Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary

Listen in if you dare

Share

It was supposed to be a highlight of the literary summer calendar, but this year's Ledbury Poetry Festival has been ruined by the interference of bossy Home Office bods. Three internationally acclaimed poets, one from Indonesia and two from Morocco, were barred from entering the country on the grounds they might try to outstay their welcome. Dorothea Rosa Herliany, who has published eight volumes of poetry in Indonesia, had her visa application rejected by a Home Office official who said, "I am not satisfied on the balance of probabilities that you are a genuine visitor," despite providing her invitation to the festival. Moroccan poets Hassan Najmi and Widad Benmoussa were also denied entry. Chloe Garner, the festival director, is distraught. "This is hugely embarrassing for the festival," she says. "I feel ashamed that the UK is effectively becoming a fortress."

The Daily Telegraph's expenses scoop may already be receding into journalistic history, but not for long. I can reveal that one of the newspaper's chief reporters, Gordon Rayner, has landed a six-figure deal to write up the full inside story. The deal is understood to have been struck with Bantam Press, which is owned by Random House. Although Rayner was a key figure in the unearthing of the full juicy details of MPs' expenses, some hacks are wondering why Rayner has landed the deal, not, say, Holly Watt or Robert Winnett. In the light of the Guardian's allegations of illegal practice at the News of the World, it will be interesting to see what Rayner has to say about the buying of the expenses disk, which was, in theory, illegal.

Distinguished former spook Fred Holroyd is poised to sue the author of a new book on espionage which makes a raft of erroneous claims. Gordon Thomas's book, Inside British Intelligence, dedicates two pages to Holroyd, a former British Army officer who became an MI6 agent in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. According to Holroyd, all the facts are wrong, the suspicion being Thomas has confused him with another agent altogether. This is embarrassing for Thomas, who has written a number of other books on espionage. Holroyd became something of a hero after exposing his maltreatment at the hands of the secret service, who at one point incarcerated him in a mental hospital in an attempt to discredit him. He later resigned his commission in disgust and blew the whistle on the service's dirty tricks.

Fourteen years after Jonathan Aitken quit the Cabinet he has regained the title of Hon. The former minister has been given a new role in public life after a lengthy rehabilitation following his stint in prison for perjury. He has been named the Hon Secretary for Barkston Square Gardens in Earls Court, where he lives. Although perhaps less prestigious than Chief Secretary to the Treasury, it is an important job. I'm told that top of his agenda is securing a children's play area in one corner of the garden.

Twitter ye not: Alastair Campbell has been making flirty online comments – with men. Like many people who you might have thought had better things to do with their time, Tony Blair's former motor-mouth is a regular user of Twitter. He must also, like many vain people, have a search for his own name programmed on to his computer. For when a blogger unknown to Campbell updated his status and mentioned his name, Campbell promptly got in touch. Someone called Mike T-D updated his status to say "Giles Coren is my new Guilty Crush. (Well, one has to move on from Alastair Campbell at some stage.)" Despite not "following" Mike, Campbell soon wrote back, saying "Why move on I say?" Fancy that!

Luvvies in the West End are so sick of rats scuttling around their theatres that they are calling for managers to buy in cats. The old-fashioned solution is being backed by the actors' union Equity, who want to improve working conditions in London's theatreland. Famous past pussies include Beerbohm, named after Herbert Beerbohm, who lived at the Gielgud and had an obituary in The Stage. But Richard Pulford of the Society of London Theatres is sniffy about the proposal: "My understanding is that rats normally see off cats."

m.bell@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Glou...

Day In a Page

Read Next
East German border guards stand on a section of the Berlin wall in front of the Brandenburg gate on November 11, 1989  

Twenty-five years after the Berlin Wall fell, Hungary’s PM thinks it is Western capitalism that is in its death throes

Peter Popham
 

Business leaders like Apple's Tim Cook must stop being one thing in public and another in private

Chris Blackhurst
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain