Diary: Fresh turn in the Boardroom battle

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FROM September, two glossy magazines bearing the same name - Boardroom - will drop through letterboxes of offices and homes in the smarter parts of London. It will mark another stage in an increasingly acrimonious dispute between Baron Marc Burca, the man who founded and then edited the magazine between 1982 and 1989, and Havas, the company that later owned the title.

Last week, Burca issued a writ against Havas, after claiming that the company had 'materially changed the magazine with the ulterior motive of rendering the shareholdings worthless'.

This affects Burca because of a complicated arrangement he made when selling the magazine to Lord Hollick in 1988 for about pounds 1m; holding on to a 20 per cent stake, he made it a condition that he would be entitled to a share of the profits in five years' time. Since then, however, Lord Hollick has sold the magazine to Havas, which put it into administration last July. By the time it was taken on by the current owners, Aspen plc, it was not, claims Burca, the magazine it was, and he is seeking redress.

Meanwhile, he is taking them on directly. 'My lawyers have examined the buy-up contract, and it appears that I am within my rights to start up a new magazine called Boardroom,' he says.

IMAGINE Kenneth Clarke losing his official car - couldn't happen, could it? Well, his opposite number in Ireland, Bertie Ahern, did just that - or rather his garda driver did after parking the pounds 30,000 Opel Senator outside his home on Monday. The unfortunate fellow heard the horn, but the car had been driven away by the time he reached the drive. But luck, as always, was with the Irish - the car was found with minimal damage.

Starmaker THE Tory MP Jerry Hayes has a rather slender majority of 2,940 in Harlow - which may explain why some see him as the new Hughie Green of the busking world. Following a radio programme during which he discussed the buskers of Old London Town, gentlemen and ladies from the Tube have been thrusting their tapes on him for some expert judgement - and he is dutifully listening to them on the off chance of discovering some unknown talent that could turn his protege (and himself) into stars.

A SNIPPET from Terry Major's account of family life under the tightrope wire. Casting around for a suitable candidate to fetch the fish and chips, the Major- Balls unerringly picked on young John. He did so uncomplainingly - and then sprinted back to ensure the chips were warm.

A policeman's blot NOT a good day for the police yesterday, or at least those in Essex who misheard a radio message and started to search for the misappropriator of bras and knickers, rather than Mars and Snickers. Much ridicule ensued, as it also did in Wealdstone, north London, when officers were alerted to the sound of a baby crying in the boot of a BMW parked in Stanmore. Approaching cautiously, they opened up, and found themselves looking into the horns of a goat.

OPERA FACTORY tonight unveils yet another outrageous production. This time the ever-eclectic director, David Freeman, has been let loose on Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress. Amid all the excesses (and nudity) in the Brothel Scene, there will also be much throwing of Chinese takeaways. Someone involved in rehearsals commented: 'Those in the front row of the Queen Elizabeth Hall might be best advised to wear sou'westers.'

And so to bed . . . WITH THIS column, the Diary has made its last appearance. My warmest thanks to all its readers, not only for reading it, but for helping to write it as well.

A DAY LIKE THIS

22 April 1960 John Calmann, journalist and publisher, writes: 'I wrote a letter criticising the EEC to Jaap (Van Der Lee, who worked in Brussels) who replied very crossly - but good-humouredly. I pointed out that though greater co-operation between England and Europe was obviously very important, the political connection that is desired ultimately by the members of the EEC is of dubious value. How can anyone say that political association between governments - with the hopeless corruption of the Italians, the ideological corruption of the French, the backward colonial policies of the Belgians, the anomalies of the Luxembourgeois - would together make for progress and co-operation? As for the Germans, there is nothing to tell one they have made any great strides towards democracy since the war, beyond not being Nazis any more. Naturally he didn't quite see eye-to-eye with such a point of view]'

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