Diary: Conrad Black is back and Hansard has its own, secret Cabinet reshuffle

Our diarist on the "Miss Haversham shift", the auspicious return of Conrad Black and all the breaking news from Madagascar
  • @andymcsmith

Beeb banishes MacKean to the ‘Miss Havisham shift’

One person to emerge with credit from the grim story of Jimmy Savile and the BBC is the journalist Liz MacKean, who believed the stories told by Savile’s victims and compiled the Newsnight report that should have been broadcast. To judge by her Twitter feed, her subsequent career has not been as fulfilling. A week ago, she tweeted: “All alone in the old studio, all made up, just in case new studio crashes. Known as the Miss Haversham shift.” A later tweet included a picture of her sitting all alone, doing the “Miss Haversham shift” – which refers, I assume, to Miss Havisham, the wealthy spinster in Great Expectations who lives alone in a ruined mansion. Perhaps that was a punishment for doing her job well while higher-ups screwed up.

Black is back from the ‘fascistic conveyor belt’

Conrad Black is back in town. The Daily Telegraph’s former proprietor has done his time in a US jail. He cannot go back to the country whose legal system he describes as “a fraudulent, fascistic conveyor belt for the corrupt prison system”, but here is he entitled to resume his seat in the House of Lords, which he intends to do. He has done a couple of television interviews in which he demonstrated that prison has not tamed him. On Newsnight, he called Jeremy Paxman a “priggish, gullible, British fool”, and said he was tempted to smash in his face. On Sky, he called Adam Boulton a “jackass” and accused him of “being abrasive”. There is still his forthcoming appearance on Have I Got News For You to look forward to. When asked by Boulton whether he feared being made a figure of fun on that programme, Lord Black replied; “We will see who makes whom a figure of fun. I normally don’t do too badly exchanging acerbities.”

Paranormal activity hits Madagascar

You wait months for a snippet of news containing the word Madagascar, and suddenly two come along. Parents from the Nottingham area had a treat in store for their children yesterday – a visit to Cineworld to watch that delightful cartoon, Madagascar 3. But oh dear, somebody gaffed. On to the screen came the adult horror Paranormal Activity 4, causing a rush for the exits. That was the bad Madagascar news. The good Madagascar news comes from the Foreign Office, where William Hague announced yesterday that the UK embassy in Antananarivo, which was closed in 2005, is to reopen and a new ambassador, Timothy Smart, will be in place by the end of the month.

Hansard has its own Cabinet reshuffle

A full list of Government ministers in Monday’s edition of Hansard for the House of Lords, published yesterday, contains some startling surprises. The Home Secretary, according to this authoritative publication, is Maria Miller, who is also listed as Culture Secretary. The Chief Whip, I read, is Patrick McLoughlin, who is also Transport Secretary. This list of Cabinet ministers does not include Theresa May, who was tipped in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph as the next leader of the Conservative Party. Nor is Sir George Young listed anywhere, but Michael Fabricant, who played such a prominent role in forcing the resignation of Andrew Mitchell last week, is down as a whip. Somebody at Hansard must have had a bad day.