Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary

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They were the darlings of News Corp: she the face of Sky News, he political editor of The Sun. But the five-year romance between Kay Burley and George Pascoe-Watson has, I can reveal, come to an end. He has moved out of the large arts-and-crafts house they shared in Harrow-on-the-Hill, formerly the home of Carry On star Kenneth Connor. Pascoe-Watson is understood to have moved back to his own house, which had been let. Burley, 48, has been a presenter at Sky since it launched, while her ex, 42, is a rising star at The Sun and is close to David Cameron. "It's very sad, nobody wants to talk about it," says a friend.

***

In other Sun romance news, editor Rebekah Wade is reported to be marrying her boyfriend Charlie Brooks, the raffish racehorse trainer. Or is she? Two newspapers confidently announced the wedding last week, one even fixing the date at June 13th. But this is, apparently, news to Brooks, who says it came as "a bit of a shock" when he read it over breakfast. The story has yet to be removed from the newspapers' websites, so why so bashful Charlie?

***

Arthur Scargill fumed last week at an allegation that his old sidekick, Mick McGahey, vice president of the National Union of Mineworkers, and Tory deputy leader Lord Whitelaw tried to stitch up a deal to settle the miners' strike of 1984-5. Scargill said the claim, made by Francis Beckett and David Hencke in a recent book, was "either the most outrageous smear since the Zinoviev letter or the greatest betrayal by a union leader in living memory". When I contact him, he emails to say he wants evidence of these "secret talks". The authors say the late Bill Keys, the print union leader, acted as go-between and they provide dates of his meetings with Whitelaw and Megahy from Keys's diaries. At this point Scargill goes a bit quiet – a pity as the authors also allege the discussions produced a deal that Scargill rejected. Sadly, he refused to talk to them, but they are keen to show him the diaries. Arthur? Are you there?

***

Is there a conspiracy of silence among their friends to suppress the most interesting part of the Myerson story – the reason Jake Myerson turned to drugs in the first place? He told the Mail his childhood had been "shattered by fights, reality and talk of my parents separating". They didn't split, he said, "but perhaps it might have been better if they had, because everything which has happened now is, in my eyes, a by-product of trying to keep things together". Both parents have trilled about the need for honesty but neither has addressed what Jake calls their "need to pretend things are still idyllic". When I ring to ask whether we can expect Julie to write about it in future Jonathan gives a little laugh and says, "I don't think so". Julie doesn't return my calls.

***

Diane Abbott, disclosed on This Week that she was standing next to a minister during Prime Minister's Questions when David Cameron asked Gordon Brown about an inquiry into torture. Without naming names, Abbott said the minister repeatedly muttered, "This story is just got up by the Daily Mail. It's all the Daily Mail...". Abbott kept her confidences, but I can reveal that the minister within her earshot was Foreign Secretary David "Banana" Miliband, the very man in the spotlight over the MI5 torture allegations. It's not just the Mail who wants answers, Dave.

***

Guy Ritchie was the model of civility during his divorce from Madonna last year, taking only a fraction of her vast fortune, plus her Wiltshire estate. But could the film director now be willing to part with Ashcombe House, formerly the home of society photographer Cecil Beaton? I'm told a wealthy house-hunter from Sussex looking to buy in the area was recently shown round the 1,200-acre estate, but decided against it because of nearby Compton Abbas airfield, which annoyed Madonna so much she once tried to buy it to close it down. A spokesman for Ritchie says rumours Aschcombe is for sale are "completely false".

***

Mother's Day is close and retailers have swung into action. But what's this? Prominently displayed in the window of a well-known black and gold bookshop, they recommend as a gift Delia Smith's How To Cook. Not a present to be given in person.



Matthew Bell

m.bell@independent.co.uk

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