Tuesday, September 13, 2011

He Scores, He Shoots. Or, Is It The Other Way Round?

Natalie Rowe, the former escort agency owner - and, according to the Independent, dominatrix - who claimed to be 'friends' with the chancellor George Osborne, has told an Australian broadcaster that her phone was hacked by the Scum of the World. She told ABC News that Scotland Yard has informed her of her mobile phone number and other personal details appearing on notebooks seized from the home of Glenn Mulcaire, the jailed private investigator who was extensively employed by the disgraced and disgraceful former tabloid. Rowe, who ran an agency called Black Beauties in the 1990s, sold a story about the alleged 'friendship' with Osborne to the Sunday Mirra in 2005. She claimed at the time that she and Osborne had snorted cocaine together. Osborne has always strenuously denied this. Rowe told the ABC's PM programme that she was 'surprised' to see the same story appear in the Scum of the World on the same day. The paper was then edited by Andy Coulson. At the time the stories appeared Osborne issued a statement of denial: 'The allegations are completely untrue and dredging up a photo from when I was twenty two years old is pretty desperate stuff. This is merely part of an absurd smear campaign to divert attention from the issues that matter in this leadership contest and I am confident that people will not be distracted by this rubbish.' Both titles published an old picture of Rowe and Osborne together, arm-in-arm, with a white powder, which they alleged was cocaine, in the foreground. When the stories were published six years ago, Osborne's office dismissed them as 'a slur' and said that Rowe was a 'casual acquaintance' whom the future chancellor 'barely knew.' Speaking to ABC, Rowe repeated her claims about Osborne taking illegal drugs. Rowe said: 'George Osborne did take cocaine on that night.' Rowe's solicitor Mark Lewis has also given an interview to ABC. Noting that Coulson was editor of the Scum of the World, Lewis said: 'I think that's worth remembering because of the future relationship that we have between the Conservative party, the prime minister and Andy Coulson.' It has since been claimed that David Cameron hired Coulson as the Conservative party's communications director largely on Osborne's advice.

