Christmas present for celebs

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Organisations which already receive wads of taxpayers’ money (think the arts, for instance) are always, like Oliver Twist, demanding more.

Local authorities, constantly moaning they are strapped for cash seem, however, to find ways of spending what they have on frivolous things. Why, for example, was singer Nadine Coyle (no, me neither) paid £14,000 by St Helens to grace the switch-on of their Christmas lights? And why did Carol Klein get £9,000 for appearing at Chorley Flower Show? These are just two examples among many when obscure ‘celebrities’ are paid huge amounts of public money just to cut a tape or throw a switch. These and other authorities should stop this ludicrous waste of funds before they try to dig even deeper into what they consider the bottomless pockets of the British taxpayer.

- A growing number of people are beginning to suspect the Government has been rushing to judgement over the culprits of the nerve gas affair, pointing the finger - not just of suspicion but of certitude - at Vladimir Putin.

But even though all the factors point to a criminal act by the Russian Government, all the evidence is purely circumstantial and would not stand a chance in a British court of law. The Prime Minister’s first comments on this affair were at least measured but firm, and sparked off a rash of expulsions of Russian diplomats around the world. Now, the fact Porton Down cannot identify the source of the gas has, in a roundabout way, had the effect of partially endorsing Jeremy Corbyn’s view that the Government should produce some hard and precise evidence before they jump to conclusions. The truth is, they haven’t got any. One senior Tory accused the Government - and notably the garrulous Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - of “ratcheting up animosities” without any real basis. This Tory said it was quite possibly a freelance operation. Meanwhile, the British have refused the Russian request to join in the investigations. I am not quite sure why, but they probably have good reason. Suspicion still rests on Putin but it is by no means an open and shut case.