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Carrie’s staying loyal, Murdoch lobs a non-dom grenade, and who’s Jacob Rees-Mogg’s idol?

This week's gossip and scandals in Westminster and the media brought to you by MANDRAKE

Boris Johnson with wife Carrie. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

The Charity Commission may have asked Damian Aspinall to step down as the boss of his eponymous foundation amid allegations of financial irregularities, but his £100,000-a-year head of PR Carrie Johnson is staying loyal. She and husband Boris were happy to be photographed visiting its animal park in Canterbury with their son, Wilf, just days after the former PM ended his attempt to return to Downing Street.

Aspinall is, however, likely to face still more questions about how the foundation is financed, with its latest accounts showing it paid £90,000 to his estranged wife, Victoria, for “interior design services”.

An investigation into the foundation’s affairs was started by the Charity Commission in July 2020, six months before Carrie began working for it. The commission expressed “concerns over the management of conflicts of interest and related party transactions” and it became a statutory inquiry in March 2021.

Over the weekend, it was disclosed that Aspinall and Victoria had separated. Carrie, who gives her job working for Aspinall as her sole occupation on her Twitter profile, had better hope the charity is cleared.

Boris Johnson’s former chief of staff Dan Rosenfield – destined for the House of Lords, if the former PM gets his way – has just bagged a job with Windmill Hill Asset Management Limited, controlled by Lord Nathaniel Rothschild and The Rothschild Foundation. The House of Lords already has two members in the pay of Rothschild – Lord Kestenbaum and Lord Sedwill, chief operating officer of J Rothschild Capital Management and senior adviser to Rothschild & Co, respectively.

Rosenfield is clearly making the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments tetchy. They have already warned: “There are inherent risks associated with his potential influences, gained as a result of his time at No 10 – not only in respect of government, but as a result of the networks and contacts Mr Rosenfield may have made while in office, should he use them to generate wealth for the company.”

Two years ago, Jacob Rees-Mogg pitched up at the funeral of Christopher Booker, claiming he had idolised the late Daily Telegraph journalist and hung on every word he wrote. Richard North, who had worked with Booker on his columns, was therefore startled to see Rees-Mogg writing the other day about the 4,000 EU laws that remain on the UK statute book and his determination to see them gone if the Retained EU Law bill passes into law.

Had Rees-Mogg really been a student of Booker, he would have known that he had frequently written about these laws, making the point that much of the regulation issuing from the EU was passed down from even bigger, global bodies and was the consequence of globalisation.

“Here we are, years down the line, and Rees-Mogg is completely untouched by reality… with the same shallow agenda surviving, untouched by human intellect,” North tartly observes. “One can only wonder how it is that people at or close to the top of the political tree can remain so ignorant.”

Rupert Murdoch lobbed a hand grenade into the newspaper tycoons’ club last weekend when one of his newspapers ran a piece calling on Rishi Sunak to abolish non-dom tax status.

An American citizen and non-dom himself – along with Lord Rothermere and Sir Frederick Barclay – Murdoch might well feel at 91 he’s got away with it quite long enough. He will also be conscious of the discomfort it will cause Rothermere, with whom, as I’ve reported, he’s not been getting along too well lately, on account of the younger man getting it into his head to back Liz Truss to succeed Boris Johnson.

The author of the piece calling on Sunak to “end the non-dom ruse” was none other than Dominic Lawson, whose father, Nigel, had attempted as chancellor to do away with it in his 1988 budget. Margaret Thatcher, then prime minister, vetoed the idea after being lobbied by some very rich men.

This article originally stated that Lord Evgeny Lebedev also claimed non-dom status. This is incorrect and we apologise for our mistake.

The last time I saw Matt Hancock was during the summer at a corporate dinner in the City when – a fussy eater at the best of times – he declined to eat anything at all because he said he was watching his figure.

It’s a measure of the hold his girlfriend Gina Coladangelo has over him that he’s now devouring camel penis, sheep vagina and cow’s anus in the I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! jungle.

The former health secretary may well have been paid a small fortune to appear on the show, but it will assuredly cost him his political career. A dull man in private, I can’t ever really see him cutting it as a celebrity. I recall being at a drinks party at Spencer House in London talking to Neil and Christine Hamilton and Margaret Thatcher walking up and asking what they were doing. “Christine is on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!” Neil replied.

“What?” said Thatcher. “I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!” Neil replied loudly. Unfamiliar with popular television shows, she gave him a withering look and walked off, saying under her breath “a celebrity, indeed.”

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