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Mellor, appearing for the 'People'

GEORGE CARMAN QC, the holder of the battle honours from the Jani Allan libel case, will be back in only a month's time starring in what promises to be another cracker of a case. He is appearing for the People newspaper in a libel case in which David Mellor has been subpoenaed - to aid the defence of the very same newspaper that exposed the Antonia de Sancha affair in July. The case is brought by Mona Bauwens, a film producer whose father, Jaweed al- Ghussein, is chairman of the Palestinian National Fund and an associate of Yasser Arafat. The People's article, printed in September 1990, was headlined 'Top Tory and the PLO Paymaster' and it made much of an allegation that Mellor and his wife were staying with Bauwens in Spain when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Bauwens' complaint, filed by her lawyers, is that the article would be understood to say that she 'deserves to be outcast from respectable society because her father has been responsible for the financing of the world's most terrible terrorist activities, and he, as a supporter of Saddam Hussein, would be prepared to finance a terrorist campaign in the West and accordingly no decent person should be seen in her company and associate with her'. The People is hotly defending the action: lined up with Mellor as a potential witness is one Yigal Karmon, who works in the Israeli prime minister's office for counter-terrorism. All this should, at any rate, liven up September a jolt or two.

IT WAS with some astonishment that diplomats arranging Prince Edward's autumn tour of the South Seas received a request from his private office that, during the Prince's visit to Western Samoa, the adjoining room to his should be booked in the name of someone called R Tart. Happily we can reassure them: R Tart is merely Rosemary Tart, who is an assistant housekeeper at Buckingham Palace.

Miserable connection

YOU ought to sympathise with the poor Whitehall worker who travelled on British Rail's London Tilbury and Southend line (also known, without much attempt at originality, as the Misery line) yesterday. At Pitsea he found his connection 15 minutes late, then at Basildon his connection was cancelled. The train he finally found to take him to Fenchurch Street arrived seven minutes late - without apology or explanation. But you can save your tears: the traveller in question was none other than Roger Freeman, transport minister responsible for BR.

VISITORS to the Home Office's new showpiece prison at Woodhill, Milton Keynes, may be shocked by some disturbing notices on two ground floor doors. 'Prisoner hanging,' reads one. And on the door opposite: 'Staff hanging.' An explanation is released, rather grumpily, by a spokeswarder: 'Some wag has taken the 'c' off.'

What is a trisexual? QUENTIN CRISP does not, by his own admission, 'really understand poetry'. This did not, however, stop the ageing thesp from writing to Peter Owen, a London publisher, with advice on the forthcoming Black Sugar - Gay, Lesbian and Heterosexual Love Poems, a book of poems by Jeremy Reed. Crisp told Owen the title might be improved. Speaking from his home in New York he explains: 'On the flyleaf of the book it says something about an alternative title being Trisexual Love Poems. I suggested 'multisexual' or 'pansexual'. I could be wrong, but as far as I know there is no such thing as trisexuality.' Crisp feels the poems, which have titles such as 'Drugs, Drag and Make-up', 'Shoe Fetishist' and 'Tongue Dance' 'aren't too bad. In happier times people wrote about birds and flowers. Now they write about fetishes - it must be a symptom of our times.'

AT LAST, an electoral fillip for Dan Quayle. A reader tells us that in his celebrated 1597 book Herball, John Gerard, the superintendent of Lord Burghley's gardens, refers quite explicitly to the 'Potatoe of Virginia'.

Loss of marbles MOST of the suggested silly season stories you sent us seemed lamentably unsilly: a report, for instance, of doctors' fears that watching the BBC's Eldorado could cause a dangerous rise in blood pressure in the average licence-payer. Sillier was David Sealey's news, headlined 'Marbles set to return to Athens'. 'The Greek Olympic Association announced today that, should Athens be successful in its bid to stage the 2,000AD games, it would exercise the traditional right of the host nation by naming one of the demonstration sports. Their choice would be marbles. Commenting on the news, Lord Elgin, President of the British Marbles Association (BMA), said: 'This represents a first step towards restoring a great game to its rightful status.' ' Easy, isn't it, to get a story in the papers in August?


12 August 1856 Augustus Hare writes to his mother: 'When I entered the train at Stirling, two ladies got in after me; one old, yellow, and withered; the other, though elderly still handsome, and with a very sweet interesting expression. She immediately began to talk. 'Was I a sportsman?' 'No, only a tourist.' 'Did I know that on the old bridge we were passing, the Bishop of Glasgow long ago was hung in full canonicals?' And with such histories the younger of the two sisters, in a very sweet Scottish accent, animated the whole way to Alloa. On arrival her husband Mr Dalzell met us in the avenue. He is a rigid maintainer of the Free Kirk upon which Mrs Huggan (the old sister) says he spends all his money - about pounds 18,000 a year - and is very odd, and passes three-fourths of the day quite alone, in meditation and prayer.'