Friday, November 11, 2011

Through Man's Blind Indifference To His Fellow Man, A Whole Generation Lies Butchered And Damned

News International's executive chairman James Murdoch has refused to rule out closing the Sun should there be evidence that the paper was involved in the phone hacking scandal. In his second appearance in front of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, Murdoch was asked more probing questions about the hacking controversy, which resulted in the closure of News International's News of the World tabloid in July. Committee member Steve Rotherham MP asked Murdoch: 'If it's revealed that the Sun does appear in the [jailed private investor Glenn] Mulcaire file, will you close the paper like you did the News of the World?' To this, Murdoch replied: 'I think it's important not to prejudge the outcome of any of the investigations. I don't think we can rule out any corporate reaction to [illegal] behaviour or wrongdoing.' He added that any decision about closing the flagship newspaper would be 'taken at the time.' Rotherham, who is the MP for Liverpool Walton, also asked Murdoch about the ongoing controversy surrounding the Sun's notorious mendacious and wilful 1989 article on the Hillsborough disaster. The MP asked whether the fact that the paper 'got away with it' in the 1980s could have led to a belief within News International that it 'could get away with things.' Murdoch denied the suggestion, but again apologised unreservedly for the coverage, which resulted in a boycott of the Sun on Merseyside which lasts in part of the city to this day.

