Tuesday, February 07, 2012

So I Opened The Door For That High-Healed Paw

The second series of Mrs Brown's Boys climaxed with over six million overnight viewers at the weekend and writer and performer Brendan O'Carroll has said that he's genuinely delighted with the success the second series has achieved. In November the BBC re-commissioned Mrs Brown's Boys for a third run of episodes before the second series had even been broadcast. It now appears that their faith in the show has paid off with constantly impressive ratings and AI figures (the final episode achieved an almost unbelievable appreciation score of ninety two out of one hundred) and Mrs Brown unleashing new catchphrases. 'I was delighted with the viewing figures for the last episode. I knew from the start of the series that we would be moved to Saturday night for the last one because of something to do with Her Majesty's Jubilee. But I forgot we would be up against Jonathan Ross. And then when I heard he was having David Beckham on as a guest I was sure we were screwed, but instead we had 6.4 million viewers, our highest yet! Thank you, thank you, thank you! What a way to end the series, on a high!' O'Carroll said on the official Mrs Brown Facebook page, adding: 'On YouTube there are granny's belting granddads over the head with tray's to cowboy music. I'm just amazed at how "That's nice" has caught on. And even this week I see people on Twitter saying "do you need help finding your hormones?" It's just such a joy to see. I sit at this table, where I am right now, and write it down and a few month's later the nation are quoting it. I cannot describe the feeling!' Mrs Brown had a number of successful theatre productions before also adding the television series to the success story last year.

And so, dear blog reader, you possibly though - in your naivety - that the general intelligence levels around ITV breakfast flop Daybreak must, surely, go up when Christine Bleakley left, didn't you? Well, think again. That might be so on screen but many of those who watch it, apparently, appear to have an IQ the size of yer average tree trunk. This week's 'Patience of a Saint Award' goes to whoever runs the Daybreak Twitter account for the early morning flop show. It seems that their role consists mainly of explaining to bone-thick viewers watching on ITV+1 why the time on the clock is wrong.
The Sky Sports Soccer Saturday football reporters out in the field battled the freezing arctic weather which hit Britain over the weekend, as they brought viewers the latest news, scores and results from grounds around the country. As these pictures of Johnny Phillips and Rob Palmer aptly prove. To the absolute hilarity of Jeff, Thommo, Champagne Charlie, Mers and Robbie Fowlpest back in the nice warm studio.
You can always rely, however, on Chris Kamara, to do something different. Starting off like an extra from Nanook of the North, covering the Queen's Park Strangers versus Wolverhampton Wanderings exciting relegation six-pointer from Loftus Road, Kammy wore a different woolly hat for each successive appearance (he admitted on Goals on Sunday that most of them had been borrowed from people sitting around him) and then started to disrobe until, by the end of the second-half, he looked like he was presenting pitchside from a game of beach volleyball!
Anybody who ever saw him play will already know that Kammy was pure rock-hard! But, bloody hell, the man's in his fifties now. He should be at home with a nice pair of slippers watching the telly on a day like that.

Damian Lewis has talked about comparisons between Showtime series Homeland and 24, claiming that his show is more 'psychological' and 'political.' Lewis said that viewers comparing the two programmes was inevitable because both have been produced by Howard Gordon, but that there were stark differences between their tones. 'It's not really 24. It's far more of a psychological, political drama - I think the paranoia plays much more strongly. Just the style in which it's filmed is very different. It takes its time, it allows it to breathe, whereas 24 was a high-octane, crack-like experience,' Lewis explained. 'It made me just feel extraordinarily uneasy, watching 24; it was a very uncomfortable feeling. I think Homeland is too, because of the subject matter, but there's an enjoyment in just being able to sit in things a bit more. I think this allows you to do that.' Speaking about why he signed up for the show, the Band of Brothers actor added: 'It just seemed brilliantly representative of a slightly uncertain, paranoid world we live in now.' Homeland, which was a ratings and critical hit for Showtime last autumn, will be shown in the UK later this month on Channel Four.

