Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary

Always pays for his own Kit Kats


There's no stopping Jonathan Marland. Earlier this year the former Tory treasurer was forced to drop his attempt to chair the England Cricket Board after four counties refused to meet him, prompting him to attack the "toxicity" marring the game. Now Lord Marland, as he has been properly known since 2006, has launched his own Test cricket website, signing up top names such as Jonathan Agnew and Christopher Martin-Jenkins to write for him. Friends of the affable peer have received an email asking them to look at, which has columns by Martin Johnson and Simon Hughes. A friend of David Cameron, Marland also played a big part in Boris Johnson's mayoral campaign.

Supporters of Saddam Hussein were engaged in plans to assassinate British parliamentarians in the 1990s, according to a member of the House of Lords. In a debate on Wednesday, former Labour MP Dale Campbell-Savours told peers that Iraqi agents planned car crashes for British MPs and peers who irritated them. "I know that during the Iraq conflict, particularly in the 1990s, when sanctions were very controversial, a number of British Members of Parliament were given warnings by the police," he said, adding that after one member was warned by the police she was involved in an accident at a conference in Paris. "It was Ann Clwyd," he reveals when I call. "I was never targeted but there was a feeling that you had to be careful."

Farewell to Lord Kennet, who died at dawn on Thursday. Wayland Young was a prolific writer and journalist, contributing to Stephen Spender's Encounter magazine and writing a definitive book on the Profumo affair before going into politics. Although he inherited the title Lord Kennet in 1960, he didn't take it up until four years later, on the request of Harold Wilson who said the Upper House was in need of some bright young blood. As a leftist, Young was having qualms about taking up his hereditary peerage, just as Tony Benn was at that time. He later left the house in the 1990s, but unlike many Labour hereditary peers was not given a life peerage because he had been a vocal critic of Tony Blair's foreign policy. "It's fair to say he was much-liked," says his son, the writer Thoby Young, "He was not at all old-fashioned, but was his own sort of gentleman."

Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie pens a weekly column for his old paper, but for how much longer? The man responsible for that Hillsborough headline ("The Truth") has caused more embarrassment by making false allegations about ex-boxer Frank Warren in last week's despatch. Warren, who himself writes a column for the paper, was astonished to read the remarks on Thursday, not least because Rebekah Wade, current editor of The Sun, is a close friend. Wade was alerted to the blunder only when she got a sharp phone call from Warren that morning, and issued a grovelling apology in a prominent slot in the next day's paper. It remains to be seen how Kelvin will make amends.

What fun The Daily Telegraph has had with its £150,000 purchase of the MPs' expenses dossier. Particularly jolly was the A-Z guide to parliamentary greed, from A for Aga down to Z for Zanussi, both types of oven on which MPs have claimed taxpayer cash. Some people have expressed concern about a newspaper getting out its chequebook, but there's no need to worry: they'll already have recouped some money from the half-page ad for Aga in yesterday's paper.

She may now be as powerful as the PM, but Joanna Lumley hasn't let it go to her head. Only hours after driving a chariot over Phil Woolas at an impromptu press conference on Thursday, Lumley headed down to the river to party with friends. She was among guests of Rick Stroud, who was celebrating the launch of his book, The Book of the Moon, on his houseboat at Cheyne Walk. Stroud, who directed much-loved TV series Monarch of the Glen, has spent the past few years researching all things lunar. Although Lumley was a star attraction, much of the party orbited around the baby pug in the arms of writer Raffaella Barker, his name - Notorious PUG.

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