A new, possibly inevitable, career awaits Nigel Farage: He is to become Basil Fawlty without the laughs.
I can disclose his company Thorn in the Side has lately acquired a £600,000 property for rent to holidaymakers, not in Torquay – where Fawlty Towers was located – but Romney Marsh on the south coast.
I understand it’s a two-storey detached property with a parcel of land across the road from the beach, and, for the time being at least, Farage does not intend to preside over it himself, as Fawlty did, but let it out. This could make him up to £25,000 a month. Romney Marsh is a lettings hotspot, with Airbnb showing properties there can make up to £636 per night.
A nice little earner for Farage, pictured, whose business overall dipped in value by £65,000 over the past 12 months. No news on his other company, Farage Media, which he set up in December 2020 – but it’s as well that he has something to fall back on, given the lacklustre performance of the rebranded Brexit Party, Reform UK, where he is a director.
Paul Dacre’s decision to rule himself out of the running for the top job at the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom meant – as Boris Johnson’s preferred candidate – the former Daily Mail editor effectively ruled himself out, too, of the sweetener peerage that was rumoured to go with it.
Still, there was a knighthood in the New Year’s honours for Trevor Phillips for services to equality and human rights. This does not apparently extend to Muslims, who Phillips has said “see themselves differently from the rest of us.” He has spoken of them as “a nation within a nation,” and said a Muslim family fostering a non-Muslim girl is “akin to child abuse.”
Meral Hussein-Ece and Sayeeda Warsi – two of the most spirited members of the House of Lords, who happen to be Muslims – saw the irony of the citation. “Islamophobia is Britain’s bigotry blind spot,” says Warsi. “When our honours system rewards those that demonise communities that are an integral part of modern Britain it shows how deep-rooted this form of racism has become.”
Lord Charles Moore – Boris Johnson’s guru – wrote a Daily Telegraph column insisting that “traditional Boxing Day hunts must always go on.” One wonders why they should, other than to gratify Moore. He lists in the Lords’ register of interests that he was a committee member of the controversial East Sussex and Romney Marsh Hunt.
Ghislaine Maxwell’s conviction for sex trafficking and other offences in connection with the financier Jeffrey Epstein means Channel 4 will finally be able to screen what promises to be the definitive documentary about her. The BAFTA-nominated director and producer Erica Gornall is behind the three-part series and she tells me she has got some “big names” to talk.
I am scarcely one of them, but I did talk to Erica about the Ghislaine I got to know during my days working as the diary editor of The European, the newspaper launched by Robert Maxwell in 1990, which is absolutely no relation to this fine organ.
Maxwell assured me his daughter would be “a fount of great stories” for my column, but, in the event, contributed not one. This grated, as after the paper went into administration the accountants Arthur Andersen sent all the paper’s former employees details of the paper’s incomings and outgoings.
Ghislaine amounted to quite a significant outgoing, earning a salary several times my own as diary editor, the job I thought I’d been doing. I guess it was her father’s typically opaque way of supplementing the income of his daughter, who was otherwise pretty unemployable.