Sunday, January 31, 2010

Oops, our Cilla forgets to pack the sunscreen and, surprise surprise, gets burnt

In the pink: Cilla reveals the effects of a little too much sunshine

When all at home are shivering in the depths of winter, the temptation to soak up the Caribbean sun is irresistible.

But for a fair-skinned redhead like Cilla Black, it's all too easy to overdo it.

The 67-year-old star, who has a penthouse apartment on Barbados, looked seriously sunburned as she joined Prince Harry at a fundraising party for victims of the Haiti earthquake.

She said: 'Harry came straight up to me and said, "I didn't expect you to be here". So I said, "Surprise, Surprise". He groaned and told me, "I knew you would say that".'

She added: 'I've met all the members of the Royal Family except William and Harry.

'A few years back I notoriously performed at the Royal Variety Performance wearing a leotard and a flashing heart.

Paying the forfeit: Harry dancing beside a local musician

'I happened to see Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace a few days later and he said: "Glad to see you are wearing a little more than when I saw you last!"'

Earlier, Prince Harry, who is in Barbados for a polo match to raise funds for his African orphans' charity, had found himself paying a forfeit at a concert for Haiti.

He offered to dance on stage if viewers of the event, broadcast on TV across the Caribbean, donated thousands of dollars in the next 25 minutes.

When the pledges came through, he said: 'I can't believe I've let myself in for this.'

Surprise surprise: Prince Harry and Cilla Black meet for the first time in Barbados

Cilla and Harry were at a fundraising party for victims of the Haiti earthquake

Cilla has now met all of the Royal family, except Prince William

source: dailymail

Gerard Butler plays the music of love as he kisses violinist during chance meeting in the street

By James White

Street scene: Gerard Butler and a woman violinist kiss near Venice Beach, L.A.

Action film star Gerard Butler made the most of his celebrity status during a walk around Venice Beach, L.A. - by sweeping a woman who recognised him off her feet.

The British actor, 40, was enjoying a walk with friends when he spoke with the unnamed woman as she played violin outside her house.

The pair chatted for a few minutes before embracing passionately and exchanging telephone numbers.

Earlier the star was snapped laughing as he posed by a film poster promoting his 2009 film Gamer.

Romantic music? The pair embrace

Game for a laugh: Gerard Butler enjoys standing outside a DVD shop by a poster for his film Gamer

An onlooker said: 'He looked like he was having the time of his life - revelling in the benefits which come with being one of the most familiar faces in Hollywood right now.'

The impromptu display of public affection between Butler and his new friend came as rumours swept Tinsletown about his links with actress Jennifer Aniston

Warrior: The actor as King Leonidas leading his warriors into battle in 300

The pair - stars of the upcoming film The Bounty Hunter - appeared close at the Golden Globes recently, with sources claiming they kissed backstage.

Close: Co-stars Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler

source: dailymail

As Amanda Holden tries to conquer US television, has she got steel behind the botox?

By Alison Boshoff

Holden on: Amanda is known for her determination

A week-day afternoon at Daniel Galvin's London hair salon. Amanda Holden is having her highlights refreshed and toenails painted.

She is holding court, a stream of chatter diverting her hairdresser Lino and the other stylists, who giggle at her jokes and bring her cups of tea.

'I want to be buried with a mobile phone, just in case I'm not dead,' she chirrups, to general amusement.

Later, she holds forth on the subject of the credit crunch. 'My mortgage rate is keeping me in shoes,' she says. 'I know you're supposed to save up for two years' time when it's going to be 12 per cent, but Christian Louboutin's doing a massive trade out of me.'

Some might think it tactless to talk about buying £800 shoes when so many are going through genuine hardship, but they all love Amanda at Daniel Galvin's.

She has been going there since she was married to Les Dennis, so there is considerable loyalty to this 38-year-old blonde, who has become a household name surprisingly late in the day.

But, as her latest show lands flat on its pert behind, you start to wonder if, for the rest of us, the joke is beginning to wear a bit thin.

Amanda Holden's Fantasy Lives, which involves her trying her hand at unusual careers, started on ITV1 last week with poor ratings and a hostile reception.

Despite the release of promotional pictures of Holden wearing very little(she was trying her hand at being a showgirl in Paris), it attracted just 2.48 million viewers on its first outing.

One critic wrote: 'My fantasy would include Amanda disappearing from TV forever.' Another observed that she had little to offer, 'apart from an weirdly immobile face and a cackle like a drunk auntie . . . It's a televised retraining package, allowing Holden to learn new skills so she won't flounder when the public rises up and bans her from television'.

Her previous big project was a turkey called Big Top, which pulled in 3.3 million viewers for BBC1, falling to just over two million.

So what is going on in Amanda's world? And, as she once again sits on the judging panel for Britain's Got Talent, the question is: how much longer will she be able to work her charms on her boss, Simon Cowell?

All of her friends say she will be all right: she has a cockroach-like determination to succeed and seems to have something of that creature's invincibility, too.
Her father, Frank, was a Naval petty officer who left her mother, Judy, when Amanda was four and her sister Debbie was three.

The family lived on a housing estate in Bishop's Waltham, Hampshire, and Judy worked as a secretary, barmaid and fruit picker.

When Amanda was five, Judy met Leslie, a handyman, who became the girls' stepfather. Amanda keeps in touch with her father once a year, at Christmas.