Meanwhile, a former News International lawyer has disputed the evidence given by Murdoch to the Commons culture committee. Murdoch repeatedly told MPs he had 'not been made aware' of details suggesting phone-hacking at the Scum of the World went beyond 'a lone, rogue reporter.' But Tom Crone said that Murdoch was told in 2008 about a 'damning e-mail.' He was also made aware of what that meant in terms of the paper's wider involvement in hacking, Crone added. Murdoch was embroiled in a rancorous war of words with two of his former senior Scum of the World executives after he told MPs during a marathon questioning session that they had failed to tell him the truth about the scale of phone-hacking at the paper and had misled parliament. In a two-and-a-half hour session which saw a periodically contrite Murdoch fighting for his corporate reputation and his status as Rupert Murdoch's heir apparent, the thirty eight-year-old repeatedly denied being told three years ago about evidence that hacking went beyond a single journalist at the paper. But his account was quickly contradicted by both those executives, former Scum of the World legal head Tom Crone and ex-editor Colin Myler. Crone issued a statement on Thursday night describing Murdoch's evidence as 'disingenuous.' That's 'lies' to you and me. Myler said that he stood by his own account of events which he gave to the committee earlier in the year. Murdoch had earlier emerged battered but still standing from the dramatic session before the culture and media committee during which he refused to rule out the possibility that News International would close the Sun if evidence of hacking emerged and an MP claimed that all members of the committee had been placed under surveillance by News International. Murdoch was also compared to a mafia boss who presided over a culture of 'omerta.' He told MPs that Crone and Myler had failed in 2008 to tell him about evidence that proved at least three other Scum of the World reporters were involved in hacking. That evidence included an infamous e-mail sent to the paper's then chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck, containing transcripts of hacked messages from PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor's phone, and a warning from News International's QC Michael Silverleaf that there was 'a culture of illegal information access' at the paper. Murdoch, who was running the Scum of the World's publisher News International when a seven hundred and twenty thousand thousand smacker settlement was paid to Taylor in 2008, added: 'The information I received about the Taylor case was incomplete. The full extent of knowledge within the business was not made clear to me. I believe this committee was given evidence by individuals either without full possession of the facts or it was economical.' Asked if he believed Crone and Myler had misled the committee, Murdoch replied: 'It follows that I do. I believe it was inconsistent and not right, and I dispute it vigorously. I believe their testimony was misleading and I dispute it.' In their evidence to the committee in September, Crone and Myler insisted that they told Murdoch about the existence of the soc-called 'For Neville' e-mail and this was why he agreed to settle Taylor's case. In a withering statement, Crone said: 'I can perfectly understand why James Murdoch felt the need to discredit Colin Myler and myself. The simple truth is he was told by us in 2008 about the damning e-mail, and what it meant in terms of wider News of the World involvement. It seems he now accepts he was told of the e-mail, of the fact that it contained transcripts of voicemail interceptions and that those interceptions were authorised by the News of the World. Perhaps Mr Murdoch could explain who he thought was doing the authorising at the News of the World? At best, his evidence on this matter was disingenuous.' Myler also hit back at his former boss, insisting: 'My evidence to the select committee has been entirely accurate and consistent. I stand by my account of the meeting with James Murdoch on 10 June 2008. I have been clear throughout about the significance of the 'For Neville' e-mail, as evidenced in my opening statement to the committee when I appeared before them in 2009.' But, Thurlbeck told Channel Four News that he had compiled a dossier which would be 'good news' for Murdoch, as it would show Murdoch had been 'seriously misled' by whom he described as 'senior News of the World executives.' Part of the dossier, which has recordings of executives discussing hacking, is held by police, and the rest is with his lawyers. At Thursday's hearing Murdoch distanced himself from the decision last year to settle a case brought by Max Clifford worth a reported one million quid, at a time when the paper was still denying hacking was the work of anyone by Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulciare. He said that former chief executive and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks had negotiated that deal. 'Mrs Brooks did discuss the arrangement [with me] but not in any great detail,' he said. It emerged last month that Silverleaf had warned the company was 'certain' to lose the Taylor case, and that Crone had told Myler in a note prepared in advance of a 2008 meeting with Murdoch to 'discuss' the case that the company's position was 'very perilous.' Murdoch insisted he had not been told of the contents of any of those documents 'in any detail.' He said he authorised Crone and Myler to settle with Taylor following a meeting on 10 June 2008 where he was told an e-mail existed showing hacking had been commissioned by the Scum of the World. Just as at his last time before MPs, however, Murdoch said he was not told those instructions had been issued by journalists other than former Scum of the World royal editor Clive Goodman, already been jailed for phone-hacking. Casting further doubt on Murdoch's recollection of events, Tom Watson (power to the people!) revealed he had spoken to Thurlbeck who told him Murdoch had been shown the 'For Neville' e-mail. The Labour MP described a talk with Thurlbeck immediately before the hearing, where he said Crone had confirmed to him that the 'For Neville' e-mail was passed to Murdoch. Watson said Thurlbeck recalled that Crone had told him: 'I'm going to have to show this to James Murdoch.' Watson said Crone subsequently told Thurlbeck that he had done so, but reassured Thurlbeck that he would keep his job: 'It's Okay. We're going to settle.' Murdoch told the committee: 'I cannot comment on what Mr Thurlbeck and Mr Crone discussed.' Watson also accused Murdoch of overseeing a mafia-style organisation obeying a code of 'omerta,' an allegation which Murdoch described as 'offensive.' Although, not half as offensive as hacking the phone of a murderer schoolgirl, on could suggest. Tory MP Louise Bagashite Mensch went on to make the remarkable claim that all of the committee's members had, at one time, been under surveillance by News International. Murdoch, meanwhile, apologised to MPs for the company's decision to use a private investigator to place MPs under surveillance – which he said he learned about a few weeks ago – and said that was 'just not acceptable.' He also showed contrition for News International's response to the Gruniad's initial revelations in July 2009 about the extent of hacking at the paper. 'The company pushed back too hard,' he said. 'At various times during this process – and I am sorry for this – we moved into an aggressive defence too quickly.' But, he denied that he had acted incompetently by failing to get to grips with phone-hacking at an earlier stage. 'No, I don't think it shows me to be incompetent. I behaved reasonably given the information I had,' Murdoch said. On Thursday night the chairman of the committee, John Whittingdale, said he would 'want to see any evidence' that MPs on the committee have been followed.

