Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary (13/02/11)

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His weapon of choice is usually a chocolate gateau. But Matthew Freud settled for a half-drunk cocktail with which to berate his latest victim, Geordie Greig, editor of the London Evening Standard (from the same stable as the
IoS).In scenes that echoed Heather Kerzner's birthday party last year, when the PR honcho smeared birthday cake on Hugh Grant's white shirt, onlookers at Harvey Weinstein's Bafta dinner on Friday were left fish-faced when Freud tipped a glass of pop over Greig's head. "It was after midnight when Matthew came and sat next to Geordie," whispers my spy. "He was clearly tired and angry, and as he got up to leave he grabbed a glass and tipped it over Geordie, before turning on his little heels." Colin Firth was standing feet away, and Barbara Broccoli rushed to help wipe Greig down. Freud was angry at what he perceived to be the Standard's belittling of his wife's achievements, after a story reporting the sale of her production company Shine to her father Rupert Murdoch referred to him as "Daddy". Freud and Greig declined to comment.

One character in the phone hacking story is in danger of being forgotten. I refer to the lawyer who conducted News International's internal investigation into the scandal back in 2007. Lawrence Abramson, then with Harbottle and Lewis, was the person charged with this unenviable task. His inquiries into the News of the World emails, to see if anyone other than those pesky rogue reporters knew about the criminal activity, came to nought. In his report he wrote: "I can confirm that we did not find anything in those emails which appeared to us to be reasonable evidence that Clive Goodman's illegal actions were known about and supported by both or either of Andy Coulson, the editor, and Neil Wallis, the deputy editor, and/or that Ian Edmondson, the news editor, and others were carrying out similar illegal procedures." Yet we now know that the police were given "significant" emails after Rupert Murdoch's recent visit to Wapping. Harbottle and Lewis referred our call to Mr Abramson, who left last year. Invited to discuss the parameters of his search, he tells me that client confidentality prevents him from commenting.

As controller of Radio 3, Roger Wright is privileged to meet many of the world's finest musicians. So why was he so excited to meet a fluffy hand puppet off the telly? Basil Brush dropped in to the studio to do some promotional pictures the other day. He has been signed up to co-present with Katie Derham Radio 3's Big Red Nose Show at the Royal Albert Hall on 14 March. Eager staffers apparently queued up to have their picture taken with Brush, among them, Roger Wright. Listening figures have increased under Wright, but many have switched off, infuriated by the classical music station's obsession with charts and audience participation via texts and Twitter. His latest fad for Basil Brush will fox the poor listeners even more. Boom, boom!

The late cricketer Trevor Bailey will be remembered as a talented all-rounder, commentator, and the man they called "barnacle", for his heroic stints at the crease. But, the Essex man's knowledge of the North wasn't what it could have been, as a story he would tell against himself attests. Staying in Harrogate with the England team, Bailey fancied some sea air on his day off. After breakfast, he and his wife set off over the sumptuous greenery of the Stray. After a while, and with no sound of the waves, Bailey asked a local the way to the sea. "Well, the bus station is over there," pointed the helpful Yorkshireman, "but I'm not sure if they're running to Scarborough on a Sunday." Despite what southerners imagine, Harrogate is 60 miles from the coast.

Rachel Johnson once called The Lady, which she edits, "a piddling little magazine that nobody reads". Now she has hired an astrologer who appears to hold it in equally high esteem. Victor Olliver, author of the splendidly waspish Madame Arcati blog, begins a horoscope column next month. "I hope to make the readership as familiar with the future as I understand it is with the past," he quips. "I think Rachel thinks stargazing is rubbish and made up. I hope to prove her wrong."

Graham Seed – Nigel Pargetter to Archers fans – made no secret of his disappointment at being ruthlessly killed off by programme editor Vanessa Whitburn over new year. But death could be his best break yet. He is currently starring in the acclaimed, sell-out production of Emlyn Williams's Accolade at the Finborough Theatre in west London. Seed plays the, er, seedy blackmailer Daker, in the brilliantly dark play about a novelist's scandalous past. And not a roof in sight.

m.bell@independent.co.uk

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