Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary

Our accumulator


One of the council chiefs who earned more than the Prime Minister has been appointed director of the League Against Cruel Sports. Joe Duckworth, former head of Newham council in east London, was the second biggest earner in a survey of local authority fat cats conducted last year, with a salary of £241,483.

He resigned abruptly in July, but is set to replace Douglas Batchelor as chief executive of the LACS. Batchelor, who retires this summer, caused some controversy as the charity's only employee to earn more than £60,000. Accounts show that he takes home between £110,000 and £120,000 – plenty, given that the LACS only spends £2.25m per year. A spokeswoman declines to say whether Duckworth will get the same when he joins, though she helpfully points out that whatever he gets, it will be a significant pay cut, and that anyway "he cares passionately about the charity".

After an exhaustive examination, the only speck of excitement in Sarah Brown's 450-page memoir appears to be a reference to Suzanne Mubarak, wife of the former President Mubarak of Egypt. She is warmly described as "a gracious visitor", who is "very effective at campaigning for women", and "a woman who has, over many years, really worked out how to get so many things done for a number of women's and children's causes in her country". Unfortunately Mrs Mubarak's hard work hasn't been quite enough for the people of Egypt, who deposed her and her husband last month. I'm sure Sarah has been in touch to offer her old pal some support in these difficult times, though not completely, as her office refuses to discuss the matter when I call.

Naomi Campbell, Sienna Miller and Cherie Blair are among a babble of celebrities who have got excited about the new website, a platform for correcting false news stories. None is more enthusiastic than Richard Caring, the éminence orange of London's restaurant scene, who owns The Ivy and Le Caprice. He has taken the unusual step of imposing himself on his diners by sending an email to the Caprice database, urging everyone to join the site. "It is very rare that I would contact you on an issue unrelated to Caprice Holdings, but in this instance I feel it is both topical and appropriate," he writes. He goes on to enthuse about the site, set up by his "very close friend" Sir David Tang, and encourages his high profile clients to "set the record straight". This won't make him popular with newspaper editors, who are bound to find iCorrect irksome, but the opportunity to clear up the rumours about his tan was too good to resist: "For the record, my tan is NOT fake!" he shrieks.

Novelist Helena Frith Powell denies her friendship with Marco Pierre White has ever been more than that. Even so, her new book Love in a Warm Climate was launched at Frankie's, an MPW watering hole, hosted by the man himself. She tells me they met in Oxford when he was a kitchen hand for Raymond Blanc, and, he was so mad about her that he blew his weekly £25 wages on her. But she only had eyes for Willie Harcourt-Cooze, the dark-haired chocolate-maker who, in turn, was in love with Rachel Weisz. Frith Powell is now married with three children, but was delighted when Willie Wonka turned up at her party. Stumped how to dedicate her book to him, she ignored MPW's suggestion of "You had your f***ing chance", and went for a more tender: "A first love never dies". It all sounds like the plot of her novel, which is about women and affairs, but she assures me it is a work of fiction.

Claire Bloom and Terry Gilliam will appear at the Bradford Film Festival, which kicks off on Wednesday. One film premiering there is Blooded, a film about hunt protesters which, as I revealed last week, has provoked a war of words on the internet between pros and antis. Now, tensions have reached such a peak that YouTube has taken down clips from the film which appear to show huntsmen being kidnapped and shot at. Although it remains unclear whether the grainy footage is real or faked, YouTube editors were concerned about the messages of support being posted.

Javier de Frutos, the choreographer who brought female masturbation and a choirboy-buggering pope to Sadler's Wells, has lashed out at my colleague Jenny Gilbert. Interviewed in the arts pages of today's IoS, he dismisses as "absolute bollocks" her claim that his 'Eternal Damnation to Sancho and Sanchez' was a veiled attack on his former employers. Now, the diary does not take sides, but we merely point out that De Frutos was sacked from the Phoenix Dance Company in 2008, a year after the arrival of one Ana Lujá* Sánchez. Clearly any connection between Sanchez and the title of his gruesome ballet must be entirely coincidental.

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