Matthew Bell: The <i>IoS</i> Diary (05/06/11)

All his own hair

Sunday 23 October 2011 01:41

A new magazine called Politics First has launched with a bang, featuring messages of support from Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Baroness Warsi. But it has already entered dangerous waters by running an interview with Radovan Karadzic, the suspected war criminal, in which he accuses ITN reporter Penny Marshall of being "willing to manipulate the truth for self-promotion and demonisation of the Serbs". Uh oh. In 2000, Marshall was awarded £75,000 damages in the High Court, after successfully suing a magazine which accused her and her ITN colleagues of deliberately misrepresenting footage. Living Marxism folded after losing its libel case, having claimed that ITN had created the impression they were inside a concentration camp, when actually they were in a refugee camp with a bit of barbed wire. Let's hope Politics First remembered to check with the lawyers.

Politics First also carries a long piece by Dr Linda Papadopoulos, the glamorous shrink whose website suggests she is not backwards in pushing herself forward. The mag gushes that she is "an internationally esteemed psychologist and one of the UK's leading authorities on celebrity culture", and talks about her "invaluable insights". The editor is one Dr Marcus Papadopoulos, who also wrote the stuff about Dr Linda. The name Papadopoulos is as common as Smith in Greece. Otherwise we might think they were related.

Someone in Westminster has a mega crush on Margaret Beckett. Either that, or the caravan-loving MP for Derby South has a very loyal staff, for I'm told the new website – where the public ranks members by their looks – has been flooded with votes for Beckett from an IP address within the Houses of Parliament. Francis Boulle, the entrepreneur behind the website, who also stars in the mocku-drama Made in Chelsea, tells me he plans to take the brand global, setting up equivalent sites for the US Congress, the German Bundestag and the Irish parliament. The website, which asks which of two MPs you would rather sleep with, has caused embarrassment for MPs such as Jim Shannon and Steve McCabe, who consistently come last, though Boulle says it is a "fun and memorable tool" to help voters get to know their MPs.

Renowned gossip columnist Nigel Dempster was married twice and had a reputation as a ladies' man, but now his biographer claims he may also have liked men. In the new edition of Tatler, Tim Willis says he was told by a former employee that, back when the Earl's Court Road was a cruising ground, "he swore he'd seen his boss striding that way late at night, curiously dressed in a shiny black biker jacket". Willis explains his decision to omit this anecdote from his biography – "knowing how much offence you can cause by describing someone's clothes, I kept it to myself". Odd, then, that he should have put it into print now.

This year's Hay Festival will be remembered for ending the 15-year feud between Paul Theroux and V S Naipaul, thanks to Ian McEwan, who gently nudged the two old grumps together. Hay has a way with people – rising TV star George Lamb interviewed his father, the actor Larry Lamb, on Wednesday. At the swanky party hosted by GQ and Range Rover, George told me he has bought a run-down cottage in the area with his mum, Linda, who divorced Larry 15 years ago. The past behind them, they invited Larry to stay. How lovely, I said. "No," flashed Linda, "He's still a nightmare."

Jackie Llewellyn-Bowen, wife of the vivacious interior designer Lawrence, tells me she harbours a secret crush on one of our great thinkers and writers, A N Wilson. He is, in fact, the only thing that still attracts the LBs to Cornwall, where they have a house in the same village. Jackie revealed her crush to me at the opening party of the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition, where the Llewellyn-Bowen family were more eye-catching than many of the dreary exhibits. "We've stopped going to Cornwall," explains Lawrence, who bought a 17th-century manor in Gloucestershire four years ago. "We've had enough of the Fisherman's Friends and all that. We only go out of season." But Jackie cites A N, whose biography of Dante is out this week, as a great attraction. Yet Wilson is very bald, especially compared with Lawrence. "I tell my wife she should have gone to Specsavers," he sighs.

Sotheby's give pug parties; now, Julian Fellowes is throwing a party for dachshunds and their owners. Although writing the second series of Downton Abbey and a new film about the Titanic, he is giving the bash in honour of his pooch, Hamburg. His butler informs me he is at Epsom races when I ring about the doggy bags.

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