The Downing Street aide who used to party with Cameron

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The Independent Online

I reported recently that the Labour Party has compiled a "dossier" of revelations about Cameron's private conduct, which they think may come in handy.

Now I learn that Tony Blair's recently-appointed director of strategic communications, Benjamin Wegg-Prosser, above, has more idea than most about what went on in those heady days of Cameron's youth.

The shadow Education Secretary has repeatedly refused to disclose any misdemeanours he may have committed prior to becoming an MP in 2001.

But sources close to the Downing Street spinners tell me he and Wegg-Prosser were often to be seen in one another's company - and that the Labour spokesman may be rather less coy about what Cameron was up to.

"As up-and-coming political types, they mixed in the same social circles during the late Nineties," explains one.

"They got to know each other well , and it's more than likely that Ben knows things about David's past that could prove useful. Cameron really could be starting from quite a disadvantage."

When it comes to the dark arts of political intrigue, Wegg-Prosser has a formidable mentor in the shape of Peter Mandelson, for whom he used to work as a special adviser.

"Ben is a smooth operator, and learned a lot of tricks," adds my source.

* The badly behaved Irish actor Colin Farrell made headlines recently when a new biography claimed he has roughed-up his accent to conceal his middle-class roots, and he used to be a softie at school.

So it is reassuring to hear that the book's author, the English journalist Jane Kelly, encountered a hard-talking, sleazy subject when she was researching Living Dangerously.

Kelly tells Pandora that she originally hoped to interview Farrell (who is best known for his performance in the title role of Alexander) for her book, but found him somewhat resistant.

"I obtained his number from the website of a Los Angeles prostitute," she says. "She's called Dessarae Bradford and is suing him at the moment for sexual harassment.

"She published his number as revenge for his behaviour towards her. So I called him up and left a message on his answering machine. He was absolutely furious and called up Bradford and started swearing at her all over again."

Now that's more like it.

* We journalists are often accused of following trends, and so it is with reactions to the English football team's captain, David Beckham.

As the tide of public opinion turns against Beckham, below right, we can read this in a new book published by the record-breaking goal scorer, Jimmy Greaves: "I do ask myself about the wisdom of appointing David Beckham as England captain.

"I can't help thinking Beckham was given the England captaincy more for his status as a celebrity... than for any qualities he might possess as a captain and leader of men."

It was not always thus. Back in 2002, interviewed in The Sun, Greavsie, above right, had a rather different view. "Beckham has put the pride back in England," he said. "When he was made captain, eyebrows were raised. Not mine. I could not think of a better role model for players, young and old."

* While George Galloway clamours loudly for the chance to fly back to America to answer the US Senate Committee's allegations that he lied to them last time round, comes news of another tough inquisition for the rebel MP.

He's just been booked to appear on Frank Skinner's prime-time ITV chat-show on Thursday, and the comedian plans to pull no punches when asking about Galloway's involvement with Saddam Hussein's regime.

"It's not exactly the highbrow politics show that we might expect such arguments to occur on," says one regular viewer. "But then, after the soft soaping Andrew Marr gave his guests on Sunday, maybe Skinner will be a more worthy inquisitor after all."

Last week, Skinner's guests were the boy-bands McFly and The Backstreet Boys, but he did once interview Charles "Chatshow" Kennedy.

* Pandora almost feels sorry for Ken Livingstone. It's not just the noisy media and the well-heeled residents of Kensington and Chelsea who are leading the charge against "Red Ken's" plans for a congestion charge extension, for they've just been joined by a truly formidable force.

The rapper Akala, the younger brother of the Camden Town-born star Miss Dynamite, yesterday released his first single, entitled "Bullshit", about the state of the nation. It contains the following memorable lines:

"It's all bullshit/ Extending the congestion charge/ Now that's bullshit/ Never fuckin' nowhere to park/ Now that's bullshit".

Just as Bob Dylan once expressed the concerns of a generation, so Akala has surely encapsulated the thoughts of many Londoners.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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