Monday, August 01, 2011

The Worst Crime I Ever Did Was Playing Rock And Roll

Trinity Mirra's announcement last week that it was staging 'a review of editorial controls and procedures' may prove as ineffective a response to phone hacking allegations as the various infamous internal inquiries at News International. The publisher of the Daily and Sunday Mirra and the People is being drawn ineluctably into the affair, as a series of Sunday headlines clearly illustrate. Though The Sunday Times cannot, perhaps, be said to be entirely impartial, its article claiming 'three or four' looming legal actions against Trinity titles are pending is well sourced. The Independent on Sunday's article, Now Trinity Mirror feels the hacking heat, is based around allegations about Piers Morgan, who edited the Daily Mirra for nine years until 2004. The Sunday Telegraph's diary also carries an item suggesting that Nancy Dell'Olio is considering legal action against Morgan, citing the paper's revelations about her relationship with the former England football manager Sven Goran Eriksson. The Independent's piece reports that two of Trinity's biggest investors, Standard Life and Aviva, 'want to know more' from the company's chief executive Sly Bailey and 'are understood to be making their views known' to chairman Sir Ian Gibson. It claims the pressure on Trinity is intensifying because of a posting by the blogger Guido Fawkes on Friday which claims that the Mirra group paid over four hundred and forty thousand smackers to a private investigator during Morgan's editorship. There is no suggestion that the payments concerned phone hacking (or any other illegal activity), but the company will need to get on to the front foot if it is to distance itself from the new swirl of speculation about its former news-gathering practices. Bailey was said to be delighted to have fired Morgan in 2004 (over the paper's publishing faked pictures of British soldiers allegedly abusing Iraqi prisoners) in the belief that he had become 'a monster.' By that, the Gruniad claims, she meant 'he had become far too big for his boots,' saying and doing 'exactly as he liked without apparent regard for her and the Trinity board.' One imagine, therefore, it will have displeased her greatly that her company - already said to be suffering from severe financial strains - has been dragged into the hacking affair by virtue of Morgan's various - seemingly boastful - boastful statements in the past about what might be considered to be shady practices. Fawkes has recently blogged about another from Morgan's book, The Insider, by noting this April 2000 diary entry: 'I got back to the office to learn that Kate Winslet, having indicated she would come to our Pride of Britain awards tomorrow, is now saying she can't. Someone had got hold of her mobile number — I never like to ask how — so I rang her. "Hello," she said, sounding a bit taken aback. "How did you get my number? I've only just changed it. You've got to tell me, please, I am so worried now."' Despite his protestations of innocence from his new berth at CNN, Morgan has still not explained his apparently insouciant attitude towards hacking prior to the recent revelations. CNN is supporting him for now but, as James Robinson has reported, his star at the US news channel is 'no longer in the ascendant.' As for Trinity, with its share price at forty four pence, it needs to convince nervous investors that the sales benefits its Sunday Mirra is enjoying in the absence of the News of the World will lead to improved advertising revenue and a path towards greater stability at its national division. It has tried to calm fears that it will be dragged down into the hacking mire by issuing a statement saying that its journalists'"work within the criminal law and the PCC code of conduct.' Which, as previously noted, is more or less exactly what News International had been claimed for several years before it became obvious that it wasn't true. One major investor, Schroder Investment Management, recently sold 4.5m shares, reducing its stake to 15.6 per cent, though that is unlikely to have had anything at all to do with hacking. According to a Sunday Telegraph story, Trinity is planning to restore its fortunes by, once again, cutting costs - and more jobs, including 'a large number' of journalists. The group, which is due to report its half-year results on 12 August, is said to recognise that 'significantly increased cuts' are necessary.

Penn & Teller: Fool Us finished its seven episode series with underwhelming ratings on Saturday evening, overnight viewing figures indicate. ITV's flagship summer entertainment show - widely praised in the press and, indeed, by yer actual Keith Telly Topping - could only grab 2.96m viewers in the 9pm hour, adding two hundred and sixty three thousand on ITV+1 - a slight drop week-on-week, and a far cry from the 4.2m who watched the pilot in January. Hosted by Jonathan Ross, the magic show was beaten by stand-up format John Bishop's Britain, which returned for its second series with 3.8m for BBC1 at 9.10pm, virtually the same as last year's launch.

