Andy McSmith's Diary: Only $20bn? I’m worth a princely sum more than that


The rich can have different sensibilities from the rest of us. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a relative of the King of Saudi Arabia and reputedly the world’s richest Arab, has been deeply offended by Forbes Magazine placing him 26th on its rich list, with an estimated wealth of $20 billion.

He claims to be worth more than $29bn, enough to put him in the top 10. The magazine refused to back down, and now the prince is taking them to court. Is it libellous to say that someone is worth only $20bn? We await the court’s verdict.

IRA hero’s widow tarnishes family name

The name Martin Meehan resonates in republican circles in Northern Ireland. He was among the Provisional IRA’s first recruits in 1970, and spent 18 of the next 24 years in jail. Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were pallbearers at his funeral in 2007.

But the name of his widow, Briege Meehan, will not command the same respect in Sinn Fein’s heartland, now that she has pleaded guilty to assault and cruelty towards her step-daughter.

Her step-daughter has released a statement saying that this should silence those who accused her of being a fantasist. This abuse was happening in the Meehan home when Meehan himself was being feted as a political prisoner.

Boris plays the ass on horseback

There is almost nothing Boris Johnson will not do to get his photograph in the newspapers – including, for example, clambering on to the back of a horse to promote the Longines showjumping event. LBC’s Nick Ferrari asked the show’s organiser, Peter Phillips, for an assessment. “He looked very good... for someone wearing cycle clips and a bicycle helmet sitting on a horse,” was the royal verdict.

Fighting in Tory ranks over Ukip defections

A lot of Conservatives have drifted across into Ukip lately. Sometimes those they leave behind wish them well, and sometimes not.

In Great Yarmouth, a Tory councillor, Charles Reynolds, has filed a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office alleging that Matthew Smith, who used to work for the Great Yarmouth Conservative Association but is now a Ukip councillor, downloaded all the data held by the Tory association before he left, and offered to copy it to the Great Yarmouth Labour Party.

Mr Smith denies it. “What they’re accusing is impossible,” he told the Eastern Daily Press. The ICO is investigating.

Cut to the Bone in Commons encounter

In case you thought the House of Commons is a playground for overgrown boys, this exchange is from this afternoon’s debate on the Charity Commission:

Peter Bone (Con): I congratulate my Hon. Friend and the Committee on producing such an excellent report.

Paul Flynn (Lab): You haven’t read it.

Mr Bone: There it is, Paul. I’ve read it – okay?

Barry Sheerman (Lab): We’ll test you on it.

Mr Bone: Madam Deputy Speaker, the suggestions being made from a sedentary position that I have not read the report are outrageous.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): Mr Bone, I quite agree. Mr Sheerman, Mr Flynn, you have made your contributions, and shouting across the Chamber is not helpful.

Mr Sheerman: He spends his life shouting across the Chamber.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Well, the next time he shouts across the Chamber when I am in the Chair, I can assure you I will pick him up, as I do everyone. Mr Bone, you may continue.

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