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The huntin', shootin' and suin' brigades

A STRUGGLE, red in tooth and claw, between animal rights activists and the huntin' and shootin' lobby has moved from the green fields of the shires into the more rarefied atmosphere of the law courts. Entrenched on one side is the unabashedly pro- hunting Shooting News, Britain's only field-sports tabloid. On the other stands the League Against Cruel Sports. On Friday the tabloid launched a bloody offensive against the league, carrying a front-page article accusing it of dirty dealings back in the Eighties relating to payments to MPs. This is just the latest battle. Earlier this year Barry Peachey, the legal editor of Shooting News, sued the league for a critical article in its magazine, Wildlife Guardian. Mr Peachey lost, leaving him with legal costs estimated at pounds 300,000. The league struck back by suing the tabloid over a series of 'grossly libellous' articles about its wildlife sanctuaries on Exmoor - a High Court trial is expected next year. The league has yet to decide whether to initiate another lawsuit over the latest allegations. 'We are confident of our story,' says Vic Gardner, proprietor of Shooting News. 'It's a load of old baloney,' splutters John Bryant, the league's spokesman. 'They know that they are doomed to disaster by our libel action and this is just a final shot before they go down.'

DURING Special Inquiry, a discussion programme about ITV's series The Monarchy broadcast on Sunday night, Sir Marcus Fox MBE, the Conservative MP for Shipley, referred to Eve Pollard, the editor of the Sunday

Express, as Su . . . as in Su aren't-I-scatty-Hi-De-Hi Pollard. Lady Pollard looked grimly pained.

Retire immediately

IF YOU see flaming matches being held aloft in Blackpool this week whenever Bryan Gould rises to speak, it is probably because delegates at the Labour Party conference are taking the former opposition National Heritage spokesman at his word. In the opening edition of Bob Geldof's The Big Breakfast on Channel 4 yesterday morning, Mr Gould was invited to offer the nation a Super Hint. 'My handy hint,' he said, 'is that striking a match and letting it burn down is a very good way of getting rid of unpleasant smells, particularly in a confined space.' There you go then, comrades.

INCIDENTALLY, we hear that the nation was almost spared Bob Geldof & Co - The Big Breakfast almost stayed in the larder. After converting three lock-keeper's cottages in Bow, east London, into a studio, Planet 24, the production company, was faced with the tricky problem of how to get a 30 ton outside broadcast vehicle with a transmitter on to an island that lacks any sort of road access. After trying the Army - territorial and regular - the vehicle was eventually hoisted into place just days ago by a large crane. 'We were a bit concerned,' Nicola Gooch, Big's deputy editor, said yesterday, 'that the programme might never have got on the air.'

Spooky likeness AT THE G7 meeting in Washington earlier this month, convened to discuss the currency crisis, a US television crew is overheard discussing which economics ministers to interview. 'You must get the British guy,' says one man. 'How will I know who he is?' the other chap asks. 'He's the one,' comes the reply 'who looks like a member of the Addams family.'

GREAT Freudian slips of our time. Graham Boal, prosecuting counsel at the last Birmingham Six appeal, speaking at the Bar Council conference over the weekend, was supposed to say: 'We believe . . . that the acquittal of the innocent is a greater imperative than the conviction of the guilty.' What he actually said was: 'We believe . . . that the conviction of the innocent is a . . .' The Six, doubtless, always suspected as much.

Unholy trinity ON SUNDAY Dr Ian Paisley preached at Dungannon Free Presbyterian Church in Co Tyrone. His theme, according to an advert for the service in a local newspaper, was: 'The 3 men they could not budge, bend or burn. Three men going to Hell from Dungannon. Their names will be given. The Devil in a pigskin swimsuit. The sin the blood of Jesus does not cleanse. Towers of Falsehood.' Must have been quite a rant.


29 September 1590 Dr John Dee, the Elizabethan savant, records in his diary the suicide of a mentally ill patient: 'Nurse Ann Frank most miserably did cut her throat, afternoon about four of the clock, pretending to be at prayer before her keeper, and suddenly and very quickly rising from prayer, and going toward her chamber, as the maiden her keeper thought, but indeed straight way down the stairs into the hall of the other house, behind the door, did that horrible act; and the maiden who waited on her at the stair foot followed her and missed to find her in three or four places, till at length she heard her rattle in her own blood.'