DIARY: The gloves are off as dreaming spires look set to become battleground

The battle for the Chancellorship of Oxford University is set to be a bloody one, and also largely PR-led, it would seem, as the candidates' election campaigns begin to hot up.

While comedian Sandi Toksvig and European Commissioner Chris Patten have opted to wage war via swanky websites, their honourable rivals Lords Bingham and Neill have gone so far as to enlist their very own PR advisers, Dawnay Associates and Weber Shandwick Square Mile respectively.

Lord Bingham - or just plain 'Tom' as he's taken to being called - is taking the down-to-earth approach, with a website offering eligible voters the chance to 'Ask Tom'.

Meanwhile, Lord Neill is sticking to formalities, with Weber Shandwick director Reg Hoare leading a veritable PR offensive.

Hoare says work has included some 'issue rebuttal' following the odd less than favourable diary story on Lord Neill over the last week.

'I suspect there's been some dirty tricks at play,' says a suspicious Hoare.

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