Axe grinder 05.05.06

Kavanagh loses the plot as Sun editor

FASCINATING developments in the career of Rupert Murdoch's favourite tabloid man, Trevor Kavanagh (pictured right). Last Sunday, he found himself for the first time in the mighty position of editing The Sun.

Staff were shocked because it was news to them that the political veteran's name was even on the rota to edit. The big questions now: was he being tested for bigger things? Will he take control of a Murdoch title? Whatever the case, he seemed quite at home, basing himself in deputy editor Bogus Shanahan's office. At the morning "plot" meeting, Kavanagh studied the flatplans and then said: "Right then, where does everything go?"

Staff looked embarrassed, but they adore Kavanagh too much to have replied: "Erm, that's for you to decide, Trev…"

Lest anyone could accuse him of being politically biased, Kavanagh avoided the Clarke and Prezza stories as splash material. Instead, Kavanagh — not known as a football fan — led Monday's paper with a Wayne Rooney exclusive.

Meanwhile, I am told that Kavanagh is feeling silly about the Prescott revelations. He made the mistake of telling Wapping colleagues that "everyone knew that Prescott has had a string of affairs". He repeated the remark on BBC radio. It begs the obvious question: why didn't he break these stories in The Sun?

It's a knockout as Watts flies out of Shaftas

TWO MEMORIES from last week's Shafta awards… 1) Lots of table-hopping PRs asked how well everyone knew "KO". At the Sunday Mirror they know him as TV critic Kevin O'Sullivan.

2) The Daily Star's Amy Watts discovered a unique way to leave such a boozy event. Rather than walk down the stairs, Watts decided to fly down them.

Surprisingly, she had a crash landing.

At hospital she was treated for cuts to her face.

Fingers crossed, the black eyes will have disappeared in time for Watts'

wedding later this month.

Your hubby's a real fouler, Pauline

WORD GOING round is that when John Prescott learned that details of his affair were to break, he jumped into his car, rushed home, and confessed to Pauline… about the wrong woman!

New Mail man delivers advice

IT WAS quite wrong of Axegrinder to state last week that Danny Kruger had applied for a leader-writer's job at the Daily Mail.

I now learn that the Telegraph comment editor did not apply for the post, but was in fact approached by Mail editor Paul Dacre, who offered to double Kruger's salary if he jumped ship.

The writer was tempted. But he sought advice from a wise old friend at the Telegraph, who encouraged him to turn down the handsome offer and stay put.

And who was the sage who convinced Kruger to remain at Canary Wharf?

Yup, none other than Tom Utley.

That's Tom Utley, who is now leaving the Telegraph to, erm, take a job as leader-writer at the Daily Mail.

Talk about punch-drunk

SPOTTED at the £80-a-head Cecconi's restaurant in Mayfair: Times sports man Ron Lewis lunching with Britain's most powerful boxing promoter, Frank Warren.

It was difficult to hear precisely what they were saying. But the gist of their lunch meeting was to resolve a problem that Warren had with The Times after it wrote something nasty about him.

He had been considering legal action against the paper. But over the meal Lewis managed to restore relations with Warren, and the pair of them cheerfully left the restaurant, having sorted out the problem.

Lewis should be applauded for his doggedness. The poor man was forced to put up with glass after glass of fine white wine before finally clinching the ceasefire deal and stepping away from the table at exactly 6.22pm. Whatever happened to short lunches?

IPC staff try to lift spirits with love in elevator

BORED STAFF at IPC have created a website to tell the world about their lives of monotony in King's Reach Tower, Stamford Street.

Entitled "Lifts Now!!" the site is aimed at "people who work at publishing companies in tall buildings and spend all their time waiting for the lifts".

The articles at are all, of course, lift-related. They include a touching love story written by "Mary".

"I was in a packed lift on the ground floor waiting for the doors to open… "We had only been waiting for a few months when I saw him briefly glance in my direction. I was shocked and thrilled! I had noticed him a few weeks ago but had never dreamt he'd make a move, especially with so many people around us. I intently stared ahead, motionless, saying nothing, so that he wouldn't notice my excitement, but it was obvious to everyone we liked each other.

"From then on things moved really quickly. We soon built a rapport and started to share little jokes, the way lovers do. At one point, I cleared my throat, and only three days later he did the same. One time we slightly shuffled our feet at once! It was all so brazen…"

Easy, tiger, you imagined it all

THE NEWS of the World's first edition last weekend provided a exhilarating account of John Prescott's affair with diary secretary Tracey Temple.

