Pandora

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The Independent Online
Homeboys

WHILE charity begins at home, surely crime prevention should start at the Home Office. Perhaps this was Liberal Democratic MP Ronnie Fearn's motivation when he asked Home Secretary Jack Straw last month for a list of all the equipment stolen from his department over the past five years. The list makes amazing reading. About pounds 275,000 worth of computers, IT equipment, vehicles, camcorders and other goods have fallen off the back of the Home Office lorry since 1993, with by far the worst losses taking place between 1995-97, during Michael Howard's regime. Pandora was particularly struck by the theft of so much gardening equipment, including a tractor, lawnmower and brush cutter, plus many power tools. Who are all these people who seem to be confusing the Home Office with their local Homebase DIY stores and why can't they be stopped?

Lottery landmine

WHAT do Joan Armatrading, Tim Henman, Will Self, Linford Christie, Sir Terence Conran and David Hockney have in common? They are all contributors of "celebrity hand prints and photographs" to a book sponsored by Camelot on behalf of something called the Handlines Project. A reception is being held on 1 June at a Mayfair art gallery; its stated purpose is to support the ban on landmines. Oddly, the invitation was put out on a Camelot letterhead addressed - not to this newspaper's arts editor - but to our political correspondent. Surely, landmines are a political issue, but Pandora wishes that Camelot's cynical support for the late Princess Diana's most publicised charity effort could be buried 6ft deep.

Deep blue

EVERTON'S escape from relegation out of the Premiership had at least two employees of the Government in a celebratory mood yesterday. Peter Kilfoyle at the Cabinet Office and Joe Irvin, John Prescott's special advisor, are both zealous Toffee supporters.

Tory druggies

YESTERDAY'S debate in the House of Commons on the second reading of the Competition Bill ostensibly pitted Labour's DTI minister, Margaret Beckett, against her Tory opposite, John Redwood. Behind the scenes, however, the real conflict is entirely on the Tory benches: between Redwood and Archie Norman, MP and vice-chairman of the Conservative Party. At issue is Redwood's wish to protect the nation's small pharmacies against a move by national supermarket chains which want to sell over-the-counter non-prescription drugs at a discounted price. The supermarket which pioneered this commercial strategy is Asda, whose former chairman is, of course, Archie Norman.

Star wars

PERHAPS young Hollywood hotshots would be wise to avoid the mean streets of Manhattan. In recent months, director Quentin Tarantino has allegedly been involved in several bar brawls in New York that have resulted in multi-million-dollar lawsuits being lodged against the former video shop clerk. Now Leonardo DiCaprio has been an uncomfortably close witness to a street fight involving another actor and a screenwriter outside fashionable Morgan's Hotel. The key evidence - a security videotape - is being withheld by the nearby Polish Consulate on the grounds of diplomatic immunity. Pandora was relieved to hear that DiCaprio was back in Hollywood this weekend, looking for a suitable Bel Air mansion.

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