The press pack for the second series of Scott & Bailey is now up on the ITV press centre website suggesting a return sometime around the end of February or the start of March - possibly on Mondays in the Whitechapel slot.

Whitechapel, meanwhile, lost out to Andrew Marr's new arse-licking 'give me a knighthood' series on the Queen's Diamond Jubilee on Monday night, the latest overnight data has revealed. The Rupert Penry-Jones and Phil Davis crime drama's second episode was watched by 5.63m in the 9pm hour, with a further two hundred and twenty nine thousand punters watching on ITV+1. However, BBC1's Marr-fronted The Diamond Queen had an audience of 6.2m for its opening episode. On BBC2, University Challenge was the highlight of the night with 2.93m.

Rules governing when party political broadcasts can be broadcast on BBC1 and BBC2 are to be changed, the BBC Trust has confirmed. Instead of being screened around the Queen's Speech, party conferences and the budget, in future all qualifying UK political parties will be offered three seasonal party political broadcasts. They will be broadcast in the spring, autumn and winter. Under the old system, PPBs - about as popular with viewers as Christine Bleakley these days - were tied to key political events with the government and opposition granted an extra one when the budget is delivered. Following a six week public consultation, the BBC Trust, which announced the changes on Tuesday, said that the new schedule would provide greater consistency and certainty and give more flexibility to the political parties in the scheduling of PPBs. And reflect the fact that a vast majority of television viewers regard all politicians as scum.
In addition, the Trust said, the new policy would help recognise the realities of devolution and the Scottish Parliament's additional control over fiscal policy. However, in Northern Ireland, due to responses to the consultation which highlighted concerns about the costs incurred by smaller parties or screening more than one party political broadcast, only one PPB will be offered. Political broadcasts are a sensitive area for the BBC due to its rules on impartiality. In 2009 the corporation tightened up the procedure for dealing with complaints about the allocation of party election broadcasts, following controversy about airtime given to the far odious right-wing British National Party.
The Metropolitan Police failed to warn people that they had been the victims of possible phone-hacking by the Scum of the World, a judicial review has decided. Ex-deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott, Labour MP Chris Bryant and ex-Scotland Yard deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick had all pushed for the review, along with Ben Jackson, the former assistant to actor Jude Law, and an anonymous applicant known only as 'HJK.' The individuals, some of whom had already received damages from the Scum of the World's publisher News International, accused the police of breaching their human rights by not notifying them of the potential crime having taken place against them. Following the ruling, the Met Commissioner said that the police will extend 'personal apologies' to all the claimants, but will not pay out any damages. The case refers to the original 2006 police investigation into phone-hacking, which resulted in the jailing of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and Scum of the World royal reporter Clive Goodman the following year. The police were criticised for not notifying potential victims at that stage, as many of them did not find out about the hacking until much later, and not without some effort. Speaking to reporters outside the High Court, Lord Prescott said: 'It's taken me nineteen months to finally get justice. Time and again I was told by the Metropolitan Police that I had not been targeted by Rupert Murdoch's News of the World. But I refused to accept this was the case. Thanks to this judicial review, the Metropolitan Police has finally apologised for its failure to properly investigate, and inform victims, of the criminal acts of phone hacking committed by the News of the World.' The Met Police are now re-examining the entire case from 2006, but said that officers considered at the time that the jailing of Goodman and Mulcaire was a successful outcome of their investigation. 'The MPS is pleased to have reached an agreement in this case and accepts more should have been done by police in relation to those identified as victims and potential victims of phone hacking several years ago,' said a statement. 'It is a matter of public record that the unprecedented increase in anti-terrorist investigations resulted in the parameters of the original inquiry being tightly drawn, and officers considered the prosecution and conviction of Clive Goodman and Glen Mulcaire as a successful outcome of their investigation.' The statement added that there are now more than one hundred and thirty officers involved in the current Operation Weeting probe into phone hacking, while further staff are working on the Operate Tuleta and Operation Elveden probes into computer-hacking and police bribery and corruption. 'Today's settlement does not entail damages being paid by the MPS and as the court has made clear, sets no precedent for the future. How the MPS treats victims goes to the very heart of what we do,' said the police statement. 'It was important that this case did not result in such a wide duty being placed on police officers that it could direct them away from their core purpose of preventing and detecting crime. All the claimants are receiving personal apologies from the MPS.' The ruling comes just a day after police confirmed that they believe at least eight hundred and twenty nine people were 'likely' to have been victims of hacking by newspapers. Appearing at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers said that five hundred and eighty one of those people had been contacted, while two hundred and thirty one could not be identified and seventeen had not been told due to 'operational reasons.'