Dazzling: Determined Amanda wowed the crowd as she took to the stage as a showgirl in Paris

Though her home life was not starry, she decided at the age of eight that she wanted to be an actress and, with a ruthlessness that typifies her, has never been deterred from pursuing this career.

'There has never been anything else,' she says.

She joined the Bishop's Waltham Little Theatre company when she was nine. Angie Blackstock, who ran the group, remembers the defining moment of Amanda's life, when she performed in Babes In The Wood.

'She didn't like the part she was given, but when she heard the applause, her eyes glittered. I said: "She's going to be a star, that girl."

'Amanda found out everything about the theatre and worked at it like you would not believe.'

Taxi! The actress hails a cab back to her hotel as she darted around New York last year while on a media blitz on behalf of show Britain's Got Talent

She went on to study at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London and then wangled a cameo appearance in EastEnders and appeared on Blind Date.

A year after she graduated, she met Les Dennis. They were introduced at a party and she caught his interest when she told a very dirty joke - she has a repertoire of filthy stories and loves nothing more than a glass of wine and a gossip. She calls everyone 'Darling'.

At the time, Dennis was in a vulnerable state: his mother and father had died, as had his comic partner Dustin Gee. He had also got divorced. In his 2008 autobiography, he recalls that he told her: 'I'm 39. You're 22. There's no future for us.'

But he was captivated by her beauty. By his own account, he spent much of the relationship in tears over his somewhat pushy, flirtatious wife, who had told him she had rehearsed her Oscar acceptance speech at the age of eight.

They set up home in London's Primrose Hill and she would play the perfect hostess when he brought around his TV contacts, who were all charmed by her. She inevitably became more successful than he was.

In perfect shape: A slimline Amanda Holden arrives at the Edinburgh International Television Festival

In 2000 came the bombshell: her affair with Neil Morrissey. Dennis begged his wife to come back with no strings attached. She did, and refused to apologise for the affair.

The union finally unravelled in 2002, after his misery- soaked appearance on Celebrity Big Brother. To her credit, the announcement of their split spoke of an 'amicable parting' with 'great sadness' on both sides.

But Amanda could not hide her relief. Who can forget the pictures of her whooping it up in Spain with a bunch of girlfriends?

She instantly got together with record producer Chris Hughes, a friend since the start of her relationship with Dennis. They married in 2008 and have a daughter, Lexi, now four. What moved Amanda's career to the top level was Britain's Got Talent.

It was a delightful surprise to her - and to some viewers, who grumble that an actress whose career includes the corny Wild At Heart has little business in picking the next big recording star.

Golden girl: Amanda sits demurely between the out-size egos of Piers Morgan and Simon Cowell on the judging panel of ITV1's Britain's Got Talent

But I understand that Simon Cowell had nursed a crush on Holden for nearly five years before the chance came to give her a break. He read about her split with Dennis and asked a friend if he could introduce them as he'd 'love to date her' now she was single.

A year later, he mentioned in an interview he liked only brunettes, but would make an exception for Holden, saying: 'I bet she's really filthy.' At the time, he was finding fame as a judge on Pop Idol.

Cowell finally got to meet Amanda at the Baftas in 2006. She flirted with him, even though she had recently given birth and was at the awards with her husband-to-be ('I'm a flirt, I've always been a flirt! It's in the genes,' she demurs).

The following year, Cowell persuaded Cheryl Cole to be on the Britain's Got Talent panel, but she pulled out at the last minute as she needed an operation on her foot.

Chic: Amanda Holden arrived at the 'Britain's Got Talent' Manchester auditions last week

Cowell immediately turned to Holden, who fully realised how very lucky she was. He has a thoroughly odd relationship with the trophy women on his shows - ever so slightly creepy and proprietorial, with obvious thumps of lust.

He told Amanda in the first week of filming that he didn't want to see her looking plain.

'Something dies inside of me when I see you without your make-up on,' he told her.

She was mortified. He relies on Amanda to look gorgeous, to flirt with him and exchange 'dirty' banter while they are not filming. 'He's filthy, but I love him,' she says.

She has just landed a top job on the U.S. network CBS's Early Show. The irony for her is that, back when she was with Dennis, she used to go to Hollywood for auditions, but never got anywhere. Now she is close to having a transatlantic TV career, just like Cowell.

'People like that she admits to having had Botox and has not been tempted to do too many commercial deals,' says PR guru Mark Borkowski. 'But she is a smart girl and knows how ruthless Cowell is. Amanda realises this will not be for ever.'

She certainly does. 'I would do that show for nothing. Simon says that he can see my tail wagging every time I'm on it. I've been so lucky. For as long as it lasts, I'll enjoy every second of it.'

Lucky? Undoubtedly. But behind Holden's Botoxed brow and vacuous giggle lies a core of steel. She's risen almost without trace - and she's determined to stay there

source: dailymail

Reform begins at home: Michelle Obama puts daughters on a diet as she launches anti-obesity campaign

Slim look: The Obama girls, Malia, right, and Sasha, were 'becoming overweight' before Michelle, centre right, imposed a diet to solve the problem

Michelle Obama started a campaign to tackle childhood obesity in the U.S. on a personal vein - with an admission that her own daughters were becoming overweight before a diet nipped the problem in the bud.

The First Lady said that she had been warned by the family paediatrician that 'something was getting out of balance' with her two children Malia 11, and Sasha, 8.

'In my eyes I thought my children were perfect - I didn’t see the changes,' Mrs Obama said at an event organised by US health officials.