Sunday, meanwhile, was a tremendous night for BBC with the last Top Gear of the current series picking up 5.62m (including BBC HD) followed by another 4.33m for Dragons' Den (also including HD figures). The latter beat ITV's Law & Order: UK's 3.96m whilst the former won its slot against both ITV's Born to Shine (a hugely disappointing 2.23m) and BBC1's Countryfile (5.03m). In terms of percentage prime time shares, BBc1 had eighteen per cent with BBc2 in second place (14.7 per dent) and ITV third (13.6 per cent). The exciting and controversial third day of the second test (see below) gave Channel Five's highlights package at seven o'clock a higher-than-usual audience of 1.29m. Earlier in the day, 4.65m watched Jenson Button's thrilling victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix between 12.15pm and 3.30pm, emphasising the popularity of F1 on free-to-air television.

While the phone hacking scandal has been wreaking havoc in Rupert Murdoch's media empire and further tarnishing print journalism's image, one news outlet in particular has profited. Newsnight is posting bumper ratings as viewers scramble to try to make sense of each new development. Just over a million viewers saw Steve Coogan and Hugh Grant, the perennial tabloid targets, strike blows on behalf of the News of the World's celebrity fodder. On the day that David Cameron announced a public inquiry into the media, the show drew a phenomenal audience of 1.3 million at 10.30pm. But worryingly for the BBC, the recent mammoth audiences are a renaissance, rather than the norm for Newsnight. The programme has seen its audience decline by fifteen per cent in the past seven months, down from eight hundred thousand viewers per episode in 2010, to six hundred and eighty thousand so far this year. There is a sense of soul-searching at the BBC, with executives asking why such a decline has been experienced by a show which has previously been regarded as just as indispensable to news junkies as Radio 4's Today programme. Some claim that the ratings drop is a long-term structural shift, caused by the rise of rolling news, coupled with the proliferation on the mainstream bulletins of analysis and comment from specialist reporters such as Nick Robinson and Robert Peston. 'When Newsnight first came to our screens it had the field of serious, intelligent discussion of the day's news on TV all to itself,' says John Morrison, who edited the programme between 1987 and 1990. 'But the advent of twenty four-hour news has worn that competitive advantage away. Once you've had the Today programme in the morning, rolling news all day, Channel Four News, and then a heavyweight Ten O'Clock News with Robinson and Peston firing on all cylinders, the big question is: "What's left for Newsnight?"' Peter Rippon, the current editor of Newsnight, says that such a thesis is misplaced. Instead, he claims that the industry-standard Barb ratings figures are 'anachronistic' and 'archaic,' and that the programme's audience is 'evolving, not declining.' Rippon, who took up the post in December 2008, points to viewers who watch online, via the iPlayer, and so are not counted in the ratings. Take the Coogan programme: 'If you add in iPlayer consumption,' he says, 'the online versions of the story, not even accounting for all the YouTube rip-offs, we are regularly doubling the audience that bothers to turn up at 10.30 on BBC2.' Another reason for the drop, according to Rippon, is that Newsnight is suffering from a general exodus of viewers from BBC2. 'There are share issues with BBC2,' he says. 'The numbers that are there when we're coming on air has fallen.' A spokesman for the channel rejects that notion, pointing to the fact that while Newsnight's share of those watching television between 10.30pm and 11.20pm has dropped from 5.1 per cent in 2010 to 4.3 per cent this year, BBC2's share of prime time audiences – the period immediately before Newsnight goes on air, is up from 7.8 per cent last year to eight per cent in 2011. To counter this, Rippon has identified a number of potential growth areas for the programme. Chief among them is the objective of landing the high-profile interviewee of greatest relevance to the day's events. During the height of the phone-hacking scandal, interviews with Coogan and Grant drew in bumper audiences, but also ensured that Newsnight itself was firmly on the news agenda. Rippon says: 'We will put much more emphasis on getting guests who are not just guests – they are the guests that you really want to get on the particular issue of the day. It's those more iconic interviews which stand us out from the kind of churn that everyone else is doing.' The chatter spawned by such guests is seen as a key driver for audiences. TV Genius, a company that tracks social networking references, has produced figures showing that in TV Newsnight is second only to EastEnders in the number of daily name checks on Twitter. Also on the agenda is an increase in long-form interviews carried out by Jeremy Paxman. Rippon says: 'There isn't that much space in other programmes; people want longer form political interrogation.' But there is a feeling among some executives within BBC News that the show is over-reliant on its biggest star. One extremely