It may read like the treatment for one of those surreally abysmal British “comedies” – in which canny tax planners invest £100,000 for £1m in tax relief when it fails – but this highly curious sub-plot to Max Clifford’s downfall is drawn from real life.
It is common knowledge that, by persuading a man who approached him to go to the police, Clifford was the catalyst for Jonathan King’s seven-year sentence for sexual offences involving underage boys in the 1970s. But not known until now is that King played a spookily reciprocal role in guiding Clifford to his own eight-year stretch as one of Her Majesty’s most cherished house guests.
At a lunch after he had emerged from jug in 2005, so King relates, friends of his mentioned that a friend of theirs had told them horrendous stories about Clifford abusing her when she was 15. This was the key witness whose letter to Clifford, in which she told him how he had driven her close to suicide, was discovered by police in the drawer of his bedside table.
King relates that, via those mutual friends, he “kept nagging her to make a complaint,” though as the unnamed woman confirmed in Saturday’s Daily Mail, she refused to do so while her mother was still alive. A central factor in persuading her to do so after she died in 2012, says King, “was the hypocrisy when Max gloated over destroying me and said he had a letter from Surrey Police thanking him hanging on his office wall.” It was the same Surrey force that found the letter from the friend of King’s friend by Clifford’s bed.
Before independent producers with offshore investors become overexcited, King has himself already made a film which covers this revenger tale of indecently perfect symmetry. Vile Pervert – The Sequel is available on Youtube.
Off to patronising male dinosaur boot camp, Kelvin
While the agonised perplexity with which he switches between denying, admitting, denying, begging forgiveness for, and denying using the N-word raises concerns that Jeremy Clarkson has developed Kelvin MacKenzie Disorder by Proxy, the original sufferer has happily resurfaced.
The fall-out from Kelvin’s daily struggle to remember if he should apologise for The Sun’s coverage of the Hillsborough disaster seemed to have ended his media career. Yet the BBC likes to moonlight as a life-support machine for comatose media careers of its most frothing enemies (see the incessant booking of Alastair Campbell), and to this end the old goat was booked for Radio 4’s Question Time last week.
In those few seconds allowed me before an involuntary muscle spasm sent the finger to the mute button, Kelvin was engaged in debate about Max Clifford with that splendid poverty campaigner Jack Monroe, who felt that eight years was no outrageous sentence. “Listen,” said Kelvin, imperiously, to this extremely bright young woman, “and learn.” And still those pesky feminists bang on about patronising male dinosaurs. Tony Benn called himself the teaching assistant in the nation’s classroom. If the amnesia isn’t too ravaging, perhaps Kelvin might apply for the vacancy.
So who to replace Paxman? Keith Harris and Orville?
The opening show of betting on Jeremy Paxman’s successor as Newsnight supremo finds Laura Kuenssberg installed as 15-8 favourite, with Eddie Mair on 7-2. He would be an odds-on chance, but the sharp irony he deploys on R4’s PM is rumoured to be the subject of a nervous internal BBC memo headed “HazWit”. Bracketed on 9s, are Emily Maitlis, Mishal Husain, the late Peggy Mount, and Stephanie Flanders, while Robert Peston is a 12-1 shot.
Jim Naughtie is 16-1 “with a run” (if the show is extended from 45 minutes to four hours to accommodate the languor of his questions), and Keith Harris and Orville are available at 25-1 when paired (or 50-1 individually). A bunch on 33s includes Huw Edwards, Fiona Bruce, Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Paul Mason, Kirsty Wark and the construction worker from the Village People. It’s 66-1 bar those.
Kay Burley, the Sky News stalwart who announced the destruction of the entire US eastern seaboard on September 11, looks short-priced at 250-1.
Mensch knows glamour when she sees it
The probability that Peaches Geldof died from a heroin overdose entices a typically sensitive response from Louise Mensch. Louise, who once admitted that her cerebral functions had been compromised by Class A use, describes parents of young children such as Peaches and Philip Seymour Hoffman who use the drug as “unutterably selfish”, “revolting”, and – raiding her thesaurus in the quest for variety – “disgusting”.
“It’s time we stopped making them into tragic heroes,” she concludes in another Sun on Sunday masterpiece. “Before other young parents get the wrong bloody message.” And she is of course right. If one thing is guaranteed to glamorise heroin, it’s the sudden death of a 25-year-old mother of two infants.
No wonder ‘The Sun’ has fallen for Javid
The new culture, media and sport secretary makes a confident start in at least one area of his hybrid portfolio. Sajid Javid may not be mad about sport, and his cultural interests seem to begin and end with Star Trek, but his instant declaration that newspapers will be left to regulate themselves shows a sure touch for handling the media. It’s sycophancy, Jim, and just as we knew it in the pre-Milly Dowler glory days of the Murdoch imperium.
In a leader The Sun seems besotted with him, and a small ante-post punt on the slightly Vulcan bus driver’s son to swing the pendulum sharply away from the Bullingdon end of the spectrum when David Cameron departs seems indicated.