Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary

Has a lean and hungry look

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The Queen is reported to have developed chronic knee pain, forcing her to give up riding.

This could create a bit of a headache for courtiers planning her Diamond Jubilee celebrations for 2012 because the centrepiece of the four-day holiday is likely to be a service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral, which is entered at the imposing west end by a flight of 24 steps. A palace spokesman plays down suggestions of an impending crisis when I call, reassuring me that the monarch is still able to walk up and down stairs.

Fortunately, next month's wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton takes place at Westminster Abbey, which is more or less on one level. There is speculation the monarch could have a further operation to fix the pain – she had keyhole surgery in 2003 – although it might require up to four months' recuperation.

Only two weeks ago, Prince Charles visited the Stannah factory in Hampshire, to mark the manufacture of its 500,000th stair lift. If he'd had his wits about him, he could have put in an order.

Philip Davies has scored a little victory in his campaign against political correctness. The Tory MP has waged war on the Equality and Human Rights Commission, asking it to rule on whether the Orange prize for fiction discriminates against men by allowing only women to enter, and whether the Metropolitan Black Police Association breaches discrimination law by restricting membership to black people.

Now, he has asked the commission to disclose the average salaries of its employees, for men, women and blacks. It turns out male staff are on an average of £36,100, women £34,300, while black staff are paid £32,500.

Time for commission members to launch an investigation into themselves?

The list of prominent people associated with the LSE, and embarrassed by its links to Libya, is astonishing.

There's Shami Chakrabarti, the director of human rights pressure group Liberty, who sits on the ruling council at LSE that accepted the money from Saif Gaddafi. Last week she spoke of her "bucketfuls" of embarrassment and regret, though she hasn't gone so far as to quit.

Other members currently listed on the Court of Governors include Tory peer Virginia Bottomley, easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, and the Observer columnist and chair of The Work Foundation, Will Hutton.

Still, the embarrassment isn't as widespread as it could have been. Cherie Blair, an alumna of LSE, where she got a first class degree in law, and which she has frequently revisited, most recently to promote her autobiography, was also, until recently, a governor.

Her husband is, of course, an old pal of Colonel Gaddafi, but it's probably just as well Cherie is no longer involved.

A film about extreme animal activists, starring shamed EastEnders actor Neil McDermott and the splendidly named Isabella Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe, is generating much chatter on the interweb.

Clips of Blooded have appeared on YouTube which show a gang of balaclava-clad animal rights activists kidnapping a group of young deer-stalkers, whom they then release, naked, on a grouse moor, and take potshots at. The producers are claiming it is a re-creation of events that actually happened after the hunting ban of 2005, although the details remain unclear.

While it all has the whiff of a clever publicity stunt, the comments of encouragement from anti-hunt folk on the internet appear to be genuine. "Keep up the good work: hunters deserve everything they've got coming to them!" says one. Golly.

Red faces at The Daily Telegraph, which has paid damages to the Turkish prime minister, after wrongly claiming Recep Erdogan received a £16m political donation from Iran. A grovelling apology says the paper was "misinformed", and accepts that "the allegation was untrue".

Some may be intrigued to note the story's original author was one Con Coughlin, who has previously been accused of being an MI6 patsy. As foreign editor of The Sunday Telegraph, Coughlin is said to have instructed hacks to refer to events of 2003 as the "liberation of Iraq", rather than the more conventional "invasion". He later oversaw a brutal round of sackings.

On the Telegraph website, he modestly bills himself as "an expert on international terrorism and the Middle East", who "deftly scrutinises world affairs". Perhaps a little editing is now in order?

Ed Vaizey, the gaffe-prone but happily married Arts minister, kept his foot out of his mouth on Monday, when he met Tracey Emin to discuss the new Turner Contemporary Gallery, soon to open in Margate.

Kent MP Laura Sandys told the Commons that "Tracey was most taken by the minister", which prompted one Labour wag to heckle: "Where to?" Emin may have been lucky to escape Vaizey's attentions. In his youth, debutantes called his type NSIT: "not safe in taxis".

m.bell@independent.co.uk

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