Axe grinder 21.04.06

And they're off… all bids for Reilly

SUNDAY Mirror hacks who have lost a fortune on horse racing are now trying to get rid of the office tipster by selling him on eBay, I am sorry to report.

Tom Reilly was put up for sale with bidding starting at a penny. Mysteriously, he has now been withdrawn from the internet auction.

Reilly is the freelance who earlier this month, while working for The Sun, exposed a breach in Grand National security when he "got within doping distance of joint favourite Hedgehunter".

Reilly "was carrying eight tranquilliser pills as he strolled through three checkpoints and straight into the horse's box… He could have administered the acetylpromazine tablets used to calm horses — which would have left the champion off pace".

But at the Sunday Mirror his tips have proved several furlongs short of successful. On eBay he was described as: "Tom Reilly, Ace of Lies. He famously entered the stables of race favourite Hedgehunter 24 hours before the Grand National at Aintree. He was photographed feeding Hedgehunter, who was 7-1 favourite, some sugar lumps.

"Despite knowing first-hand the doping risks at such events, young Tom went on to place a £10 bet on him to win. Hedgehunter came in second. On Saturday April 15, he insisted he had a "great tip" on Rohaani, 3-1 favourite in the 3.15pm at Kempton. It came in second. Yours for a fair price, one Tom Reilly, slightly dog-eared, unable to either dope or pick a nag.

Except to come second.

"Low starting price as he is likely to end up costing you far more than you realise."

Sad Sue is not as chic as she thinks she is

THE SUMMER weather brings out two chic chicks…

CHIC chick 1: The Sunday Telegraph's new editor, Patience Wheatcroft, who has taken some time to think about what she would like as her chauffeur-driven company car. Now we know the answer. She can be seen cruising around Canary Wharf in a black Mercedes convertible, wind in her 54-year-old hair (and four-day-old hair extensions).

CHIC chick 2: Sue Peart, editor of You, has been showing off her customised vehicle registration plate. It is "Y-O-U". Very, very sad.

Isaby saga goes from bard to verse

THE ISABY saga, week three… Following the publication of his love poem, entitled Martha, Jonathan Isaby — deputy editor on the Telegraph's Spy diary — has a definite spring in his step.

"He has become the silver-tongued Lothario," I am told. "He's suddenly got really confident about chatting up women. He's still not getting anywhere, though."

Meanwhile, Parliamentary researcher Martha, the subject of Isaby's love poem, remains deeply traumatised by the experience. She is worried that the poem could have long-term effects on her career with Oliver Letwin, the policy director for the Tory Party.

Says one close to her: "Martha is concerned that Oliver will think she knows gossip columnists." Heavens.

Too weak delivery of The Week

AXEGRINDER reader Stephen Nadin is confused by an ad in The Guardian: "Get a copy of The Week absolutely free… allow 14 days for delivery."

As Stephen writes: "Speed not of the essence then, how about renaming it The Fortnightly?"

The perks of being the president

YOU LOSE your coat on a train. Do you a) vow to stop drinking; b) vow to stop wearing coats; c) use the resources of your newspaper organisation to try and find the garment?

‘C' is the answer if you're Edwin Boorman, president of the Kent Messenger Group. He was travelling from London to Kent one evening earlier this month and when the moment came to get off the train, he grabbed the cashmere coat that was hanging near him.

It was only the next morning, when Boorman put his hands in the coat's pockets and pulled out a woollen hat, that he realised the mistake.

Hence the remarkable item that appeared on the Kent Messenger's website, Kent Online: "A TRAIN passenger inadvertently picked up the wrong overcoat while on a journey from London to Kent on Monday, April 10.

"Edwin Boorman, president of the Kent Messenger Group, took someone else's coat when he alighted at Staplehurst station."

"His PA Penny Dyson said: ‘He apologises to the owner of this coat and presumes that this person has his coat.

He would be grateful if the person in possession of his coat could telephone 01622 859906 so arrangements could be made to swap coats.'"

So far, no calls.

Spot the loony (clue: he's not Jewish)

A WESTMINSTER hack urges Axegrinder readers to note the similarity between Ned Temko, number two political reporter on The Observer, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the loony now running Iran.

"There's one difference between the two men," says my friend. "Temko, an ex-editor of the Jewish Chronicle, is a rather nicer fellow than the Iranian leader."

