Tory MP's campaign leaflet upsets Olympic javelin hero

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The Independent Online

Like many a party before them, Michael Howard's Conservatives are about to be reminded that politics and celebrity do not always make an easy mix.

Like many a party before them, Michael Howard's Conservatives are about to be reminded that politics and celebrity do not always make an easy mix.

The athlete Tessa Sanderson who, in 1984, became the first black woman to win Olympic gold for Great Britain, was last night involved in an undignified row with Julian Brazier, the Tory defending Canterbury.

At issue was the use of a picture of Sanderson on Brazier's campaign leaflets, in an apparent bid to appeal to voters from ethnic minorities. Sanderson is a lifelong opponent of the Conservative Party, and yesterday told Pandora she was "very unhappy" at being portrayed as otherwise.

"Brazier had absolutely no right whatsoever to use my picture without my permission. It smacks of dirty tricks and will only make matters worse for him," she said. "I'm very unhappy about being used in this way: I've voted Labour in the past and will definitely not be voting Tory."

Brazier says he never intended to claim Sanderson's support. "The leaflet made clear the photo was taken at an all-party charity event," he said. "My opponent has been trying to stir up trouble by ringing people photographed with me. His own literature is very poor."

The Hollywood star Alicia Witt could, if she so desires, become the latest beneficiary of our so-called "compensation culture".

While in London making her new film The Upside of Anger, which co-stars Kevin Costner, Witt has suffered a freak drinking accident.

She claims to have received no fewer than 10 stitches after a cat fell out of a window above the beer garden of a Notting Hill pub, and landed, claws first, on her head.

"Two days after I arrived, I was sitting in the pub when a cat fell out of a window, bounced off an umbrella and landed on my face," she told an American interviewer.

"I needed 10 stitches. We started shooting 10 days later, and had to avoid close-ups.

"The film's director Mike Binder joked: 'At least you don't have to worry about that happening again'."

The cat's fate is not recorded. I'll provide a bottle of vintage champagne to any reader who can shed light on it.

Pat Cash has declared war on the good people of The Hurlingham, one of London's swankiest tennis clubs.

The former Wimbledon champ tells me he's boycotting the Marsh Classic, their annual veterans' tournament, after being treated "snottily" when he played there last summer, on account of his designer stubble and earrings.

Announcing plans to play at the rival Boodle and Dunthorne event at Stoke Poges, Cash explains: "Places like Wimbledon have a relaxed atmosphere for ordinary members, much better than The Hurlingham, which is snotty for the likes of me. I've decided I'll not be playing at The Hurlingham ever again."

The Tory backbencher Sir Patrick Cormack is saddened by the death of the Liberal Democrat candidate Jo Harrison, which saw polling day in his constituency cancelled in favour of a by-election.

Since this won't take place for some time, the magisterial Sir Patrick - one of the few "parliamentarians" to give the word its full seven syllables - forfeits his place in the queue of MPs waiting to become Father of the House.

Having served for 35 years, this is a great personal tragedy - a fact evident in his statement of condolence.

"I am obviously extremely distressed at the death of my Liberal Democrat opponent," it notes. "And very sorry indeed that I am not going to be in a position to return to Westminster on 11 May."

There is a delightfully petty row in the offing at BBC Radio Five Live. Veteran smoothie Terry Wogan stands accused of pilfering sound effects equipment from his colleague Christian O'Connell.

The producers of O'Connell's Fighting Talk - a game show on which contestants are awarded points through the judicious use of sound effects - had all their CDs and props nicked last week.

"We've lost some very important objects, including a klaxon and a hotel bell," reports producer Simon Crosse.

"It's baffling, because they're of no use to anyone else, so someone must be jealous of our success. I don't see how it could be anyone outside the BBC, and since Terry Wogan and Dickie Davis were filling in the previous week, Christian reckons it's their way of sabotaging his career."

The harmless Wogan strongly denies the charge. How naughty of O'Connell to make it in the first place!

pandora@independent.co.uk

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