The girls then had to adhere to new ground rules - less burgers, low-fat milk, and fruits and water instead of sugary drinks; the change was significant, she said.

Mrs Obama was accompanied by Regina Benjamin, whose choice as US Surgeon General sparked nationwide debate about the appropriateness - or lack of it - of having an overweight person heading the country's health department.

Ms Benjamin also invoked her own struggles with weight gain to enforce their message.
The pair then unveiled the White House vegetable garden, taken care of by local schoolchildren in a bid to promote healthier eating.
U.S. president Barack Obama has also in the past publicly voiced concerns about the habits of their children, saying that Malia had become 'a little chubby'.

Concerns over obesity has been growing in the U.S. where two thirds of adults and one in three children are overweight or obese, according to experts.

Green campaigner: Michelle Obama harvests vegetables from the garden with children from local schools

Kathleen Sebelius, US Health and Human Services Secretary, told yesterday’s launch that the US spends nearly $150 billion (£94 billion) a year fighting obesity - more than it spends on cancer and twice as much as it spent on obesity in 1998.

The campaign was launched to deter this problem, and the announcement that Michelle would head it was met with a standing ovation from congressmen and senators.

source: dailymail

Andy Murray gave Kim Sears custody of dog after they split

By Patricia Kane and Jane Simpson

Reminder: Andy Murray and dad Will with Kim Sears and their dog Maggie in 2008

She was the rock by his side at every major tournament, a firm fixture on the tennis circuit as she cheered on her boyfriend through good times and bad.

But as Andy Murray faced Roger Federer in the Australian Open final today, former sweetheart Kim Sears remained 10,000 miles away in the UK - her absence leaving a notable gap in the Team Andy camp.

Instead of taking her seat next to Murray’s mother Judy, the stunning student was left – like Murray’s legions of adoring fans - following the match on TV

And yesterday Murray’s family admitted there was still ‘sadness’ about the break-up, which saw the 21-year-old move out of the player’s £5million Surrey mansion two months ago.

However, Miss Sears has been gifted a living legacy from the four-year relationship – in the form of the couple’s cherished terrier, Maggie.

As the star prepared to take on world No1 Federer this morning, his father Will revealed that Miss Sears had received ‘custody’ of the dog, which the couple were regularly pictured walking. However, in a statement that appears to kill any reconciliation, Will said his son was feeling ‘really good’ about his personal and sporting life.

Speaking as Murray attempted to become the first British male to win a Grand Slam tournament since Fred Perry 74 years ago, Mr Murray said: ‘It was very sad because she is a lovely girl and I enjoyed her company. But the only people who know the reasons for the separation are Andy and Kim.’

He added: ‘Andy is in a position now where he feels good about himself and his tennis. He wants to play Federer and beat him.

Flying the flag: Andy Murray draped in a Union Jack flag in Melbourne yesterday

‘He amazes me with his strength and focus. He has put in so much hard work, years of it, and it would be the icing on the cake for him if he can pull this one off. It will be huge for Andy if he does and, if there are any doubters out there still about his ability, I think this should silence them. Andy is the real deal and not a fly-by-night.’

Some reports suggested that Miss Sears had grown increasingly frustrated by Murray’s apparent obsession with his PlayStation 3, on which he was said to spend up to seven hours a day playing games.

His PR agent did nothing to quell such suggestions when, days after the break-up, he told journalists there would be ‘no questions about Kim, his dog or gaming’.

However, some have suggested the split may have been to help Murray focus for his date with destiny in Australia. Earlier this month Murray, who has an estimated fortune of £12million, hinted as much and claimed he had benefited from taking ‘less people’ on tour.

He said: ‘I have to make sure everyone who is here has a job to do. It is just a little calmer. When we go out for dinner, it’s not tables for ten, it’s tables for five or six.’
Part of this preparation included spending Christmas and New Year in America with just his coach.

But the one woman he is unlikely to ever drop from Team Andy is his omnipresent tennis coach mother Judy, 50, with whom he has chosen to share a flat in Melbourne.

The pair share a powerful bond but Mrs Murray was reportedly fond of the privately educated Miss Sears. She had the right

pedigree -- the daughter of Nigel Sears, 51, the head of women’s tennis in Britain, who grew up in an £800,000 detached home in Barcombe, East Sussex, complete with tennis court.

She was aware of the pressures young players are put under but, like her ex-boyfriend’s mother, she would also have been aware that, in the end, the sport comes first.

But acknowledging the start of a new dawn for his son, Mr Murray – who separated from Judy when Andy was ten – paid tribute to his ‘extraordinary single-mindedness’ and revealed that he planned to celebrate a win with a parachute jump.

‘I think he’s told the whole of Team Andy they are jumping with him if he wins. As much as I want him to win his first Grand Slam, my first reaction to the news of the jump was: “Andy, please don’t.”’

source: dailymail

Court grilling for Wayne and Coleen Rooney in £4m battle with agent over earnings

By Jonathan Petre

Wayne's World: Rooney and Coleen promoting Coke

Furious Wayne and Coleen Rooney are facing a court grilling this week over their multi-million-pound earnings.

Details of their lavish lifestyle will be dissected as part of a bitter legal battle with their former sports management agency, which is suing them for £4million in allegedly unpaid commission.

Rooney’s friends are said to be outraged that the lawsuit has been brought, as it could distract the Manchester United and England footballer in the run-up to the World Cup in South Africa in the summer.

