Boasting a magnificent Tudor dining-hall, it was perhaps inevitable that Christ Church, Oxford’s grandest college, would feature in the first Harry Potter film.
But life at the college has not, alas, proved a wizard experience for its development director, Mark Coote.
He has, I can disclose, abruptly resigned after little more than three years in the post, which required him to raise funds from Christ Church’s distinguished alumni who include David Dimbleby, the Duke of Wellington and the American Bitcoin billionaire Winklevoss twins.
‘Christ Church receives about £5 million-a-year in donations but the last three years have been catastrophic,’ one of its alumni tells me, before alleging: ‘Donations are down by at least £5 million in that time.’ (The college disputes that figure.)
Mark Coote abruptly resigned after little more than three years as development director, which required him to raise funds from Christ Church’s distinguished alumni who include David Dimbleby, the Duke of Wellington and the American Bitcoin billionaire Winklevoss twins
This, my source adds, has nothing to do with Coote, but is, instead, because of the seemingly unending and increasingly ill-tempered battle between the head of college, the Rev Martyn Percy, and Christ Church’s senior dons.
Trouble flared after Coote was appointed — reputedly on a higher salary than Percy, who receives £90,000-a-year and lives in the Deanery, a rambling 16th-century house which forms part of one of the college’s quadrangles, and also enjoys the services of a gardener, a cleaner, a secretary and three-course meals in Christ Church’s dining hall.
Learning that Coote was paid more than him, Percy allegedly requested a review of how salaries at the college were set — and of the composition of the panel of dons who made the decisions.
He then allegedly reacted ‘furiously’ when senior dons decided against increasing his pay.
Boasting a magnificent Tudor dining-hall, it was perhaps inevitable that Christ Church (pictured), Oxford’s grandest college, would feature in the first Harry Potter film
Christ Church confirms that Coote is leaving, adding: ‘We are putting in place interim arrangements until a permanent successor can be appointed. All of us at Christ Church wish him great success in his future endeavours and thank him for his service to Christ Church.’
Coote declines to comment but is assured of sympathy from alumni. ‘He’s been working in a toxic atmosphere,’ one tells me.
A college benefactor agrees. ‘I’m unamused — both with the Dean and with the senior academics,’ he assures me.
Percy, who has been cleared of allegations of misconduct by one tribunal, now faces another, which will decide whether he should be removed from office.
He then faces an employment tribunal in the autumn.
Given their infantile behaviour, surely they should settle it with a game of Quidditch?
Elegant actress Gabrielle Drake has decided the time is right to cash in on the burgeoning popularity of the music recorded by her brother, cult folk singer Nick Drake.
More from Sebastian Shakespeare for the Daily Mail...
‘He was a perfectionist. He always knew exactly what he wanted for his music.
‘In his utter absence I have so often agonised about what to do,’ admits Gabrielle, who has agreed to sell the global publishing rights to her brother’s songs to Blue Raincoat Music.
Nick Drake died in 1974 at the age of 26, but during his brief career he wrote a collection of songs that inspired the likes of Laura Marling and have recently been used in car adverts.
Nick’s songs will now be given the royal treatment — Blue Raincoat was founded by Jeremy Lascelles, son of the 7th Earl of Harewood, who was born sixth in line to the throne.
Is Meghan’s pal Jessica Canada’s Imelda Marcos?
Jessica Mulroney, 41, has given a glimpse into her very colourful shoe collection. She regularly gives Meghan Markle style advice
The Duchess of Sussex’s fashion ‘secret weapon’ Jessica Mulroney — so-called because she regularly gives Meghan style advice — has given a glimpse into her very colourful shoe collection .
The 41-year-old, whose forebear founded Browns Shoes, shared a snap from her walk-in wardrobe at home in Toronto.
‘The shoes are getting very dusty in here,’ she says, posing next to a shoe stand showing off some 126 pairs of heels (not yet quite to the level of the Philippines’ infamous First Lady Imelda Marcos’s 3,000 strong collection).
Jessica styles Canada’s First Lady, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, and helped create Meghan’s engagement photocall outfit.
Lord Fellowes, who is writing the Downton Abbey movie sequel, will be collaborating once again with his wife Emma, a former lady-in-waiting to Princess Michael of Kent.
