Banks' Notes 21.04.06

THE STORY SO FAR: an exclusive front in the New York Daily News alleged that Page Six, the rival New York Post’s renowned gossip column, edited by the improbably named Jared Paul Stern, had indulged in a shocking breach of ethics by demanding $100,000 and up to $10,000 a month from billionaire Californian businessman Ron Burkle in exchange for "keeping out the bad stuff and running the good stuff" in the column.

Currently the dog-eat-dog-fight is in a "watch this kennel" phase: the Feds are investigating, Stern has been suspended and the backhanded beneficiary has been the wily and revelatory Daily News.

Now, here’s where Banksy butts in: it is, as you will come to see, a very British war that’s being fought on the other side of the pond.

And as I’ve worked on both of the Big Apple tabloids currently tearing lumps out of each other, I thought I would let you in on a little undisclosed or ill-remembered tittle-tattle.

Essentially it’s a battle fought between Double Cols (my old mates Col Allan and Colin Myler, respectively editor-in-chief and executive editor at Rupe’s Post) and "Party" Marty Dunn, who is — take a deep breath — editor-in-chief, editorial director and deputy publisher to owner Mort Zuckerman at the News.

Aussie Col Allan, 52, was my deputy and eventual successor at the Daily Telegraph, Sydney. He is a superb newsman with a hardman image (not for nothing is he known as "Col Pot" after another Asia-Pacific tyrant!). His alleged worst mistake? In his ’70s bachelor days he’s said to have taken an Asian beauty back to his apartment only to discover "she" was a "he" with tackle intacta.

"Jeez!" yelled Col (his only ejaculation that night!), and ejected the ladyboy into the freezing street wearing not a stitch. All apocryphal, I’m sure.

Col’s Number Two, Widnes lad Colin Myler, was editor of the Sunday Mirror and later succeeded me at the Daily Mirror (anyone see a pattern emerging here?). His return to the Sunday ended with the dramatic collapse of the trial of two Leeds United footballers after publication of pre-trial evidence which sullied the case (and which of us can honestly say he hasn’t nearly trodden that path?)

And what of my old mucker Marty Dunn? Kelvin MacKenzie’s former deputy at The Sun and editor of the now-defunct Today did a stint as editor of the Daily News before returning to his several hot seats in New York two or three years ago.

An ardent West Brom fan, Cuddly Dudley (named for his West Midlands home town) once got into a dispute with a colleague over the identity of the scorer of the Baggies’ winning goal in the 1954 FA Cup Final, a row which only ended when he rang the alleged (and now retired) matchwinner. Yelling down the phone, he screamed "You bloody well DID!" when the bemused former Baggies’ heroturned- deaf pensioner denied ever scoring, let alone in a Cup Final.

Turning to his triumphant colleagues (and this should send a chill down the spine of the two Cols in New York), a defiant Dunn — never one to be beaten — said through gritted teeth: "He’s gone fucking senile!"

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