Diary

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The Independent Online
Dial M for murder, Mossad and Maxwell

AND Robert Maxwell was murdered . . . Dissident elements in Mossad, the Israeli security service, were cross that he'd never paid back the pounds 84m the Israelis lent him to buy the Mirror Group, so they hired some Mafia contract killers to bump him off. It had to look like suicide, or else he'd be a martyr. The first plan was to sabotage Bob's helicopter. The second was to tamper with the Mirror lift, so Bob would open the door and go plunging down the shaft. But then, in early November 1991, Bob went on a cruise on the Lady Ghislaine. 'The killers slipped over the side of the dinghy in wet suits. Both were big men, specially chosen for the task. One carried a military cosh, the other a 20ml syringe kit in a small hard plastic container . . . There were no screams, but Maxwell laughed as he fell back . . . he slumped to the boards . . .' They then injected a killer air bubble into his jugular, and set him afloat. Enthralling stuff. Plausible, too. Sadly, this isn't a Diary world exclusive, but one by Kevin Cahill in next month's Business Age magazine. Business Age? It's 'Britain's best-selling business magazine' (excluding the Economist and Investors' Chronicle, of course), and it's the one in which Kevin Cahill recently announced that Paul Raymond was Britain's richest man, rather than the Duke of Westminster. The story of Maxwell's murder, according to the editor, Tom Rubython, comes from interviews with the unnamed Mossad types who commissioned the killer. They were introduced to Business Age by one Ari Ben-Menashe, the Israeli who has been the source for a number of related theories that have kept conspiracists buzzing in recent times. As Rubython himself says: 50 per cent of people believe Ben-Menashe, while 50 per cent feel he's completely discredited. So was Maxwell murdered? 'You don't have to believe it: Business Age readers do believe what we print,' says Rubython tartly.

SOUND advice yesterday from the minister for roads, Kenneth Carlisle, at a press conference, to put helmets on cyclists: 'By wearing a bicycle, you can save your life.'

Mirror image

PAUL FOOT, the Mirror's campaigning columnist, will be found on the steps of the paper's Holborn headquarters this morning distributing copies of the column that his editor, David Banks, refused to print last night. Foot tells us: 'I was writing about the problems at the Mirror. It would be ridiculous for me to continue criticising other employers for macho, arbitrary management when the worst employer in the country is my own. This is much worse than anything that happened under Maxwell.' Banks insists: 'It was an incestuous bit of navel-gazing over fairly well-rehearsed territory, and as such of minority interest.' He has asked Foot to produce another column, and is awaiting developments.

'I WOULD like to be a vegetarian, for aesthetic reasons,' says Tom Baker, the actor, in Saturday's Radio Times. 'There's no doubt that vegetarians enjoy their bowel movements much more than carnivores. If you stay on spinach and flageolet beans, you can have four bowel movements a day, so that's the creation of a little pleasure. Four little pleasures, actually.'

Title fight

COME on, Carmen Callil, you have some explaining to do. You've been most unpleasant to our Independent magazine colleague, the Weasel, about a novel your employer Chatto & Windus is publishing by an American called Dale Peck. Callil has accused the Weasel of being weaselish - 'dishonest and devious' - for claiming that Chatto changed the title of Peck's book from Martin and John to Fucking Martin merely to titillate. Callil claimed the latter title was the one the author intended, but the US publishers had wimpishly called it Martin and John. This is strenuously denied by Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc of New York, which says that Chatto mistook a chapter title for that of the book, and that Peck assured his editor he never intended his gay novel to be called Fucking Martin. Meanwhile David Baker, a London-based journalist who has interviewed the author, says Peck wasn't sure Chatto had made a mistake. Peck had the distinct impression that the company was keen to be the first in Britain to publish a novel with, you know . . . in the title.

A DAY LIKE THIS

26 March 1925 Arnold Bennett writes in his journal: 'I was walking in Selfridge's basement yesterday, idling between two appointments, when I met Selfridge in a rather old morning suit and silk hat. He at once seized hold of me and showed me over the new part of his store. Cold-storage for furs. He introduced me to the head of his baby-linen department: 'Here is a gentleman who wants things for three of his children, one is three months, another ten months, and another year old.' Then up in his own private lift to his room, where I had to scratch my name with a diamond on the window - with lots of others. Then downstairs to the book department. Fine bindings, etc. His first remark was, taking up a book: 'Human skin'. I had to hurry away. He kept insisting that it was wonderfully interesting. And it was.'

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