The feral beast: Will Sky be the limit?

Sunday 25 April 2010 00:00 BST

Will James Murdoch have to reach for his cheque book again?

Already, two victims of unlawful phone hacking by the News of the World have taken private cases against the Murdoch-owned newspaper. One, Gordon Taylor, walked away from an out-of-court settlement £450,000 the richer and the other, Max Clifford, picked up a reported £1m. Now I hear a third, sports agent Sky Andrew, has lodged papers in court for a similar case. Will this one go all the way? Don't bet against it.

Babbling Brooks

James Murdoch might have been a little vexed when he came to visit last week, but not so Rebekah Brooks. She was full of good humour when the Beast caught up with her on her way out and quipped she had popped in to buy a newspaper or two. As we knew she had spent nearly an hour with Lord Rothermere, we couldn't resist asking – was she persuading him to erect a paywall? "We're buying you all up. We're taking over!" she cackled as the escalator bore her away. Hmm.

Mail's Heffer-shaped hole

Who will replace Peter Oborne when he leaves the Mail? Candidates to fill his scuffed Saturday brogues are being sought following my disclosure that he is off to join the Telegraph. An ideal candidate would surely be Simon Heffer, whose columns at the Telegraph read ever more like Mail editorials, and who is already pally with editor Paul Dacre. It would be his second stint at the Mail, from where he rejoined the Telegraph in 2005, so he might risk getting a reputation for restlessness, like a dog with mange.

Poet's sun rises

Oxford still hasn't got a new professor of poetry since last year's fiasco but 5 May is the deadline for nominations. Scabrous Seasonal Suicide Notes author Roger Lewis, originally considered a wildcard, seems to be inching towards victory now he has the backing of alumni Lynn Barber and Rachel Johnson, and "many other Sloanes and publishing blue-stockings". He's even bitchy to his friends; it's why they like him.

Tapped into unrest

Goodbye to James Tapper, who leaves the Mail on Sunday newsdesk after a six year stint covering showbiz. His departure has sparked suggestions of unrest at the paper, with one source saying morale is at a low, but Tapper assures us he is simply off to go freelance. Curious timing, but we wish him well.

Project secret's safe

Still no news about what they're up to at Project Euston, The Daily Telegraph's secretive digital unit. Headed by Will Lewis, with a staff of 50, the project is thrashing out the future of digital media. But it met a set-back when burglars stole nearly all its spanking new computers. Senior executives were deeply unimpressed, but the computers have now been replaced. So we'll carry on waiting to hear the exciting news.

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