Matthew Bell: The <i>IoS</i> diary

Sunday 08 February 2009 01:00

Tina Turner and Phil Collins are among dozens of millionaires who may be forced to abandon their homes in Switzerland if a vote to scrap tax breaks is passed in Zurich today. Residents of the Swiss canton are being polled on whether they want to end legislation that allows rich foreigners to pay a flat tax rate, which makes the lakeside city a magnet for stars and international businessmen. Tina Turner has had a home in Zurich since 1986. "We are worried," says Thomas Borer-Fielding, who represents Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg. But if the vote is passed, the good news is that Tina and chums won't have to leave Switzerland altogether. Other cantons such as Geneva, where Lewis Hamilton lives, and the Gold Coast, home to Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost, continue to enjoy all the perks of a Swiss tax haven.

If Jeremy Clarkson were to be sacked for calling the Prime Minister a "one-eyed Scottish idiot", who would replace him? Why not Brian Sewell, who may be best known as an art critic but is also a knowledgeable motoring enthusiast? "I would absolutely love to do it," he tells me when I call, "although it would be a sad end to a once-promising career. I have to say that although it's a programme I hate, it is one of the best the BBC makes because the presenters really know and love their subject. Most people the BBC pays to make programmes know fuck all about their subject, they're just hacks."

Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes has been left scratching his head after a stinging attack of him appeared in 'The Daily Telegraph'. Royal editor Andrew Pierce accused Fellowes, author of 'Gosford Park', of having bought his own title, when in fact he inherited the Lordship of the Manor of Tattershall from his father. "It's very odd. Andrew Pierce is always having a go at me and I'm not sure we've even met," Fellowes tells me. "The article, which was about the Conservatives' black and white ball, was poisonous throughout, which is odd as the 'Telegraph' is a Tory paper. He obviously doesn't like the cut of my jib. The local squire must have spattered him with mud when he was five and he's been scarred ever since."

Is it surprising the cost of the Olympics has shot up by another £22m when one looks closer at how the money is spent? Only on Wednesday, an employee of the Olympic Delivery Authority was blogging about the perks of her job – cracking a bottle of champagne over the drills to be used to dig the sewage system at the Olympic stadium. "Yep, similar to the tradition of bestowing ships with a female name, the contractor building the park's new 1.8km sewer network is naming its tunnelling machines," she enthuses. "There was even a bottle of fizz on hand to shower over the machines." What's a drop of bubbly when you've £547m to play with?

Anatole Kaletsky continues to write a weekly financial advice column for 'The Times' despite famously predicting that the Northern Rock disaster wouldn't affect the economy. Only last month he wrote an article headlined "punish savers". So it's a little worrying to hear he has been endorsed by a leading wealth-management firm, St James's Place, headed by Sir Mark Weinberg. They've commissioned him to write a piece in their annual report. Better move your money while you can.

Adrian Chiles's walk-on part in the gollygate row may have been unfortunate, but he is making a habit of being in the wrong place. Some of us recall his cameo appearance in the 2004 film 'Sex Lives of the Potato Men', a strong contender for the title of worst film of all time. Critics panned it for its perverted gags about old women giving blow jobs and for a scene in which Johnny Vegas claps in the face of a man in a coma in an attempt to resuscitate him. One critic called it "about as funny as being stabbed repeatedly in the face with a bread knife". Yes, yes. He was young. He needed the work.

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