senior figure suggests to the Gruniad that viewers tend to tune in to see if Paxo is in the hot seat, and then turn off if he isn't. On the face of it, the viewing figures bear out the notion of a Paxman premium. Official Barb data crunched by Attentional, the ratings consultancy, shows that as of 14 July, each Paxman episode this year was watched by an average of seven hundred and sixty six thousand viewers. That figure is sixty thousand ahead of witless Emily Maitlis, while the other two regular presenters, Gavin Esler and Kirsty Wark, languish on six hundred and one thousand and five hundred and seventy thousand viewers respectively. But there are many factors other than the choice of presenter, and Rippon is adamant that the numbers don't mean a thing. Wark generally hosts on Thursdays, when the show tanks due to its clash with Question Time, on BBC1, which gobbles up many like-minded viewers. Similarly, Esler or Maitlis are often landed with the shorter show on Friday, when many viewers eschew rigorous analysis of the week's events in favour of lighter material to wind down for the weekend. 'You have to mitigate all of those factors before you make a reasonable statistical assumption about what that tells you about the presenters,' Rippon says. 'The other factors are so overwhelming, the figures don't tell you anything.' He says all four hosts are 'brilliant' and denies speculation of a shake-up, insisting that 'I'm very happy with the presenters I've got.' Those viewers who do tune in for Paxman have nothing to fear, as he signed a four-year deal earlier this year. 'Jeremy is a huge asset to me and he's absolutely brilliant,' his editor adds. 'He's not going anywhere fast. Given what I know about the status of his contract there is not an issue I need to deal with.' Should he have a change of heart, two women are waiting in the wings. The BBC's economics editor Stephanie Flanders (seen left, modelling her new rather severe Mistress Spanksalott demeanour), and newsreader Mishal Husain have been trialled in the Friday night slot. 'They've both done fantastically well,' says Rippon. The boss does have one major appointment to make, however, after political editor Michael Crick's defection to Channel Four News. Rippon says Crick is a 'brilliant journalist,' and emphasises that he wishes him well in his new berth. But, the Gruniad claims, it is an 'open secret among Newsnight staff' that the two men 'did not see eye-to-eye.' Production team 'sources' allege that Rippon felt Crick, a celebrated story digger and door-stepper, was better suited to a roving political role than to the more nuanced diplomacy of the political editor's brief, while Crick is said 'just not to rate Rippon.' Evidence of some form of internal tension came in the form of recent Sunday newspaper articles, attributed to a 'senior Newsnight source,' containing snitchy Copper's Nark-style derogatory personal comments about Rippon and inaccurate claims about the show's ratings. Rippon dismisses the pieces as 'bollocks,' but they have contributed towards a perception that Newsnight is 'fair game.' Rivals are queuing up to put the boot in. David Mannion, the outgoing editor-in-chief of ITV News, says: 'I have ceased to be a regular viewer – perhaps that's a comment in its own right.' C4 'sources' allegedly point eagerly to the fact that Channel Four News has attracted an average of eight hundred and six thousand viewers this year, compared to Newsnight's six hundred and eighty thousand - although it is on much earlier in the evening when more people, generally, are watching TV. On the other side of the fence, Downing Street sources say that the arrival of new communications chief Craig Oliver, a former editor of both the BBC's 6pm and 10pm bulletins, has led to a reappraisal of the merits of putting up ministers for the show. One 'senior official' allegedly says: 'It's too late for the newspapers, so what is the advantage there? Then there's Paxman. He's not interested in giving you a fair ride on policy; it's all about picking holes and tripping up. If you're not going to get any benefit from it, why bother?' But despite its falling ratings, Newsnight's advocates say there is ample evidence that when it comes to the big stories, viewers come to it. The News of the World scandal is a case in point, with the programme's audience topping the million mark in four consecutive editions in the days after the Gruniad reported the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone. Peter Barron, Rippon's predecessor, is emphatic. 'There's ample evidence of Newsnight's continuing relevance and appeal,' he says. 'When you have a big running story with lots of developments in the course of a day – and we've had plenty recently – big audiences are tuning in to see the programme dissecting it and chewing it over. You see people tweeting: "Can't wait for Newsnight."' Morrison argues that the show is at the mercy of the news agenda. 'The truth is that Newsnight goes up and down,' he says. 'To a large degree it needs the news to be running in a way that plays to its strengths.' Rippon puts it more bluntly: 'The main thing that drives our audience, from the financial crisis to MPs' expenses, is how good the bloody stories are.'