The odious editor of the Daily Scum Mail has been recalled to give further evidence to the inquiry into press standards about the actor Hugh Grant. Paul Dacre, who was the last Fleet Street editor to go before the inquiry, is to face further questions about his decision to accuse Grant of 'mendacious smears' against his paper. Lord Justice Leveson said on Tuesday that he wanted to see Dacre appear again this week, adding that it was 'not negotiable.' The judge said that he was 'extremely unhappy' with the manner in which an 'obvious conflict' between Grant and the Daily Scum Mail's publisher Associated Newspapers had continued into the inquiry. Speaking at the Royal Courts of Justice, he said: 'Before we start, I want to say that I am extremely unhappy about the way in which yesterday afternoon did what I perceived to be damage to the appropriate flow of this inquiry. I am not willing to allow what is an obvious conflict between one of the core participants and another to divert attention from my concern about the customs, practices and ethics of the press.' Dismissing a request by the lawyer representing Associated Newspapers for Dacre to submit evidence in writing, Leveson said that he would set aside time on Thursday for him to appear again in person.

The private lives of celebrities are 'of legitimate interest' to the media, the European court of human rights has ruled in landmark judgments involving a cocaine-possessing German TV actor and Princess Caroline of Monaco. The decisions by the Strasbourg court establish significant legal precedents for privacy cases in British courts, tipping the balance back towards freedom of expression. In both cases the judges said that as long as the media carried out 'a reasonable balancing exercise,' considering privacy issues, they should be able to publish stories about and photographs of 'well-known people.' The fine imposed on the mass-circulation German newspaper Bild for reporting the arrest of the German actor on drug charges at the Munich Beer festival had had a 'chilling effect,' the Strasbourg court ruled. The 'well-known' actor, who played the part of a heroic police superintendent, was referred to only as 'X' throughout the judgment. The UK-based Media Legal Defence Initiative was among groups that submitted comments to the hearing, arguing that Article Eight of the European convention on human rights, guaranteeing right to private and family life should not trump free speech. Lawyers for Princess Caroline von Hannover, the daughter of the late Prince Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly, had complained that paparazzi photographs of her represented an invasion of her private life. Earlier judgments had supported her applications for injunctions against a magazine which used pictures of her and her husband during a skiing holiday. She claimed they had been taken without her consent. But one article showed the couple taking a walk during their skiing holiday in St Moritz and was accompanied by a story reporting on the poor health of Prince Rainier. The German courts declined to support her complaints about that article. In its judgment, the Strasbourg court said: 'Irrespective of the question to what extent Caroline von Hannover assumed official functions on behalf of the Principality of Monaco, it could not be claimed that the applicants were ordinary private individuals. They had to be regarded as public figures. The German courts had concluded that the applicants had not provided any evidence that the photos had been taken in a climate of general harassment, as they had alleged, or that they had been taken secretly.' They were walking in a public place. The magazine, Frau in Spiegel, had not therefore infringed her privacy rights under Article Eight, the ECHR judgment ruled. Padraig Reidy, of the free speech organisation Index on Censorship, welcomed the decision. 'The photographs of Princess Caroline were taken in a public place,' he said. 'The original ruling was extremely problematic because it decided that privacy issues took precedence over other concerns such as freedom of expression. The earlier ruling had been used as an exemplar of how to handle privacy cases in a number of British cases. It's great to see that the Strasbourg court has ruled that there was a violation of other rights in the original case. It tilts the balance back from privacy towards freedom of expression.'