The Gruniad, however, claims that Murdoch was 'mistaken' when he told MPs that he 'did not believe' News International had, to date, 'admitted liability' for 'any kind of computer or e-mail hacking.' The executive chairman of News International told the committee he 'didn't think' the company had engaged in computer – as well as voicemail – hacking. But evidence exists to prove that not only has the Scum of the World previously been forced to admit liability for hacking computers and illegally accessing e-mails, but that it continued to engage in criminal behaviour long after publicly promising that all illegal activity on the newspaper had ceased. In a pre-trial hearing in the high court in April, the actress Sienna Miller made a number of allegations against the now defunct, disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, including the claim that her e-mail account had been 'illegally accessed' and that her private e-mails had been opened. In a 'reamended particulars of claims' document, seen by the Gruniad, Miller said the e-mail hacking had taken place in September 2008. This was nearly two years after the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire had been jailed for phone-hacking and some considerable time after the Scum of the World had pledged to have 'cleaned up' its newsgathering practices. The newspaper settled with Miller over her phone-hacking allegations in May and paid one hundred thousand smackers in a Part Thirty Six offer, which prevented her from making any further claims. But, although it never explicitly commented on Miller's claims of e-mail hacking, the Scum of the World's barrister, Michael Silverleaf QC, admitted at a later hearing: 'We admit that we are liable for all the wrongs that are alleged to have been acted.' [My italics]. He added that the newspaper 'admits in terms that the acts were committed and they were committed on instructions from journalists employed by my client.' In a follow-up hearing on 27 May, Miller's barrister, David Sherborne, stated that the tabloid had 'fully admitted Ms Miller's claim in relation to the entirety of her reamended particulars of claim.' In what may be another blow to attempts by the Murdochs to claim the Scum of the World did not engage in computer hacking, Tom Watson (power to the people!) said yesterday that police have told Ian Hurst, a former British intelligence officer, that a hacker working for the Scum of the World accessed his computer and picked up intelligence on sixteen of his associates. Hurst, who had served in Northern Ireland, is thought to have contributed to a book about Stakeknife, the codename of an alleged spy who infiltrated the higher echelons of the Provisional IRA whilst working for British intelligence. According to earlier confessions from the unnamed hacker to the BBC's Panorama, faxed copies of the stolen information were sent to the then editor of the Scum of the World for Ireland, Alex Marunchak. Murdoch's qualified denial to the parliamentary committee regarding computer hacking echoes his father's claim in October at News Corporation's AGM in Los Angeles that he 'had no knowledge' of computer hacking. Rupert Murdoch reassured shareholders that board director Viet Dinh would 'look into' the allegation. 'I promise you absolutely that we will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of this and put it right,' he said. But both James and Rupert Murdoch are, according to Watson, guilty of 'misleading parliament and their shareholders.' He said: 'Rupert failed to give the full picture to shareholders at the recent AGM in America – while James's denials today, whether deliberate or inadvertent, leaves him with yet more questions both to answer and hanging over his credibility as a business leader.' The Gruniad had already revealed that News International is also facing accusations of computer hacking by Dennis Rice, former investigations editor at the Scum Mail on Sunday. In May, the Gruniad disclosed that Rice was 'accusing Mulcaire of hacking into his voicemails' and obtaining a password 'that would have allowed him to gain access' to the Scum Mail on Sunday internal computer system, 'potentially disclosing all its e-mail traffic and every story awaiting publication.' Rice claims the criminal acts took place between 2005 to 2006, when Mulcaire was at the peak of his activity.

