Axegrinder 23.03.07

Mirror’s Duffy rumbled over bin privacy promise

Mirror Group managing editor Eugene Duffy was unequivocal when asked by the Departure for Culture Media and Sport Select Committee two weeks ago about whether it is OK to rifle through people’s bins.

He said: “First, we do not go through people’s bins.

We have never found much material there worth publishing.”

Nothing, that is, apart from the two page investigation in this week’s Sunday Mirror which appeared under the strapline Nappygate. A trawl through Tory leader David Cameron’s bins by Sunday Mirror reporters revealed, among other things, that he “uses a mountain of non-eco nappies” and doesn’t recycle his paper and cardboard.

It is not for Axegrinder to judge whether or not the Sunday Mirror’s rummaging was sufficiently in the public interest to justify breaching Cameron’s privacy.

Although when the Sunday Mirror is preparing its defence case for the PCC, it might think about including this snippet from a Cameron interview with Sky News back in January: Robert Nisbet: “Are all your light bulbs changed over?”

David Cameron: “No – not all the light bulbs are changed. Some are, some aren’t – we need to look at that. Recycling, I try to do my best but if Sky went through my bins I’m sure you’d find a couple of bits of rubbish going the wrong way.”

Exclusive: Walsh sacked AND resigned

So, was Louis Walsh sacked as an X Factor judge by arch-rival Simon “Mr Nasty” Cowell or did he leave of his own accord? Well, for readers of The Sun, it all depends what side of the Irish Sea you live on.

YES, according to the English edition’s “exclusive” splash by showbiz editor Victoria Newton on Friday 9 March who reported that the axing came as “a real shock” to the Irish pop mogul.

But hang on a minute. The page seven headline of the paper’s Irish edition on the same day screamed: “Shock as Lou QUITS X Factor”.

In another “exclusive” story, Walsh explained to Dublin-based Eoin Murphy that he was NOT sacked.

Instead it was his decision said Louis, explaining: “I think the show needed a bit of a shake-up and it was the right time for me to get out.”

So that’s a NO, then.

Well not quite. Because the following day The Sun’s front page had Louis, now described as “a pop svengali”, exclusively revealing to reporter Sara Nathan: “I was really shocked. I feel I have been stabbed in the back.”

Please allow me to introduce myself

Newly-appointed hacks at the Telegraph are being encouraged to use the group’s intranet system as a means of “introducing”

themselves to other staffers.

Sally Peck, who has taken a job as a “production journalist” on the digital editorial team, greets fellow employees in the third person. “Sally has lived in London, Beijing, New York and California,” writes Peck of herself. She has degress (sic) in Chinese and History of Art.”

Mackay to the rescue in tout investigation

The Daily Mirror’s investigative columnist, Andrew Penman, encountered problems when he was despatched to the Canary Isles to expose holiday clubs, the modern-day version of time shares.

The scam works thus – ticket touts hand out scratch cards to British tourists who are then lured into a hotel conference suite where they are, in turn submitted to a sales patter and asked to give a deposit of £500.

Penman and his male snapper arrived in Tenerife with the intention of coming face-to-face with the conmen.

However, the Mirror duo spent two days strolling past touts hoping to be offered the scratch cards and were given none.

Eventually it dawned on Penman that the touts only target couples. It seemed he wouldn’t be able to stand up the story and so Penman considered returning to Canary Wharf.

But before checking out of his hotel, he sent a text message to Don Mackay, fellow Mirror reporter and Fleet Street legend. Mackay happened to be holidaying with his wife, the actress Nichola McAuliffe, on a neighbouring island. “See you tomorrow,” texted Mackay.

The following morning the Mackays duly got a ferry to Tenerife, were handed tickets by the touts, ended up in a conference suite and came away with all the info that Penman had been trying to nail.

McAuliffe, a seasoned star of London’s West End, emerged from the encounter – the sting – and was asked by Penman and his photographer the secret of her subterfuge. “I played a South London slapper,” she replied.

MoS relief over royal baby scoop

“Camilla to be a grandmother” ran the triumphant front page exclusive by the Mail on Sunday’s diarist Katie Nicholl.

Thankfully, Katie did not have to hammer her contacts book too hard to dig up the royal scoop about the impending parenthood of Camilla’s son Tom Barker Bowles and wife Sara Buys.

In the sugary piece on page three, Katie helpfully reminds us that TPB is a columnist for the paper’s Live magazine and equally helpfully plugs his book.

And not only that, it turns out Sara “writes a fashion column in the Mail on Sunday’s You magazine”.

However, twitchy staffers at the MoS are breathing a huge sigh of relief.

“Imagine what would have happened if we didn’t get it first,” whispers my trembling spy.

Axegrinder just hopes the couple do the decent thing and share their first baby pix with the MoS and aren’t tempted by a wad of cash from Hello!

