THE QUEEN is not the only toff with a memory problem. She conveniently forgot her conversation with Diana's butler which could have prevented millions being wasted on a trial. Now a top judge has forgotten that he owned shares related to a case he was trying.
Justice Nelson was trying the case brought by more than 50 families against 28 international airlines last week. But the landmark trial had to be halted when the judge remembered he had some shares in British Airways.
Nelson told the court that he had seen a newspaper report about British Airway's recent surge in profits. 'It occurred to me, regrettably for the first time since taking on this case, that I had some shares in BA,' he said. He had 1,400 shares. Most of us would probably remember if we had a few grand tucked away.
The case was brought by families alleging that the airlines' cramped seating caused themselves or their relatives to suffer deep vein thrombosis. The trial has been adjourned, so they will have to wait even longer for justice for those who may have been injured or killed because they were treated like cattle by the airlines.
ANOTHER 'Philipism' from the Duke of Edinburgh. During a palace reception he asked Labour MP Parmjit Dhanda, 'What did you do before you entered parliament?' 'I was a student and a trade union official,' the MP for Gloucester replied. 'You didn't do anything then,' said Philip.
Mr Dhanda asked, 'What did you do before you were Duke of Edinburgh?' Philip was more than a little needled by this lack of respect. 'I served in the Royal Navy during the war,' he barked, flicking a regal two fingers at the MP.
BOOTS the chemist brags about how it 'is developing strong links with local communities'. But those links are not so strong after all. Boots decided to help staff stand out in the run-up to Christmas in the west of Scotland, getting them to wear orange sashes.
The orange sash is a symbol of the anti-Catholic Orange Order. Shoppers and new staff complained that Boots was promoting the sectarian Loyalist Orange Order. When Boots was forced to withdraw the sashes a company spokesperson said, 'We were unaware of the connotations that this might have in this area.'
WORKERS ARE often told to 'pull together' to save their jobs. This has been taken to new lengths in a Romanian car plant. The ARO Camplulung plant is £16 million in debt. So trade union leaders have told the workers to donate sperm to pay off the debts.
'Our feasibility study shows that if 1,000 workers donate their sperm for several months we can get enough funds to pay part of the plant's debts,' says union leader Ion Cotescu. The scheme is also a protest against the government's privatisation authority which has failed to find a buyer for the plant.
Schooled in spying
IF YOU thought The Project was far fetched in its portrayal of New Labour's dirty tricks, try this news of Charles Clarke's dirty dealings. Back in 1991 the current education secretary apparently used information from MI5 against left wing MP Bernie Grant.
Reports allege that in a private meeting Clarke accused Grant of being paid by the Libyan regime of Colonel Gadaffi. Clarke warned the MP against taking part in a Libya exhibition in London, saying, 'I must warn you not to do this. It is in your interests not to proceed.'
Someone who was working with Bernie Grant at the time said, 'We were both amazed at how Clarke could have known. 'They must have had Bernie under surveillance.' Mr Grant's widow, Sheila, said, 'I do recall the incident. Bernie was concerned.' Clarke said he had no recollection of the meeting.
GEORGE BUSH helped block a law that could have stopped the Washington sniper's killing spree. Bush supports the right wing National Rifle Association, which put pressure on the US Congress not to pass a law bringing in a national ballistics fingerprinting database.
If that law had been in place people would have known who owned the gun used by the sniper. The sniper used a gun made by Bushmaster Firearms Inc to kill 13 people. Bushmaster's president was the Maine finance chairman for George Bush's 2000 presidential campaign. He was forced to step down after reporters started to question him about Bushmaster's dealings. It is notorious for sidestepping a ban on the sale of assault rifles.
Thanks to Tony Collins.
THERE IS a new 'evildoer' in the US's sights. US forces on the island base of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean have been put on full alert because of a brown tree snake seen on the island.
Increased flights from the US's base in Guam, where the snake lives, mean increased danger of snakes getting among the cargo and exiting on Diego Garcia. The brown tree snakes have eaten their way through half of Guam's bird population since the 1940s. They have caused regular power cuts by slithering across cables and bringing them down.
The British authorities on the island are concerned that the arrival of the snake on the island would mean that the island's bird life would be destroyed. It's a pity they didn't show such concern for the thousands of indigenous islanders they turfed out in the 1970s to pave the way for the US base. The islanders are still fighting for justice.
Things they say
'CAMBRIDGE IS an elitist institution. And that's not necessarily a dirty word - there's a place for elites. I think elites have an important role to play.'
Education secretary Charles Clarke
'WE'VE been through too many wars, and we know what they bring - bitterness, exile, loss, misery and death.'
Jabbar Hassan, director of the Iraqi Community Association for Iraqi exiles, opposing an attack on Iraq
'AT NO stage have the police produced such a tape, or any witness who has heard such a tape, and we have no evidence of a tape.'
Prince Charles's office tells a royal lie to deny the existence of taped allegations against his staff
'WE ARE building a map of all those countries that might give us a headache.'
Spokesperson for Ariel Sharon on fears that Israeli politicians and soldiers could be arrested for war crimes if they travel abroad
'ON EACH time we met he left me reeling with his charm. He enriched many lives.'
TV presenter Anne Robinson on her late employer, pension thief Robert Maxwell
'THE problem with Burma arises when companies collaborate with an unpleasant regime which is totally contrary to our notions of democracy.'
Kenneth Clarke MP, deputy chairman of British American Tobacco, which pays Burmese workers 23p a day at a factory it owns jointly with the government in Burma
'AN international company cannot reform the politics of the government of any country in which it does business.'