being "on an ego trip", the former Liberal leader David Steel has called time on his colourful row with the man behind Live8.

* By anyone's standards, it's an indecently quick about-turn. Barely 24 hours after he very publicly accused Bob Geldof of being "on an ego trip", the former Liberal leader David Steel has called time on his colourful row with the man behind Live8.

On Monday, Steel wrote to The Times criticising Geldof's "dishevelled" appearance, "swear words" and "populist antics." He said his planned protest march in Edinburgh next month was an "extended ego trip" and "in danger of becoming a media circus."

The missive was seen as evidence of a long-running feud, since in 2002, Geldof's Ten Alps events company failed in a bid to run a lucrative opening party for the Scottish Parliament, of which Steel, pictured, was Presiding Officer.

However, yesterday there was détente. Having originally criticised the "gigantic mess" it would cause, Steel quietly came out in support of Make Poverty History protest.

Furthermore - putting his money where his mouth is - Steel has agreed to open his elegant Scottish residence, Aikwood Tower, to protesters travelling up to Edinburgh.

Explaining the move, he said: "We're putting up thirty cyclists on our floor. They're bringing sleeping bags. I'm all in favour of the project, in favour of Make Poverty History, although I still have concerns about one million people descending on Edinburgh."

* There is likely to be heated debate over the muesli-laden breakfast table of Bianca Jagger's family home. The veteran activist has agreed to become the "face" of Survival International, a pressure group that has spent recent years running a hostile campaign against the diamond trade.

Unfortunately, Jagger's own daughter, Jade - a product of her eight-year marriage to Sir Mick - happens to have a highly-paid job as creative director of the well-known jeweller and diamond retailer Garrard.

As a result, Survival's canny director, Stephen Corry - who originally brought Bianca on board - now intends to use the family connection as a lobbying tool.

"I wasn't originally aware that Bianca's daughter was involved in the jewellery business," he says.

"But I will certainly get in touch with her and explain the situation and her mother's involvement in our campaign, and see if she will be prepared to take a stand."

* The battle of the broadcasters gets more surreal by the day. Yesterday, Huw Edwards and "the dwarf" John Humphrys traded insults over newsreaders' salaries; today brings a bizarre contribution to the BBC's message board on the issue.

A correspondent called Anna writes, knowingly: "You need to be a swan ... Cool, calm and in control on the surface, with your brain working overtime. I can do it, but it's taken a lot of practice, two journalism courses and 10 years' experience in newsrooms."

TV's own Anna Ford denies, point blank, being the author of the above. "I agree with most of it though," she adds. "It's the days when there's a crisis and they say 'junk all the scripts, keep talking, and interview whoever we send you' that it becomes a little demanding!"

So, Pandora wants to know, who's the mystery newsreader?

* The Duchess of York has already re-invented herself as a 21st-century media celebrity; now her eldest daughter, Beatrice, is joining in the fun.

Last week, the 16-year-old royal (and her mother) were seen at the offices of magazine publisher Condé Nast, in Hanover Square. Apparently, she was taking part in a photo-shoot for the cover of Tatler magazine.

Sources at the glossy tell me a "fawning" interview will be published alongside photos from the fashion shoot in its September edition, as part of a package to mark her 17th birthday.

"It's a coup for Condé Nast," I'm told. "Mind you, it's come to something when the Queen's granddaughter celebrates her birthday with an interview - fawning or otherwise - in a gossip magazine."

* Great news: for the second time in a week, Pandora is able to ridicule Australia's star cricketer, Shane Warne. It's only been a few days since the image-conscious bowler's official portrait was altered by MCC. His beloved diamond ear-rings were removed from the painting, and his "lunchbox" (allegedly) made less prominent.

Now I learn that - oh, the joy! - he's become an "ambassador" for the Advanced Hair Studio, a treatment centre for middle-aged baldies.

In return for a large cheque, Warney (who's apparently received laser therapy on his thinning pate) will take part in a series of humiliating press conferences for the firm, during the forthcoming Ashes series.

Yesterday, he admitted: "I'm looking forward to hearing what chants the Barmy Army will come up with." And so am I!

pandora@independent.co.uk

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