Reading Axe could save you from honey trap

It’s always a joy to return to the antics of Claire Newell – the pretty reporter who has ageing hacks at The Sunday Times slavering around her.

Two Government ministers have become the victims of Newell’s latest honey-trap or sting – depending on your point of view – after being accused of helping a firm of lobbyists.

Both Prison Minister Gerry Sutcliffe and Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman have fiercely protested they’ve done nothing wrong in chatting to ex-Labour MP Ivan Henderson who works for the lobbying firm Golden Arrow Communications.

But if only the pair had read Axegrinder last year, their encounter with the undercover Newell in a smart restaurant could have easily been avoided.

I revealed Newell’s tactics and the list of swanky bars and restaurants where she met ex-Downing Street adviser Des Smith as part of the Sunday Times cash for honours inquiry.

She posed as the PA of an entrepreneur who was interested in making a donation to Tony Blair’s city academy schools to get Smith talking over wine and champagne – allegedly about how donations could secure honours including a peerage.

After her story appeared, Smith was arrested as part of the cash for honours inquiry. He was released without charge, but subsequently said the experience left him on the brink of suicide.

Before that, Newell was the paper’s mole in the Cabinet Office after she got a job there as an office temp a couple of years ago.

Despite being suspected over a string of leaks from Government back to Wapping, she was never prosecuted.

Axegrinder hears a whisper from Westminster that politicians are now frantically searching out a picture of Newell to issue with a “stay away”

health warning to MPs.

Hold the front page: I’m having a nap

Good to see that Simon Kelner’s routine after lunch at The Ivy remains blissfully uninterrupted after the huge round of redundancies at his paper.

“I have to have a little nap on my sofa every afternoon, but I don’t feel I’ve run out of energy yet,” says The Independent’s editor-in-chief, who is known to enjoy the odd evening of post-work relaxation at The Groucho Club.

I just wonder how Kelner would react to his underlings enjoying Spanish-style siestas in the newsroom.

There’s panic brewing at Canary Wharf

There’s panic at the Mirror’s Canary Wharf HQ where hacks fear their traditional cuppa is under threat.

Bosses want to remove all kettles from the floors used by the Mirror, Sunday Mirror, People and Racing Post.

The management claims it’s to help save the planet, but hacks fear it’s a plot to save on the company’s electricity bill.

In a memo headed “kettle replacement to save 8 tonne (sic) of CO2 per year”, hacks received the following ominous warning: “All kettles will be removed once new ZIP water boilers are installed in the pantries on floors 23, 22, 20 and 19 on Thursday 22nd March 2007.”

Clearly fearing a backlash, the memo goes on to explain the advantages of the new boilers and the problems with kettles.

“The advantage of the ZIP water boilers are: 1. No waiting time – instant boiling water.

2. Hygiene regime – cleaning service provided.

3. Reduction in electrical use 4. Reduction in CO2 output Twenty kettles have been identified on the floors including the existing pantry kettles.

There are some anomalies not included in the following calculation, these are: 1. The pantry kettles receive much more than average use.

2. Many users actually empty warm water from the kettles and refill with clean which requires extra electricity to bring the kettle back to boiling”

And just in case, anyone doubts the wisdom of removing the beloved kettles, the memo goes on to list a host of bewildering statistics from Aston University about just how bosses arrived at the “8 tonne” of carbon emissions caused by the kettles.

Strangely, the management failed to mention the most environmentally friendly action it could take – to stop printing millions of newspapers each day and sending them all over Britain in a fleet of lorries. Or is Axegrinder just missing the point?

Glass houses news from the Indy

Sun columnist and gobby radio presenter Jon Gaunt is one of Independent columnist Matthew Norman’s regular targets in his media diary.

He has a pop at Gaunty “polishing his elegant prose until you could shave in its reflection”. Pity that the point is undermined by Norman’s next few words: “So its mdunderstandable (sic)

that he missed such devastating demolitions of Mr Durkin’s programme”.

Looks like Matty should be demolishing a couple of redundant consonants or reading his proofs more carefully before taking a swipe at Gaunty for not having “time to read newspapers”.

Fawkes is drawn to Express hack

Express gossip writer Katy Taylor- Richards is fast becoming a star of one of Westminster’s best read blogs called Guido Fawkes.

It appears the anonymous blogger has developed something of a crush on Katy, who used to work as a researcher to a Tory MP.

Guido has been offering a “boozy Friday lunch” with himself and young Katy in aid of Red Nose Day.

When Axegrinder last checked, the highest bid had reached a surprisingly high £450. There must be pretty some lonely, or extremely charitable, people out there.

If you have an axe to grind – or some scandal to share, email axegrinder@pressgazette.co.uk Alternatively, call the Press Gazette newsdesk on 020 7234 2337

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