Legal sharks circle round Davis and his chief of staff

By Oliver Duff

Published: 27 July 2007

* Eek eek, eek eek eek. Yes: it's the sound of squeaky bottoms in Westminster, as lawyers acting for David Davis's researcher, Alivia Kratke, put together their case against the shadow home secretary.

One month ago, Kratke suddenly vanished from Davis's office. Following the falling out, Kratke is taking Davis and his chief of staff, Dominic Raab, to an employment tribunal.

Davis's office had previously claimed to know nothing about the case. A source at the London Central Tribunal confirms, however, that "the claim came in on the 20th and has been copied to the other side [Davis]. He has 28 days to respond."

Kratke's lawyer, Jonathan Mansfield, is calling in potential witnesses to give evidence, under threat of seeking witness orders forcing them by law to attend court.

Davis's former researcher Henry Burkitt, now a lobbyist, confirms: "I have been called to give evidence as a witness." Another, Katy Taylor-Richards, now a journalist, declines to comment.

Davis's former secretary Gloria Nicholl, once manager of the druggie Indie band the Happy Mondays, denies the claim that she has been called as a witness. Former assistant Andy Percy and secretary Juliet Donnelly could not be reached to confirm rumours they are also on the list.

Asked if Davis is ready yet to acknowledge the existence of an employment tribunal claim against him, his spokesman said: "First of all we don't comment on office matters." So does he deny Kratke's claim? "We don't comment on office matters."

* When it emerged that the investigative journalist John Sweeney was writing a slags'n'all biography of Wayne Rooney the footballing wunderkind's lawyers began dusting their silks.

Bookstores have reportedly been threatened with legal action if they stockRoo Unzipped. But Random House has thrown caution to the wind, announcing it will publish on 20 August.

The story of Rooney, it declares, is about "our demented cult of celebrity, his love for Coleen, excruciatingly embarrassing sex with a PVC-clad grandmother known to admirers as 'the Auld Slapper' - and The Curse of the Black Thong." Whatever that is. "It is a story of a potential £100m 'cash cow' that everyone wants to milk."

Sweeney, in the news for his profane outburst at a Scientologist, refuses to comment, except to acknowledge the irony of one man with a very public temper writing about another.

* The chairman of the Tate, Paul Myners paid an impromptu visit to his gallery's vociferous critics, the pro-painting Stuckists, on Wednesday.

Myners went to see Stella Vine's show in Oxford in the morning. Then, gamely, he dropped by the Stuckists' exhibition, I Won't Have Sex With You As Long As We're Married, at Wimbledon's A Gallery. (See right: they photographed him. "Act natural!") Vine used to be married to the Stuckist co-founder, Charles Thomson.

Myners' appearance was brave, since the Stuckists pillory him and the Tate for the "pretensions" of its conceptual art. "He said he wasn't sure why we were so critical when he our art was quite similar to the stuff... at the Tate," says A Gallery's owner, Fraser Kee Scott. "So I asked him if that were the case why on earth did the Tate turn down the art we offered them?"

* Last month I found Euan Blair at the free bar at a White Stripes gig (although he didn't get backstage to hobnob with Keira and Sienna). He was out again on Wednesday, walking the yellow carpet with girlfriend, Suzanne Ashman, at the premiere of The Simpsons movie. He commented: "I can't speak on the record, but off the record I hope it's a really good film." Keep your controversial opinions to yourself! Euan stayed on after the film for the party and the free drinks in the VIP section.

Also at the premiere was Joshua Jackson, once of Dawson's Creek. While his co-star in that seaside tosh, Katie Holmes, has become half of one of Hollywood's richest and weirdest couples, Jackson was heard steering friends away from the bar: "No we shouldn't go to that bar - there's a free one upstairs."

* Just when John Prescott thought his Mandela-like Long Walk to Strasbourg had entered the home straight (he wants to be leader of the UK bloc at the Council of Europe), another obstacle crashes down afore him.

On Monday, Prezza squeezed home in a tight vote of 12 to eight to become leader of Labour's delegation - despite a campaign against him to keep his hands off the champagne flutes. The Labour MP Gordon Prentice promptly resigned from the group, refusing to work with "the tub of lard".

Prezza would be a shoo-in when the PM appoints the overall leader. But none of the 11 Tories on the 36-strong delegation wants JP either. Their leader, David Wilshire, has told Gord to think again: the 11 Tory anti-Prezza votes, added to the eight Labour, come to more than half the delegation. "And the Council exists to promote democracy after all."

pandora@ independent.co.uk

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