Matthew Bell: The <i>IoS</i> Diary

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The Independent Online

Robert Napper's confession that he killed Rachel Nickell has finally lifted the cloud of suspicion from Colin Stagg, who spent 14 months in custody falsely accused of the murder. Although the judge threw out the case, Jonathan Holborow, the editor of 'The Mail on Sunday' at the time, ran a double-page spread by his crime correspondent Chester Stern effectively accusing Stagg of doing it. He then defended this decision in 'The Spectator'. Roger Cook made a documentary that also cast Stagg in a suspicious light. Baddiel and Skinner made a character out of Stagg. Even the supposedly thoughtful Peter Preston cheered 'The Mail on Sunday'. The police have apologised to Stagg, but there's been a strange silence from the rest.

Andy Coulson, David Cameron's chief spin doctor, presided over a culture of bullying when editor of the 'News of the World', according to an employment tribunal last week. "We find the behaviour to have been a consistent pattern of bullying behaviour," they said. But in his defence, his bullying wasn't entirely consistent. For it was under Coulson that the Screws ran the "Helping Hand" campaign, aimed at eradicating, er, bullying in schools.

A senior judge has had his knuckles rapped after passing an admonitory note to a barrister that read "The Six Ps: Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance". The Six Ps don't come up in my dictionary of legal terminology, and the Court of Appeal certainly found it highly irregular, telling Judge Ian Alexander QC: "It was a wholly inappropriate note to be sent to counsel." We are indebted for the mnemonic, m'lud.

If only Tim Teeman, the arts editor of 'The Times', had heard of the Six Ps – he appeared on national TV last week apparently unaware that Jeff Buckley is, um, dead. Speaking on Sky News in defence of the cover version of 'Hallelujah' by 'X Factor' winner Alexandra Burke he said: "Jeff Buckley is a singer and knows the industry." As any fule kno, Buckley was a singer – until he drowned in a freak accident. "I did know Buckley was dead, yes," insists Teeman when I check. "It was a simple, and unfortunate, case of words and thoughts tripping over one another in the moment." Viewers leaving comments on the YouTube clip seem to think otherwise.

How cheering to be wished a Happy Christmas by the furniture chain DFS in a large ad in 'The Times'. "Whenever you fancy a more comfortable life, please give us a call, we would love to help you..." they say. But it was hard not to be momentarily distracted by the headline over an adjoining news story, which read "Millionaire Tory peer punched and clawed man's face in road rage attack, court told". Closer reading revealed the peer in question was none other than Lord Kirkham – the founder of DFS. Well there's a comforting thought.

The ordinarily serene Tory transport spokeswoman, Theresa Villiers, has been whipped into a froth of indignation after reading an article by Lord Adonis in 'Prospect' calling for a high-speed rail network. "Much of Lord Adonis's article seems to come almost word for word from the Conservative announcement," she tells me. "His lordship is clearly an enthusiast for high-speed rail but he should give the Conservatives credit for stirring the Government out of its inertia on this. He is, after all, part of the Government that published a 30-year strategy for the railways as recently as July 2007 which had no place for high-speed rail at all." Back atcha Andy.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, may find himself over a barrel when deciding the future of Battersea power station. The upturned table designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott has been bought by Irish developers who have ambitious plans to turn it into offices and shops. But their plan to add a 820ft tower has drawn a chorus of complaints. Now the developer's MD, Rob Tincknell, warns darkly that the power station has only three to five years before being beyond restoration, and that unless his plans are approved, the much-loved London landmark would be doomed. Cripes.

m.bell@independent.co.uk

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