The feral beast: 'National' service ends

Sunday 07 June 2009 00:00 BST

Just a year after the launch of The National in Abu Dhabi, rumours swirl that Martin Newland is to step down. The former Daily Telegraph editor set up the English-language paper, recruiting several ex-Telegraph hacks to join him.

Colin Randall and Sue Ryan were among those lured by generous tax-free salaries, the full details of which were memorably leaked on to the internet. My mole says Newland will continue to work for the paper but not as editor. I'm told his replacement will need to be pro the Emirates government and royal family, its proprietors. Newland did not return my calls.

A 'Daily Mail' scorned ...

Antony Beevor has had a spectacular falling out with the Daily Mail. The learned historian was so horrified by a headline slapped on a piece he had written about D-Day that he wrote in to complain. But it's a brave man who crosses the mighty Mail – the next day, Ephraim Hardcastle attacked Beevor for being an attention seeker. The historian hits back when I call, branding it "a pathetic little jab". And now I learn he has withdrawn from a "meet the readers" lunch. Will he ever write for the Mail again?

A devil of a honeymoon

Readers often ask whether IoS rock critic Simon Price's horns are for real – they are. But his devilish look didn't go down well at the Pantheon in Rome, which he visited with his wife during their honeymoon last week."We had been there five minutes when an officious little man who looked like Super Mario rushed over to tell us to leave because of my horns. 'Diavolo, diavolo!' he kept saying. 'Capelli, capelli!' I replied. It's not even a Christian temple but we left." Standing over six foot tall, Price is a well-known figure at gigs. I'm told teenagers often agree to meet "at Simon Price".

Softy Paxman misses Purnell's exit

A good thing Jeremy Paxman wasn't lined up to present Newsnight on Thursday, when James Purnell resigned from the cabinet. In 2007, Paxo was accused of being too soft on the shiny-faced ex-work and pensions secretary during an interview, which happened to coincide with Purnell's affair with a Newsnight producer, Thea Rogers. Purnell is now stepping out with political lobbyist Sophie Sutcliffe, 27, and Newsnight didn't stint on its coverage of his departure.

Foreign move for Seddon?

Could it be true? Firebrand leftie and former Tribune editor Mark Seddon is said to have a new job – at the Foreign Office. Discretion prevents me from disclosing if he is working for MI6 but I'm told his correct title is now "Sedders of the FO".

Fifty candles, many luminaries

Happy 50th birthday to Gill Hornby, Telegraph Polly Filler and wife of author Robert Harris. But she hardly needs our best wishes – guests at a marquee party at their rectory in Berkshire included Jeremy Paxman, David Dimbleby and Lord Mandelson. As we've just moved offices, I expect my invitation got lost in the post.

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