Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary (01/08/10)

Got on his bike and looked for work

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It sometimes takes more than one reading to work out what John Prescott is saying, but, his creative syntax aside, we're still bemused by the evidence he gave to the Chilcot Inquiry. He says Tony Blair sent him to persuade Robin Cook not to resign before the invasion of Iraq. But according to Joan Smith, an old friend of Cook, use of the word "persuade" is a little misleading. "I was aghast at Prescott's evidence," she says, "Shortly after Robin's resignation I congratulated him on taking his stance, and he told me about this approach from Prescott. Robin said it took all of 30 seconds. They then had a nice chat about their days in Kinnock's shadow cabinet." At least Prezza can say he did his bit.

We seem to know a lot about Chelsea Clinton's wedding this weekend, what with it being shrouded in secrecy. But we know a lot less about the wedding of another high-profile political offspring, Charlotte Straw. I'm told the daughter of Shadow Justice Secretary Jack Straw tied the knot yesterday among family and friends, though it is not thought she requested a no-fly zone, or even bodyguards. Her brother Will Straw has become a prominent Labour blogger since setting up Left Foot Forward, but Charlotte, 27, is happy to keep a low profile.

Asil Nadir's projected return to Britain in September after a 17-year absence will be an unwelcome ghost for Conservatives ahead of conference. The fugitive businessman, who will stand trial on 66 counts of theft totalling £34m, was a major Tory donor before he fled to Cyprus. The then Northern Ireland minister Michael Mates was forced to resign over his association with Nadir, but he is unlikely to be too bothered by his return. The thrice-married former army officer is not easily embarrassed: at his last wedding, his son James, an ITN journalist, welcomed guests by saying, "Well, here we are again."

According to yesterday's Guardian, people who own iPads are "selfish and elitist". A US company has surveyed 20,000 people and found "they're wealthy, highly educated and sophisticated. They value power and achievement much more than others. They're also selfish, scoring low on measures of kindness and altruism." Among the first in Britain to get an iPad was Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian. Is the newsdesk trying to tell him something?

Those who remember the scandal surrounding Margaret Hodge's time on Islington council will have been interested to hear her condemn the "endemic problems" at Cafcass, the family courts service, last week. Launching an inquiry in the wake of Baby P, Ms Hodge said there were "serious concerns about the way in which Cafcass meets the needs of vulnerable children", and she wants to know why it "lacked the managerial competence to deliver an effective service". Her own competence came into question during her leadership of Islington in the 1980s when she was accused of failing to act on claims children in its care were being abused. Though she always denied the allegation, she resigned to become a consultant at Price Waterhouse when newspapers began investigating the claims.

No longer foreign secretary, David Miliband has waved goodbye to his security officers, who once guarded his home. They only left last Sunday having – bizarrely – remained for a three-month "grace" period after the election. Some of his Primrose Hill neighbours are sorry to see them go, saying their presence lowered crime in the street. But local pub-owner Tony Peters is thrilled, as he says they scared his customers away. "Having armed police outside definitely put punters off," he tells the Camden New Journal, "People want to have a drink and relax. They don't want to be constantly overlooked by police officers with guns. I've had to go through the smoking ban and the Mili-ban."

Congratulations to Ian Hughes of Brixton, London, who was the first reader to identify correctly the mystery signature in last week's diary as that of Vince Cable. "I recognised it from the cheques he sends me to keep quite about his gay lover," he explains, "Oh, hold on, that was the other one." The champagne is in the post.

m.bell@independent.co.uk

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