Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary

We never close

Share
Related Topics

As two more inquiries are launched into phone-hacking, you have to wonder why all those previous efforts failed so dismally. The Press Complaints Commission says it was lied to in 2007 and 2009; but what of Lawrence Abramson, the lawyer appointed by the News of the World to conduct its own inquiry in 2007? Back then he was a partner at top firm Harbottle & Lewis, but has since moved to Fladgate. Hoping to give him a chance to explain how he failed to find any evidence of wrongdoing, I gave him a tinkle last week. On Wednesday, his secretary told me he was out of the office all day; on Thursday, he was away from his desk every time I called. Even on Friday, after several messages had been left on his machine, Mr Abramson was unable to come to the phone, which went straight to voicemail in the end. Why so coy?

Sir David and Frederick Barclay, the Gilbert and George of Fleet Street, have caused "atmospheric havoc" on Sark, according to the family of the island's most famous resident, Mervyn Peake. It was the Gormenghast author's centenary yesterday, marked by the publication of a new book by his widow, Maeve Gilmore. Speaking at the launch, his son Sebastian told me the family still own their house on Sark, the idyllic Channel island, but that the Arcadian atmosphere known by his father has gone since the Barclay twins moved in in 1993. They live in a pink fortress on Brecqhou, an outcrop to the west of the island, and own many businesses on Sark, repeatedly challenging Sark's feudal system. "It's a terrible shame," says Peake. "But they are so rich and powerful, the other islanders cannot resist their demands."

Badgers have been in the news as Environment minister Caroline Spelman decides whether, and how, they should be culled. It's been in her in-tray since the coalition was formed, but B-day has been repeatedly delayed. So when she turned up to discuss it at a committee on Monday, colleagues were surprised to find her distributing photocopies of Harry Mount's article about badgers from last week's IoS. It was, she told them, the best summary of the issue she had seen. While we're delighted to provide a service, some committee members wondered why she hadn't found time to summarise the issue herself.

Arianna Huffington faced tough questioning from the BBC's Richard Bacon at a debate to launch the London bureau of the Huffington Post, her online community of bloggers. Bacon wanted to know why the Greek millionaire isn't giving her 9,000 bloggers any of the $315m (£200m) she is receiving from the sale of HuffPo to AOL. Arianna waffled on about it not being that kind of model. Also disgracing himself was Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's former spin-doctor, who never tires of promoting himself (a new volume of diaries is out). As he began pronouncing on the phone-hacking, he was asked if Rebekah Brooks wasn't a friend. To which he replied, "She was."

Security was tight at the Spectator summer party, but that didn't stop Taki marching in with four extra guests. One guest, not in his posse, was begging to let her daughter in when the Greek playboy swaggered past with his gang, which included Lord Johnson Somerset, and Lily Robinson, daughter of Withnail and I director Bruce. "I am Taki the first; this is Taki the second," he announced. "That is the current Mrs Taki, and that is the future Mrs Taki. And that is the future Taki's future Mrs Taki." "Everyone laughed," says my mole. "But it was one rule for him and another for the rest of us."

Timothy Spall was visibly enjoying himself at the Harry Potter premier on Thursday, staying late at the after-party at Old Billingsgate. While he didn't join Helena Bonham Carter and Emma Watson for air-punching on the dance floor, he was in high spirits as the champagne and vodka cocktails flowed. Nevertheless, he maintained his discretion when asked about his new status as the Queen's favourite entertainer. It was recently reported that the monarch, a fan of Spall's series on travelling by barge, asked for the DVDs. "I would be greatly honoured if the Queen is watching," says Spall. "I couldn't hope for a higher endorsement. But who knows if it's true?" No BBC producer, surely, would invent this claim?

At last, some good news from Fleet Street. Claire Newell, a leading journalist on the Sunday Times's Insight team, has been poached by The Daily Telegraph to head up a new investigations unit. Good to hear it is investing in journalism. Or does it want the inside story from Wapping?

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

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

Mike Read’s Ukip calypso is mesmerisingly atrocious — but it's not racist

Matthew Norman
Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Gregory Shackleton, sits next to the grave of the 'Balibo Five' in Jakarta, in 2010  

Letter from Asia: The battle for the truth behind five journalists’ deaths in Indonesia

Andrew Buncombe
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album