An interim report from an outside police force has recommended that more officers be drafted onto the Met's phone-hacking inquiry, as it emerged that detectives are sifting through around three hundred million e-mails submitted to the investigation by News International. The Metropolitan police commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, gave some details of Operation Weeting in an attempt to explain the scale of an inquiry which has so far cost three million smackers in police salaries alone. Hogan-Howe would not comment on the contents of the interim report, which has been written by Durham police's chief constable, John Stoddard. But it is understood that the report recommends that the Weeting team be expanded with more staff and more officers. The team began with forty five detectives, there are now one hundred and eighteen working on the hacking investigation and two associated inquiries into alleged illegal payments to police officers as well as alleged hacking of e-mails. 'The scale of the task is pretty large,' said Hogan-Howe. Detectives have identified more than five thousand seven hundred potential victims of hacking, he confirmed. To date around six hundred individuals have been contacted personally. Another twelve hundred individuals have been spoken to who came to the inquiry team with suspicions that they have been hacked. 'We have got a set of details of five thousand seven hundred potential victims, that does not mean they were hacked, but we have to talk to the people to get to the bottom of all the evidence to be sure.' Each potential victim is being spoken to personally, Hogan-Howe said. 'We could write them a letter but I don't think that is the best way of going about it.' Scotland Yard is examining how it can manage the vast investigation and is looking into issues around dealing with victims in an attempt to streamline the work. As such, the Weeting team are now asking potential victims to come to the operations room rather than sending detectives to their home addresses. As acting deputy commissioner of the Met in the summer, Hogan-Howe commissioned an independent review of Weeting which is being led by Stoddard. The commissioner would not comment on the findings of the interim report which the Met has had for a few weeks. But he said: 'If we need more people they will have to get more budget, and there is a recognised process that has to be gone through to request that. There is an issue for society about how far we pursue some investigations but we are not there yet.' He said the Met had been accused in the past of curtailing the hacking inquiry, and it was important now to follow all the evidence. He would not comment on whether the inquiry is investigating other newspapers outside of News International. He added that the inquiry involved three strands: those who allegedly carried out the hacking, those who allegedly commissioned it, and whether there was any corporate involvement in arranging the hacking.

Torchwood's Eve Myles has insisted that she will not be involved in the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who. Not that anybody had actually suggested she would be. The actress, who has appeared as Gwen Cooper in both shows, told the Independent that any further crossover seems unlikely. She explained: 'We have lots of adult themes running in Torchwood and I think it would be inappropriate for us to have anything to do with Doctor Who because it's predominantly a family programme.' Myles added that spin-off series Torchwood 'deals with darker subjects' than its parent show. 'If they want to do [a crossover], then fine but I can tell you that I'm not involved in it,' she said. 'They won't give me guns or a bazooka!' Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat previously hinted that he has 'various plans' for the show's fiftieth anniversary on 23 November 2013. 'All I can say emphatically is it will be huge,' he teased. 'There's lot of decisions we're making that are about making all that possible. It'll be amazing.'
Meanwhile, Myles's Torchwood co-star John Barrowman has described the show's status as 'in limbo.' Starz CEO Chris Albrecht has indicated that the SF drama might not return for another season, following the conclusion of the ten-part Miracle Day. 'We've pushed the pause button now because we don't know what's happening,' Barrowman told RTÉ Ten. 'I would love to do a new series and I will play Captain Jack as long as they want me to play Captain Jack.' However, he added: 'It's in limbo at the moment and beyond my control.' Barrowman also suggested that Torchwood could return as a feature film. Although he didn't reveal whom he imagined would actually finance such a project. Which is usually the point at which 'our should could easily become a film' type conversations normally fall flat on their collective mush. 'I think that Torchwood, more so than Doctor Who, lends itself to being a big film because it's more adult,' he said. Torchwood executive producer Julie Gardner recently admitted that the show's future is uncertain. 'I don't know if there will be more,' she said. 'It has been across so many different channels and so many international audiences, across so many different story structures, and so many numbers of episodes. There's no single way forward for the show.'