Journalists at the BBC are taking part in a second twenty four-hour strike over compulsory redundancies. Members of the National Union of Journalists began their strike at 00:01 BST. From Tuesday, members will also observe a work to rule. The NUJ says that the BBC is 'unwilling to engage in finding reasonable resolutions' for those forced to leave and who face compulsory redundancy. The BBC says it is unable to agree to demands for no compulsory redundancies. Monday's strike follows similar action on 15 July when licence fee payers experienced some disruption to output. A BBC spokesman said at the time that the disruption had been less than expected. Lucy Adams, the BBC's business operations director, said in an e-mail to staff that the corporation had been in daily contact with the NUJ last week 'in an attempt to resolve the issues they have raised.' As well as being unable to agree to no compulsory redundancies, she said management were 'unable to agree to NUJ members who are facing redundancy being treated differently to other BBC staff. Following the cuts in central government grants to the World Service and BBC Monitoring we have had to close three hundred and eighty seven posts, meaning that, regrettably, there are nearly one hundred staff who as a result are facing compulsory redundancy. We have been working with all these affected staff to ensure that they have opportunities for redeployment and retraining but we cannot and will not give preferential treatment to individuals depending on their union status.' The NUJ reckoned that was all a load of bollocks and accused the BBC of 'wasting thousands of pounds making skilled and experienced people compulsorily redundant instead of redeploying staff.' Because of the industrial action, listeners to BBC Newcastle today will notice that, for the first time in about eleven months, there won't be a new Top Telly Tips on The Afternoon Show. (Not that yer actual Keith Telly Topping himself is involved in the action. Today's not one of my days in the office and, anyway, I'm a freelance and, as such, have no axe to grind with either side. And would, frankly, like them to play nice and focus their ire the real enemy.) The slot will, however, resume tomorrow.

Hugh Laurie has spoken about Lisa Edelstein's decision to leave House. While speaking at the Television Critics' Association summer press tour, Laurie told reporters that the actress, who chose to exit the show in May, is 'missed' on the medical drama, TV Line reports. 'We all miss Lisa very much,' Laurie admitted. Laurie went on to tease the eighth season of House, revealing that his character will be in prison at the beginning of the season. 'I am a prisoner,' he said. 'I don't know [how long I'll be there]. They keep me in the dark. It's probably better that way.' In June, it was announced that Edelstein had signed on to The Good Wife for a multi-episode arc. House creator David Shore previously said that he was 'really disappointed' by Edelstein's departure from the show, confessing that he would have altered the season finale if he had known of her decision.

Ian Bell was handed a dramatic reprieve in an innings of one hundred and fifty nine as England moved into a dominant position in the second Test match against India. Bell's innings - and fifties from Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan and Matt Prior - helped the hosts pummel an extraordinary four hundred and seventeen runs on the third day, reaching four hundred and forty one for six to lead by three hundred and seventy four runs. But the day is most likely to be remembered for the remarkable drama which unfolded in the moments leading up to the tea interval. Believing that a Morgan shot had gone for four, Bell (then on one hundred and thirty seven) abandoned his crease and was chatting to his batting partner when Praveen Kumar returned the ball to Abhinav Mukund who took the bails off. As the England pair headed for the pavilion, India appealed for a run out which was upheld by the umpires after TV replays. With the crowd shouting their displeasure at the decision, the two teams held talks during the interval and India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni sportingly agreed to withdraw the appeal. The sight of Bell running out after tea was greeted with cheers and applause, but the stand-in number three looked a touch subdued after being reinstated, scoring just twenty two more runs before he was caught at slip off Yuvraj Singh. As he left the field, he shook hands with several of the India players, underlining England's appreciation for Dhoni's gesture. Dhoni is already a superstar the world over for his exciting batting but his display of sportsmanship here is unlikely to be quickly forgotten in England where, sometimes despite ourselves, we do tend to appreciate those who play the game not only well, but also in the spirit in which is should be played. In the age of cut throat competition, where very little beyond the end result is generally considered to be important, Dhoni's gesture is bound to increase his ever growing list of admirers. He has won almost everything that a man can as a captain in world cricket today, but its moments like these that go into the cricket folklore and remain etched in the minds of the game's followers. Many of the home supporters in the Trent Bridge crowd were unhappy at the decision and let their feelings be known at the tea interval. Twitter was ablaze with one, no doubt perfect example of English maleness writing: 'Disgusting! Strauss should refuse to continue until an appeal is heard. Yes we may lose the