The case, due to begin at Manchester Mercantile Court tomorrow, has been bought by the Formation Group and Proactive Sports Management, which is now owned by the James Grant Group that represents Simon Cowell, Ant and Dec, Davina McCall and Holly Willoughby.

Legal papers filed in a Leeds court in December 2008 revealed details of the Rooneys’ then £35million fortune and included claims for unpaid bills for their wedding in June that year.

Among them were a £18,934 bill for Rooney’s stag week in Ibiza and a £2,622 first-class return plane ticket to fly Coleen’s assistant to pick up jewellery from New York.

Other spending by former supermarket check-out girl Coleen, 23, included a £864 bill for food and drink at her hen weekend in Miami, £565.76 on a dress fitting in Manchester and £2,525.01 on a night out to see Westlife.

Rooney's agent Paul Stretford continued to represent the couple

The Rooneys are understood to have settled these debts but Proactive claims it is still owed commission on contracts it says it negotiated on their behalf with Manchester United and companies like Nike and Coca-Cola.

The couple are said to have held back payments after the departure from Proactive of their long-term agent Paul Stretford.

Mr Stretford founded Proactive 20 years ago but left amid acrimony in 2008, taking the Rooneys with him.

Rooney, 24, has stayed loyal to Mr Stretford even though he was banned last May from working as a football agent for nine months and fined £300,000 after the Football Association found him guilty of improper conduct.

The charges related to how Mr Stretford and Proactive, which was later taken over by Formation, obtained the rights to represent Wayne when he was 15.

The Rooneys say they refuse to pay Proactive any more because it has not given them any services since Mr Stretford’s departure.

A friend of Mr Stretford said: ‘Proactive and its owners have played no part in the management of Wayne or Coleen’s business affairs since November 2008, when they last had contact with Proactive.

‘It is inconceivable that they should expect payment for the period since then to now, never mind for the years ahead.’

New mum: Coleen Rooney, pictured at a Liverpool fashion event in Liverpool last week, is paid £41,667 a month to write her OK! column

He was also earning £1million-a-year from Nike, more than £200,000-a-year from computer games firm EA and £600,000 from a four-year deal with Coca-Cola.

The value of the Premiership’s top goalscorer has soared since then and he is expected to be offered a new contract by United within months that could raise his pay to £150,000-a-week.

Observers believe he could negotiate an even higher figure if he performs well in the World Cup.

Coleen is also expected to be called into the witness box to give details of her income from endorsements of perfume and make-up, plus magazine columns and her TV series Real Women.

The court documents show she earned £13,000 for each episode of Real Women and £41,667 a month for her OK! column.

source: dailymail

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Did student invent 7 A-levels to get into Oxford?

By Lucy Ballinger and Camilla Turner

Dreaming spires of Oxford: Student Parmbir Gill allegedly claimed to have 10 A's at A Level when he actually had just three

An Oxford University student has been suspended over allegations he claimed to have achieved ten As at Alevel - when he actually had just three.

Parmbir Gill's audacious boasts are said to have won him a place at Lady Margaret Hall, a college with alumni including Nigella Lawson, Ann Widdecombe and former MI5 director general Eliza Manningham-Buller.

The 21-year-old began studying economics and management there in September, but just before Christmas the college was alerted his CV may be too good to be true.

Over the course of the first term, officials are said to have become concerned about apparent discrepancies in his application.

They phoned Langley Grammar School in Slough, Berkshire, and were told he had achieved three Bs in economics, maths and religious studies A-levels, at a first sitting.

He then took two gap years to try to boost his grades, and ended up with three As.

But when he finally applied to Oxford as an independent candidate, meaning he uploaded his application to UCAS without his school's knowledge, it is understood he added another seven As.

Deputy head teacher Janet Jamieson said: 'There was no evidence of malpractice on his part while he was here, and he got a place at the school on the strength of real GCSE grades, which were A*s, As and Bs.

'The university asked if he did attain these grades at school, and the answer was no, he didn't.

'In fact he left here with good, but not outstanding grades. I would have checked that amount of A levels, if it were me.'

Mr Gill, who is being investigated by the college, has posted a CV on the internet claiming ten As at A-level while attending Langley Grammar. He also boasted of achieving 14 A* GCSEs at secondary school.

A string of other achievements including awards and bursaries also feature.

An Oxford University spokesman admitted it is impossible to eliminate fraud.

But the selection system - including interviews and aptitude tests - 'minimises the risks of fraudulent behaviour going undetected'.

Last night Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students, said it was vital students were 'truthful' when applying for universities so that they can be judged fairly.

Gill was unavailable for comment.

source: dailymail

Ronnie Wood's girlfriend is definitely pukka: Polo-playing girlfriend is a world away from lapdancing waitress

Gentlemanly behaviour: Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood carries his new girlfriend's bags at Ham Polo Club in London

He left his wife for a waitress in a lapdancing bar, but Ronnie Wood has taken a step up in the world since then.

Instead of serving drinks in a seedy bar - which was later busted for being a brothel - his latest girlfriend has a penchant for polo.

The Rolling Stone was seen looking quite the gentleman in a grey trilby, wool coat and scarf and carrying her polo mallets at the Ham Polo Club in London yesterday

He rather ruined the effect with a cigarette dangling from his lips, scuffed Uggs and orange carrier bag.

His new girlfriend also wore Uggs and carried her polo helmet as she left the club in comfy tracksuit bottoms and a sweater with a multi-coloured scarf.

