Naomi won her war - but she'll be the loser

Last updated at 12:38 20 May 2004

On the face of it, publicist Max Clifford and lawyer Keith Schilling make

out that they are on opposite sides of the fence in the ongoing battle over

privacy laws versus the public interest.

Clifford rails that the rich and

famous are protected against media intrusion 'because they can afford

expensive lawyers' and that, as a result, they 'get away with terrible,

disgusting things'.

He's furious that five Law Lords, by a majority of three

to two, agreed with Schilling that the Daily Mirror invaded the supermodel

Naomi Campbell's privacy by publishing photographs of her leaving a Narcotics

Anonymous meeting.

For his part, Schilling says he doesn't want to gag the press, just draw a

line on the disclosure of private information where's there's no public


Yet for all the posturing, it seems to me that it's all just a game. So many

people in our society regard the rich and famous as commodities to make money


Does anybody care about where the line is drawn, for instance, when the

victim isn't rich? Apart from any question of principle, many lawyers are

motivated by the costs they'll be awarded if they win. And we can but wonder

what motivates Max.

I have personal experience of how distressing it is to have one's phones

tapped, bank account details broken into and life made hell by paparazzi


I considered suing for breach of privacy, and was advised I had a

99 per cent chance of winning. But at the end of the day, who can be bothered

with either the cost or the aggravation?

In my view, the only people who

really win are the lawyers and publicists, and the media who keep the story

going, so you're back to square one.

I bet Naomi's not whooping for joy at the £3,500 she has been awarded in

damages, particularly as she now faces hostile media coverage for the rest of

her professional life - and probably beyond.

As for lawyers, I was forced to use one last year just to issue a short

media statement, and it cost me the equivalent of four months' mortgage

payments. Worth every penny - not!

It's horrible to watch poor old Marks & Spencer thrashing around in what

appears to be terminal decline. Like many women, not only in Britain but

around the world, I feel oddly sentimental about this deeply troubled

high-street institution.

Anyone over 40 remembers with affection the days when you could always

rely on M&S for top-quality clothes at reasonable prices.

Twenty years ago,

they sold clothing, particularly leisure wear, that was actually quite

trendy. Today the place is just depressing.

Over the past decade, vast sums of money have been thrown about on new

messages and images, and a lot of cash has been squandered on constantly

changing the people at the top, too. Now, Luc Vandevelde's abrupt departure

last week from his £420,000-a-year post as chairman has destabilised the place

even further.

My advice to M&S - free of charge - would be to go back to basics. The shops

are packed with far too much merchandise. You walk in these days to buy a

plain shirt or some underwear and your eyes glaze over, because there's way

too much on sale.

It's not only overwhelming, it also shouts that here's a retail giant that

doesn't know what market it's aiming for any more. The latest teenage range

is just ridiculous. M&S was never for teenagers, so why now?

There are few experiences more terrible than having a distressed, unsettled

baby who refuses to sleep for more than a few hours at a time or settle into

a predictable routine.

At my therapy centre, LifeSmart, we see many new mothers who, after six

months or so, look like they've just emerged from Guantanamo Bay.

Now these poor women face the confusion of two baby-care experts rowing

over how best to handle the situation, attacking each other's advice as


Soft-hearted psychologist Penelope Leach says pick up and cuddle a baby

whenever it cries, and always feed on demand. Stern maternity nurse Gina Ford

says establish a military-style routine as quickly as possible, and stick to

it regardless.

Leach now claims that following such advice could 'damage an

infant's capacity to learn and may in extreme cases damage it forever.' Who

to believe? As usual, the answer appears to lie somewhere between the two


A leading London maternity consultant, who is now on our team, tells

me that Ford's advice is too rigid, but her overall approach is more sensible

than Leach's. She says that if you pick up a newborn baby as soon as it

starts crying, any time of the night or day, you quickly lose the capacity to

recognise the reasons for the crying.

There's also the drawback that, if it cries a lot, you end up demented.

Penelope Leach may be in a bit of bother here. Philosophies in baby care

tend to go in cycles, and the trend at the moment is definitely swinging away

from 'make yourself a slave to your precious baby' to 'get it into a routine

so you both sleep through the night as quickly as possible.'

Adidas shoe designer Christian DiBenedetto has come up with a computerised

running shoe, complete with buttons, battery, magnet and electric motor. I

suppose I shouldn't rush to judge something that's not in the shops until

Christmas - price: £170 - but honestly, can you imagine anything worse?


foot contains important energy meridians that a magnet and electric motor

could seriously interfere with, and can you imagine how prone all this

hi-tech gadgetry would be to breakdowns?

DiBenedetto says a shoe that changes shape to suit a hard or soft surface

was a 'fantasy' until now.

Soon, it will be a nightmare, and heading to a shop near you.

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