The Mail on Sunday had yet to drop, so James Weatherup took a punt on what Temple's diaries might include. Hence, Weatherup's exclusive under the headline "The Lardy and the Tramp": "Two-shags John Prescott is under new pressure today after lurid claims in his mistress's sex diaries that he was FOUR shags a night… "In a series of devastating entries, leather-trousered secretary Tracey Temple reveals how Prescott:

  • Romped with her in the afternoons at his plush grace-and-favour London home, Admiralty House;
  • Performed like a tiger and was incredibly enthusiastic in bed, despite his age and bulk;
  • Whispered indiscreetly about Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and other Cabinet colleagues as the lovers lay cuddling after sex."

Alas, this proved to be nothing more than a Weatherup wish-list. Annoyingly for him, The Mail on Sunday hit the stands with Temple's real version of events. There was no mention of bonking four (or FOUR!) times a night. No mention of Prezza performing "like a tiger". And no mention of the Deputy PM whispering "indiscreetly about Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and other Cabinet colleagues". Oh well…

He'd be handy in the Andes

MEANWHILE, Screws hacks are preparing for the Three Peaks Challenge — climbing the highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales in just 24 hours — later this month. It's a glorified think-tank bonding exercise, but also a fundraiser.

One member of the tabloid's staff — with a mile-wide streak of competitiveness — has been worrying that he might not be the first to reach the peaks.

With this in mind, he's been preparing for the feat. Last Sunday, he headed off to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands and scaled Ben Nevis. A dummy run, if you like, ahead of the charity climb.

Who is the man in the well-worn mountain boots? None other than Andy Coulson, editor of the Screws. When the rest of his team are wheezing their way up the gruelling 1,344m of Ben Nevis, triumphant Coulson will be planting the flagpole at the top.

Feeling Week at the fees

NOW THAT The Week is doing so well financially — well enough to mount a major advertising campaign — is it perhaps time the weekly digest magazine started paying for the privilege of reprinting other people's work?

Fleet Street has very kindly let The Week vulture off its leftovers for several years. But might writers — particularly freelances — now be justified in asking for reproduction fees?

Farm yields diary harvest

REBEKAH Wade's recent "think-tank"

trip to a health farm — she took an entourage of Sun staff — was not in vain, it transpires.

The manicures, pedicures and waxings inspired Wade and her team to come up with an idea: the paper will have a Bridget Jones-style diary. And it will be written by Sharon Marshall.

Marshall is the former TV editor of the News of the World and the "soap expert" on This Morning (by which I mean she talks about EastEnders rather than provides Phil and Fern with hand wash).

It never rains but it pours

THERE WAS not much effort by David Hill, Tony Blair's press chief, to disguise his thoughts about the Prescott bonking tale broken by the Daily Mirror.

Journalists were just filing into the Commons gallery when a surprisingly genial Hill arrived and lifted his eyes melodramatically to the ceiling, as if to say "what a palaver — don't blame me!".

BBC chokes on its Breakfast

BIT TRICKY for BBC's Breakfast programme to report the John Prescott bonking story on the day it broke.

The show was being co-presented by Sian Williams, herself involved in a much-reported marital split recently.

Jade Goody is unwell Now

MOUTHY C-list celebrity Jade Goody, who was unable to reach the finishing post in the London Marathon, is causing migraines at Now.

Though the BB star was paid to write a column for the magazine, there is no sign of her usual wit and wisdom in this week's issue. When Goody failed to meet her deadline, staff tried to get hold of her, but were simply greeted by the mobile message: "It's Jade. Leave a message and I'll get back to yer."

Alas, she got back to no one. She is now being described as the chavs'

answer to Jeffrey Bernard, the late Spectator columnist who was notoriously deadline-shy.

Why didn't she marry Barrie?

THE PRICE of fame. The Daily Mirror paid Tracey Temple's ex-fiance Barrie Williams £30,000 for his story (rather han the figure of £20,000, as reported by The Times). The Mail on Sunday, by contrast, stumped up £250,000 for Ms Temple to talk about herself "+ Prezza".

Restoration of Mirror morale?

FOLLOWING the spate of morale-sapping redundancies at the Mirror's national titles, there comes a ray of sunshine for the remaining staff.

The Sunday Mirror's Zena Alli emails journalists to ask them if they would like to have their garden furniture tidied up.

"Does anyone have an old deckchair that they would like to have recovered?"

asks Alli. "Homes and Holidays is planning to do a garden revamp feature and would like to update an old deckchair.

Please email Angela Macfarlane if you can help."

Just in case staff are unable to produce tatty deckchairs, Alli tosses in the payoff line: "We also need unwanted CDs — any type."

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