Ronnie, 62, split with his former girlfriend Katia Ivanova, 22, two months ago.
She has since appeared on Celebrity Big Brother, but her former flame wasted no time mourning the end of their relationship.

Polo players: Ronnie carries her gear to his Bentley, while she takes the mallets and helmet to the car

Matching boots: The pair looked casual at Ham Polo Club in London

He has been seen on on numerous occasions with his current young squeeze, who is believed to be in her 30s.

They have been spotted together previously at Zuma restaurant in London, at a birthday party, shopping together for groceries, and clubbing in London.

Ronnie recently claimed he had given up his party lifestyle, claiming: 'I don't drink anymore.'

He has fought a high-profile battle with alcoholism for years and checked into rehab several times, the most recent being July 2008.

Past Love: Ronnie wood and Ekaterina Ivanova are believed to have met at The Capricorn Club, a lapdancing venue in London which is thought to have turned into a brothel after she left

source: dailymail

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Nicolas Cage is Leaving Las Vegas after $8.5m mansion sells for nearly half the price he paid for it

Money trouble: Nicolas Cage has been selling off his property portfolio to pay his hefty tax bill

A Las Vegas mansion bought by actor Nicolas Cage for $8.5million has been sold for nearly half the price.

The 4,300sq ft, six-bedroom home was foreclosed by the bank recently after Cage ran up a $6.3million tax bill.

A mystery buyer put down $4.95million for the Spanish Hills home after less than a day on the market.

The lavish home, which Cage bought in 2006 before the property crash, included a 16 car subterranean garage, a private cinema and stunning views of the Las Vegas strip.

Estate agent Ken Lowman, who sold the house on behalf of the bank who foreclosed the property, said he believed Cage had bought it as an investment.

Lowman said the Leaving Las Vegas star also owes $61,000 in levies from 2008 and 2009, which will be paid once the sale closes.

He told the Las Vegas Review Journal: '(I believe he bought all these properties) to profit from them. All of a sudden, that plan doesn't look like it's going to work out.'

Despite being listed as the world's fifth highest paid actor, the Oscar winner's many property deals have landed him in financial trouble with America's Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Over the last few years, Cage has owned 15 homes in Europe and U.S., including an island in the Bahamas and a German castle.

Cage sold his Bavarian castle to his German lawyer for £1.52million and placed his £3.5million Bath castle up for sale last year.

He also sold another property in Bath for £3.5million last March and has listed his $12million Rhode Island home for sale, for which he owes $128,000 in back taxes.

Offloading: Cage sold Neidstein Castle in Germany last year for £1.52million

Two houses he owned in New Orleans went up for sale in November to cover $5.5million in unpaid mortgages.

Cage has been labelled one of the craziest big spenders in Hollywood.

He has been accused of splashing out millions on property and blowing his fortune on fast cars, jewellery, yachts, castles and a collection of shrunken heads and dinosaur skulls.

His former business manager, Samuel J. Levin, made the claims and is suing Cage in a bitter financial battle.

But Cage blames Levin for his money problems. Originally, Cage sued Levin for £15million after his finances ran aground earlier this year.

But Levin is counter-suing, claiming his reputation has been damaged.

source: dailymail

Prince Charles charges Middletons £3,000 a week to let them stay at his Cornish holiday home

By Rebecca English

Prince Charles charged the Middletons £3,000 to stay at Restormel Manor

Prince Charles pocketed £3,000 from prospective daughter-in-law Kate Middleton and her family for staying at one of his holiday homes over Christmas.
The Middletons spent several days at historic Restormel Manor in Cornwall over the festive season, which boasts its own heated swimming pool and tennis courts.

The nine bedroom, 500-year-old property, which is situated in unspoilt countryside at the head of the beautiful Fowey valley, is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, which funds Charles's public, charitable and private activities.

Last year the prince's income from the Duchy amounted to a staggering £16.45 million thanks to judicious investments and increased property and land rental fees.

But the prince did not attempt to pull any strings for Miss Middleton, who has been dating his son, Prince William, for seven years.

Instead of waiving the fee, Kate and her family - including parents, Carole and Michael, sister Pippa and brother James - forked out the full winter rate for the property, which is around £3,000 for a week.

Sources said the family were happy to pay and 'wouldn't have dreamed of asking for a discount'.

'The Middletons paid for their stay like anyone else booking a holiday there,' the source said.

William, who frequently joins the Middletons on their family holidays, was not present.

Restormel Manor: The nine bedroom, 500-year-old property is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, which funds Charles's public, charitable and private activities

The manor also boasts three sitting rooms and a boot room, an indoor heated swimming pool, games room and outdoor play area

He was with the rest of the Royal Family at Sandringham but left after Boxing Day to fly up to Scotland to celebrate New Year with Kate and his father.

The family did, however, chose the property on the prince's recommendation

Kate Middleton made good use of the property's tennis courts

William has stayed in the house, a mile from the medieval village of Lostwithiel, previously with friends, including Kate and his brother, Prince Harry.

Clarence House declined to comment yesterday but sources pointed out that as the Duchy was independently managed, Charles would have no say in who rented its properties and how much they paid.

Restormel Manor is described as 'one of the most historic and cherished houses' owned by the Duchy of Cornwall.

It was recently refurbished in a clever mix of period and contemporary style and now sleeps up to 18 people.

It has nine bedrooms, three sitting rooms and a boot room, an indoor heated swimming pool, games room and outdoor play area.

