Multi-millionaire Nicholas Johnston, whose Great Tew Estate in Oxfordshire boasts the Duke and Duchess of Sussex among its tenants, has become a figure of ridicule after two of his pals came a cropper in their Bentleys on a tidal road.
The incident, at Johnston’s second estate, Bantham, on the Devon coast, has inspired the creation of a spoof Carlsberg ad — made by locals — which has appeared in the gents’ loo at The Sloop, Bantham’s 14th-century pub.
‘If Carlsberg did mooring blocks,’ it reads, displaying the lager’s logo above images of two £136,000 Bentley Bentaygas, ‘they would probably be the best in the world.’
Old Etonian Johnston, 46, declines to comment on the episode, which is considered no laughing matter on the 728-acre estate that he bought for £11.5 million in 2014 — reputedly ‘on a whim’.
The incident, at Johnston’s second estate, Bantham, on the Devon coast, has inspired the creation of a spoof Carlsberg ad (pictured)
‘Estate workers have been given a three-line whip [telling them]: “This must not get out,” ’ alleges a local, before explaining how the very expensive mishap occurred.
‘When you get to the tidal road, you think, “Oh, it’s not very deep, I can get across that.” You normally can, but not if you haven’t checked the tides, which can rise about two or three inches a minute. You can find yourself halfway across, with the water lapping beside you, and then, before you know it, it’s gone down the end of the exhaust pipe – particularly on a low-slung Bentley. And you suddenly conk out.
‘Then the tide will come up and you’ve got to get out of the car and wade and the water will be right up to the roof.’
It concludes a testing year for Johnston, whose plans for developing Bantham were opposed by 93 per cent of locals in a summer referendum, while his proposal for a motor museum and 28 luxury houses at Great Tew provoked similar disapproval, not least, as I disclosed, from Star Trek’s Sir Patrick Stewart, who lives nearby.
Most damning of all was the verdict of Judge Paul Matthews, following a case about access to Great Tew: Johnston, declared Matthews, ‘said whatever he thought was most likely to advance his case, without regard to the truth’.
Ecclestone ex in $100m Stunt
Bernie Ecclestone’s former son-in-law James Stunt, allegedly the victim of a £90 million burglary, has turned his attention to a still more disturbing crime — the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Stunt, 36, has challenged Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to take a lie detector test to determine whether he ordered the killing. Stunt, who was married to Bernie’s younger daughter, Petra, claims he will pay $100 million to the Khashoggi family if the Crown Prince passes, adding he’s certain he will fail.
‘You are nothing more than a gangster in a dishdash,’ says Stunt, authoritatively: his godfather is Terry Adams, of the London family linked to 25 murders.
The Affair star Dominic West is shaking up his domestic arrangements for the sake of his children. The 49-year-old has moved them to Wiltshire.
‘I have led my family out of London slightly against their will,’ says West, who has four children — aged five to 12 — with wife Catherine Fitzgerald. ‘I want my children to be around plants and animals more than they perhaps might be in London.’
- Ab Fab star Joanna Lumley is an easy woman to please. Unlike Patsy Stone, her sybaritic alter-ego in the long-running BBC series, the 72-year-old resists opulence at this time of year.
‘Books are always a good present for me, because I read and read and read,’ she tells me.
‘I don’t like terribly lavish presents, it’s rather embarrassing, so I think that something like a bar of soap would be absolutely perfect.’ Fabulous.
Madge adopts a maternal look for Xmas
Queen of pop Madonna put on a wholesome show for Christmas this year, as the 60-year-old cuddles up to her four adopted children from Malawi: David Banda, 13, twins Esther and Stella Mwale, six, and daughter Mercy, 13.
Wearing a Doctor Zhivago style fur hat and silky pink top, the Like A Virgin singer captioned it: ‘Merry Xmas from Mambo and four of her six unicorns. Sending much love and many prayers for peace on earth!’
Queen of pop Madonna put on a wholesome show for Christmas this year, as the 60-year-old cuddles up to her four adopted children from Malawi: David Banda, 13, twins Esther and Stella Mwale, six, and daughter Mercy, 13
Missing from the snap were Madonna’s biological children: daughter Lourdes, 22, and Rocco, her 18-year-old son from her marriage to film director Guy Ritchie. Two Christmases ago Rocco was caught in the middle of a custody battle between his mother, who wanted him with her in New York, and his London-based father.
Ex-PM David Cameron can’t be faulted as a family man — certainly if his support for the bid to erect a statue of the first woman MP, Nancy Astor, is anything to go by.
Cameron lauds Astor, adding that he hopes the statue — which would stand in her Plymouth constituency — will inspire women. ‘And third,’ says Dave, whose mother-in-law Annabel is married to Viscount Astor, ‘because of my own family’s connection to Nancy Astor. She was my wife Samantha’s step-father’s grandmother.’
Film star Johnny Depp’s daughter, Lily-Rose, is taking after her mother, French actress Vanessa Paradis, in more ways than one.
Not only is the 19-year-old carving out a career in film and fashion, but she has fallen head over heels for a fellow actor. Lily-Rose, whose parents split in 2012, looked loved up as she strolled around Paris arm-in-arm with her new boyfriend, Timothee Chalamet.
The 22-year-old, who shot to fame in the Oscar-winning film Call Me By Your Name, clearly didn’t mind being seen as he sported a brightly coloured jacket for the occasion.
Lily-Rose, whose parents split in 2012, looked loved up as she strolled around Paris arm-in-arm with her new boyfriend, Timothee Chalamet
Why Prince’s pal Pinkham got plastered
Prince Harry’s friend, sports presenter Natalie Pinkham, refuses to let a broken arm cramp her style.
At a party in London, the 41-year-old dazzled in a gold dress and a sling on her left arm, which she decorated with silver tinsel.
‘A friend spotted the bone sticking out of my wrist and said that’s not normal,’ she tells me. ‘So I got an X-ray and scan and it revealed it was broken and could have been for a while.
‘When they opened my wrist up the bone was completely detached and floating! So they pinned it and now I have six weeks in plaster.’
Prince Harry’s friend, sports presenter Natalie Pinkham, refuses to let a broken arm cramp her style
Prince Charles has won the approval of Savile Row designer, Patrick Grant, for his commitment to fashion. ‘He’s super stylish and always looks great — I’ve never seen him look bad,’ Grant, a judge on the BBC’s The Great British Sewing Bee, tells me. ‘More importantly, he’s miles ahead of the game when it comes to sustainable fashion. He’s been talking about organic sustainable farming for 30 years. That’s been his agenda and, at first, everyone was like, “He’s crazy!”, but now they’re coming round to it.’