A photograph of Christopher Eccleston filming his new BBC1 drama The Fuse has been released. The drama, penned by Lark Rise to Candleford writer Bill Gallagher, stars Eccleston as a council official who has become increasingly disillusioned over the years. After an alcohol-fuelled night, Eccleston's character Daniel realises that he may be responsible for a murder, just as an act of redemption raises his public profile and lands him in the race for Mayor. The release of the photograph comes as it emerged that Dervla Kirwan has joined the cast as Daniel's wife Alex, while Ewen Bremner will play council official Jerry. Lyndsey Marshal will star as Daniel's sister Lucy, Andrew Scott will play a detective on Daniel's trail and MyAnna Buring will appear as the detective's wife. Also joining the show are Branka Katic, who will play a nurse, and Rebecca Callard, who stars as the daughter of the murdered man. Eccleston has said that he is 'very excited' about the role, describing the show as 'a fantastic four-episode drama about obsession, addiction and redemption.' Gallagher is also currently working on a period drama for the BBC and ITV's series Love Life, which will star Downton Abbey's Rob James-Collier. Filming for The Fuse has already started and will take place in Liverpool and Manchester. The drama is due for broadcast on BBC1 in the Spring of 2012.

Life's Too Short, the new comedy by nowhere-near-as-funny-as-they- think-they-are Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, attracted two and a half million viewers for its BBC2 debut on Thursday. It stars Warwick Davis as an actor of diminished stature whose career on the slide, and hopes that creating a reality show will reverse his fortunes. The audience was well above the channel's average for that timeslot - which is 1.8m - but lower than that of Gervais and Merchant's previous series, Extras. The - much more appealing - religious sitcom Rev also fared well, with a record audience of 2.4 million. The BBC2 series, which stars Tom Hollander as a hapless but well-meaning vicar in an inner-city parish, returned for its second run. In its first season, the comedy had an average audience of 1.87 million. The most-watched programmes in the UK last night were EastEnders, with 8.4 million viewers and Coronation Street, which was seen by 8.1 million. But Channel Four's exclusive interview with Dr Conrad Murray, who was convicted of the involuntary manslaughter of Michael Jackson this week, only attracted seven hundred and fifty thousand punters.

BBC3 is to broadcast a season of programming on sex and sexuality which will 'offer viewers differing view points on each.' That's sure to annoy the Daily Scum Mail. Good. I hope they effing well hate it. BBC3 has commissioned a season of programmes that will explore the complexities of sex and sexuality through a range of different viewpoints, from the scientist and the historian to the virgin, the lap dancer and the comedian. Three-part series How Sex Works will lead the season, combining compelling real life stories, cutting-edge science and computer graphics to tell the story of the science behind sex. Inside the human body with CGI, the series will explore the physiological, neurological and psychological changes that happen before, during and after sex to investigate the science of lust and the mechanics of sex itself. 'Sex is on all young adults' minds and we hope this major new season will encourage our audience to look at it from a variety of viewpoints. We aim to expose our viewers to a range of perspectives, some of which might be at odds with each other, but most importantly we want our viewers to watch these programmes and form their own opinions' said Zai Bennett, BBC3's Controller. Other programmes in the season include: a one-off documentary in which Cherry Healey explores why losing your virginity is such an important experience and is about so much more than sex; Web Sex – Where's The Harm?, in which ex-Hollyoaks actress Nathalie Emmanuel investigates how the Internet is changing the love lives of sixteen to twenty four year olds, revealing for the first time figures from an academic study which indicates what proportion of this age group are using the Internet for sexual purposes and Jeff Leach – Am I A Sex Addict?, a 'heartfelt and at times funny' journey into Jeff's sexual history in which he meets some of the women who have known him best and asks whether he can change his ways. Also included in the season are: Coming Out Diaries, an observational documentary following the journeys of young people as they go through key moments of sexual discovery; Undressed, an unflinching, surprising and thoughtful look at the lap-dancing industry through the stories of some of the young women who work in one of Britain's biggest chains of clubs and The Sex Stories That Changed Britain, a look back at the stories, scandals and events from the past forty years that have changed the nation's behaviour and attitude to all things sex. 'Sex is a complex and perennially interesting subject, and one worthy of intelligent and thought-provoking exploration. Many BBC3 viewers are well informed about sex, but I hope that programmes like How Sex Works, Coming Out Diaries and Am I A Sex Addict? will provide a fresh and unexpected point of view that is relevant to their lives,' said Samantha Anstiss, BBC3's Documentaries Commissioning Executive.