match but this will send a clear message about their unsporting behaviour.' Sorry, who's doing what to whom again? The BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew said that England captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower went to the Indian dressing room during the interval and asked Dhoni and India's coach, Duncan Fletcher, whether it would be possible for them to reconsider the appeal. Dhoni apparently told Strauss that he would consult with his team before returning with an agreement to allow Bell to return. Technically Law 27.8 states that such a decision has to involve the umpires and must happen on the field of play. The fact it was on the last ball before tea may have meant there was room for some discretion. When the news was announced to spectators during a drinks break of the evening session, the India team received a standing ovation from the appreciative Nottingham crowd. It was a sporting gesture though may not go down well with every Indian as Bell and Morgan went on to add a further sixty nine runs, of which Bell's share was twenty two before he was eventually dismissed for one hundred and fifty nine. At close of play, Bell told BBC Sport: 'Looking back, it was probably a bit naïve on my part to automatically walk off for tea but the right decision has been made for the good of the game and it is a relief. I put my bat down after the third and it looked like we were just meandering off for tea. Turning around, the umpire took his jumper out and started to walk towards the bowler and it all just looked like it was going towards tea. We were both a bit shocked, we didn't really realise what had happened until we were halfway off. I didn't know until the last minute that I would be going back out again but the way it's been handled has been fantastic and in the spirit of the game.' The England and Wales Cricket Board issued a statement thanking the Indian team for withdrawing the appeal in the spirit of cricket, while the International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat added: 'I am indeed grateful for the way that the teams and match officials handled what was clearly a difficult situation and their behaviour reflects well on everyone.' Former England captain and now Test Match Special commentator Michael Vaughan told BBC Sport: 'I think clearly [the fielder] Praveen Kumar gave an indication the ball had gone for four so Bell didn't think anything untoward had happened and just walked off for tea. I'm just glad that it was sorted out at tea because it would have got very very nasty if that decision had been upheld. As a captain I think I would have appealed just as Dhoni did - he had every right to appeal. But I also think I would have been talked around at tea time for the good of the game. I think Bell just had a dozy lapse, just as I probably would have done as a player.' Vaughan's fellow former international and current Test Match Special summariser Phil Tufnell praised the actions of the Indians in reconsidering the appeal decision. 'It's something like that that could just turn a whole series sour,' he said. 'I think after a cup of tea, the right decision was made.' Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, told Test Match Special: 'I have to congratulate Mahendra Singh Dhoni for what he did. It was a tough call. The umpire had given the batsman out but Dhoni kept to the spirit of the game, and I think it's so important in this day and age to keep the right spirit. There has been a fair bit of animosity, not just between these teams, and I think if there were more captains like Dhoni you could get back to the days of the phrase, "It's just not cricket." He's set an example for the other captains.' Vic Marks added: 'Withdrawing the appeal against Bell reflects very well on the Indian camp because I've bumped into one or two ex-England captains here who said, "I'm not sure I would have withdrawn the appeal."' Over in the Sky commentary box at that moment several ex-England captains were doing exactly that! They were having a hell of a ding-dong about it, with Michael Atherton - who accused England's players of 'sarcastic applause' when, actually, they were giving Dhoni their public support - and, especially, Ian Botham firmly in the 'I wouldn't have withdrawn the appeal.' Nasser Hussain was somewhat sitting on the fence, Mikey Holding - as usual - serenely above it all, Shane Warne was stirring things up with a few comments about what Steve Waugh would've done and good old David Lloyd - the only ex-umpire among them - praised the officials for their handling of the situation. A similarly controversial incident had occurred in the First Test between West Indies and England in Port of Spain in 1974. As Bernard Julien played the last ball of the day from England's Derek Underwood the players turned towards the pavilion and wicket-keeper Alan Knott flicked the bails off. Fielder Tony Greig noticed that the non-striker Alvin Kallicharran was heading off and threw down the stumps at the bowler's end. Greig appealed and Kallicharran was given out on one hundred and forty two. Many of the crowd had left and were unaware what had happened but it became clear it was a major incident in the making. The managers agreed that Kallicharran would be reinstated and he went on to score one hundred and fifty eight. This wasn't the first controversial incident of its kind in tests between India and England either. In 1979 at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai the then Indian skipper Gundappa Vishwanath recalled English wicket keeper Bob Taylor after he was dubiously