The property's heating and hot water are supplied from a wood chip boiler and electricity is only provided from renewable sources, in line with Charles's green credentials.

It also has its own tennis court which was used extensively by Miss Middleton and her family during their stay.

Kate is a particularly talented player.

William, who recently returned from his first official tour to New Zealand and Australia on behalf of the Queen, was this week back at RAF Valley in Anglesey continuing his training to become an RAF Search and Rescue pilot.

Speculation continues that he and Kate will finally announce their engagement this year.

source : dailymail

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Meet Juliette, the RAF bombshell who terrified the Taliban in her fighter jet

Awesome noise: Flt Lt Fleming sent Taliban fanatics scurrying for cover by repeatedly swooping low over their heads in her Tornado GR4 fighter bomber

A female RAF pilot has revealed how she terrified Taliban fighters by screeching low over their heads in her Tornado fighter jet - a new tactic to avoid killing civilians with stray bombs.

Flight Lieutenant Juliette Fleming, 31, was repeatedly called on to swoop down low over fanatics attacking British and coalition troops on the ground in Afghanistan.

The awesome sound of her GR4 jet roaring overhead at 550mph just 100ft above the ground would deafen the enemy and force them to take cover.

Flt Lt Fleming carried out her sorties during a three-month posting at Kandahar airfield with 31 Squadron, known as The Goldstars.

She said the policy of trying to 'win the hearts and minds' of local people meant that the RAF was dropping as few bombs as possible to avoid killing civilians.

The pilot, who last week returned to her base at RAF Marham, Norfolk, said: 'Dropping bombs is a last resort and we don't want to do it if we can help it.

'We found that our sheer presence alone through a show of force was enough to achieve results 99 per cent of the time.

'The noise of a low level swoop directly overhead is usually enough to get the enemy's heads down so the friendlies can withdraw and get back to a safe place.

'You just concentrate on doing the job as quickly and effectively as you can. People ask about the threat to yourself - but I don't really think about that.

'I am just there to deter that threat to the guys on the ground. As soon as you get called to do something, your brain clicks into gear and you crack on with it.

'It is a procedure you have practised time and time again back home so it is a natural thing to do.'

Flt Lt Fleming, who has been a pilot for ten years, said: 'I personally didn't drop a bomb while I was out there, although the squadron released a few munitions.'

Members of 31 Squadron were also responsible for saving troops' lives by identifying IED bombs on roads and tracks used by Coalition forces.

The Tornado crews regularly flew patrols over key areas, using special equipment at a height of 15,000 feet to spot disturbed earth, vehicle tracks and suspicious activity which might indicate the presence of a bomb.

Flt Lt Fleming said: 'We could relay pictures directly to air controllers on the ground and zoom in to take a closer look.'

In December, Flt Lt Fleming and flying partner Nikki Thomas were told how they spent Christmas flying a fighter jet 15,000ft above the battlefields.

Flt Lt Fleming, who has been a pilot for ten years, said: 'I personally didn't drop a bomb while I was out there, although the squadron released a few munitions'

Pilot Flight Lieutenant Juliette Fleming (left) and Navigator Squadron Leader Nikki Thomas (right), with 31 Squadron from Royal Air Force Marham

Pilot Flight Lieutenant Fleming and navigator Squadron Leader Thomas have logged nearly 100 hours as the first all-female Tornado crew.

Their missions have helped both British and US troops under fire.

The duo - call-sign 'Monster Seven Three' - often fly as low as 100ft in their supersonic Tornado GR4 from their base at Kandahar to attack enemy positions.

Flt Lt Fleming said: 'For us it was just another working day. There was a Christmas dinner in the dining hall and a few decorations and cards.

A replica RAF Tornado GR4 - the jet the all-female crew flew in Afghanistan - acts as gate guard on the main gate at RAF Marham. Below, a GR4 in flight

'We will celebrate our Christmas when the tour is over at the end of January.'

Sqn Ldr Nikki Thomas, 31, from Exmouth, told the BBC: 'Really for me the best bit of my role is the operational flying.

'To spend years training to do a job and to do it well it is very satisfying, and you really get to see the results on operations.

'It may also sound really cheesy but life on a squadron is brilliant, everyone pulls together to get the job done and everyone has a vital role to play.'

source: dailymail

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 'sign £205m split deal and will share joint custody of six children'

Alive: Rico Dibrivell, 35, was freed from the rubble of a building in Port-au-Prince - it was reported that he had a crushed leg

A man has been pulled alive from the rubble of a collapsed building in Haiti's devastated capital 14 days after the earthquake which killed thousands of people struck.

U.S. troops rescued the 35-year-old, who was covered in dust and dressed only in his underwear and carried him out from the ruins in downtown Port-au-Prince.

The man - named as Rico Dibrivell - was taken for medical treatment. It was reported that he was suffering a crushed leg.

The rescue, two weeks after the magnitude-7.0 earthquake killed as many as 200,000 people, came as the U.S.-led relief effort was focused on getting help to hundreds of thousands of survivors left homeless, hungry and injured.

U.S. army specialist Andrew Pourak said: 'We don't know if he was there from the beginning or in one of the aftershocks he may have gone under.

'He got sent to the hospital, he's going to make it.'

Brazilian U.N. peacekeeping troops fired tear gas at a frenzied crowd of thousands of Haitians crowding a food handout outside the wrecked presidential palace as delays in getting help to earthquake survivors continued.

