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

Recruitment Genius: Web Marketing Specialist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading Renewable Energy compa...

Ashdown Group: Data Warehouse & Business Intelligence Co-ordinator

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Required skills include SQL querying, SSRS, u...

Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The demise of a Sixties monster

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
A CCTV camera is seen in front of a large poster opposite in central London  

Home Office is creating more powers to turn everyone into suspects – but leave us no safer

Shami Chakrabarti
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?