Pandora: What the butler didn't see

Oliver Duff
Thursday 01 May 2008 00:00 BST
(© Tim Sanders)

Will the troublemaker who is going around saying that leftie pin-up economist Will Hutton has a butler please desist? There is talk that the former newspaper editor, now chief exec of the Work Foundation think-tank (more employee satisfaction means higher productivity), has his door answered by a Jeeves-like fellow in tails. There would be no shame in that: the old school gentleman's gentleman has returned to the sculleries of high society, particularly for occasional party nights, to ferry trays and seat guests.

Except that Hutton insists the rumour is a fantasy. "It is gold carat bollocks!" he says, answering his own phone when I call. "Speak to all my friends! Follow me around! Sleep in my bed! There is no butling going on." On this occasion, I think we can politely decline his generous offer and take him at his word.

Mayfair's metals magnate targeted over peak assault

According to a recently-published rich list, the mining tycoon Anil Agarwal, 55, sits prettily as the 23rd flushest fella in Britain, with a fortune of about £2.45bn (in the past month, his wealth has reportedly swelled by a further £500m).

Perhaps money can't buy you love, though, because the metals magnate will soon find a choleric crowd on the doorstep of his £20m Mayfair pile, furiously buzzing the bell.

Agarwhal's company Vedanta wants to mine aluminium ore from eastern India's Niyamgiri Mountain. Survival International, the pressure group seeking to protect tribal peoples, claims the excavation would devastate the "sacred" peak and its 8,000 residents, from the Dongria Kondh tribe.

Survival is launching a campaign against Agarwal and his financial backers. "We will protest outside his house," says a source, "as well as outside Vedanta shareholders like Coutts Bank, Barclays and HSBC. We want them to disinvest. We will also protest at his public relations company, Finsbury PR."

A London-based spokeswoman for Vedanta commented: "We strongly refute the allegations." She declined to remark on the picket of Agarwal's house.

Perhaps Agarwal can employ his forthright personal manner. The billionaire admits he can be "over-aggressive" and has said: "I want to reduce my aggression." A former vice-president of his company claims Agarwal threw a digital diary and glasses pouch at him – inviting comparison with the fiery model Naomi Campbell.

Wossy's wife flogs Israeli film remake to Miramax

Jonathan Ross's oft-mentioned pay packet from the BBC, whatever it may be, hardly leaves his clan clamouring for gruel at the workhouse. Let no one accuse his wife Jane Goldman of sitting on her laurels, though.

The wild pink-haired paranormalist and former pop journalist, 37, has sold to Miramax a movie script for The Debt, a remake of the Israeli thriller HaHov, about three Mossad agents' 30-year search for a Nazi war criminal.

Goldman reunites with Matthew Vaughn, one-time collaborator with Guy Ritchie and most recently propagandist for David Cameron. Vaughn and Goldman were behind last year's luminary-laden fantasy epic, Stardust, based on the Neil Gaiman novel.

Shooting of The Debt is expected to begin by the end of the year, with casting details dribbling out over the summer.

Let's hope film that critic Wossy is suitably impressed.

Take two houses, gut them...

Pukka, like. As if filming another television series (Jamie's Ministry Of Food, this time in Rotherham) was not enough, I hear that the Naked Chef Jamie Oliver is to begin work on a major construction project at his whopping mansion in Camden, north London.

Oliver and his wife, Jools, have bought their neighbour's home and seek planning permission to knock through the dividing walls to create a ginormous new 19-room abode over four floors.

Planning officers have been told that the super-pad is required "to provide additional living space". Oliver, 32, said last year that his wife wanted two more children.

If the gutting and rebuilding project gets the go-ahead, she and the couple's two young daughters, Poppy and Daisy, will retreat to their Essex home and spend more time in the outdoor pool.

Gone to pot

News to bring a sudden, salty flash to the back of Pot Noodle execs' throats. The purveyor of plastic cups of freeze-dried bits faces investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority for its latest television promotion. Viewers complain that the commercial is "offensive and demeaning to women" (in the ad, set to a power ballad, a male singer wishes women could be "simple, easy and hassle-free").

A fresh shocker. The crooner also sings the line: "If she lived in a cupboard, things wouldn't be so tough." So, following the ad's broadcast after Tuesday's Man United-Barcelona match, further complaints reached the ASA from viewers sickened by goings-on in Josef Fritzl's basement. Pot Noodle insists: "There are definitely no plans to take it off air." Is there really no such thing as bad publicity?

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