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Economical with the income tax

ON PAGE four of the Liberal Democrat News the following notice appears: 'The Liberal Democrats apologise to Philip Truscott for the inconvenience and embarrassment caused by the way in which his work has been published on occasions in the past. The litigation commenced by Dr Truscott has now been settled on terms satisfactory to all parties and the disputed figures have been withdrawn from publication.'

The party was not always so understanding. In 1991, a spokesman for Paddy Ashdown denied allegations by Dr Truscott, then a research fellow at Surrey University, that the party had misrepresented his proposals on the likely levels of income tax bills before the last general election. The spokesman said the party would 'vigorously defend' itself against legal action taken by Dr Truscott and that 'we are confident of winning'.

The settlement comes 20 months after Dr Truscott issued writs against Mr Ashdown and Alan Beith, the party's treasurer, because he claimed they had breached his copyright. He said his proposals as presented by the party had understated the likely level of local income tax bills. The proposals were based on his own figures, which showed that such a tax would lead to low bills in Wales, but higher ones in England. With a general election looming, the party asked Dr Truscott to try again, using a different system. He came back with reduced bills in England, but increased ones for Wales.

Assuming the party would choose one or the other proposal, he was surprised when Mr Ashdown called a press conference and issued the (low) English figures from the second study, while the party press office the same day issued the (low) Welsh figures from the first. He resigned from the party on the spot. Yesterday he told me he was prepared to work for the party again, but only if it could prove it had learnt its lesson. Over to you, Mr Ashdown.

WHEN a piece of artwork planned for New York was cancelled because it was deemed in bad taste - side-by-side portraits of a gay naval man and his murderer by Marlene McCarty and Donald Moffett - it was surprising to discover the name of the censor: Tibor Kalman, editor-in-chief of Colors, the in-house magazine of that shock-horror knitwear company, Benetton.

Abbey ending AFTER years of uncertainty in which developers have shown varying degrees of sense and sensibility, the real-life Donwell Abbey of Jane Austen's Emma, Chawton House, has been sold. The Leonard X Bosack and Bette M Kruger Foundation, a Californian charitable organisation, has exchanged contracts on the near-derelict 16-bedroom house near Alton, Hampshire, and plans to turn it into a centre for the study of female novelists. The spectre of a luxury hotel and golf course complex is now at an end.

AUDIENCES worldwide will welcome plans to reunite Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo for an open-air concert on the eve of football's World Cup final in the United States next year. However, I gather the singers needed persuading. 'Each was terrified that one would outshine the other,' the impressario Tibor Rudas told me yesterday. 'It has taken me four years to get them to see the attractions.' Plans to add a soprano, possibly Barbra Streisand, to the trio will, I'm sure, reduce the strain of competition.

Baize accusation STAFF working for Liz Forgan, BBC Radio's managing director, were not surprised when they received a phone call last week from Michael Winner requesting the name of the MD's 'eye-catching' carpet supplier (her new carpets are billiard-table green).

Mr Winner is not known for quiet tastes. In due course, two people introducing themselves as Winner employees arrived at the supplier's in Hornchurch. Very mysterious. 'I have no idea whether Ms Forgan's carpets are 'eye-catching' or not,' Winner told me yesterday, 'but I have no desire to put them in my own home. I was most surprised when a BBC investigator rang and asked if I had telephoned.'

THE US Olympic champion Quincy Watts lost the 400m at the World Athletics Championships on Tuesday night because the sole of his shoe came away. So goodbye to one of his more lucrative contracts? Nike, the sports shoe company, will no doubt be hearing from him.


19 August 1918 Rene Gimpel visits Claude Monet at Giverny: 'We finally reached Claude Monet's wall, which is pierced by a large green door and a bit further on by a very small door, also green. This we opened to enter Monet's oft-described garden. I regret my complete ignorance of the names of flowers, as I should like to name here the varieties I saw. A Maeterlinck would be needed for a garden like this. It resembles no other, first because it consists of only the simplest flowers and then because they grow to unheard-of heights. I believe that none is under three feet high. Certain flowers, some of which are white and others yellow, resembling huge daisies, shoot up to six feet. It's not a meadow, but a virgin forest of flowers whose colours are very pure, neither pink nor bluish, but red or blue.'