adjudged caught behind off Kapil Dev. Taylor, along with Ian Botham made most of the reprieve and went on to forge a record sixth wicket stand of one hundred and seventy one runs and paved the way for a ten wicket victory. But more than the result or Botham's heroics, the match is still remembered for the spirit shown by the Indian skipper. Bell's reprieve adds to the sense that if England don't beat India in this second Test they will not only be kicking themselves but hurling themselves from the balcony of the wonderful old pavilion at Trent Bridge. Without sounding at all disrespectful to some all-time great players India, the official number one side in the world, looked a very ordinary outfit at times over the weekend and seem to be there for the taking. When conditions suited their bowlers in the first innings of the match they bowled with great skill and discipline. But in the first two sessions on Sunday, with the last vestiges of greenness gone from the pitch and the sun out, they looked toothless in attack and ragged in the field. Following Bell's dismissal, England lost Morgan (for a fine seventy including eight fours and a six) and Jonathan Trott - batting down the order because of a shoulder injury - to the new ball. But any suggestion that the momentum might be swinging back India's way was dismissed out of hand in a brilliant unbroken partnership of one hundred and two between Prior (sixty four not out) and Tim Bresnan (forty seven not out). Prior tore into the India attack, hammering sixty four off just fifty five balls to leave the hosts in prime position to go on and win the game, and take a two-nil lead in the four-match series. England scored one hundred and six runs in the first session, one hundred and twenty four in the second and an astonishing one hundred and eighty seven in the third. It's the first time they have scored four hundred runs in a single day since 2005 and the opening day of the second test of that year's memorable Ashes series. With England in a position of such supremacy, it would be easy to forget that they began the day on twenty four for one - still forty three runs adrift of India's first innings lead. They also lost Andrew Strauss early on, the England skipper's tentative prod at Ishant Sharma taken by Dhoni behind the stumps. Strauss has still not scored a fifty in eight Test innings this summer and with his left-arm nemesis Zaheer Khan set to return at Edgbaston there is still plenty of hard work ahead. Bell, in contrast, looked in superb touch as he motored to fifty off seventy two balls with successive fours off Sharma. Kevin Pietersen made a much more watchful start to his innings, taking fifty two balls before finding the boundary with a paddle-sweep off Harbhajan Singh. Lunch seemed to induce a change of mindset, with Pietersen opening his shoulders and smashing Sharma for three fours in an over and getting to a half-century off ninety eight balls. Bell played and missed at the first ball after the interval but was soon back into rhythm as he brought up his fifteenth Test match hundred to complete a set against all eight Test-playing nations. Pietersen made sixty three, but after appearing to get distracted by someone moving behind the bowler's arm, he took a swipe at Sreesanth and was caught behind. Morgan batted positively from the outset, striking eight fours and a six as he and Bell took England's lead well past the two hundred and fifty mark. Their partnership of one hundred and four - punctuated by Bell's astonishing reprieve - could yet turn out to be the decisive in the outcome of the match. It is all proving a bit too much for Ravi Shastri, India's former captain. He was involved in a rather unseemly spat with Nasser Hussain on Indian TV. Nasser, quite reasonably, described India's decision not to use the DRS system for lbw decisions in this series as 'an absolute disgrace.' The DRS system, despite some initial teething problems, is generally considered by most Test playing sides as having been a power for good, eliminating countless poor decisions, and has been embraced in its entirety by all of the other Test-playing countries apart from India. Nasser's comments were made after Harbhajan had been given out lbw to Stuart Broad on Saturday even though he had got a thick inside edge on to his pads. The response from Ravi came in the form of an astonishingly arrogant and snooty attack, not only on Nasser but on English cricket in general. He said: 'What right does he have to say disgrace? It's for both teams, there are certain things that can be corrected, fair enough.' He added: 'England is trying to hit at everything that the BCCI does, every damn thing that they do. [England] are jealous about the way the IPL is going, they are jealous about where India is in world cricket, they are jealous about the fact that India are world champions, they are jealous because of the too much money being made by the BCCI. Bottom line is that they have never been number one in the world in Test cricket.' But, Nasser - never one to back down from a jolly good bit of argy-bargy - would not let it rest there. When play got under way on Sunday he said: 'Ravi, I just want to pick you up on something you said on a show yesterday, questioning my right to call non-use of DRS a disgrace. Well, I've earned that right after ninety six Test matches to voice my opinion on the game of cricket. I'm sure that's what ESPN has asked me to do.' Ravi's rather limp response to that was: 'India has got every right to decide whether to take it or not. The reason why India decided not to take it is that they don't think