British TV hypnotist PAUL MCKENNA yesterday (11JUL06) hit back at allegations from a British tabloid he is a fraud, telling London's High Court the claims had made him a laughing stock amongst his peers. The 43-year-old - who worked as an entertainer before he became a self-help guru - insists he was defamed by the Mirror in an article questioning his academic credentials. The 2003 story claimed his degree from Lasalle University, Louisiana, was "bogus", with journalist VICTOR LEWIS-SMITH adding: "I discovered that anyone could be fully doctored by Lasalle within months (no previous qualifications needed), just so long as they could answer the following question correctly: 'Do you have 2,615 dollars, sir?'" MCKenna, who has since studied for a doctorate in England, told the court, "My peers make jokes about the article and I have become a laughing stock. "People were saying I was so vain I had bought a doctorate. What was written about me in the Mirror is a lie."
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.