She once stunned colleagues at Westminster by posing in the same red ‘Baywatch’ swimsuit that she’d last worn 15 years earlier while on lifeguard duty at Bude beach in north Cornwall.
But former Tory MP Charlotte Leslie has arguably made her most daring move yet.
Leslie, who lost her seat in the 2017 election, has, I can disclose, agreed to become one of only two honorary patrons of the Zay Initiative, a cultural charity.
Former Conservative MP Charlotte Leslie, pictured, has taken a role as one of two honorary patrons of the Zay Initiative, a cultural charity
Her fellow honorary patron is Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, who was at the centre of a diplomatic storm last year after being accused of groping and assaulting a 32-year-old British woman, Caitlin McNamara, at a private island villa in Abu Dhabi
Her fellow honorary patron is Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, who was at the centre of a diplomatic storm last year after being accused of groping and assaulting a 32-year-old British woman, Caitlin McNamara, at a private island villa in Abu Dhabi.
More from Sebastian Shakespeare for the Daily Mail…
Sheikh Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance & Coexistence in the United Arab Emirates, steadfastly rejected McNamara’s allegation, issuing a statement saying that he was ‘surprised and saddened’ by it, and noting that it was made ‘eight months after the alleged incident and via a national newspaper’.
The redoubtable Leslie, a one-time boxing enthusiast as well as an outstanding swimmer who reached the national backstroke finals, says that she is not in any position to comment on the matter.
‘My involvement with the charity pre-dates any reporting of the story you mention,’ she tells me. ‘I was asked to be honorary patron by the charity’s founder, Dr Reem El Mutwalli.
‘I took on the role to support the excellent work done by the charity to preserve the cultural heritage of the Middle East.’
And, lest anyone leap to entirely the wrong conclusion, Leslie, 42, who is now director of the Conservative Middle East Council, emphasises that she receives no pecuniary advantage from her new honorary role, which is for a fixed term of three years.
‘The position is unpaid,’ she confirms, adding that there are no perks, such as expenses- paid travel. ‘The charity is based in the UK.’
Jenny heads for the couch
Jenny Eclair has hung up her running shoes just a few weeks into her ‘couch-to-5k’ fitness regime.
‘I began to dread even lacing up my trainers, and by the time I got to the park, I kept wishing that someone would trip me up and steal my shoes,’ says the 60-year-old comedian. ‘I also didn’t want to add to the misery of other park frequenters by being yet another maskless heavy-breathing grunter, expelling my germs as I huffed around my local green space.
‘Well, that’s my excuse anyway, and I’m sticking to it. It’s got absolutely nothing to do with being a lazy old bag.’
Harry’s back and it’s thanks to the jab!
Famous for inventing Bellini cocktails and beef carpaccio, Harry’s Bar in Venice has long been the epitome of glamour, attracting such patrons as Ernest Hemingway, Maria Callas and Nicole Kidman.
Since the pandemic, it has reinvented itself as a glitzy fashion shoot location — most recently for the new campaign of Prince William’s favourite Italian clothing brand, Luca Faloni.
‘We try to reflect our culture here, and the people who come in are very fashionable,’ owner Arrigo Cipriani — son of founder Giuseppe Cipriani — tells me.
Despite being almost 89, Cipriani is at the bar to greet his returning guests in person. ‘I’m very happy and healthy. I’ve had the first vaccination and next weekend I get the second.’
Harry’s Bar in Venice, which is a favourite of A-list stars such as Nicole Kidman, pictured, is preparing to reopen
Stones tour is all Fearne wants for her daughter
Ronnie Wood’s daughter-in-law, TV host Fearne Cotton, is hoping the Rolling Stones will soon be back on tour — so that her daughter Honey can see them on stage.
‘I’m very lucky, I’ve seen them lots of times,’ says Fearne, 39, who is married to Ronnie’s son, Jesse, with whom she has two children.
‘Jesse and I got to go on a bit of the tour in California one year, when Rex [their son] was a baby, and then we did a couple in Rio and Paris. That’s such an amazing experience to have had. There is never a bad Rolling Stones show.’
She adds of Ronnie’s five-year-old granddaughter: ‘Honey hasn’t been, and I’m so hoping that when all this is over they’ll start up again and do another tour, because I really want her to see them play live.’
Double Oscar-winner George Clooney admits his wife, human rights lawyer Amal, runs a tight ship at home and has banned him from cutting their three-year-old daughter’s hair. ‘I cut [my son’s] hair, and I cut my own,’ says the 59-year-old, who lives with Amal and their twins, Alex and Ella, in a £12 million mansion in Berkshire. ‘I haven’t cut my daughter’s hair — I’d get in trouble if I did! If I screw up my son’s hair, he’ll grow out of it. But my wife would kill me if I touched my daughter’s hair.’
Isla’s idol Bardot suits her to a T
Hollywood star Isla Fisher has made no secret of the fact that she looks up to French former actress, singer and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot for her style inspiration.
Now she has found a fitting way to pay homage to the Sixties sex symbol. The 45-year-old has acquired a £90 Anine Bing white T-shirt emblazoned with the 1971 photograph of Bardot smoking a cigar taken by the late snapper Terry O’Neill.
Isla, the wife of Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen, shared a picture of herself at their home in Australia wearing the garment. ‘Zoom pitch ready!’ she captioned it.
Isla, the wife of Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen, shared a picture of herself at their home in Australia wearing the garment. ‘Zoom pitch ready!’ she captioned it
Although acting royalty herself, Joanna Lumley is to author a new book on the Queen’s long reign. Lumley, who describes herself as ‘one of the Queen’s greatest fans’, is picking writings and first-hand accounts of Elizabeth’s seven decades on the throne, including those about her private passions and interests. ‘For many decades,’ says Lumley, ‘the Queen has been the one fixed star in our firmament.’ The same could be said of the former Ab Fab star and Bond Girl.
Don’t judge art by the artist, says Fellowes
Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes insists an artist’s private life should have no bearing on their public work.
‘We should have the courage to separate the art from the artist,’ he says. ‘If we are going to review the man, I’m perfectly happy with that, but I don’t think if someone was a rotten husband or wife that means you mustn’t admire their books or pictures. It’s a denial of truth.’
Lord Fellowes, who worked with disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein on his ITV adaptation of Doctor Thorne, adds: ‘I don’t agree with this approach that if Gauguin was a terrible man in his private life, then his pictures were terrible — they’re not, they’re great. Writers are the same.’
His sentiments chime with those of actor Hugh Bonneville, aka the Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey, who has said it is possible to respect someone’s work without condoning their offensive views or actions.
Petrolhead Sir Rod Stewart helped set a record this week after his old Lamborghini sold for £665,000 at a RM Sotheby’s auction in Paris. It was the singer’s first ever Countach LP400 model, and he appreciated it so much he took it with him to Australia on tour, then to LA and the UK, before selling it on in 2002. ‘Historical Lamborghinis are of increasing interest to the world’s leading collectors, who are looking for the utmost respect for originality in their cars,’ says Paolo Gabrielli at Automobili Lamborghini. Vroom, vroom!