it's one hundred per cent fool proof.' Later, India's decision to withdraw their appeal against Ian Bell's bizarre run out was described as 'very special.' Haroon Lorgat, chief executive of the International Cricket Council, also praised the England team and the match officials involved in the controversial decision at Trent Bridge. Lorgat said: 'Absolute credit must go to Team India, the England team and the match officials - Ranjan Madugalle, Asad Rauf and Marais Erasmus as well as the off-field umpires Billy Bowden and Tim Robinson - for the superb way that they all handled a tricky situation. While the initial appeal and umpire decision may have been acceptable to the letter of the law, the decision by India captain MS Dhoni and his team - as well as the Team India coaching staff - to withdraw the appeal shows great maturity. To see players and officials uphold the great spirit of cricket, which has underpinned the game for more than a century, is very special. I am indeed grateful for the way that the teams and match officials handled what was clearly a difficult situation and their behaviour reflects well on everyone.' ECB chief executive David Collier added: 'The withdrawal of a valid appeal at the tea interval was made in the spirit of cricket by the India team and demonstrates the true spirit in which the game of cricket should be played and the excellent relationship between the ECB and BCCI. The npower Test Match Series has produced excellent and exciting cricket. The second npower Test Match will also now be remembered for demonstrating that that the spirit and the manner in which the game is played provides a role model for others to follow. On behalf of the ECB I wish to express the England and Wales Cricket Board's grateful thanks the BCCI and the India team.' Rahul Dravid said that the decision to hand Ian Bell a reprieve was a collective one taken by the Indian team. Dravid said: 'The guys knew that if you took the letter of the law, Bell was out, but when we went back in there was not a nice feeling, there was already some discussion that probably it was not right. When Flower and Strauss came to discuss it with Duncan Fletcher and MS Dhoni, the team met and there was unanimity that we should reinstate Ian Bell. Dhoni led it beautifully, he didn't want people walking out not sure of the decision but everyone was behind it and realised there was a bitter feeling in the stomach. The laws of game say he was out but we had a similar incident with VVS Laxman stumped in the West Indies, that didn't leave a good taste in our mouth so it was a good opportunity to correct it. It wouldn't have been nice if it happened to one of our batsmen and when you see it on TV, probably the right thing was done.' England spinner Graeme Swann. meanwhile, could not understand what the fuss was all about. 'The big issue about "the run out that wasn't" hasn’t been mentioned yet,' he wrote on Twitter. 'I had already started a cheese sandwich, so it was definitely tea!'

McLaren's Jenson Button triumphed in a thrilling Hungarian Grand Prix that was won and lost on tyre strategy as the race was affected by intermittent wet weather. Button fitted prime tyres at his third stop before the rain fell and he passed team-mate Lewis Hamilton for the lead. Hamilton pitted six times, including a drive-through penalty, but passed Mark Webber's Red Bull to finish fourth. Red Bull's championship leader Sebastian Vettel was second with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso third. Button marked his two hundredth Grand Prix by recording his second win of the season at the Hungaroring, where he claimed his very first Grand Prix victory six years ago. Remarkably, the thirty one-year-old Englishman is the only man to win an F1 race at the track in wet conditions - the only four races to have been hit by rain since the inaugural race in 1986. Button has made his name when the weather is far from ideal, winning in Canada in June, and also in Australia and China last year with McLaren. 'For some reason I like these conditions, don't ask me why,' said Button, who remains one hundred points behind championship leader Vettel. 'So this is just pretty amazing, an amazing day, a wonderful race, and perfect for my two hundredth. I would say it was one of my most enjoyable races but please, I would like to win one in the dry.' Vettel recovered from some early mistakes to comfortably take second on a three-stop strategy and he now leads the championship by eighty three points from team-mate Webber. Hamilton goes into the summer break third in the championship, eighty eight points behind Vettel, with Alonso one point further back in fourth and Button remaining fifth, one hundred points adrift. Button had run behind Hamilton, who had passed Vettel for the lead, in the second phase of the race after jumping Vettel at the first round of stops. But when Hamilton opted for the soft tyres at his third stop, Button followed the example set by Webber and chose the prime tyres. That decision was crucial when the rain fell just over twenty laps later and the two McLaren drivers swapped the lead several times before Hamilton dived back to the pits for intermediate tyres and Button sailed off into the distance. BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle said: 'When you need a man with a cool head, Button is the man with a sixth sense. Button brilliantly won the Hungarian GP. He was the class of the field but supreme steel was seen this afternoon as the drivers had to cope with extremely difficult conditions.' After a strong start, Hamilton threw his race away with