The French journalists spying on Kate Middleton ought to be wary of vengeful British comrades

The Editor of French magazine closer may regret his boastful tweets. Also: Vince Cable's "Ministry of Waste", and an intoxicant called Gogaine

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The Independent Online

Laurence Pieau, editor of the French magazine Closer, is pretty pleased with herself to judge by the messages she and her staff are putting out on the social media. Pieau is a new arrival on Twitter. After setting up her account, she left it empty eight months, then suddenly tweeted 14 times in two hours the day before yesterday to announce that her magazine was on to something big – exclusive pictures of Kate Middleton looking “si jolie” (so pretty) – publication of which would lead to “les représailles anglaises” (English reprisals).

Since then the magazine’s official Twitter feed has put out a few boastful messages about “un buzz mondial” it has set off, and drab photographs of journalists waiting to speak to the magazine’s editor.

My advice to Ms Pieau would be to refrain from making rash comments about English reprisals, because the paparazzi who stalk the royals are equally capable of pointing their lenses at celebrity journalists, and should they catch her at an awkward moment, I have a bad feeling that our tabloids would think it a suitable représaille to ignore the Code of Practice and publish.

Shock horror: it’s Cable’s pricey paper

Vince Cable can expect to feel the heat for as long as he is seen as the man who could lead the Lib Dems into coalition with Labour in 2015. Even so, yesterday’s line of attack in the Daily Mail was bizarre. Under the headline “Ministry of Waste”, the newspaper had written up a press release from the Taxpayers’ Alliance, a right-wing pressure group, accusing Cable’s Business Department of paying more than other ministries for the paper and the electricity that it uses. The implication was that Cable “could not be trusted to help businesses when he had failed to mind his own shop”.

The department put its hands up yesterday, admitted paying a high price for the paper, and said it would do something about it. But it denies spending £110 per megawatt hour for electricity, as alleged by the Taxpayers’ Alliance, claiming that the correct figure is £38, which would make them the least wasteful department on the list. Somebody, somewhere, has miscalculated. If the department is right, it is not “The Ministry of Waste” but the “The Ministry That is None too Smart about Procuring Paper but Very Good at Keeping its Electricity Bills Down”. Not very catchy, I grant you. And does it say anything, either way, about Cable’s effectiveness as a politician? I think not.

MP’s son will not be tried by a judge

Sean Alex Ellman, the shopkeeper son of Labour MP Louise Ellman, won a small victory in court yesterday. He has been selling an intoxicant called Gogaine, which is legal. Trading standards officers accuse him of not attaching warnings to customers about its potential effects. It is an unusual case, so the prosecutor argued that it should go before a judge. But a court ruled yesterday that magistrates can deal with it, which means that even if convicted there is no risk of Ellman going to prison.

‘I’m not Grumpy – just ready to step outside’

If in Telford, in Shropshire, you see an important man, don’t say “Hello, Grumpy” because if he is the leader of the local council, he might thump you. That was the hard lesson that a Labour councillor, Clive Elliott, learnt when he asked whether the town’s top worthy was earning his councillor’s Special Responsibility Allowance.

“Even the Seven Dwarfs went out to work. I can see some of them here: Sneezy, Sleepy, Dozy, Happy, Doc and Bashful,” he said. “What I don’t see is any leadership from Grumpy.”

Grumpy, aka Telford’s Tory leader Councillor Andrew Eade, did not like that at all. “Either you shut him up or I will,” he told the Mayor, Kevin Guy. He then rose to his feet and stood next to his tormentor to say: “Do you want to come and talk about it outside? Come on. We can sort this out outside.”

Councillor Elliott, according to the account in the Shropshire Star, kept his seat and replied: “No, you go outside and let me know how you get on.” Afterwards, he said he was “alarmed, harassed and distressed”, but Councillor Eade made light of the episode, saying: “I just wanted to talk to him to point out the error of his ways.”