MANDRAKE: Sarah Vine finds Daily Mail column unrewarding

Sarah Vine, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and David Cameron. Photographs: PA.

Sarah Vine, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and David Cameron. Photographs: PA. - Credit: Archant

Journalism proves unrewarding for Michael Gove's wife, David Cameron hopes Sophie Raworth will prove a soft touch at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and Boris Johnson banks his last £15,524.52 from the Barclay Brothers.

No one, including Forbes magazine, has ever doubted Sarah Vine trousers a substantial six-figure salary writing her shouty Daily Mail column. New accounts just in at Companies House show, however, that her firm the Barlby Group has just racked up £10,000 in annual losses, the fourth time it's been in the red in six years.

There's no suggestion that the woman Private Eye dubs Sarah Vain is doing anything wrong, but losses for a business can be used to spare a company from paying corporation tax. Sarah's Brextremist husband Michael Gove, when he was environment secretary, affected high dudgeon at the way water company bosses appeared to be adhering to the letter rather than the spirit of the law when paying taxes.

The Barlby Group was set up as Sarah Vine Limited in 2012, apparently as the receptacle for her journalistic income, and it's described in the official Companies House documents as an "information services" business. Accounts show the company - which changed its name to Barlby in 2016 - lost £2,813 in its first year of trading, £11,717 in 2014, £16,573 in 2016 and £10,467 in 2018.

Last year's accounts reveal ongoing losses of £20,590. These can be offset against profitable years, which in the case of Barlby were 2015 and 2017, when it made £7,013 and £13,967 respectively. The firm's latest accounts show it owed £59 in "taxation social security" - an accountancy term for monies owed under PAYE and National Insurance. Its cash reserves amounted to a meagre £85 and it's recorded £1,249 was spent on computer equipment.

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Lest anyone be tempted to get out the violin, it's as well to remember that Michael, after managing to make up with Boris Johnson, now makes £150,000 as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, combined with his MP's salary.

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At 84, Sir David Barclay is still alive and kicking, but a question the actor Amir Talai posed after the death of the Daily Telegraph proprietor's fellow right-wing billionaire David Koch may one day have resonance here. "When a billionaire dies, who inherits their senators?" Talai asked, rhetorically.

Sir David and his twin brother Sir Frederick have invested heavily in Johnson over the years. This has, of course, had to come to an end now he's got the job they always wanted for him. In the latest Register of Members' Interests, Johnson solemnly records his "final payment" of £15,524.52 from their company, the Telegraph Media Group Ltd.

Soft touch

David Cameron was late to commit to appearing at this year's Cheltenham Literature Festival to plug his memoirs, apparently because of his paranoia about security and dismay that the event was hosting a debate on who is Britain's worst ever prime minister. He's since executed a U-turn, announcing that he'll put in a cameo appearance on October 5.

"He's determined to keep it as low-key as possible - you'll have noticed there was no photograph of him when the Sunday Times previewed the event - and he specifically didn't want a tough interviewer," whispers my bookworm.

I trust Sophie Raworth will see that as a challenge when she interrogates the buffoon who blighted our country with Brexit.

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