the decision to fit soft tyres at his third stop. His lead was already in jeopardy before the rain fell as both Red Bulls and Button had chosen the harder tyres and were aiming to get to the end of the race while Hamilton would have had to stop again anyway. When the rain came Hamilton at times struggled to control his McLaren and he made the decision to stop for intermediate tyres. It was a decision team chief executive Jonathan Neale later said was entirely down to the 2008 world champion. As the wet weather faded away, Hamilton's decision proved to be the wrong one and he quickly returned to the pits again to finish the race on prime tyres. A drive-through penalty for rejoining in front of Paul di Resta's Force India after a spin put him behind Webber but he was able to use his fresh tyres - with a little assistance from the congested midfield pack - to pass the Australian for fourth. Hamilton later accepted full responsibility after the incident with di Resta earned him a drive-through penalty and cost him a place on the podium. Hamilton, who came close to hitting the Force India car when correcting a spin, said: 'I have to apologise to Paul, I didn't see him, so I had absolutely no clue. We can definitely say the team have done a fantastic job.' Alonso had chosen a similar strategy to Hamilton, also opting for the soft tyres on the third stop as he attempted to get past Webber, who had been holding him up since the first stops. But he quickly dived back to the pits for hard tyres as the rain fell and took third. The Spaniard was satisfied with the result after finding himself overhauled by the two Mercedes' off the line and delayed in hunting down the Red Bulls by a slow second stop. Ferrari's Felipe Massa battled back from a difficult race to finish sixth behind Webber. The Brazilian was followed by Di Resta, who collected his first points for Force India since Malaysia. Nico Rosberg, who found himself fourth on the opening lap, settled for ninth. His Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher retired after spinning off the track. Toro Rosso celebrated their one hundredth Grand Prix with both drivers in the points. Sebastien Buemi finished eighth with Jaime Alguersuari tent. There was a dramatic moment when Nick Heidfeld's Renault caught fire coming out of the pit-lane, although the scary incident was not deemed dangerous enough to bring out the safety car. The German explained: 'The pit stop took longer than it should have and something overheated. I had a fire in Barcelona as well but this one got quite close and I felt some heat so I had to get out quickly. There was a small explosion on the left. I never saw anything like that before.'

David Cameron's aide Ed Llewellyn, who advised former top policeman John Yates not to raise phone-hacking with the PM when he visited Downing Street last year, has been asked to take charge of a Downing Street leak inquiry. The Daily Torygraph managed to get hold of an embarrassing letter sent by health secretary Andrew Lansley to Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, last week, publishing it on page one, and the paper's political editor Andrew Porter followed that scoop by revealing the amount the government will ask public sector workers to pay into their pensions three days later. Alexander was reportedly apoplectic, according to someone the Gruniad describes as 'a Lib Dem mole,' and now Llewellyn has been drafted in to plug the leak. It must be a novel experience for the Torygraph to be the subject of a leak inquiry rather than conducting one itself. Readers might recall that last year, the Torygraph took the highly unusual step of hiring private investigators Kroll to find out who at the paper had leaked a story about Vince Cable's claim he had 'declared war' on Rupert Murdoch to the BBC's business editor Robert Peston.

A teenager from the Shetland Islands has been charged with computer offences by police investigating hacking attacks. Jake Davis, aged eighteen, was charged with unauthorised computer access and conspiracy to carry out a distributed denial of service attack on the Serious and Organised Crime Agency's website. He faces five charges and is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday, police said. Police are investigating hacking groups known as Anonymous and LulzSec. Officers from the police's Central e-Crime Unit arrested the teenager in what they describe as 'a pre-planned intelligence-led operation' on Wednesday. The UK Serious Organised Crime agency took its website offline for several hours on 20 June after it appeared to be a victim of a distributed denial of service attack. LulzSec claimed responsibility for the attack. DDoS is where large numbers of computers, under malicious control, overload their target with web requests. Ryan Cleary, nineteen, of Wickford, Essex, was charged last month with five offences under the Criminal Law and Computer Misuse Acts, including an alleged hacking attack against SOCA's website. LulzSec has previously also claimed responsibility for hacking attacks on the US Senate, Sony, the CIA and the Sun newspaper. A sixteen-year-old boy from South London was arrested and bailed last week, while the international investigation has also led to sixteen arrests in the United States and four in the Netherlands.

Olly Murs has admitted that he is afraid of 'being axed' by Simon Cowell. Blimey, I knew Cowell can be a bit of a deranged megalomaniac at the best of times but that's, surely, illegal isn't it?

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day a twenty four carat masterpiece from The Men In Black.