Reports from Iran suggest that several people have been detained for alleged links to the BBC's Persian Service, which is banned in the country. The Mehr news agency says they were involved in newsgathering, recruiting and training for Iranian journalists and had arranged trips abroad for them. A BBC statement said no BBC Persian journalists were working inside Iran. It said the reported arrests should be of 'deep concern' to all those who believed in free and independent media. On Friday, the BBC accused the Iranian authorities of intimidating those working for its Persian service. In a blog, the BBC's Director General Mark Thompson wrote that the BBC had seen 'disturbing new tactics,' including the targeting of family members of those working outside Iran. The previous week, the sister of a BBC Persian staff member was detained and held in solitary confinement at a Tehran jail. Iran accused the BBC of 'inciting unrest' after the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. Tehran also accuses the BBC of operating as a cover for the British intelligence service. Last week, the BBC accused Iran of intimidating staff members of its Persian service by slandering them and arresting relatives. BBC Persian broadcast online videos and interviewed protesters, who described deaths, injuries and arbitrary arrests carried out by security forces. In his blog, Thompson wrote that for BBC Persian staff, 'interference and harassment from the Iranian authorities has become a challenging fact of life. In recent months, we have witnessed increased levels of intimidation alongside disturbing new tactics,' he added.

Ofcom has put Shi'a satellite channel Ahlulbayt on a warning and called its management in for a meeting to discuss compliance procedures - three weeks after revoking the licence for Iran's English language channel Press TV. The channel was found in breach of impartiality rules after it broadcast a programme in which Pakistani politician and journalist Agha Murtaza Poya was highly critical of US and foreign intervention in the Middle East. A single viewer had complained to the regulator that an episode from Ahlulbayt's Eyewitness strand incited hatred towards countries such as the USA and presented no alternative point of view to that expressed by the expert. In the episode, Poya accused the US of having 'Zionocentric' foreign policies, that the 'War on Terror' was 'just a cover' to prevent countries such as Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan developing and that the US had been 'pursuing a criminal policy for the last sixty five years.' Ofcom said: 'The broadcasting of highly critical comments concerning the policies and actions of any state is not, in itself, a breach of due impartiality. It is essential that current affairs programmes are able to explore and examine controversial issues and contributors are able to take a robust and highly critical position. However, depending on the specific circumstances of any particular case, it may be necessary to reflect alternative viewpoints in an appropriate way in order to ensure due impartiality is preserved.' During the investigation, Ahlulbayt told Ofcom it would change the format of the strand so that the interviewer was always visible and questions were being asked to reduce 'the false impression that the guest is being allowed to present their views unchallenged.' It also said the producer would be given compliance training. But Ofcom ruled that this breach came only a few months after a similar infringement and as a result has asked the licencee to explain its compliance procedures. 'Any further similar contraventions of the code will be considered for further regulatory action by Ofcom,' the regulator warned. The move comes just weeks after Ofcom revoked Press TV's licence, for failing to run its editorial oversight of the channel from Tehran. The decision followed a series of breaches of code including broadcasting an interview that was conducted under duress – which resulted in a fine of one hundred thousand smackers.

