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Spy ahoy

Shiver me timbers. The Diary set sail for the troubled waters of Bradford education authority this week to find that old sea-dog and favourite of these columns Vice Admiral Sir Anthony Tippet already at the harbour gates to meet us. Apparently, Sir Anthony paddled his dinghy into port after being invited to become chairman of Bradford's new education policy partnership, set up to help oversee education services when they are handed over to a public- private partnership.

The taverns were alive with tales of Sir Anthony's fearsome exploits as chairman of the nearby Halifax education action zone and as captain of the Funding Agency for Schools now sadly sunk. But there were whispered rumours about a more colourful past. The story went that he worked for military intelligence in the early 1960s and there were wild imaginings of Sir Anthony being set on the tail of Christine Keeler's undesirable contacts at the height of the Profumo scandal. Sir Anthony, of course, would not be drawn: "I was in naval intelligence but I don't discuss what I did during that period," he said. "It doesn't have any relevance at all. I am not a cloak and dagger man in that sense."

One of Bradford council's notables was overheard muttering: "He doesn't look much like James Bond, more like Q."

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