Straw drops privacy case over sister's 'ritual dances'

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* Behind the forced smiles that marked his pursuit of a special relationship with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Jack Straw suffered an unwelcome personal setback.

The Foreign Secretary has been forced to perform a humiliating U-turn, after wrongly accusing this column of invading the privacy of his colourful sister, Suzy.

In December, the Press Complaints Commission received a formal complaint, after Pandora revealed that Suzy, a spiritual dancer, had held a controversial soirée at Brecon Cathedral entitled "Encircling the land with sacred dance."

The event, which involved new age "ritual dances," upset some locals, who complained to cathedral authorities that it demeaned God.

However, Straw said my report on it marked "an unwarranted intrusion" into his, and his sister's private life.

It was always a bizarre claim, since a public performance at a cathedral isn't a private event. In any case, Ms Straw had been happy to discuss the matter when Pandora called.

Yesterday, the case fell to pieces. The PCC informed us that after two months of legal wrangling, Straw has quietly decided to drop it.

It's quite a setback for a senior minister, and former barrister, who perhaps ought to have known better than to back a loosing horse.

Meanwhile, opponents may wish to know why government special advisers helped pursue the doomed case, given that the Foreign Office yesterday described it as "a private matter".

* Jose Mourinho usually exchanges "handbags" with Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger, but now he's got a proper sparring partner: George Galloway.

The Respect MP - who last week saw off the "fake sheikh," Mazher Mahmood - has launched an unprovoked attack on Chelsea's urbane manager.

In an interview with next month's football magazine Four Four Two, he describes the Portuguese hunk as a "grade A shit".

"I despise Mourinho," he says. "He is insulting and unbelievably arrogant. I think he's the antithesis of everything a sportsman should be."

"His contemptuous treatment of Bryan Robson, a national institution, was the last straw. Then I heard him say Chelsea were a better team against Barcelona, when nobody in their right mind could have concluded that. I thought: 'You're a grade A shit'."

At time of going to print, Mourinho was yet to return fire, but he has much in common with "gorgeous" George. Both enjoy fine wine and Armani suits. To the dismay of critics, they're also reputed to ooze sex appeal.

* Nigel Havers may have finally gone a step too far in his long-running attempt to garner the honorific Greatest Living Englishman.

The actor and boulevardier, 54, recently agreed to take part in the forthcoming series of BBC2's Grumpy Old Men.

Accordingly, he gave an interview to camera detailing a personal pet hate: paying for bottles of mineral water.

Strangely, while others might talk earnestly about the environmental cost of bottled water, Havers used the occasion to attack the French.

"I'm not being mean," he said. "I'm just buggered if I'm going to give [my money] to some French arse sitting in some, you know, some French arse who runs a bottling company. Bugger that. It's just a con, isn't it?"

Maybe so, but why pick on the French?

"The Welsh and Scots export lots of mineral water," says a BBC source. "But if we call them arses, the police get involved."

* Bonking Boris Johnson's latest indiscretion was gleefully devoured by yesterday's Daily Mail, in a magisterial article headlined: "Affair no 2 puts Boris's marriage back on the line."

First, it introduced readers to Anna Fazackerley, a "miniskirt-wearing blonde" with whom Johnson's "head over heels in lust."

Then, the paper gave readers a brief history lesson, noting that: "Mr Johnson, 41, was thrown out of the marital home two years ago after an earlier affair."

Strangely, though, the report studiously avoided naming the lucky lady caught up in that media circus.

She was Petronella Wyatt, who by a cruel twist of fate now works for... The Daily Mail.

* Forget the facelift: David Cameron's new-look Tories haven't completely given up on good, old-fashioned right-wingery.

On Sunday, it emerged that the Environment Agency was financing a project to persuade Muslim women from Swansea to take up fly-fishing.

Believing this to be a tale of the sort you couldn't make up, the Welsh MP David Davies has gone on the offensive.

"I've tabled questions with the EA, asking if similar schemes are being operated for Jewish, Sikh, Christian and atheist women, and if not why not," he tells me.

"Once they've answered that, I'm going to table another question, asking how they'll ensure equal representation for Shia and Sunni Muslim women."

Elsewhere, women on the fishing trips are required to wear goggles, for health and safety reasons. Don't get Davies started on that.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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