Axe grinder 03.02.06

Prospect of jail sentence focuses the mind of the disgraced share tipster

AS
HE prepares himself for the possibility of a life behind bars, former
Mirror City Slicker James Hipwell has found a little bit of happiness
in his otherwise troubled life. He has proposed to long-term
girlfriend, Rachel Stevens, and she has accepted.

The couple have
been dating for three years, but it was the prospect of prison – he is
due to be sentenced this month after being found guilty of share
ramping – that inspired Hipwell to pop the question to BBC broadcast
journalist Rachel.

“It was New Year’s Eve and we had been for
dinner at Chartier, that lovely restaurant in Rue de Faubourg,” the
groom-to-be tells me.

“After the meal we were walking along the Champs Elysee and that’s when I asked Rachel to marry me.

“The judge had said he would not rule out the possibility of sending me to prison and that had been going through my head.

“I suppose it was one of those times when you try to put everything in perspective.

“I have been going out with Rachel for three years so marriage is the next step.”

Eros absent at Standard do

THE DRACONIAN cost cuts at Associated Newspapers reached a new – and
embarrassing – level on Monday. The Evening Standard managed to hold
its annual film awards ceremony… without the traditional Eros awards.

For decades The Evening Standard British Film Awards has been a
glorious star-studded extravaganza at which several hundred actors and
movie industry figures are treated to champagne on tap and a feast at
The Savoy before the Eros statuettes are handed out.

Last year it was hosted by Jack Dee and broadcast on ITV. Estimated cost: £80,000.

By
contrast, Standard editor Veronica Wadley hosted a distinctly low-key
affair on Monday night. Only about 50 guests, including Ralph Fiennes
and Natasha Richardson, were at the dinner in a dimly lit room upstairs
at The Ivy.

Estimated cost: £2,000.

One of the guests tells me that the party was “an embarrassing shambles”.

She
adds: “There were more stars having dinner in the restaurant downstairs
than at the awards ceremony upstairs. It was very embarrassing – it had
the atmosphere of a book launch rather than a glittering ceremony. As
it is, most stars go to The Ivy anyway, so all that was different this
time round was that the Standard was paying for their meals.”

It’s too cramped around here, moans George…

EVEN
though he was incarcerated in the Celebrity Big Brother house, George
Galloway did manage to have some contact with the outside world.

Around
about the time Galloway was licking Rula Lenska’s palms during his
impersonation of a cat, the Tower Hamlets Recorder hit the streets of
his constituency.

Readers, of course, would not have expected to see Galloway’s weekly column.

But amazingly, the Respect MP had somehow managed to file.

“No-one should have to live in conditions like these,” wrote Galloway.

Was he referring to the bedroom he was forced to share with snoring celebrities?

Not a bit of it. Instead he was writing about his constituents’ cramped homes.

“Every
week at my surgeries I see families who are living in terribly
overcrowded conditions,” he wrote. “I’ve seen families of nine and 10
living in two bedroom accommodation. I’ve seen families where teenage
sisters and brothers are having to share the same bedroom…”

Usually
celebs like ghost writers to do their newspaper columns, but surely the
intelligent and articulate Galloway would never stoop so low.

Not
so sure, however, about the strap line that accompanies the anti-war
campaigner’s column: “He lets ’em have it with both barrels.” Shades of
Rambo.

… or was that Galloway’s ghost writer?

MEANWHILE,
a quick call to George Galloway’s right-hand man, Rob Hoveman, to ask
whether the MP has a ghost writer pen “his” column in the Tower Hamlets
Recorder: Hoveman: “I am curious as to why you are asking that
question.”

Axe: “I am curious.”

Hoveman: “It would be
incorrect to say it is ghost written because he usually writes it and
sometimes he gets someone to put the words together and he might alter
them.”

That clears that up.

Rival in sight for Deputy d’An

SUNDAY Telegraph deputy editor Matthew d’Ancona is widely tipped to
be the next editor of The Spectator. But it now seems that he has a
rival for the job – a woman, no less – and she sits not a million miles
from his messy desk.

I am told that the paper’s assistant editor, Topaz Amoore, is being considered as Boris Johnson’s successor.

Indeed, she is the only woman who has been mentioned in connection with the job.

Publisher Andrew Neil is expected to announce the name of the new editor later this month.

Says
my source: “If Topaz became editor it would be a shock – no one would
be expecting a woman to step in at the maledominated Speccie. But Neil
likes to shock.”

Royal scoop gets MoS out of the soup

WHEN Tom Parker Bowles was signed up to write about food for The Mail on Sunday he swore never to mention his relations.

In fact, his vow of silence has often infuriated the paper’s editor,
Peter Wright, who gets worked up in front of execs about how
frustrating it is not to be able to “lean on” PB to leak royal secrets.