The ITN team behind Channel Four's award-winning film Sri Lanka's Killing Fields has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The hour-long documentary featured harrowing footage that appeared to show atrocities against civilians in the closing weeks of the civil war in 2009. Jon Snow presented the programme, directed by Callum Macrae, which was broadcast at 11.05pm and drew more than double C4's usual audience at the time - despite including some of the most horrific content ever shown on British TV. The film was screened at the UN in Geneva and New York and since being broadcast has prompted international calls for an independent investigation into the alleged atrocities. The documentary included footage which appeared to show extra-judicial killings by Sri Lankan soldiers as war trophies, the aftermath of shelling in civilian camps and hospitals alleged to have been deliberately targeted by Sri Lankan government forces and dead female Tamil Tigers who seem to have been systematically raped. Mitcham and Morden MP Siobhain McDonagh nominated the team along with Australian Green senator Lee Rhiannon on 1 February. In their nomination they said: 'At a time when the failure of existing UN institutions is increasingly noted in relation to safeguarding human life and preventing brutal wars, the contribution of a documentary such as Sri Lanka's Killing Fields in bringing to light not only this failure in the context of the war, but also promoting the need for reviewing and revitalising the UN's capacity in cases similar to the Sri Lankan war, are immense. By bringing to light the breaches of international conventions by the Government of Sri Lanka in a bold manner and by piecing together numerous forms of evidence in a coherent way, the value of independent journalism to the building of a peaceful global order in the century ahead has been amply demonstrated by the ITN team.' A follow-up film, Sri Lanka's Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished, is expected to be shown later this year and will feature new evidence. It will again be directed by McCrae, presented by Snow and executive produced by Chris Shaw. Head of news and current affairs Dorothy Byrne ordered the film in November 2011 and at the time said: 'The horrific revelations in Sri Lanka's Killing Fields caused concern across the globe and calls for further investigations so we decided to do just that; to continue the journalistic endeavour to find out the full truth about these terrible events.'

Russell Kane - very popular with students - is to front a new BBC3 comedy-entertainment series about how the channel's audience behave. He will co-present the six-part studio-based show Look At The State Of You with Radio 1 DJ Greg James.

The Super Bowl narrowly edged out last year's event to become the most-watched television show in US history. It was watched by 111.3 million viewers, just over last year's one hundred and eleven million figures, which itself broke the 2010 record. The 40.5 rating in the advertiser-coveted eighteen to forty nine demographic was the highest for a Super Bowl in sixteen years, thanks in part to a contest between the New England Patriots and the victorious New York Giants which was close down to the final seconds of the game. Viewership climbed throughout the game, averaging 117.7 million in the final half-hour. Madonna's half-time show was also the most-watched ever, and was seen by an average one hundred and fourteen million viewers. The second-season premiere of NBC's The Voice immediately after the Super Bowl, meanwhile, scored the highest ratings of any entertainment telecast since 2006.

Michael Fassbender has revealed he nearly slept through his big break on the small screen - playing a patient in Holby City. The Hollywood actor, nominated for a BAFTA for his portrayal of a sex addict in Shame, played a man who had his spleen taken out in an early role in the BBC medical drama. He told Radio Times: 'I remember it clearly because I fell asleep on the operating table. The trouble was they were filming the scene over and over again and focusing on all the doctors operating on me and I was lying there with my eyes closed and I just drifted off. I woke to hear someone whispering, "He's fallen asleep."' The German-born, Irish-raised ACTOR hit the big time when he played IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands in Steve McQueen's Hunger. He has reunited with McQueen for Shame where he co-stars with Carey Mulligan and Fassbender admits his strong working relationship with the director helped him get over any worries he had about his character's explicit sex scenes. He said: 'I knew that I wanted him to go to places that were ugly and sort of display that ugliness within the character but I had the confidence, from the way he was written, that an audience would feel for him. And if it had been a different director, I would have been a lot more wary because some of the scenes are pretty graphic, but I totally trusted Steve.'

