Diary

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Paying the price for inflated figures

WE TOLD you on Tuesday of the embarrassing correction the Sunday Times had to run in its last issue, recording 29 errors in a piece on the pay of top executives. Retribution has been swift and brutal: the paper has sacked one of the journalists who wrote the piece and suspended the other without pay for six weeks. And a Star Chamber held on Wednesday night forced the resignation of the editor of the business section, John Cassidy - a high-flier once tipped as a future editor. (Last night the paper insisted it was trying to get him back). All this seems a little extreme, especially when you consider that Cassidy had been away covering the US elections in the week preceding the article's publication. In an angry letter to the editor, Andrew Neil - which has been copied to the paper's business staff - Cassidy points out that while he had to accept some responsibility, singling any one person out was deeply unfair. What had transpired 'was a complete failure of the Sunday Times editing process'. As the inquest progressed, it had looked as though heads could roll from the very top - not least because the article had angered News International's own chief executive, Andrew Knight, whose share dealings were analysed. What's more, Rupert Murdoch is said to have taken an interest in the case, having had his own ear bent by various overpaid - but not that overpaid - top executives.

NEW IN New York delis: the Dan Quayle sandwich. Half chicken, half turkey.

No aye for an Eye MEANWHILE, Andrew Neil has been keeping safe and busy in his newspaper's advertising department. Private Eye had an advert for its calendar, featuring notable covers from the magazine, accepted by the Sunday Times. But then came word that Neil had vetoed it: the ad was 'not topical - two years out of date'. Which was more than fair - it showed Pamella Bordes in conversation with Neil in 1988, at the time of their great love. Bordes's speech bubble goes: 'Yours is bigger than Trelford's' And Neil replies: 'Yes, and it's got more sections.'

YOU HAVE to admire the way personnel managers are learning to take the pain out of the sack by calling it something more pleasant. Yesterday Delta Airlines announced 'furloughs' for 103 of its pilots. The term, according to our dictionary, means a period of leave. 'No, it means redundancies,' says Delta's UK marketing director, Susan Whittall. 'I keep telling them over there, but they won't listen.'

Tell-tale tides THE FIRST Trident submarine, HMS Vanguard, will sail from its birthplace, Barrow-in-Furness, to Faslane on the Clyde today. This was supposed to be a secret, but Vickers finally went public a few days ago after CND had told all and sundry exactly when the trip would happen. How did they know? By reading the tide tables. The vast submarine needed an exceptionally high sea, and a spring tide just happens to be in the offing.

MUCH hilarity greets the Royal Shakespeare Company's A Woman of No Importance at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, particularly when Gwen Watford's Lady Hunstanton remarks on the sad state of politics everywhere, but especially in England. 'The Prime Minister is ruining the country,' she says. 'I wonder his wife allows him]'

Oh dear, Darlington

IDYLLIC scenes adorn Darlington Borough Council's 1993 calendar. The 12 northern England landscapes, reproduced from paintings in the town's art gallery, include Derwentwater in the Lake District, Berwick-upon- Tweed and Eskdale, North Yorkshire. Sandra Hood, chairwoman of the hoteliers' association Destination Darlington, is 'flabbergasted.' 'What they are saying basically is that the town hasn't got anything to offer.'

THANK goodness there are experts on the Commons health select committee looking into the EC tobacco advertising ban. The chairman, Marion Roe, Tory MP for Broxbourne, and James Clappison, Tory MP for Hertsmere, both have declared shareholdings in Hanson Trust, owner of Imperial Tobacco.

A day like this

23 October 1944 Sir John Simon, Winston Churchill's Private Secretary, records their visit to Moscow: 'The chief event of the day was Stalin's luncheon party. It began at 2.30 and lasted till after 6. First a string of hors-d'oeuvres - caviare, smoked salmon, various forms of other fish and meat, including delicious sucking-pig, and then, just when you thought the meal was over, soup - and you know that fish, meat, pudding and dessert are to follow. About 5 we adjourned from the lunch table to another room, where we sat down again and continued with coffee, liqueurs, chocolates, cakes and fruit. At length it was all over and we drove out in the dark to our country house. How we faced dinner that night (menu as above) I can't think.'

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