Diary: Black’s back and he’s ready for Merton, Hislop and libel

Today's diary looks at Cameron, Mitchell, and an agony aunt who refused to report a paedophile because he was a family friend.


No word yet on where Conrad Black plans to stay when he pops over from Canada for this week’s Have I Got News For You, but if it isn’t a Travel Tavern in Norwich, something’s gone wildly awry with the script.

Connie’s post-penitentiary mutation into a Thesaurus-swallowing Alan Partridge gathers pace with a tranche of “bouncing back” interviews. As with Alan after his Toblerone-fuelled barefoot drive to Dundee, the noblest and least pompous of lords has come by humble acceptance of his flaws.

He sincerely hopes that his biographer, Tom Bower, is indemnified against libel ... “because if he isn’t, we’ll take the fillings out of his teeth and the roof off his house when we finally get around to dragging him into court. He’s a dead man.”

Ah, lovely stuff. You can take badass prisoner 18330-124 out of the Miami jail, but you cannot... “They can be as brutal as they want,” he says of Messrs Hislop and Merton, “and I’ll feel fully licensed to reciprocate.” It seems that Paul and Ian are about to learn the painful lesson that Connie, like his role model, always has the last laugh. Or possibly not.

Tony’s accuser has his Blair-less day in court

From one show trial victim to another. David Lawley-Wakelin, as you may recall from last week, is up before the Highgate beaks next month under the Public Order Act’s insanely repressive Section 5 for interrupting Mr Tony Blair’s Leveson testimony with the accusation of war crimes.

While David awaits Desmond Tutu’s reply to his invitation to join him in court, he has also contacted Rowan Atkinson, and our most ferocious campaigner for the repeal of Section 5 (the one under which a man was nicked for referring to a police horse as “gay”) expresses an interest in the case. Whether or not Mr Tony is subpoenaed, much merriment awaits in the shadow of Karl Marx’s grave on 16 November.

Agony aunt admits to ‘paedo protection’ too

Anne Atkins, who seldom hides away when a bandwagon passes, follows Esther Rantzen with a Savile-inspired mea culpa of her own.

The vicar’s wife, whose nightly glass or two of sherry wine inspired a heroic battle with alcoholism, confesses in The Mail On Sunday of failing to dob in someone she knew to be a predatory paedophile because he was a family friend.

If this sort of stuff keeps her in Tio Pepe, and off the streets, all well and good. Whether the MoS byline “The BBC’s Anne Atkins” is the correct styling for someone who now and again does the Lord’s work on Thought For The Day, or a Beebophobic tabloid’s cheap attempt to inflate an occasional freelance into a core member of the BBC Paedo Protection Squad, is another matter.

Gaunt’s chief whipper in pursuit of Mitchell

In the matter of Andrew Mitchell’s demise, it was Gaunty wot won it. So confirms Neil Wallis, the cerebral former News of the World deputy editor, later seconded to the Met Police press office. Wallis confirms last week’s revelation that Gaunty masterminded the West Midlands Police Federation in its pursuit of Thrasher. “Don’t underestimate PR role of @jongaunt in keeping PoliceFed campaign on message, on attack,” tweets the Canary. Underestimate the genius who included Rolf Harris in his Top Ten Greatest Brits, in any regard? As if.

Cameron’s need for more blind loyalty

Thrasher’s successor elicits mixed reactions from Tory colleagues. “I love George Young, he is the nicest man,” tweets Nadine Dorries, “but totally 100 per cent loyal to Cameron and the Government, a party-first-no-matter-what-at-all-costs man.” Nadine nails it yet again. Isn’t blind loyalty absolutely the last quality a vulnerable PM should seek in a Chief Whip?

Young has form with bikes and the police

Meanwhile, an unnamed Cabinet minister backs up Nadine by contrasting Sir George with his predecessor: “You cannot imagine him even being rude to ... a police officer.” This may well be true, though no record has ever been leaked of his own police interview, on the night in 1987, when he took a giant swerve towards his bicycling baronetcy by ploughing into a central reservation while heavily under the influence. But if this minister’s character-reading is accurate, something on the lines of “Occifers, I really am mosht frightfully shorry for the invonc ... for the oncinv ... for putting you chapsh out” looks a warm 11-8 favourite.

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