'They're not violent, just desperate. They just want to eat,' said Brazilian Army Colonel Fernando Soares.

'The problem is, there is not enough food for everyone.'

Hanging on: The man was found two weeks after the earthquake struck killing up to 200,000 people

Facing persistent complaints by survivors that the huge amounts of aid flown in to Haiti is not reaching them on the ground, U.S. and U.N. troops plus aid workers have widened and intensified the distribution of food and water.

Some of the food handouts in the capital have turned to conflict, although the United Nations said the overall security situation in the city remained stable.

It said about 60 per cent to 70 per cent of Haiti's police force has returned to work.

At the presidential palace, U.N. troops with shotguns handed out sacks of rice with American flags on them.

Treatment: The man was attended to by U.S. medics before being taken away

Armoured trucks formed a cordon to control the crowd and people were searched as they entered the checkpoint.

'Yesterday they gave us rice, but there was not enough. There were too many people,' said Wola Levolise, 47, who is living in the camp with her nine children.

The World Food Program said it handed out 60 tons of food at the camp but ended the distribution early when the crowd got out of control.

'The vast majority of distributions in Haiti are being carried out in an orderly manner. There are isolated, regrettable incidents but these are the exceptions and not the rule,' a WFP spokesman said.

The U.N. agency said it has delivered nearly 10million meals to almost 450,000 people since the quake.

Working to restore order: Temporary workers remove rice from a storehouse as the clear-up gets underway in Port-au-Prince

Unsanitary living conditions in Port-au-Prince have raised fears of an outbreak of disease.

So far, doctors on the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort anchored offshore said they had seen only one case each of typhoid and dysentery, and several of tetanus and malaria.

In a bid to get the economy started, the United Nations is offering 150 gourdes ($3.77) a day plus food rations to those willing to take two-week jobs clearing rubble from roads and removing waste that posed a potential health threat to those sleeping on the streets.

There were signs the ruined capital was slowly returning to life. A city garbage truck hauled away piles of rubbish at a makeshift camp near St. Peter's Church and a long line snaked outside a bank in the suburb of Petionville.

A street market along Rue Geffrard in Port-au-Prince was crowded and chaotic.

The capital's destroyed downtown commercial area, however, had few open shops.

Scavengers picked at smashed buildings for planks of lumber, steel bars and other building materials.

Authorities are trying to relocate at least 400,000 survivors from more than 400 makeshift camps across Port-au-Prince to temporary tent villages outside the city.

Almost daily aftershocks have shaken Port-au-Prince since the quake, raising the possibility the city might have to be rebuilt on a safer location, away from geological fault lines.

Since the quake about 236,000 people have left for the countryside but the United Nations said most had moved in with relatives and large-scale shelter wouldn't be needed.

source: dailymail

Beckhams' love affair with North America isn't over as David plans to buy football club

By Ben Todd

Staying Stateside: Victoria Beckham, pictured with youngest son Cruz in Orlando, Florida, yesterday, is adamant the family will continue to live in Los Angeles

David Beckham is planning to buy a North American football club when he leaves Los Angeles Galaxy at the end of next year.

The football superstar has no intention of returning to Britain full-time in the near future, despite inaccurate magazine reports.

Instead, he is planning to see out his last two seasons as a LA Galaxy player, which will take him up to the end of 2011.

The 34-year-old is then set to buy a ‘franchise’ for a new entrant into the MLS, with Canadian capital Montreal emerging as a front-runner, according to U.S. speculation.

A U.S. source revealed: ‘Montreal is a cosmopolitan, European-style city. As a result, they have a huge passionate support for football that doesn’t necessarily exist in the U.S..’

As part of his £128million five-year contract with the Galaxy, Beckham had the right to buy a franchise for a possible new entrant into the league at the end of his contract..

As a result, in recent months, he and his manager Simon Fuller have begun serious talks over the prospect.

Playing ball: David Beckham, pictured on Sunday, is currently on a six month loan to AC Milan, but he now plans to buy a U.S. or Canadian football team

Speculation in the U.S. is now focusing on Florida city Miami and the French-Canadian city Montreal as the new club.

The plans emerged after magazine claims the Beckhams were planning to give up on their American dream.

But sources close to the family insist they remain happy in Los Angeles.

Their children – Brooklyn, 10, seven-year-old Romeo and Cruz, who turns five next month – are happy and settled at school.

And the footballer is determined to see out his contract at the Galaxy, which saw them lose on penalties in the MLS Cup Final last year.

Following the panning she received from U.S. critics following her judging slot on American Idol, Victoria, 35, has ‘nothing in the diary TV-wise,’ according to friends.

But she is dedicated to her fashion label and believes that Los Angeles is as good a place as anywhere for her to continue expanding her range.

Mauled: Critics were unimpressed with Beckham's guest judging stint on American Idol after she was invited by Simon Cowell

source: dailymail

Father and daughter reunited on Facebook after 50 years apart

Reunion joy: Frances Simpson discovered her father Tony Macnauton (right) on Facebook, 50 years after they last saw each other

A father and daughter who have not seen each other for nearly 50 years have been reunited after meeting on Facebook.

Frances Simpson, 51, last saw her father when she was just three-years-old after her parents separated.

She had spent 33 years trying to find him with no joy until a friend researched her family tree as a surprise.

Frances discovered for the first time she had a half-sister called Kim Macnauton whom she never knew about.

She looked Kim up on Facebook and sent her a message in which she wrote: 'This is going to be a bit of a shock... but I think I am your sister.'