The Football Association 'will defend its policy' of keeping the identity of players who fail drug tests for recreational substances confidential in the wake of a Channel Four documentary that named a Scottish international as one of those who had served a ban in secret. According to the Gruniad, anyway. The Dispatches documentary revealed that the former Birmingham City striker Garry O'Connor failed a drug test for cocaine when he played for the club, believed to be during the 2009-10 season, with his ban coinciding with an injury. In its pre-publicity, Channel Four had said the programme would reveal 'a multimillion-pound footballer' was 'transferred without the buying club being informed he had failed a drugs test.' O'Connor just about fits the multimillion-pound tag having moved from Hibernian to Lokomotiv Moscow in 2006 for £1.6m and then to Birmingham for £2.7m a year later. Although, I think, to be fair the vast majority of Premier League fans when hearing the name of the supposed 'top Premiership player' that pre-publicity had alluded to might be forgiven for having the initial thought of 'who? Oh, hang on, didn't he used to play for Birmingham'? And, I'm including at least a couple of Birmingham fans in that number.  The player later moved to Barnsley on a free transfer and then returned to Hibs this summer when out of contract. The FA has long had a policy of testing for recreational drugs, which, it argues, it is not required to do by the World Anti-Doping Agency, but keeping positive tests confidential if they are not recorded 'in competition' on a match day. The FA will argue that the vast majority of those who fail tests for cocaine and cannabis are young players whose names should remain confidential in order to give them the best chance of rehabilitation. The programme said it had seen details revealing the identities of 'dozens' of players, whose failed tests are listed on the UK Anti-Doping website but whose names remain confidential. However, Channel Four failed to actually name so much as one of them. 'The FA prohibits all the doping offences listed in the World Anti-Doping Agency code and applies all the sanctions laid down in the code for those offences,' an FA spokesman said. 'In addition the FA, supported by all the football stakeholders, recognise the issues that social drugs may cause and choose to go beyond the WADA code by proactively testing all samples for social drugs, irrespective of whether the tests are conducted in or out of competition. Football is one of the only sports in the UK that ban social drugs at all times, and were the first to do so. Any player who tests positive for a social drug out of competition is charged and subject to a sanction which ordinarily includes a suspension from all football activity for a period of up to six months for a first-time offence. They are also subject to target testing for a period of two years. The FA do not report the name of the player as this offence is not a WADA Code offence and privacy allows for the player to undergo any necessary rehabilitation and counselling.' O'Connor, who won his first Scottish cap at eighteen and has played sixteen times for his country, was due to appear in court in Edinburgh last week accused of possessing cocaine and running away from police when they attempted to take his details. O'Connor was absent but the sheriff court continued the case without plea until later this month. The twenty eight-year-old, who was charged shortly after rejoining Hibs in June, was on Monday believed to be waiting for the programme to be broadcast before deciding how to respond. The programme also claimed to have discovered that between April 2007 and August 2010, two hundred and forty drugs tests had to be abandoned because testers turned up at training grounds but players were not there. The clubs involved were said to include Manchester City, Liverpool, Fulham, Everton, Swansea, Crystal Palace and, of course, Newcastle. I just knew my lot'd manage to find themselves folded into this story in some way. But FA 'insiders', the Gruniad claim, said that those figures equated to sixty abandoned tests, because each one involved testing four participants. They added that averaged out at five abandoned testing missions due to last-minute schedule changes per-league per-season, including youth and reserve teams. The documentary also claimed that 'internal documents' revealed UK Anti-Doping believed the six-month ban handed to Manchester City striker Kolo Touré for taking a banned substance found in slimming pills was weak. 'UKAD always seeks expert opinion on a decision that may be considered, or perceived to be considered, lenient to defend the interests of clean sport,' said a spokeswoman. 'UKAD, FIFA, the FA and WADA had the opportunity to appeal the Kolo Touré decision. However, following legal consultation, UK Anti-Doping deemed that an appeal lacked the necessary point of law.' In other areas, the programme completely failed to live up to its hard-hitting pre-publicity. They made specific accusations about two players having been found to have overly high levels of testosterone in their systems during tests but, with a spectacular lack of drama, failed to name either for 'legal reasons.' Which basically amounted to, they had no evidence of wrongdoing and they knew full-well that they'd get their arses sued into the middle of next week if they dared to name names. So, they called them 'Player A' and 'Player B' instead. Cowards. All in all, as with several of the BBC's Panorama investigations into the murky world of transfer dealings, Dispatches promised much in the way of Shock! Horror! Probe! but, ultimately, failed to deliver much that wasn't speculation or innuendo. Their conclusions about the amount of footballers on-the-cheese, snowflaked, smacked-up, blissed-out or caked-off might well be true. Hell, there's often little smoke without fire. But, and it's a huge but, until they have the courage to come out and identify those to whom they are referring to, I do think many it's unreasonable for viewers to take their accusations with a significant pinch of salt. Or, at least, something powdery that looks like salt.

[spooks] is back next week and thank goodness for that, frankly. But yer actual Keith Telly Topping's excitement of watching the acclaimed and award-winning BBC1 espionage drama - a particular favourite of he - is tempered not only by the fact that this is the last series but also the additional fact that we are going to get slightly fewer bangs for our licence fee. There will be only six episodes in the final series 'because of money,' star Peter Firth tells the new issue of Radio Times. Plus several stunts involving explosions, car crashes and helicopter crashes may have to occur off-screen and then be merely talked about rather than actually seen, reports the magazine. Rumours that budgetary issues also mean the farewell series is based around the exploits of MI four-and-a-bit cannot, at this time, be confirmed or denied.

David Walliams has completed his swim across the River Thames, raising over one million smackers for Sport Relief. The Little Britain comedian made it one hundred and forty miles across the London river in eight days, finishing under Westminster Bridge. Walliams's achievement comes despite catching a nasty stomach bug last Thursday, which caused him severe vomiting and diarrhoea, after swallowing some of the river's water. During the challenge, Walliams also rescued a struggling Labrador at the weekend. Speaking on The ONE Show after finishing, Walliams said: 'I'm okay, I'm a bit tired. [I feel] incredible relief, because I must say I'm over swimming. I feel like I've done enough swimming for one lifetime. There was a lot against me, and the water was a lot colder than we expected, and getting ill was just the worse because when you're feeling sick the last thing you want to do is exercise. That was really low because it got to me mentally as well. I lost my mojo completely - it was really tough.'