Now
Tom PB has broken his own embargo, albeit it, sadly, not with juicy
details of what his mother Camilla wears in bed, or who really puts the
toothpaste on Prince Charles’s toothbrush.

No, the relation he
namedrops in the MoS Live magazine is one P. Morton Shand, who he
quotes about making soup. “A hot liquid of some perceptible consistency
is a necessary preliminary to the rest of dinner,” says Mr Shand who
was, of course, Tom’s great-grandfather (not that he mentions who he
was in the copy).

At long last the MoS has a royal scoop!

Boris’s word is worth a fiver

BLOND mountain biker Boris Johnson has done a £250,000 deal to stay
on at The Daily Telegraph as a star columnist, I learn over sherberts
in Canary Wharf.

It would be nice to say that the Tory MP landed the remarkable figure after a skilful bit of negotiation and tough talking.

But
I am told that The Telegraph feared Bo-Jo was about to be poached after
leaving The Spectator as editor last December. There was some concern
that Johnson would cut all ties with publications owned by the Barclay
twins, Fred and Dave.

“Boris was made an offer he couldn’t
refuse,” says my source. “Last year he was on a bit less than £50,000
from the Telegraph, so he’s come away with a pay rise that is well
ahead of the rate of inflation.”

Johnson files about 1,100 words
every week, and if he takes six weeks off (for bad behaviour) it means
that in return for doing 46 columns he is earning almost six grand a
column – or about a fiver a word.

David is confused and ST’s story is crackers

MIDDLE ENGLAND will have been shocked by a page-one report in last
weekend’s Sunday Times that scarily announced: “Pinta and sliced loaf
may face EU ban”.

Political editor David “Crackers”

Cracknell told readers:
“Laws that threaten the British ‘pinta’ and traditional loaf of sliced
bread are set to be waved through the European parliament this week.”

Cracknell’s
alarming news continued: “Under the rules, which replace British
imperial measures with a European metric system, the pint-sized milk
carton would be cut to half a litre. But with 68 millilitres fewer in
the pack, consumer groups fear the price will remain the same,
shortchanging customers.”

Tory MEP Chris Heaton- Harris was wheeled out to say: “These are unnecessary measures which will just end up confusing people…”

But is Crackers the one who is confused?

The day after his story appeared, BBC announced on its news website: “No EU threat to pint of milk”.

The
Beeb reported that the pinta is “not at all at risk” from legislation
going before MEPs. EU spokesman Simon Duffin explained that an
amendment had been passed at committee stage which protected Britain’s
beloved pint. “It’s pretty clear that pints can be sold,” he was quoted
as saying, “and will carry on being sold.”

Trev gets close to Simon – but not too close

SUN political writer Trevor Kavanagh posed for a photograph with
Simon Hughes to accompany his scoop that the Lib Dem leadership hopeful
is gay.

“Trevor, mate,” said the Sun snapper who was trying to get a tight shot, “can you move in a little closer to Simon?”

I am told that the Kavanagh eyebrows did an immediate little polka, along the lines of “you must be bloody joking!”.

 

the 1pm girl life begins at lunchtime

OVER at Trinity Mirror, Andrew Neil is apparently being considered as the next chairman.

Headhunters
have been hired to find Sir Victor Blank’s replacement and the rumour
on the editorial floors of the national titles is that Neil is being
talked about as a possible candidate.

Effectively, he is available.

Though
billed as the Barclay brothers’ right-hand man, he has recently hinted
that he is ready for something new: “It’s a gentlemen’s agreement… I’m
not handcuffed to them… There’s only a very basic contract…”

The boxes Neil ticks include: “Well Connected” (he has good political connections thanks to his TV show, The Daily Politics)

and “Stripping” (by which I mean his asset-selling abilities, vis-à-vis his sell-off of The Scotsman).

WILL
Lewis, deputy editor of The Daily Telegraph, swanned off to Davos for
the World Economic Forum the other day – and filed barely a word to his
paper.

This has gone down really badly with the Torygraph’s
acting editor John Bryant. Any hopes ex- Sunday Times and FT man Lewis
may have had of succeeding to the editorship of the Telegraph can
perhaps now be discounted.

I am told: “Bryant thinks Lewis
behaved like a tosser. He’s got to realise that he is no longer one of
those FT ivory tower types. He’s a working, writing editor and needs to
learn to file from the poshest power summit he attends.”

GUESTS
pitching up at the South London studios to appear on Richard and Judy’s
show are always greeted by warm smiles from the duo’s welcoming minions.

Yet
behind the cheerful grins, lackeys are fretting about what will happen
to them when Paul O’Grady starts sharing the slot with Mr and Mrs
Madeley.

“It’s all right for Richard and Judy,” says an anxious
member of the team, “because they have good contracts. But what about
the rest of us? If Richard and Judy are only working six months a year,
where does that leave us?”

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