‘We’re a pretty good team and I’ve had the fortune to be married to an exceptional woman and she has very good judgment and understanding of the industry I work in,’ he tells me.
‘She goes through my scripts before anyone else, so we’re very kind of interwoven.’
Becks’s secret culinary tip –add Ketchup!
Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria (pictured with Victoria Beckham) has lifted the lid on her close friendship with David Beckham
Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria has lifted the lid on her close friendship with David Beckham.
The 45-year-old reveals she and the former footballer enjoy a shared passion for comfort food.
‘David’s a great cook. He makes a good Bolognese. He’s very much into cooking,’ she says, adding she’s adopted his unusual recipe for shepherd’s pie.
‘He told me the trick is Ketchup.’
As for David’s slender fashion designer wife, Eva says: ‘Victoria always introduces me to new things; there were these crackers.
'I was like, “What is it?” She’s always hip to the newest healthy food.’
Naughtiest woman on TV turns over a new leaf
Tuppence Middleton, who played ‘the naughtiest woman on TV’ in the BBC’s acclaimed adaptation of War And Peace, is determined to learn new skills in lockdown
Tuppence Middleton, who played ‘the naughtiest woman on TV’ in the BBC’s acclaimed adaptation of War And Peace, is determined to learn new skills in lockdown.
‘It kind of makes you focus on what you want from your life and your career,’ the 33-year-old actress says of the crisis.
‘I’ve been writing. I’ve toyed with the idea for so long, but [have] always been too scared to show someone something that I’ve written.
‘Lockdown has made me realise that actually you don’t always want to be at the mercy of other people with your career, that you have a chance to take control of it and to say what you want to say.’
Tuppence, who appeared in the hit Downton Abbey film, adds: ‘Women are dissatisfied with the roles that they’ve been given, so they are writing their own roles which reflect the type of characters that they want to play.
‘There’s a chance to tell a story where a woman who is struggling isn’t painted as weak or crazy.’
Snappy dresser Sir Ed Davey (pictured) does not disclose which designer suit he chose from Hervia, which sells labels ranging from Jean Paul Gaultier to Raf Simons, in his new entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests
Which dapper MP spends £1,500 on a suit? Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, that’s who.
He’s revealed that he was given the large donation by the boss of luxury fashion boutique Hervia, Richard Duncalf.
Snappy dresser Davey does not disclose which designer suit he chose from Hervia, which sells labels ranging from Jean Paul Gaultier to Raf Simons, in his new entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
The anti-Brexiter has made little impact since winning the leadership of his party last summer, so let’s hope his new suit helps him stand out from the crowd.
Shh... Salma is seeking her inner beauty
Hollywood star Salma Hayek reveals she’s spending more time outdoors in order to collect her thoughts
That's one way to keep calm. Hollywood star Salma Hayek reveals she’s spending more time outdoors in order to collect her thoughts.
Fortunately for her, that means sitting in the sea while wearing a £200 black ViX bikini.
‘We need to keep our cool,’ she explains, choosing not to disclose her location.
The Frida star, 54, who is married to French businessman Francois-Henri Pinault, adds: ‘When I want to connect with my inner beauty, I start my meditation focusing on the goddess Lakshmi, who in Hinduism represents wealth, fortune, love, beauty, joy and prosperity.’
Ewan McGregor's (right) daughter Clara (second left), 24, admits her father’s name helped open doors to her acting career, while his other daughter Esther (second right), 19, is tearing into those who get an easy ride because of who their parents are
While Ewan McGregor’s daughter Clara, 24, admits her father’s name helped open doors to her acting career, his other daughter, Esther, 19, is tearing into those who get an easy ride because of who their parents are.
‘If your mum or dad paid for your music to get produced, the respect is gone,’ says Esther.
‘It makes me sad. Musicians who grind their whole lives to make the s*** they do — making music videos with two friends because that’s all they’ve got — know what I’m talking about.
'That’s the artist’s grind and if you don’t know that, don’t call yourself one.’
Singer Sandie Shaw is no one’s puppet on a string.
‘Our crown jewels are gone,’ she lamented in an email read out at a Commons select committee inquiry into why music streaming has left many artists in penury.
‘There is no such thing as the UK record industry any more, the record companies have all been bought up.’
Not that this stopped Shaw from signing a deal with Universal Music — which is owned by French media giant Vivendi.