Coronation Street actor Philip Lowrie has achieved a Guinness World Record for his return to the soap after a forty three-year gap. Lowrie departed the soap as Dennis Tanner in 1968, but made his comeback in May of this year aged seventy five. Guinness World Records has now awarded the actor with the honour of 'Longest gap between TV appearances as the same character.' On his achievement, Lowrie said: 'Best Actor, Best Actress - these awards come round every twelve months, and there's a different Best Actor and there's a different Best Actress. But to have a World Record is absolutely unique and will stand forever. I wonder if anybody else will beat forty three years?' Guinness World Records has announced the latest batch of television records in preparation for its newest edition of its book, to be released on 15 September. The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton broke the record for 'Most live streams for a single event', while US medical drama House has taken the prize for 'Most popular programme currently on TV'.

Cheryl Ladd has signed up for a guest role in the new season of NCIS. The former Charlie's Angels star will play a love interest for Ducky (David McCallum), according to Entertainment Weekly. Ladd played Kris Munroe on the original Charlie's Angels from 1977 to 1981. Her more recent credits include a series regular role on NBC's Las Vegas from 2003 to 2008 and guest stints on CSI: Miami and Charmed. Last month, the producer of ABC's new Charlie's Angels reboot hinted that Ladd could make a cameo in the series. She is the latest of a number of nostalgia figures - including Lily Tomlin, Jamie Lee Curtis and Robert Wagner - to have been cast in NCIS.

A controversial ITV drama about serial killer Fred West has been criticised as 'inaccurate and sensationalist' by the police officer who led the investigation of the murders. Retired Gloucestershire police superintendent John Bennett said that Appropriate Adult 'glossed over the facts' and gave 'undeserved' kudos to the role played by Janet Leach, the 'appropriate adult' assigned to West and played in the drama by Emily Watson. However, the former police officer - played in the drama by Robert Glenister - said that the portrayal of Fred and Rose West, by actors Dominic West and Monica Dolan, was 'hauntingly accurate.' Bennett's main criticisms of the drama were based on Leach's 'exaggerated role.' He said that she broke a confidentiality agreement by selling her story to the papers, and was 'continually contacting' West while he was on remand in Winson Green Prison. He also said that the drama did not include Leach's later and unsuccessful attempt to sue Gloucestershire Constabulary. Bennett accepted that the drama gave 'an even deeper insight' into the psyche of Fred and Rose West, who tortured, raped and murdered an unknown number of women over a twenty-year period. But he feels that there were too many inaccuracies in the portrayal of events. 'It is true ITV conducted years of "extensive research" but seemingly for the purpose of the "story" dismissed and misrepresented relevant facts which they know they were made aware of - including her evidence given at the trial,' he said. 'For this series, seventeen years on, to convey to a generation that witnessed the horror and tragic events in Gloucestershire unfold and now the next generation that was then too young to know, that the content of this series truly and accurately reflected what occurred, when it does not, I believe is wrong and inflammatory and needs saying. Anyone having seen these programmes should not base any opinion purely on the content.' Which, of course, is an entirely fair argument, it was, after all, a drama not a documentary. In March, Fred West's daughter Anne Marie Davis criticised ITV's decision to commission Appropriate Adult, saying that she felt 'physically sick' upon hearing about plans to turn the 'tragic events which devastated so many people's lives into a TV drama.' All of which would be a hell of a lot more convincing if Davis herself hadn't already sold her own story, Out of the Shadows: Fred West's Daughter Tells Her Harrowing Story of Survival, to Simon & Shuster in 1995. She didn't seem overly concerned about the public airing of 'tragic events which devastated so many people's lives' back then. The book is now out of print, incidentally, which may explain her incandescent rage at ITV. Perhaps we'll never care.

Wentworth Miller has signed up for a guest role in the new season of House. The former Prison Break star will appear in the FOX drama's eighth run as House's latest patient, according to TV Line. 'He plays a real altruist,' revealed House creator David Shore. 'And there's some question as to whether that's his symptom or not.' miller is best known for playing Michael Scofield on Prison Break from 2005 to 2009, and has also appeared in episodes of Law & Order: SVU and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Earlier this year, the actor signed up to appear in ABC drama pilot Identity, but the project was not picked up to series. Other guest stars confirmed for the new season of House include The Lincoln Laywer actor Michael Paré and former child star Jaleel White.

