In this week’s diary column, EU workers find a champion in the Home Office and the plan is laid out for the next phase of the Leveson inquiry
The European Union’s managerial class has found an unlikely champion in the Home Office. Mandrake hears that Amber Rudd’s department has not taken kindly to Amnesty International’s plans to appoint Kumi Naidoo, a South African national, as its next secretary general.
‘They wanted to know why no one in the whole of Europe was considered up to the job, and, believe me, we had some impressive applications,’ an insider at the human rights organisation tells me. ‘This is proving to be an interesting process as obviously appointments are always, to varying extents, about who knows who.’
The appointment of Naidoo, 52, the former executive director of Greenpeace International, was announced with great fanfare in December by Mwikali Muthiani, the chair of Amnesty’s board, who is also South African.
The press statement put out by the organisation insisted that Naidoo, pictured, had got the job after ‘an extensive global search’. Salil Shetty, the incumbent general secretary, who hands over to Naidoo this summer, is an Indian national, but this was not considered to be such an issue when he was appointed to the £210,000-a-year post in 2009.
Iain cashes in
Mandrake marvels at how Iain Duncan Smith manages to find the time to fight for Brexit in the Commons, given the vast amount of freelance journalism he undertakes.
In the latest Register of Members’ Interests, the old boy has owned up to making tens of thousands of pounds out of his second career over the past few months. The value of his right-wing views would, however, appear to fluctuate.
The Sun deems a shouty article by him to be worth £750, whereas the Daily Mail will happily pay up to £900. The Telegraph has, meanwhile, paid him as little as £100 for the same amount of effort.
Still, for all that IDS moans about the BBC, they coughed up £2,500 for him to stand in for Jeremy Vine on his Radio 2 show over a few days. He also does speaking engagements – including presumably weddings and Bar Mitzvahs – at £4,000 a pop.
Off the hook
Lord Leveson made it clear that the second phase of the inquiry into the press – which he himself never intended to preside over – would look more closely at the internet and fake news.
Accordingly, the culture secretary Matt Hancock’s decision to abandon it is convenient not just for Rupert Murdoch, but also all those at home and abroad – especially in Russia – who were involved in spreading lies during the EU Referendum.
Lord Paddick, the former deputy assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan Police, says he is disappointed as this was the point when it was ‘going to get interesting’.
As he tells me: ‘The inquiry was also going to delve more into the relationship between the press and politicians, and, indeed, the press and the police. You’ll recall assistant commissioner John Yates outside New Scotland Yard after the Guardian lifted the lid on the extent of the phone hacking saying there was nothing to investigate.
‘I then learnt there were internal letters circulating naming me and John Prescott as victims, but we were never told at the time, even though I was then a commander in the Met. We judicially reviewed the police decision not to inform us and won. None of this has been properly investigated, so we don’t know whether it’s still going on now.’
I expected a bombshell when I saw Charlie Mullins’s Bentley Mulsanne – registration CH4RLE – parked outside Sky News’s Westminster studios. Sure enough, the Pimlico Plumbers boss didn’t disappoint. He told the great Adam Boulton he’d switched his cash and allegiances from the Tories to the Lib Dems. Why? They are the one major party committed to fixing the drain that is Brexit.
The Tory Black and White Balls for major donors will certainly be duller affairs without Charlie and his other half, Julie Anne Morris, pictured. He claimed to have been banned from last year’s bash because the party hadn’t liked him telling Theresa May to quit. The year before, he’d been on great form, popping champagne corks as Zac Goldsmith assured the gathering he’d be the next Mayor of London.