The coppers on the gates of Parliament must do a double-take every time Ned passes through the security gates.

Loss of Mirror library may be embarrassing

THE MIRROR has said farewell to Steve, the last remaining member of the paper's in-house library. Yup, the Mirror no longer has a library.

Or rather it does, but from now on all cuttings are compiled electronically by the cheap labour in Delhi.

The India-based "librarians" have previously earned mentions in Axegrinder, you'll recall. It was the Delhi crew who lost an 'aitch from Horse Racing so that in the cuts it become "Orse racing".

And then there was that highly embarrassing and offensive match report of Scunthorpe United v Man City. It ended up in the digital cuts library with the ‘S' missing from Scunthorpe.

Tiny incentive means little enthusiasm

FRIENDS at the Newmarket Journal tell me of their new staff incentive scheme, hatched up by Johnston Press regional bods.

Apparently since the beginning of the year, any employee in the outposts of Newmarket, Haverhill or Sudbury can be entered for the award and win the extraordinary prize of a year's free parking at the Johnston regional office (King Street, Bury St Edmunds, home to the Bury Free Press).

Bosses are surprised by how few editorial staff are being entered for the award. The chiefs cannot understand the lack of enthusiasm being shown by the ungrateful hacks.

On yer bike, says that nice Charlie Stokes

THE INDY gets more ‘right on' with each passing day. Charlie Stokes, the nice guy from human resources, has emailed jaded staff to ask them to join a Cycle to Work scheme…

Writes Stokes: "Similar to the Home Computer Initiative, employees can make tax and NI savings on purchasing a bike through salary sacrifice. The idea is that employees can purchase a bike, with a considerable saving, and use it to travel to and from work on a regular basis, where practicable. Employees who have successfully completed their probationary period will be eligible to participate in this scheme.

"Please let me know if you would be interested in such a scheme being introduced, so that I may have an idea of numbers.

"As soon as it is confirmed that the scheme is going ahead, I will ensure that detailed information relating to the scheme is made available."

The mole who turned into a honey-trap

THERE'S a delightful twist of irony behind the recent arrest of Des Smith, the ex-Downing Street adviser involved in the cash for honours scandal.

Smith was initially caught in a Sunday Times Insight sting, published on 15 January, when he outlined a "shopping list", i.e. how much the high-rollers would have to donate to Blair's flagship city academies in order to get a gong.

Smith outlined his plans to a reporter posing as a PR called Claire, who claimed to be representing an entrepreneur who was interested in making a donation.

Claire and Smith had a three-course dinner at Mosimann's, followed by drinks at a champagne bar at Liverpool Street. Later on, Claire took Sir Cyril Taylor, head of the city academy trust, for lunch at L'Oranger. And then Smith took Claire (keep up, keep up) to a restaurant below the Nicole Farhi boutique in Bond Street, where they chatted over wine and food.

Not long after that, Claire again met Smith in the champagne bar inside the Great Eastern hotel at Liverpool Street, where they had a few glasses of wine and then he bought her a meal at the Fishmarket restaurant inside the hotel.

And it was over that particular meal that Smith allegedly explained how donors could be put forward for honours and how, if they gave enough money, even get a peerage.

Claire was, in fact, Sunday Times reporter Claire Newell. Interestingly enough, Newell is most famous because she was the Cabinet Office mole who got a job in Whitehall and promptly handed over a host of secret papers to the paper's political editor, David "Crackers" Cracknell, and other staffers. The irony is that, had the Government taken action against Newell and prosecuted her, she may never have been at The Sunday Times to honey-trap Smith into the errors which led to his arrest and have embarrassed Blair & Co.

So when is the first pic not the first?

THE MAIL on Sunday gave up most of page three last weekend to the first ever picture of the Queen (below). The shot showed the baby Princess Elizabeth being held by Richard Speaight, a favoured photographer of the time.

"An historic picture taken 80 years ago — and published for the first time today." Just in case readers didn't get the message, the MoS reminded them. "Its reproduction in The Mail on Sunday — to mark the Monarch's 80th birthday on Friday — is the first time it has been published." Great stuff.

But hang on a sec. What's this in the centre spread of the Sunday Mirror on the same day? An 80-year-old snap of Mr Speaight cuddling baby Liz. "We find her very first photo." Under an "exclusive" billing, writer Zoe Nauman proudly tells readers: "… Now we have unearthed the first photograph of HRH."

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