Louis Walsh has admitted that he may not return for next year's X Factor, confessing that he doesn't find the show 'fun' anymore. Walsh said in an interview with My Daily that the show was taking over his life and that he preferred the old judging line-ups. Speaking former X Factor colleague Dannii Minogue, Walsh said: 'Lucky you, Dannii, you are so lucky. Series eight is so tough. There's no fun. Everyone is taking it so seriously. I thought you had an entourage. But these [judges], their entourages have entourages.'

Michael Sheen's much-anticipated portrayal of Hamlet was hailed as 'triumphant' on the play's opening night at London's Young Vic theatre. There were, however, mixed reviews for the play itself, which sets the drama inside a secure psychiatric hospital. Audiences are guided through a maze of hospital corridors before they take their seats. The Times gave the play four-out-of-five stars and praised Sheen's 'unbearably moving' performance. 'Dishevelled, vulnerable, dangerous, even in quiet moments this Hamlet compels,' wrote Libby Purves. Director Ian Rickson, making his Shakespearean debut, takes on Hamlet following the success of the Royal Court production of Jerusalem, which recently returned to the West End after an award-winning run on Broadway. His busy production is one in which security lights flash, strip bulbs flicker and steel doors clang. Characters are frisked as they enter through hospital reception, and uniformed staff observe the action through a security grill. There is a genuine creepiness to the ghost scenes, during which the auditorium is plunged into complete darkness. The cast includes James Clyde as Claudius, Sally Dexter as Gertrude and Michael Gould as Polonius. Outstanding was Vinette Robinson's Ophelia, whose descent into madness saw her break into songs written by PJ Harvey. 'Michael Sheen's triumphant take on the Prince of Denmark ratchets up the madness to the point of paranoid schizophrenia and it could all be in his warped, deluded mind,' said the Mirra's Alun Palmer. In the Independent's four-star review, Paul Taylor said Sheen had 'just the right electrically dangerous, mocking intelligence for the part.' While in the Gruniad, Michael Billington called Sheen 'fascinating to watch' and awarded the show three stars out of five. But the critic said the concept of Hamlet as 'the Freudian fantasy of a confined patient' failed to 'liberate' the play. Whatever the hell that's supposed to mean. 'We've all heard of Hamlet without the prince. Rickson virtually gives us the prince without Hamlet.' Charles Spencer, in the Torygraph, said he felt 'irritated and cheated' by Rickson's 'mindlessly modish' staging. 'The pity of all this is that Michael Sheen - with his corkscrew curls and wolfish grins - could be right up there among the great Hamlets,' he added, giving the show two stars out of five. In the Daily Scum Mail, the odious Quentin Letts was not impressed by what he described as the 'pretentious' direction. But then, he's pond-scum lice from the Daily Scum Mail so, frankly, who gives a sodding stuff what he thinks. About anything. The Arts Desk's Sam Marlowe, however, was 'thrilled' by the production. 'This is a psychodrama seen through the sockets of a skull; other interpretations may offer a more complete picture, but rarely one more vivid.' The opening night audience included celebrity liggers such as Take That's Jason Orange, Catherine Tate, Rachel McAdams, Kristen Scott Thomas and Lily Cole. Considered one of the most challenging roles in drama, Hamlet has been played in recent years by David Tennant, Jude Law, John Simm and Rory Kinnear. As well as Jerusalem, Rickson's recent productions include The Children's Hour and Betrayal. He was artistic director of the Royal Court from 1997 to 2007.