The BBC, ITN and Sky have written to the Prime Minister calling on legislation banning the use of television cameras in courtrooms to be overturned as soon as possible. The three broadcasters say in their letter that the change is 'long overdue,' and called for the new legislation to be included in the Queen's Speech in May. Last September, the Ministry of Justice announced that it would end the courtroom filming ban that has been in place in England and Wales since 1925, but did not specify a timescale. The letter, co-signed by BBC head of news Helen Boaden, ITN chief executive John Hardie and head of Sky News John Ryley, says that 'timely progress' could be made in passing the bill into law. 'As representatives of the country's main broadcasters, we welcomed this proposal and the government's commitment to bring greater transparency to our courts,' it says. 'We hope that timely progress can now be made to ensure that the Bill lifting the prohibition on cameras in court is included in the Queen's Speech in May. The administration of justice is a key part of a democracy. It shapes and defines a civilised society. The ability to witness justice in action, in the public gallery, is a fundamental freedom. Television will make the public gallery open to all.' Justice secretary Ken Clarke said last December that allowing cameras in courts would aid public understanding of justice, but he also insisted that trials will not become 'theatrical.' This is because filming would only first be allowed for judgements in the Court of Appeal, expanding to the Crown Court 'in due course.' There would also not be any coverage of jurors, victims and witnesses 'under any circumstances.' In the letter, the broadcasters accept that there must be 'limitations' on courtroom filming, including that the presiding judge 'should have complete control of what is shown from the courtroom.' They also note that even if the legislation was announced within the next few months, it would be some time before the first cases came on TV. But the broadcasters warn that a 'great deal of work' must be done by the judiciary, the court officials and the media to ensure that 'the change succeeds in its chief aim of opening up courtrooms to make the judicial process more understandable and accessible. We recognise that concerns have been raised about the impact television coverage will have, particularly in controversial cases,' says the letter. 'However, we believe that the outcome can only be positive. The experience over the last two years of live streaming from the Supreme Court has shown that the presence of cameras has not affected the course of justice in any way in this court. Instead it enhances public understanding and allows everyone to see justice being done. Everyone who believes in transparency should support this proposed change in the law. This is a long-overdue reform. For too long the UK has lagged behind much of the rest of the world on open justice. The time has come for us to catch up.'

It is a dilemma as old as that episode of Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? when Bob and Terry spend all day trying to avoid the England score: how not to find out the result of your favourite sporting event before you have watched the highlights. And with our twenty four-hour rolling news culture, it's only getting harder. One BBC viewer took his or her complaint all the way to the BBC Trust after the results of the Australian Grand Prix qualifying round were read out on a Radio 4 news bulletin. They said the corporation 'should take greater care when reading out results' and certainly only do so in a sports – rather than general news – bulletin. The BBC said time constraints meant it wasn't always possible to issue a 'spoiler alert' and said it would seem 'very odd' not to mention in a news bulletin a sporting event that it had broadcast live. The BBC also noted that it wasn't the first time this particular person had raised the complaint. God save us all from serial whingers.
The Attorney General Dominic Grieve has defended the UK's contempt of court laws after deciding not to prosecute footballer Joey Barton for his recent Twitter comments regarding the impending court case of John Terry. This had raised concerns that the comments could prejudice the trial. But Grieve said that he was satisfied the trial would not be compromised. He also said contempt laws work 'perfectly well' as they currently are. Terry will stand trial for racist abuse in July after allegedly making racist comments towards Queens Park Strangers defender Anton Ferdinand in a league match on 23 October 2011. He has pleaded not guilty and will stand trial on 9 July. As a summary offence under the Crime and Disorder Act, it will be heard in a magistrates' court. The Attorney General said he did not consider Barton's tweets had created a risk of prejudice in Terry's trial. Barton has 1.2m followers on his Twitter account. The Contempt of Court Act 1981 states that once someone is arrested or charged, there should be no public comments about them which could risk seriously prejudicing their trial. Grieve was asked on the Today programme whether the rise of social media sites on the Internet means current contempt of court laws could no longer function. 'I think contempt laws can work perfectly well. It was never the object of contempt laws that it was going to stop every piece of tittle tattle round a dinner table or in a pub. That's not possible. The question is whether the environment in which a fair trial can take place can be preserved and protected.' Grieve said people were prevented from putting out background material into the public domain prior to a trial being heard, which might prejudice or influence proceedings. 'Mere invective or unpleasantness doesn't necessarily meet that test,' he added. 'Although in some circumstances it could. I have to take a judgement on a case by case basis.' He continued: 'As far as I could see, in this particular case, whatever Mr Barton had been doing didn't seem to me, on the facts, to amount to creating the risk we have just been talking about.'

