Will the lawyers pinch General Sir Mike's ammo?

Click to follow
The Independent Online

* There has been a strangely muted reaction at the Ministry of Defence to the news that General Sir Mike Jackson, having barely finished his retirement bottles of malt whisky, is (lucratively) penning his memoirs.

A "very frank and open" book (as promised) would be an extraordinary work, covering Jackson's relationships with Tony Blair and defence ministers, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, his outspoken support for Israel in Lebanon, his disobedience in Kosovo when he refused to start "the Third World War" by deploying force against Russian soldiers, and his experience of Bloody Sunday (he was there and is said to be privately critical of Lord Saville's long-running inquiry).

The former Chief of Staff has told journalists it will be "warts and all, within the limits".

"It will probably be self-serving - it is a memoir after all," says my source in khaki. "And it is expected to be very critical about the Iraq war."

But the "limits" are pretty severe, according to the MoD. "If you're not serving any more, memoirs don't need official clearance," says an army spokesman. "But you're still bound by the Official Secrets Act. We will follow this [Jackson's tome] closely, as always."

The Official Secrets Act outlaws any "damaging" disclosure about the nation's defence - an offence broadly defined as "endangering the interests of the United Kingdom abroad".

With barely-cold bodies being flown back from Afghanistan and Iraq, Jackson is under intense pressure to type cautiously.

* Rumours of Michael Jackson's new-found life as a transvestite appear to have been somewhat exaggerated.

Yesterday, our red-top newspapers plastered their front pages with "exclusive" pictures of the reclusive entertainer (not the army general - see item above), purporting to show him waltzing about St Tropez in women's heels and a large, girly, floppy hat.

But there doesn't appear to be much evidence to support the lofty claim other than a blurred, pale face, hidden behind dark glasses.

Unfortunately, the newspapers may be the victims of a hoax.

One New York paper published the same photographs a day before, but apologised for their "error" yesterday after Jacko's spokesman told them: "Mr Jackson has not visited St Tropez in recent years, nor has he donned a woman's hat and pumps for disguise."

Key word: "Mr"!

* Born to wealthy hell-raisers, Jack Osbourne's upbringing wasn't the most normal. Didn't stop him snogging Kate Moss earlier this year, though.

In his new autobiography, Osbourne, top, who is 21 next month, describes locking lips with the model, below, as "an epic moment". He's not quite so flattering in an interview with LBC radio, to be broadcast tomorrow. Asked about kissing Moss, Osbourne shoots: "Who hasn't? I mean, it's no secret that Kate's not the most timid girl ever.

"It wasn't like we held hands in a park; we were at a party and everyone was going crazy. We were dancing and it was a snog on the dance floor, I mean, no big deal." You charmer!

Hopefully, Jack employs a more gentle "lunge" than his father, Ozzy, who once bit the head off a bat.

* John Prescott delighted colleagues and critics in August by saying that George W Bush's administration had been "crap" on the Middle East peace process. Prezza's comment, made in private, was leaked by the Labour MP Harry Cohen.

Cohen bumped into the outgoing Deputy Prime Minister in Parliament's Strangers' Cafeteria the other day.

"I enquired, 'You're not still angry about The Independent story?' " says Cohen. "To which he replied, 'Fuck off Harry'. Nevertheless, I'm sure he had a smile on his face."

Prescott's tea-room tantrums are Westminster legend: he threatens Tory MPs, or those who query his mobile phone use (banned near the scones). He once "hairdried" Jim Callaghan.

Give Cohen the VC!

* Kate Hoey's chairmanship of the Countryside Alliance remains the source of frostiness in her relationship with the Labour Party. In August, she wrote outraged letters to three Labour activists accusing them of vandalising the Alliance's stand at last autumn's party conference. She demanded the trio (not accredited for this year's Manchester shindig) each reimburse the huntsmens' lobby with a cheque for £1,000.

But the perpetrators have refused to cough up - or even reply to Hoey's missive. "It's not worth chasing it," she tells me. "I'm not going to waste my time with people who do disgusting things like that when they're pissed.

"They don't have any decency. The idea of sending them the letter was so that they'd realise we knew who they were." So watch it! Or she'll send round the 'ounds.

pandora@independent.co.uk

Comments