John Walsh: How Andrew could salvage his reputation


It's tough being a newspaper editor in Azerbaijan. Eynulla Fatullayev, 34, made the mistake in 2007 of publishing articles critical of the government. He was imprisoned for eight years for defamation, terrorism and incitement to racial hatred. (Can a newspaper article count as terrorism?) For good measure, they threw in tax evasion. Last April, the European Court of Human Rights quashed the charges and demanded his release. But in July, before the ruling was finalised, the government charged him with possessing heroin and nailed him for two and half more years. Could Prince Andrew have a word with his pal President Aliyev, before the hapless editor is further charged with arson, rape and piracy on the high seas?

* Louis Walsh of The X Factor has media savvy we never suspected. This week Nicky Byrne, one of the singers in Westlife, the other boy band that Walsh manages alongside Boyzone, disclosed his strategies. "I read a story about Boyzone being in a plane crash in Australia; it wasn't true, but it gets the name out there I suppose." And when Westlife were walking through a German airport, they read in the British press that one of them, Shane Filan, had fallen off stage at a concert and was now in a wheelchair. Is Walsh's approach something Craig Oliver could usefully adopt?

* Top complaints from whingeing British holidaymakers, according to, include: "I put on five pounds because of all the food at the hotel buffet"; "my marriage is on the rocks because the presence of bikini-clad lovelies prompted rows with my wife"; and, my favourite, a couple in Bulgaria felt "pressured into having sex" because of the racket made by the couple of blanket hornpipers in the next room. I mean, it's just not good enough.

* Hot news for drooping male spirits. Researchers have found that a single bite from Phoneutria nigriventer, the Brazilian wandering spider, produces toxins that can give an erection lasting four hours. According to the Journal of Sexual Medicine (I take it for the Sudoku puzzle), they discovered this happy outcome by experimenting on "hypertensive rats with severe erectile dysfunction". Well done, chaps. But how in heaven's name did they find hypertensive rats with severe erectile dysfunction? Did they advertise in the classifieds of Gentleman Rat Quarterly?