The jury in the Harry Redknapp tax evasion trial has been sent out to consider its verdicts. The Stottingtot Hotshots manager denies accepting bonus payments totalling one hundred and eighty nine thousand smackers from former Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric during their time at the club. The judge told the jurors to ignore 'footballing matters' and prosecutors told them to 'keep their eyes on the ball' when considering their verdicts. Redknapp and Mandaric both deny cheating the public revenue. Judge Anthony Leonard told the eight men and four women at Southwark Crown Court: 'Football is an emotive subject, stirring in an individual anything from deep passion to resentment.' In his summing up, he added: 'This case is not about football but about allegations of tax fraud.' The prosecution said deposits totalling one hundred and eighty nine grand in a Monaco account were bonuses related to Portsmouth Football Club. At least one of the payments was related to the three million smackers profit the club made on the sale of England striker Peter Crouch to Aston Villa, the court heard. Jurors were warned by the prosecution to 'keep their eyes on the ball' when they considered their verdicts. Redknapp's barrister, John Kelsey-Fry QC, said on Monday some of the prosecution's evidence was 'repugnant to all our basic instincts of fairness.' Both Redknapp and Mandaric deny two counts of cheating the public revenue when Redknapp was manager of Portsmouth Football Club. The first being that between 1 April 2002 and 28 November 2007, Mandaric paid just over ninety three thousand quid into a bank account held by Redknapp in Monaco to avoid paying income tax and National Insurance. The second charge for the same offence relates to a sum of ninety six grand allegedly paid by Mandaric to the same account between 1 May 2004 and 28 November 2007.

Rangers chairman Craig Whyte has accused the BBC of conducting a 'witch hunt' against the Glasgow club. The BBC claimed to have uncovered evidence that Whyte lied to a civil court last year by saying that his seven-year ban on being a company director did not relate to the treatment of creditors. The corporation claimed that the judge who originally set the ban had said that company assets were 'put out of the reach of the creditors.' The allegations followed a BBC Scotland documentary on Whyte and the club, which resulted in Rangers withdrawing 'all co-operation' with the BBC over what it said was a 'pre-determined negative attitude' towards the club. In a statement issued yesterday, a spokesman for Whyte said that the latest accusations were 'defamatory' and claimed that the BBC was on a witch hunt. 'These accusations, which are simply a variation on what the BBC already alleged in a documentary riddled with inaccuracies and falsehoods and broadcast last year, are defamatory and clearly form part of a concerted campaign by the BBC to embarrass Craig Whyte personally and to damage Rangers Football Club. This is clearly a witch hunt by the BBC,' he said. The spokesman indicated that Whyte 'totally refutes the scurrilous allegations' that he could have committed perjury in a court of law, saying that his responses were 'given truthfully and to the best of his recollection. In the BBC's documentary last year, the accusation was made that Mr Whyte could have been guilty of criminal activity. Yet, neither before nor since the broadcast, has there been any criminal investigation into any aspect of Mr Whyte's business dealings,' he added. 'This renewed attack by the BBC, as with matters that were aired by the BBC last year, are in the hands of Mr Whyte's lawyers and will be contested robustly. There has been no offer by the BBC to provide any documentary proof in support of their accusations. Mr Whyte is in no doubt that this latest attack is part of a concerted campaign to damage both him and Rangers FC and follows the decision by the club to withdraw co-operation with the corporation. This was as a result of the documentary broadcast last year which also made a series of false and defamatory claims.'

Just days after Everton's match against Manchester City was disrupted when a man handcuffed himself to one of the goalposts as part of a protest, the red half of Merseyside found its football brought to a halt when a cat invaded the pitch during Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws' Premier League match against Stottingtot Hotshots. An incident which put a smile on the faces of the hardest of men on The Kop and even threatened to make Kenny Dalglish's miserable boat-race briefly straighten itself up. The feline intruder made its push for fame eleven minutes into the game, stopping the match as Spurs goalkeeper Brad Friedel tried to shepherd it towards the touchline. After a minute-long adventure, the cat was escorted from the pitch by Anfield stewards. The game them meandered towards its close as a dull goalless with the cat's intervention being, by a distance, the highlight of the game.

Which, I suppose, brings us to today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Is that mud on the pitch?

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