Spin doctors step on the gas to save Two Jags' blushes

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The Independent Online

* Most politicians like to keep their families out of the press. John Prescott displays a similar emotional attachment to his two ministerial Jaguars.

* Most politicians like to keep their families out of the press. John Prescott displays a similar emotional attachment to his two ministerial Jaguars.

On Saturday, Prezza's spin doctors went on the offensive against a local newspaper, which had the cheek to purchase photographs of a traffic warden trying - unsuccessfully - to ticket his illegally parked car.

The Newcastle Sunday Sun had acquired shots of the Deputy PM's security team "chatting" to a warden who had taken a keen interest in the Jag. It was parked on double yellow lines outside a Labour Party event in Middlesborough.

With the delicacy for which his breed is renowned, spin doctor Colin Edgar - head of the Labour Party's press office in Scotland - promptly attempted to make the Sunday Sun drop its story.

"He called at least twice, but I told him it was a good story, and we were going to run it." explains news editor, Mike Kelly.

At first, Edgar expressed "security concerns" about the picture; then he decided that intimidation was a better tactic. "At one point, he said that if we ran the pictures, they might not talk to us again," adds Kelly.

Asked about the matter yesterday, Edgar explained: "We'd gone to a lot of trouble to arrange an interview with the Deputy Prime Minister for them and it didn't seem like a good day for them to be knocking him."

* IN A move that may endanger his credibility as a serious musician, Noel Gallagher has made a novelty record with David Brent, the deluded protagonist of The Office .

Gallagher recently went into a studio with Ricky Gervais - the comedian who plays Brent - to record an extended version of "Free love Freeway", a track from the show's first series.

On Monday, Gervais gave a hitherto secret video of their "session" its first public outing, during a lecture at the Cine Lumiere in Kensington.

"We've tried to be as serious as possible, and to make it as close as possible to how it would be if this were to be a released as a record," he said.

Sadly, although the video will be included in the new Office DVD, no CD is yet on the cards.

"Ricky has too many bad memories of the Goodies recording 'Funky Gibbon'," says a spokesman.

* THE MODEL Lisa B and her husband, the property developer Anton Bilton, instructed Hello! magazine not to include photos of the bridesmaid or pageboy in its coverage of their recent wedding.

As a result, shots of the happy couple walking up the aisle have been heavily pixellated.

"It might seem a little odd, especially since they are Anton's own children from his first marriage, but you must be very careful not to be seen to be cashing in on your kids," I'm told.

Maybe not; but since Lisa B, and Bilton are said to be worth £100m, one wonders why they took the magazine's shilling in the first place.

* MICHAEL HOWARD is about to unveil a shiny new Tory logo: a man bearing a torch, with his sleeves rolled up to suggest that the party is ready for Government. This cunning exercise in branding cost a handsome sum. But was it money well spent?

"Absolutely not," chunters one parliamentary colleague. "This project is late and over budget. It was supposed to be ready after the European elections, but we hired - and then fired - two different agencies, at a cost of over £100,000.

"Eventually, one of Lord Saatchi's firms, Immediate Sales, was instructed to take over and sort it out."

Although the logo - currently a closely guarded secret - is predominately blue, I gather that it is worryingly reminiscent of a Communist symbol.

* Andrew Neil has returned from his summer holidays with a spring in his stride and a smile on his face. For he now has the pearly white grin of a man half his age.

Colleagues report that "Brillo" - as he's affectionately known - took advantage of a recent trip to America to have his hitherto wonky teeth straightened, capped and bleached.

"It's absolutely true," says a BBC spokesman. "Andrew has had some marvellous dental work done in the States. Sharp-eyed viewers will already have noticed it on television last week."

The old boulevardier is strangely shy about the matter, though inquiries about his dentistry are brushed off with a firm "sssh!"

pandora@independent.co.uk

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