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The Independent Online
Oops, Minister

The BBC, we know, is not politically biased. Bias is taking a particular stance as a matter of policy. Rescheduling a comedy programme that has startling and embarrassing affinities to the Scott controversy is altogether different.

Those who tuned in to Wednesday night's repeat of Yes Minister must have been surprised by its unexpected topicality. The minister, played by Paul Eddington, discovers that the government is selling arms to Italian terrorists. He is intent on telling the PM. Sir Humphrey, abetted by the chief whip, ensures he does not. There are plenty of lines to the tune of: "If one of us goes down, we all go down," and "the Prime Minister does not want to know about this," and, most juicily of all: "Never hold an inquiry unless you know the verdict in advance."

In the end, the minister is left drowning his sorrows in a bottle of whisky, fearing that although his career is intact, his moral conscience has been destroyed.

The episode was, it turns out, not the scheduled one. Who could have made such a naughty change? "We ran it for its topicality," says a BBC spokeswoman, somewhat coyly, "but I'm not going to name names."

A spy left in the cold

Queues there may have been at HMSO for the words of Lord Justice Scott, but the words of another key player were faring less well. The Unlikely Spy, the autobiography of Paul Henderson, the former managing director of Matrix Churchill, was spotted at Dillons bookshop in Ealing with pounds 6.99 crossed out and replaced by pounds 3.50, also crossed out, and replaced by a paltry pounds 1.75. Who said topicality was all?

Lord of the cycle lane

Sir Richard Scott, the most important man of the moment, notably cycled to work, as those who saw his bike arriving at the inquiry every day will remember. Yet cycling lobbies have not yet thought of using a picture of him in their campaigning material to encourage others to get on their bikes. "That never occurred to us," says the London Cycling Campaign, "but we do cite him as a celebrity who cycles, along with Jeremy Paxman."

Eagle Eye

On the wild side

Scott's first casualty was the ageing rock star Lou Reed. Reed was to perform on Channel 4's late night pop show The White Room. However, a Scott Report documentary meant the show was brought forward to 8pm. This meant it was pre-watershed and, as Mr Reed was singing a ditty called "Sex With Your Parents Part Two", his act was cancelled.

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