I was surprised to see David Ashby, Tory MP for North West Leicestershire, among the guest celebs in the next series of Have I Got News For You. Since losing his libel case against the Sunday Times, in which he was branded a homosexual, a hypocrite and a liar, he lost his temper on Kilroy during a discussion about press intrusion and misrepresentation.
Has he ever actually watched Have I Got News for You? As Paula Yates or Roy Hattersley will inform him, it has a penchant for targeting the weak spots of its guests. And, as a central allegation made in the Sunday Times was that he shared a bed with a male friend in France, the thoughts of the show's producer, Colin Swash, show he will need a sense of humour. "We are very hopeful that he will appear," says Mr Swash. "If he does he will be sharing his desk with another man."
However, Mr Ashby's faith in human nature seems undaunted. "The programme's not a political programme, is it?" he asked me. "It's a bit of laugh isn't it? I'm looking forward to an enjoyable occasion."
So are we.
Traitor's secrets betrayed at last
This summer the Government will release secret papers relating to the original Lord Haw-Haw. Norman Baillie-Stewart, who actually preceded the better-known traitor William Joyce in the Germany Calling radio broadcasts during the Second World War, died in June 1966. And the Home Office is now prepared to make public information about him. It should make a rivetting read. The former lieutenant in the Seaforth Highlanders was twice accused of betraying his country - once for selling secrets to the Germans for pounds 90 in 1933 (he claimed a 22-year-old blonde German woman gave him the money in return for his making love to her in a Berlin park.) He was sent to the Tower of London, where the handsome officer took exercise in front of scores of women who had queued to see him parade in full Highland dress escorted by an armed Coldstream Guards officer.
The second trial was shortly after the war - he was charged with aiding the enemy and sentenced to five years. Compared with Joyce he seems to have got off lightly and ended up a successful businessman in Ireland, designing a ship for the Harland and Wolff yard. On the other hand, he may have felt a little hard done by at his first court martial, where he was described as a "pathological case with a fixation for German women" - not known to be a crime in peace time.
Scots lean a little to the left
A conference in Glasgow tomorrow will be told that the Scots and the English share common values. One of the few differences that emerges in a British Rights Survey is that the Scots are 8 per cent more likely to identify themselves as being on the political left. Otherwise, says Professor Bill Miller of Glasgow University, the differences are "small but interesting". That will bring joy to the heart of Labour's Robin Cook, who is on the left of the party and Scottish and small and interesting.
Milking the situation
A reader telephones to tell me to stop referring to mad cows. They are quadrupeds with churning difficulties. I shall endeavour to remember that.
Mr Darcy unloved? Surely not
Appear in Pride And Prejudice and die. This was the improbable claim last week from the actor Colin Firth, of virile breeches fame. Journalists at an awards ceremony heard him wail: "I have worked solidly for 12 years, but after Pride and Prejudice, it just went quiet." Could this really be so? Well, actually, no. A quick check confirms that, since playing Mr Darcy, Firth went straight on to do a BBC adaptation of Conrad's novel, Nostromo, in South America, then a film in Rome and assorted other projects.
"He must," reassures a BBC spokesman, "just have been feeling a little modest, that's all." Of course, cynics among us might suggest he was catching a quick headline for his new lead role in Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch. And there was I, thinking it a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of A-list sex symbol status was not in need in of publicity stunts.
Brain food for famished felines
The cynical side of me suspects that Jonathan Boyce, the chairman of the London Zoo Board and director of health studies at the Audit Commission, is sending pictures, similar to this one, to the Times, Guardian and Telegraph, pausing only to throw the tiger fresh reading matter. But the zoo board chairman and amateur photographer assures me that this is not the case. The 12-week-old Sumatran tiger cub, called Hari, is fiercely loyal to this newspaper, apparently.
The director of London Zoo, Dr Jo Gipps, adds: "Our latest conservation success needed something he could get his teeth into." Eagle EyeReuse content