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The new Irvine?

Does Mary Bousted, incoming general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' have Lord Irvine-ish tendencies?

Last week, the Diary revealed that the new general secretary had rejected her predecessor's piddling little office and ordered a refit of a more expansive pad next door before her arrival in August.

An admirer at London's Kingston university, her old stomping ground, reveals a similar refit ordered prior to her arrival there, even though the offices had just been refurbished. "New carpets, desks and the most enormous table were brought in. She made very dramatic comments about the awful colour of the previous carpet which she replaced with, I remember it well, a bright green."

Ms Bousted, who will get between pound;83,000 and pound;103,000 as ATL head, was jetting off to Australia this week so could not discuss her refined taste in decor. Her spokeswoman was unconcerned: "If that means she has got a bit of an ego, then that is a good thing in a general secretary.

You need a big personality to cut it at the top."

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