Or a "full-blown creep haven", as she put it. Well it’s because in the capital the authorities don’t just live and let live. They spend an awful lot of money ensuring that dodgy or controversial types feel safe, enjoy the high life, ride happily on Boris bikes etc. To some, this feting has long been a source of real frustration. Credit to London assembly member Murad Qureshi. If the details remain opaque, it’s not for lack of trying. Is it right that it is costing the Met Â£25,000 a day to protect former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf, he asked back in 2009. Not telling, said the mayor. Forty-four referrals of war crimes suspects to the Met since 2005, Qureshi noted a year later. Why haven’t we arrested them? We just haven’t, the mayor said. Why so many armed officers patrolling the streets where these undesirables live, asked Qureshi last May. We don’t discuss that sort of thing, said Johnson. What about Rifaat al-Assad, the former vice-president of Syria, the alleged "butcher of Hama", all comfy in Mayfair, asked the Labour man last July. Really, replied the mayor, no one’s complained. Why are you not investigating all the war criminals living in London, was the question in December. Well it’s tricky came the reply. "Even where a suspect is present in the UK, it is often the case that sufficient corroborating evidence is not available." And so it goes. If London is fab for ghouls and chancers, this is why.
“¢ To Westminster, meanwhile, the theatre of government, the crucible of debate and a pretty good shop window for product placement. Which is more or less what speaker John Bercow was up to this week. "You have become, to many of us," he told the Queen, "A kaleidoscope Queen of a kaleidoscope country in a kaleidoscope Commonwealth." So spoke the president of the Kaleidoscope Trust, a recently launched campaign organisation lobbying for lesbian, gay and transgender rights around the world. Hope he isn’t linked to Burger King.
“¢ Still, he’s a good speaker. And one result of his clampdown on incivility in the chamber seems to be that the fisticuffs happen elsewhere. This the early day motion tabled this week by Labour MP Paul Flynn. "This House believes that the answer given by the parliamentary undersecretary of state for justice, the hon member for Reigate [Crispin Blunt], to the hon member for Newport West [Paul Flynn], sets a new low standard in evasiveness and vacuity; and calls on the minister to alter his usual conduct and read honourable members’ questions before attempting to answer them." Feisty. But he wouldn’t talk like that to Eric Joyce, would he?
“¢ Elsewhere, there’s Damien Hirst at the centre of conflict in Germany. Monopol magazine ““ like a German GQ but with more emphasis on culture ““ was planning to run a cover story looking at the forthcoming Hirst retrospective at the Tate. Also planned were pro and anti pieces about the artist. They hoped to illustrate it all with images from the exhibition. Nothing doing. The magazine, says Hirst, wanted copy approval. He says the problem was the main writer whose other articles, he alleged, were "characterised by glaring factual inaccuracies". In the event, the feature appeared with strange blank spaces where the pictures were supposed to be.
“¢ Finally, as Mark Thompson plots life after the BBC, memories of his rise come tumbling out. Young Thompson was a researcher on the Nationwide programme three decades ago. Even then colleagues marked him out for advancement. In 1981, another hopeful was given an item to do on the legendary motor cyclist Mike Hailwood, who had been injured in a road accident but had not yet died. The researcher went to lunch, during which time Hailwood passed. As did the item to Thompson, for whom lunch was only ever a theoretical possibility. Is there anything I can do to help, the wretched usurped figure asked on his return. "Yes, you can fuck off," said Thompson. Then as now, a man of notable drive.Twitter: @hugh_muir
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