By chance, the two women's father Tony Macnauton, now 72, was sitting by Kim's side when the message arrived.

Stunned Kim, 19, immediately wrote back confirming they were indeed related.

They exchanged phone numbers and Frances spoke to her father for the first time in 48 years. The pair have now met face to face in an emotional reunion.

Frances, from Market Drayton, Shropshire, said: 'It's unbelievable, I'm absolutely over the moon.

'I don't have the words to describe how I'm feeling, it's amazing.

'After all these years I've finally got my dad back.'

She has now introduced Tony, a retired lorry driver from Poole, Dorset, to the five grandchildren and great-grandchild he never knew he had.

Treasured memories: Frances kept this picture of herself as an 18-month-old toddler with her father and mother
Frances, a full-time mother, had not seen her father since she was a toddler when he left the family home after splitting from her mother.

She began searching for him when she turned 18, scouring phone books, electoral rolls, and newspapers across the country to track him down.

But unbeknown to her, he had changed his name to make a fresh start and despite her best efforts she never found him.

It wasn't until her friend started researching her family tree that she found him, living 200 miles away in Poole.

After searching social networking site Facebook for clues about him, Frances made contact with Kim, his daughter from his second marriage.

Frances said: 'When I first started looking for him we didn't have the internet and things were so much harder.

'But as soon as I knew Kim's name, I looked her up and sent her a message saying: "This is going to be a bit of a shock if you are who I think you are, but I think I might be your sister."

'It only took a few minutes before I got a message back saying: "Do you want to talk to my dad? He's sitting right next to me."

'I couldn't believe it. I started talking to him and we haven't stopped since.

'I've got so many memories of him. I remember him being able to play the accordion and I remember him making me a swing.

'And now we're finding out all these other things we have in common - we've got the same sense of humour and we've even been on holiday to all the same places over the years.

'My children are absolutely thrilled to be able to meet him - I've always talked about him and they're so excited to finally meet him.'

Frances travelled to Poole to meet her father and half-sister for the first time last Friday.

After an emotional weekend, she took Tony back to Shropshire on Sunday to meet his grandchildren Robert, 25, Jody, 22, Callum, 19, Andrew, 17 and Kelvin, 15, and great-granddaughter Jessica, two.

Tony said: 'Even though we lost touch, I've never ever forgotten Frances.

'It's remarkable. We've each been clinging on to a precious photograph of the two of us together - the only ones in existence.

'I've always dreamed of being reunited again, and now I've finally got my daughter back.
'It's absolutely marvellous. I don't know what cloud I'm on at the moment.'

source: dailymail

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi 'to be freed from house arrest'

Aung San Suu Kyi is set to be freed from house arrest later this year

Burma's opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, will be freed when her house arrest ends in November, according to a government minister.

But that will probably be too late for this year's parliamentary elections - the first for two decades - which observers think will be held the month before.

The 64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years, was sentenced last year to 18 months of house arrest for harbouring an American who swam uninvited to her lakeside home.

Major General Maung Oo, Burma's home minister, told a meeting of businessmen and officials last week that she would be released in November when her sentence is due to end, according to witnesses.

Home ministry officials could not confirm that he had made the comments.

The planned election would be the first since 1990, when Miss Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party scored a landslide victory, which the country's junta refused to recognise.

source: Dailymail

Brad Pitt buys bachelor pad to 'get over split from Angelina Jolie'

By Sara Nathan

Brad Pitt has bought himself a bachelor pad to help him deal with his split from Angelina Jolie

Brad Pitt has secretly purchased a bachelor pad to help him sort out his split from Angelina Jolie, it was reported yesterday.

The 46-year-old Ocean's Eleven actor has spent £700,000 on the house, complete with a cave, in the Hollywood Hills.

'The house oozes character,' said a source. 'Brad has had his eye on it for some time but he decided now was the right time to buy because he wanted a place to call his own.

'He needs somewhere quiet that doesn't have memories of Angie and where he can be alone and think about what he does next.'

Built in 1920 and originally on sale for £1.3million, the property has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a bar area. The cave is built into the foundations.

It was reported yesterday that Pitt's mother Jane has stepped in to try to save his relationship with Miss Jolie.

She plans to use the skills she learnt working as a family counsellor when she meets the 34-year-old actress in Los Angeles next week.

The 70-year-old has apparently become close to Miss Jolie thanks to their joint work in setting up a cancer centre.

She has however always favoured her son's ex-wife, the actress Jennifer Aniston, 40.

Pitt and Miss Jolie, pictured below, are already believed to have enlisted lawyers to negotiate the division of their £205million fortune and custody of their children.

Hideaway: The actor has spent £700,000 on the house, complete with a cave, in the Hollywood Hills

Bachelor pad: The property has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a bar area - plus a secret cave built into the foundations

But a family source said: 'Brad is desperately trying to cling on to the wreckage of the relationship as he is still very much in love with Angelina and believes they can make it work.

'Jane wants what is best for her son and grandchildren and Angie has agreed to meet her.

'She has stuck at her own marriage and worked with families for 30 years trying to keep them together.'

In happier times: Brad and Angelina at last year's Cannes Film Festival

The couple have six children: adopted sons Maddox, eight, and Pax, six; adopted daughter Zahara, five; and their natural children Shiloh, three, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 17 months.

They got together in 2005 - shortly after Pitt's four-year marriage to Miss Aniston failed.

source: dailymail