Lord Snooty Julian Fellowes was memorably dismissive last year about people who highlighted anachronisms and inaccuracies in his ratings-busting ITV drama, Downton Abbey. A TV aerial on a roof, for instance, and the occasional double yellow line. 'The real problem is with people who are insecure socially,' he said. 'They think to show how smart they are by picking holes in the programme to promote their own poshness and to show that their knowledge is greater than your knowledge.' He also attempted to make the argument into a political one by muttering darkly about 'the left' when, in fact, most of the criticism had come from those two bastions of Trotskyist revisionism, the letters pages of the Daily Scum Mail and the Daily Torygraph. But now Lord Snooty has had something of a change of heart it would seem, admitting he had 'behaved rather badly by getting the hump.' You think? He told the new issue of Radio Times: 'So this time round, I thought we should get a newspaper to do a "This week's mistakes on Downton" column and we would have the right to reply. Don't you think that would be good?' Or, maybe make an ITV2 spin-off show out of it to accompany the launch of the new series this Sunday. Lady Downton's Bloomers? But what about that TV aerial, Lord Snooty? He told the listings mag it had 'somehow fell through the system, which was sloppy, and I was annoyed about that.'

Mature Strictly Come Dancing contestants Edwina Currie and Nancy Dell'Olio have reportedly 'fallen out.' Presumably over which of them is a greater example of mutton dressed as lamb.
Put 'em away, ladies, we get the message.

One of Europe's largest banks, Société Générale, is reportedly planning to take legal action against the Scum Mail on Sunday for defamation after it claimed the bank was in a 'perilous' state and on the 'brink of disaster.' The Scum Mail on Sunday sent shares in the French bank plummeting by more than twenty per cent after the story was published on 7 August. The newspaper quickly retracted the article and published an apology on its website accepting that the claim 'was not true.' According to an 'internal memo' seen by Reuters, Société Générale is now planning to sue the Scum Mail on Sunday's scum publisher, Associated Newspapers, for undisclosed damages over what it called 'unfounded rumours.' The memo reportedly said: 'Legal action against the Daily Mail is pending and similarly legal action will be taken against anybody who spreads unfounded rumours about our company.' Go on, Société Générale, take the grubby rag for all it's got! A senior Associated Newspapers 'source' allegedly admitted that the bank was 'dissatisfied' with the Scum Mail on Sunday apology but reportedly denied that the publisher had received a legal writ. Frédéric Oudéa, the Société Générale chief executive, declined to comment on any potential legal action during a conference call on Monday, according to Reuters. A separate report published by French newspaper Le Figaro on Monday suggested that Société Générale has 'agreed to settle' the claim if Associated Newspapers donated one million smackers to charity. The publisher had previously offered to donate one thousand smackers to a charity of the bank's choice after receiving a legal writ on 18 August, according to Le Figaro. One hopes that, should a settlement be reached, the charity that the Scum Mail have to write a cheque out too is related to something they really disapprove of. Dare one suggest the BBC? That's really make ice form on the upper reaches of Mount Scum.

A group of New York women have started a topless public book club. The Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society includes ladies between nineteen and forty two years old, reports SWNS. Spokesperson Alethea Andrews explained: 'Guys lie around topless in the park all the time, while the girls around them are sweating in bras and shirts. That's just silly when the law says we can go topless the same as they can. The group's overall aim is for girls who want to take advantage of the legality of being topless in New York to be able to, while reading books.' Andrews continued that the public have not minded their meetings. 'We thought we might have been told off,' she revealed. 'But it hasn't happened once, and the general reaction from the public has been positive. There have been a few nasty comments, but in person it's all been thumbs-ups and big smiles.' The club has seen fifteen different members turn up across the eight meetings so far, though it usually draws between three and seven people per session. The books which they've been reading include Welcome To Twin Peaks, Little Women, The Battle of Quatre Bras and, of course, A Tale Of Two Titties.

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's the other Tommy James and the Shondells hit!

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