Pete Townshend has said that Quadrophenia was 'the last definitive LP' by The Who. The guitarist was speaking at a Q&A session at Bush Hall in London chaired by Mojo editor Phil Alexander to mark the latest deluxe reissue of the celebrated 1973 work. 'I would say that we only made three landmark records,' Townshend said. 'Tommy, Who's Next and Quadrophenia.' Yer actual Keith Telly Topping begs to differ, considering The Who Sell Out as a twenty four carat effing masterpiece. But hey, he wrote the damn thing so, you know, he's got the right to diss it if he wants. He's wrong, of course. But, anyway ... 'I've always felt that Quadrophenia was the last definitive Who album. I've always regarded it as a very ambitious album, but what got away was the story. Whenever we've played the songs live since, they feel new, so we wanted to bring the album, the actual recorded music, into the Twenty First Century and have that feel new as well, which is why I spent the best part of the last year working on the remastering.' He added that he was 'very proud' of the self-produced record, explaining: 'I had complete control and it proved that when I have complete control I get it right. But to me, it felt to me like it was the end. The reason I've spent so much time working on this new edition is because it's an epochal record, the last great album by The Who.' Townshend also suggested that drummer Keith Moon may have been an inspiration behind Mike Myers's Austin Powers character. When watching the hit movie with his partner, both noticed that Powers' mannerisms and outfits were very similar to Moon's towards the end of his life. Townshend played a twenty-minute acoustic set at the conference to an audience including his bandmate Roger Daltrey. Songs played included 'Drowned', 'The Acid Queen', 'Corrina Corrina' and 'I'm One'.

Sunderland footballer Titus Bramble has denied two counts of sexual assault. The thirty-year-old, of Wynyard, Teesside, entered not guilty pleas when he appeared at Teesside Magistrates Court. The defender is alleged to have groped a woman in a nightclub and is also said to have put another woman's hand on his groin in a taxi. Bramble opted for the case to be held at crown court. A committal hearing before magistrates will be held on 5 January. The footballer, who has also played for Ipswich and Wigan, and spent four years at Newcastle - although whether he ever actually 'played' or not, per se, remains a matter of some conjecture - has also been charged with urinating in a public place.

A mother of four who admitted biting her boyfriend's scrotum during a drunken row has been given a suspended jail term. Maria Topp from Gateshead, attacked Martin Douglas at his Newcastle flat in February. The forty five-year-old DJ needed nineteen stitches to a wound on his sack. The recorder at Newcastle Crown Court handed Topp, of Aycliffe Place, Wrekenton, a twelve-month sentence, suspended for eighteen months. He also ordered her to carry out one hundred and fifty hours of unpaid work, and imposed a restraining order preventing her from contacting Douglas. Recorder Robin Mairs said: 'This relationship is over, I think both of you accept that.' Topp had previously pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm. That hearing was told that the pair, who had been in a relationship for about five years, had been drinking at the time of the attack, which Topp did not remember. It was not clear what sparked the violence between the couple in the early hours of 18 February. Police were called and found Douglas with a wound to his scrotum which had left one of his testicles exposed. He has since made a full recovery. Well, as full a recovery as you can when something like that happens to yer man bits. One would imagine the poor chap still winces every time he seen a can opener, for instance. Mairs referred to the couple's 'turbulent relationship' and said that the pair must have been 'blind drunk,' after a sustained drinking session. He told Topp: 'You bit his scrotum with enough force to rip his skin. It must have been excruciatingly painful.'

Two special songs from the eighties to ... celebrate isn't the right word (particularly after some of the crass, knob-end goings on this week) but to commemorate, certainly the 11 November and why it is an important day for many. Firstly, a little masterpiece from B-Movie.
And then, perhaps even more poignantly, The Men They Couldn't Hang. I think, as John Peel once noted, it's the barely suppressed anger in their version of Eric Bogle's 'The Green Fields Of France' that make it such an effective weapon against those who wish to celebrate warfare. 'All wars are crimes,' to quote The West Wing.

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