Cry freedom for the Solzhenitsyn of Wapping!

Our diarist on a PR man to die for; unfortunate lead times for a magazine keen on Nick Clegg's honesty; and the marvellous wit of John Sessions; and Blade Runner revisited

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In the most tear-jerking howl of anguish yet published in a British title, former News International stalwart Neil Wallis relates his agonies under phone hacking suspicion in the Mail on Sunday.

On Friday, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that Neil will not be prosecuted. While the street parties that erupted at the news continue to rage, Neil is in a less jubilant mood.

The man whose PR advice did such wonders for the Met regards his ordeal (shorn of his six figure income, he had to sell his Renault Espace) as that of the political prisoner. “It shocked me,” writes John Yates’ great mate of his time in the interview room. “This was like being questioned by the Stasi.”

Indeed, indeed. The methods deployed in east Berlin, as this rigorous student of Warsaw Pact history appreciates, included closeting 20 victims in a tiny cell, making them stand all day and interrogating them through the night, regular beatings and water torture, and of course forcing signed, false confessions.

It is testament to the Solzhenitsyn of Wapping’s astounding resilience that he resisted the latter. While he is now in line for seven figure compensation for these human rights abuses, and perhaps for others of which it is still too painful to speak, we hope the prospect of being able to buy back the Espace in no way sates his literary ambition. The world of letters awaits his cathartic debut novel, 21 Months In The Life of Neil Wallisovitch, with fierce impatience.

Time to reprise Wilson’s sterling story

When will the deliberately obtuse stop taking George Osborne, pictured, out of context? In repeatedly maintaining that the triple A credit rating was essential to his economic strategy, the Chancellor unmistakably meant that the opinions of the useless agencies which scandalously screwed up over the US sub-prime market could not matter less.

If as a result sterling continues to plummet, hiking the cost of imported fuels and food,  the boy genius must reassure us that the pound in our pockets has in no way been devalued. That one worked wonders for Harold Wilson in 1967, and richly deserves a reprise now.

The irony of Nick Clegg’s humour

The vagaries of the lead time strike again, with a  Sunday Times magazine Nick Clegg (above) Q&A going to the printers long before anyone could ask what he knew about Lord Rennard’s alleged manual motor control problems in the vicinity of ladies.

Among the questions Nick did field, from a wide ranging bunch of celebs, pride of place goes to this pithy effort, edited for space, from Irvine Welsh. “Now that you have reneged on any worthwhile policies you had ...,” wondered the novelist, “what exactly is the point of the Liberal Democrats?” “What a wonderfully objective question,” begins Nick’s reply. So, of course, it is.

But if Nick was aiming at sarcasm, he should have used an exclamation mark. Irony, as an old editor of mine never tired of insisting, never works in newspapers.

The actor’s gift of incisive analysis

A transcendent delight to catch up with John Sessions, on the eve of his return to the stage after a 20 year absence. “I do tend to sound like a bit of a creep,” ran the Independent on Sunday interview’s headline, and with that self-deprecatory “a bit of” he is typically too modest.

The Ukip fan’s take on Greece’s eurozone calamity reminds us that his gifts extend beyond acting. “The United States of Europe is madness,” he told Susie Mesure, “...they [the Germans] get up at six in the morning, and they work until eight in the evening, and these people in Greece fall out of bed at 11, go and play backgammon, drink a bit of coffee, go and have a siesta and then do an hour’s work. And they expect to get the same benefits, welfare rights, and all the rest of it.”

A brilliantly incisive analysis. According to the latest official statistics, German employees work an average 1,413 hours per annum, while those bone idle Greeks put in a risible 2,032.

Pistorius biopic may have more Oscars luck

At the time of writing, there is no knowing whether the Academy Awards marked this anniversary, but it was 30 years ago that Blade Runner and Oscar were first conjoined in Hollywood. Ridley Scott’s movie was up for two, in fact, for Visual Effects and Art Direction, losing to ET and Gandhi respectively. Perhaps the Pistorius biopic will have better luck.

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